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Xplore2Gether - California to Ushuaia

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by JimsBeemer, Mar 6, 2019.

  1. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA, 2016 R1200RT Supporter

    Jan 4, 2014
    San Jose, CA
    Day 1 (2/28/2020): 225 miles from Arelauquen Lodge outside of Bariloche, to the Hotel de Chocón in Chocón.

    The first hour or so of this day was actually quite pleasant, as you leave the mountains and ride through rolling hills with trees. But the desert was there, waiting for us :-) And it was just what I expected based on satellite and street view images; barren, flat and nothing much to see. Just miles you have to get through to get where you are going! But the one nice thing about this section is that you are following the Rio Negro along the entire route, and it is this beautiful blue (not negro, despite the name) jewel in the middle of the otherwise barren landscape. It has been dammed in several places so parts of it are really more of a long, slender lake rather than river.

    At the beginning of the route, which follows Rt 237, there are trees and hills, and it is actually an interesting ride.

    That is the Rio Negro, which was our companion for almost the entire day. The highway doesn't follow it exclusively, but much of the route is along the river.

    You can see the "river" here is more of a lake - this is due to a dam upstream. Still trees!
    More Rio Negro
    And more Rio Negro - you can see here that the trees are starting to thin out.
    And then - pretty much no trees. But the river runs on!
    When the road left the river, it looked like this.
    But then it would join up again with the river, giving something more pleasant to look at as you ride.

    The last half of the ride the road just looked like this - until you turned a corner, and then ...
    ... it looked like this :-)

    We stopped for lunch at some dirt-road back street restaurant for some empeñadas. So good - I'll miss those!
    And then we got back on the road - I am not recycling the same picture :-)
    Tourist attraction right in the middle of no-where - there were life-size dinosaur statues, in some sort of park (I didn't get a picture of them). And there were tourist there. In fact, traffic was really bad! This was about the last week of summer before school starts, and lots of people from Buenos Aires drive the 1000 miles to the Lakes Region for vacation. One guy told us he used to do it in a day, but now with kids he takes two days. Anyway, we were riding on a Saturday, and there were lots of people going in both directions, some returning from their vacations, and others headed out. And traffic was screaming on these roads - we were doing 70 mph, with some pretty serious cross winds, and we were being passed like we were road boulders. There were cars doing 80 to 90 mph, with 80 mph seeming to be about the norm.
    This is Chocón - the Hotel de Chocón is down the street to the left. It was a very quaint place to stay, good AC and very inexpensive. End day 1!
    95Monster, jowul, Davidprej and 2 others like this.
  2. DavidM1

    DavidM1 Unicorn hunting

    Mar 3, 2013
    "Cuidado Dinosaurios" - love it.
    jowul and JimsBeemer like this.
  3. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA, 2016 R1200RT Supporter

    Jan 4, 2014
    San Jose, CA
    Day 2 (3/1/2020): 137 miles from Chocón to the Hotel la Posada del Rio Colorado in Cartiel.
    One of my challenges in figuring out a suitable route for us across the desert was how keep our rides within the 4 hour maximum in-the-saddle limit we try to adhere to, and at the same time end up at the end of the day with a place to stay! There are not many towns along the way, and it was a bit tricky - it reminded me of a similar dilemma when we were riding from Nazca to Cusco in Peru. The roads here are in pretty good shape, and so we can do 200- 250 miles with four hours saddle time, but if you are not careful with your planning, you'll end up at the end of the ride literally in the middle of nowhere, and we didn't feel like wild camping in the desert.

    So my planning required that this day be a shorter ride, in order to line us up with places to stay on the following days. And it turned out that was a good thing, as it was also the hottest and windiest day of the entire passage. We didn't get a real early start, because it wasn't a long ride - but that meant we were ridding mostly in the afternoon (not smart in retrospect), and by noon the temperature hit 106.5 on my dash display and stayed in that vicinity the rest of the ride, dropping as low as 103 a few times. We are from California and are accustomed to riding in such temperatures, so we know how to deal with it, but it isn't fun. We stopped about every 30 minutes to drench Carol's shirt and jacket with water (If you've followed from the beginning, you will recognize this as SOP for her in hot weather - she doesn't sweat hardly at all), and made sure we stayed hydrated. We were very happy it was a "short" ride day, and greatly relieved when we pulled into the HOtel la Posada del Rio Colorado, which looked like an oasis, with a huge manicured green lawn with shade trees, and a room with good AC. Not inexpensive, by Argentinian desert standards, at $46/night, but after we did some exploring, I don't think I would have stayed anywhere else.

    After we settled down I checked the weather forecast for the next day, using Windy and Weatherc.com, and for the ride we had ahead of us, both of these forecasts predicted it would be as hot again as it was today, but the winds would be even stronger. But the day following was forecast to be much cooler (highs arund 94 F) and less wind. So I decided we had no reason to push through that heat and wind, and I went to the front desk and asked to book a second night, which was fortunately available, and we took the down day to rest and wait out the wind and heat.

    More of the same - but it with 103-106F temps and cross winds of 20-30 mph.
    Wait - trees! There were a few sections with trees, and they are starting to turn fall colors. It isn't that clear in the photo, but the leaves are definitely turning yellow. There were other types of trees doing the same. It seems right to me now - that it should be turning fall. And eating dinner at 10:00PM seems normal too! I've totally moved my personal clock and calendar to the South American schedule - it will be interesting to return to the USA in spring.

    The one thing that was interesting on this ride was the clouds. That is Carol in the lead. As I commented on before - we go faster by 5-10mph if she leads and on a wide open road like this, she actually prefers it. If it is a dirt road, or in the city or otherwise dealing with traffic or complicated directions, she prefers me in the lead so I can radio back to her what's coming up. But there isn't much to talk about in that regard on this route: "Stay on this road for 137 miles, then stop."
    Arrived! "Hotel la Posada del Rio Colorado" in Cartiel
    This is the back-side of the hotel, from the parking area. Their grounds are like a park. No swimming pool though :-(

    We were in our room and heard this noise and walked outside - it was a dust storm! You really couldn't keep your eyes open long because of the dust and sand in the air.
    95Monster, jowul and Davidprej like this.
  4. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA, 2016 R1200RT Supporter

    Jan 4, 2014
    San Jose, CA
    Day 3 (3/3/2020, after rest day in Cartiel): 190 miles from Cartiel to Hotel a Puro Campo in General Acha

    It seems we made the right call with the rest day in Cartiel. The temperatures were in the mid 90's, and the winds were strong but not cray - just as the forecast predicted.

    The great thing about this day was that by the end of the ride, we were out of the desert! Grasses started to appear, trees, and then cattle ranches. The land was still just as flat, the roads just as straight, winds just as strong, but the presence of greenery and life was a welcome change.

    I am not totally dissing the desert - I've commented in previous post that there are things I like about it, and the Paso Jama contends for my favorite ride of the entire trip. Deserts can have it's own beauty - some deserts more than others! This stretch did have some scenic moments, but didn't impress me the way the Paso de Jama or the Atacama did, for example . Overall it was nice to be done with it.

    I told Carol I felt like we had rode through Nevada and Utah (which we have done) and right into Kansas somehow missing the Rocky Mountains in between.

    So long Hotel la Posada del Rio Colorado - taken as we pulled out of town (Cartiel).
    And hello new road - looks like the last one!
    My Dad was a highway engineer, and I learned (whether I wanted to or not!) everything there was to know about the dangers of the road, including the fact that that long, straight sections of road with nothing to look at are dangerous. You get into a trance. Every 50 miles or so, our road would actually make a slight bend - like 10 degrees maybe. You could take them at speed - no need to slow down. They had these sings warning you about them, because in fact they are dangerous because people have zoned out and don't expect the change in direction.
    On this section of road, there were rest stops, of sorts, every 20 miles or so. You could see them coming a long ways away, because there would be this lone clump of six or so trees on the horizon. We stopped at one for lunch (and reference my earlier comments about lack of public toilets - you can imagine, the only tree for miles around ... yuk) and there were bunch of parrots in the trees - 20 or more. You have to appreciate that these are the only trees you can see in any direction out to the horizon. I was curious what type of parrot lives in the desert so I did some research: They are Burrowing Parrots, also known as Patagonian Conure, and are found primarily in Argentina, in the deserts. There are a few in Chile, and they make good pets! In large numbers they also make a racket - they were very noisy.

    And off to the side in another tree, having nothing to do with the noisy parrots, was this Southern Crested Caracara.
    Argentina has some inventive signage to try and get people to stop and rest - remember, this is the 1000 mile route from Buenos Aires to the Lakes region, and you know there are tired moms and dads trying to make it back home in to little time to be to work on Monday. So this one says "You haven't rested? DO IT!!"
    This one says "Don't insist - stop and rest"
    This one gets personal "Don't insist - you are responsible for the lives you transport. REST!"
    What is this? Grass? Trees? Cattle (look to the far right)? The desert is behind us!
    Goodbye Nevada, hello Iowa.
    The Hotel a Puro Campo is on a working ranch. Some guy that Carol talked to at the previous hotel (the ... Rio Colorado) had recommended it. Turned out to be a good call! We've learned to take recommendations from locals seriously :-) This is not in General Acha proper - it is a few miles outside of town, very peaceful.

    Hotel grounds. Another park-like setting.

    They have a bunch of pens back behind the hotel with animals - not sure the point of the deer. You can see a Rhea to the left, in back, and there were several deer, llama (to right), pigs, goats, etc.
    Grounds of the Hotel a Campo Puro

    Carol liked the clever wine rack in the hotel restaurant.
  5. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA, 2016 R1200RT Supporter

    Jan 4, 2014
    San Jose, CA
    Day 4 (Wed 3/4/2020): 227 miles from General Acha to Hotel de Solar, Pehuajó.

    I forgot to mention that the day before, about 20 miles from the hotel, Carol said her gas reserve light came on. We were both surprised - there was no way it should have come on, we had plenty of gas! She has a Camel auxiliary tank on her F700GS, which gives her almost a 300 mile range, and I was convinced at first that the attendant at the last station had not filled up one or both of her tanks fully. But we had not been paying attention to our gas mileage and were riding into a strong headwind, and when she read off her average mileage (we reset the average gas mileage at every fill up exactly for this reason), I realized it was probably just due to the reduced gas mileage due to the wind.

    So the first order of business this day was to find the closest gas station, which turned out to be only 10km down the road in General Acha, and she made it, but we know better! We could have filled up mid-day the previous day if we'd been paying attention. The wind knocked 10 mpg off of her typical mileage, a bit less on my bike, and I have a longer range than she does even though she has the Camel tank.

    It is green, there are some trees, but it is still flat and the roads straight as an arrow.
    These pictures are somewhat repetitive - but that's the way it really is. A lot of the same, for 1000 miles.

    You may think this picture is the same one above - but look, this one has no trees on the horizon, the last one did! Otherwise, yeah, it looks the same.

    Mixed in with the cattle, there were fields of corn and soybeans stretching off to the horizon - this is farm country.
    It doesn't show well in this GoPro picture, but to the right acres and acres of corn.
    Hitchhiking is fairly common in Argentina, as well as Chile. We were even told once by the person at the hotel front desk, when I asked about getting to some nearby site, to "just hitchhike, it is what everyone does". We didn't. To ingrained in me.
    Quick selfie w/ the GoPro, stopped n the side of the road to soak Carol down with water.
    Corn and/or soybeans growing on either side of the road. .
    On this trip from Bariloche, we've really enjoyed and would recommend the hotel's we've stayed at - except not so much this one. The others all had character, and were owner operated. This one was soulless and just bland. A place to spend the night. At least it was that!
    Davidprej likes this.
  6. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA, 2016 R1200RT Supporter

    Jan 4, 2014
    San Jose, CA
    Day 5: 193 miles from Pehaujó to Complejo Bungalobos in Laguna Lobos

    Our friends Chris and Sharon Struna spent a month in and around Buenos Aires earlier this year. When they found out we were going to end our trip in BA, Sharon said we HAD to visit this Estancia with a French castle - the Estancia la Candelaria. Sharon is pretty thorough about vetting sites to see and places to go (we've benefited from her research several times before), so we decided we'd trust her on that and we arranged to come into BA on the route that goes by the Estancia. I contacted the Estancia to see about room availability for the coming weekend. They have a variety of accommodations, some in the castle and others in surrounding buildings, at various price points. But the only room available was in the castle, and it was the main bedroom on the second floor, with a balcony that was at the front of the castle, above the main entryway. Ok - how often are we going to stay in a French castle in Argentina? And we've been spending very little on housing - the three nights at the lodge in Bariloche were free, and the hotels along our route from there have been well below budget. So we sprang for it. The price was all inclusive including meals, horseback riding, tours, etc - except for alcoholic beverages.

    From the uninspiring Hotel del Solar in Pehaujó, we were a day's ride away from the Estancia. But our reservation was for Sat/Sun and this was Thursday, so we needed to kill a couple of days, and we were not wanting to do that at the Hotel del Solar. I found a bungalo/cabaña through Booking.com at a lake-side town very near the Estancia, at Complejo Bungalobos in Laguna Lobos, and we spent two nights there before going to the Estancia.

    While there I took the down day to do some maintenance on the bikes, and one of the things I wanted to do was fix carol's running light. One of them had stopped working just the day before, and it was the one I had soldered the leads onto after the connector disintegrated, back in Chile Chico, Chile. When I took it apart, I saw that one of the solder joints had failed. The pin on the bulb is not really made to be soldered to - it is a metal alloy that does not like to "wet" the solder, so I was worried about it lasting when I first made the repair. The owners of the bungalos, Daniel and Rita, where very nice, and Daniel was a real handyman. Daniel saw me working and asked if he could help - he said anything I needed he probably had, "Just ask, Jaime" he said. I asked if he had a soldering iron - and he did! I explained to him what was I was trying to do and why, and I was impressed that he really understood, and quickly, despite the language barrier. He got it, that there was a missing, broken receptacle, and he understood that solder didn't want to wet the pin on the bulb. He is a fix-it guy, just like me :-)

    He watched me as I tried to get solder wet the pin on the bulb. Then he sad "I may have something" and took the bulb from me and went to his shop. He came back with a two-pin receptacle with tinned leads that was EXACTLY the right type for the bulb! I never imagined that I'd find that replacement before returning to the states (I have looked), yet alone that I'd get it from the owner/handyman of a small hostel in the countryside! I soldered the connector leads to the wires and the light is as good as new. Then Carol, who watched all this, said "ask him about rivets!"

    Due to the many times she has dropped her bike, some snap rivets that hold the latches together on her panniers have broke and come out. I reported earlier how outside of Santiago, a handyman at the hotel we were at helped me to get the latch functional again with some stiff wire - it worked but was a real kludge. And in El Calafate, I had to go to this so-called machinist to get him to drill out a pin on the latch to use an oversized rivet because that's all I could find in the hardware store there. When in Chiloé another rivet came out, I went to a Sodimac (like a Home Depot) and bought some snap rivets and a rivet tool - not something most motorcyclist are carrying around with them, but it is small and relatively inexpensive. Should have done it sooner! With that, I was able to get her latches almost 100% functional - but I found that for two rivets, I needed longer ones than what I had purchased. I asked Daniel, and he said "I told you Jamie, just ask!" He walked to his shop and came back with rivets (remaches - one of many odd Spanish words I've had to learn), and he had exactly the diameter and length I needed. So now Carol has functioning latches on her panniers, and two functioning running lights, thanks to Daniel. I really liked him - I told Carol that he and I would probably be friends if lived near the each other.

    Day 5 scenery - pretty familiar by now.
    This grass with the white tops was pretty cool. Sometimes, with nothing but low grass or stiff brush, it is hard to tell exactly which way the wind is blowing. But the white tassels of this tuft-grass act like very visible wind-socks - you could tell in a glance which way the wind was blowing. And they were pretty.
    Almost at the end of these - but this is what the ride was! Lots of cattle ranches mixed in with corn and soybean fields.
    And finally we arrived at the Complejo Bungalobos

    Daniel and Rita, the owners of Complejo Bungalobos. Thanks Daniel for your help!
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  7. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA, 2016 R1200RT Supporter

    Jan 4, 2014
    San Jose, CA
    From Complejo Bungalobos it was only 15 minutes to the Estancia la Candeleria. We were told check-in was at 11:00 AM and we were there a bit after 10:00 AM, which turned out to be good, because they have tours that come in from Buenos Aires for day tours, and a tour buss came in right behind us. So we were quickly checked in, given a brief orientation and schedule of events and were able to get to the coffee and pastry reception before the crowd arrived.

    For the weekends, they have a number of special activities, which the people coming in by buss for the day tours can participate in as well as the guests staying overnight. This is one reason to try and stay over a weekend, as we had read. We took advantage of pretty much everything they offered. We went to a class on how to make Argentinian empeñadas, we did horseback riding, a guided nature walk and a historical tour of the castle. We also ate until we were really pretty much sick of eating! They fed us very well.

    Despite the activities, we had plenty of time to explore the grounds and the castle on our own, as well as just relax. One afternoon, I took out my guitalele, sat on the balcony, and played. I messaged my son; "Today I played a 17th century Spanish baroque composition for classical guitar, on my guitalele, while sitting on a balcony, in a French castle, in Argentina." Seems like something to check of a list of some sort.

    Brief history: The Estancia was one of the many land-grant type of Estancias that were established in the 1800's. It became a productive sheep ranch, and passed through several owners. The original land holdings were huge - 10's of thousands of acres. One of them had the idea to build a French castle and to use it to bring wealthy people out from Buenos Aires to wine and dine, and to get them to invest in the Estancia. Apparently that actually worked, and for many years it functioned as such. It was lived in by the family, but it was used as a guest house for the rich and famous. Eventually after generations, the land was divided up and sold off through inheritances as the generations passed on, and the Estancia associated with the castle did not have sufficient land to be self-sustaining. It was sold to an association, who runs it today as a tourist facility. It is also a polo club - I learned that polo is actually very popular in Argentina.
    That is the entry and driveway to the estate. Impressive driveway.
    These are the grounds around the castle. They are incredible - huge trees of various sorts and well manicured grass.

    This is the pine-cone (of sorts) of an Araucaraia tree, which is closely related the so-called Monkey Puzzle Tree, or Chilean Pine This tree is probably 200 feet tall, and that pine cone is larger than a pineapple! They were littering the ground under the trees, and there were signs saying to not walk under the trees!

    That is one of the cones from the tree. And they are dense - not like a sugar pine cone of the pacific northwest. This thing would take you out if it hit you on the head!
    The castle. Apparently, in order to be a castle and not just a big house or mansion, you have to have a chapel. There is one - we walked through it. It is sort of in disrepair and suffering from pigeon infestation. Even though this was an expensive weekend, I do not see how they can keep up the grounds and all of the buildings with just tourism. The cost to operate and maintain such a place must be huge.


    Empeñada class. It was all in Spanish - we learned a few things, but I think we need to read the book before we try it on our own!
    The asado - getting ready for lunch. At lunch, they brought out this cast-iron tray with a drip pan under it, whch was sizzling hot and loaded with various cuts of beef, pork, lamb and I don't know what all. And various sausages. And a huge plate of potatoes and another of salad. We made at least a dent in it - and felt pretty good about it when the took it away - then they brought another! Another sizzling hot platter of some other meat - looked like it was all beef. We tagged out. No wonder Argentinians eat dinner at 10:00 PM. Second day the lunch was a bit more subdued, but still sizeable and more than we could eat.

    After lunch the first day there was traditional dancing. Similar to what we saw in Salta. At one point they walk around the audience and pick people to come dance with them. The amazing thing is, that these random people seem to all know some basic steps - I assume it is taught in school. But then ... the woman in the photo to the right ... she walks down and picks ME! I was awful. She was very good at trying to coach me and tell me what to do. Carol has pictures and video on her phone but she wont let me see it until she is through with it - whatever that means. She's afraid I'll delete it, LOL!
    We went horseback riding - something neither of us have really done before. I did some when I was a teenager, carol maybe did a pony ride at the fair when she was a kid! My take: I prefer my motorcycle.

    But .. I was able to get my horse to do what I wanted! Felt pretty good about that. Carol did good too. But we have pretty much the same opinion; "ok - did that, check."
    This is taken from the balcony of our room - where I sat and played the guitalele.

    Sitting area inside the castle.
    Another sitting area. You could actually sit in these seats - I sat and read here for some time. There were other seats with signs saying to stay off, but most of the furniture you could use.
    There was a service building about 50m to the side of the castle, and they let us park our motorcycles there, under the awning.
    DSC09719.JPG The balcony above the main entryway leads into our room.
    The dining hall - like something from Downton Abbey! This room was just for show - but you could sit in the chairs.
    Iguana! First iguana we have seen since Ecuador. It is a sign of how far north we have come since Ushuaia, and how different the climate is here compared to the west coast at the same latitude. This guy was about 30" long, and we saw two other smaller ones of the same type under a log nearby, that were about 12" long.

    On the guided nature walk we took, the guide led us to this dry lake bed, where he pointed out this nutria. We saw a pair of these just one other time, in Chile, on a tour of the vineyard at a winery.
    Our guide said this was a "Chawcaw" (spelling probably wrong), after the sound it makes - "Chaw-caw!" First one I've seen on this trip.
    On our nature walk - a Cocoi Hearon - not the Great Blue Hearon we are familiar with in North America, but similar in appearance.
    Our room had this cool wardrobe. Reminded me of Chronicles of Narnia.
    Our room.
  8. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA, 2016 R1200RT Supporter

    Jan 4, 2014
    San Jose, CA
    We had been looking at apartments on AirBnB for the past week, and one afternoon while we were at the Estancia, we reviewed options one more time and pulled the plug on the place we are at now. But it was not available to move into until Tuesday, and we were in the Estancia for Saturday and Sunday - so we had to do something for Monday. I found another cabaña (Cabañas Iremia) that was just outside of the tourist town of Uribelarrea. This was only 30 minutes down the road from the Estancia, but it was 30 minutes closer to Buenos Aires, so our ride in the next day would be easy.


    It was a nice place to spend the night before our final ride in South America - into Buenos Aires. From here we were only 1.5 hrs to the apartment in Palermo.
    jowul, roadcapDen and MrMac like this.
  9. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA, 2016 R1200RT Supporter

    Jan 4, 2014
    San Jose, CA
    Several "end of the journey" tidbits happened in the last few days: Two nights ago, after I completed the AirBnB reservation for our apartment, it dawned on me that I had made the last reservation for our trip, in terms of motorcycle travel, outside of the USA (excluding our as yet unplanned excursion to Igauzu). Figuring out where to stay, looking up places on Google, Booking.com, AirBnB, iOverlander and making the reservations - all this has been such a constant part of my life for the past year. It was strange to think I am done doing that.

    Another happened the morning we were gearing up for the drive from Cabañas Iremia into Palermo. We only had about 80 miles to ride that day, and I looked at my trip meter (the one I reset every time I fill up) and it hit me; I told Carol "We wont need to buy gas again until Los Angeles!" That was also strange to realize. We do not plan to ride the bikes here in the city - so they will stay parked until we take them to the airport (we are shipping the bikes by air, to Los Angeles, using Dakar Motors) and they should arrive in Los Angeles with 50+ miles of fuel range.

    And then of course there was the ride into the city - the last day of riding in South America. We started out in the countryside, and it was a nice ride. There is always some anxiety riding into a big city (BA is huge!), but traffic was actually not so bad. We were fearing traffic like we had in Lima, Mexico City, Bogota ... but it wasn't anything like our experience with those cities. Heavy, city traffic, but "sane" traffic - nothing scary or overly confusing. And the rain that was in the forecast failed to materialize, but the temps were cooler, which was great. So it was a nice ride, but strange to think it was our last ride in SA.

    I've started thinking about when to call the trip "finished", when to stop this trip report. The trip, and this report, began in California - and it wont seem over to us until we get back there. But we do not have a house to return to - we left on Day 1 from a rental house that we were in for only six months, after we sold our house. But the first night of the trip we stayed at a vineyard estate in Paso Robles, CA (Allegretto Vineyards, Post #3) and our thought now is that on our way north from Los Angeles, we will stop at that same vineyard (Allegretto), and spend two nights there. There is a winemaker there that we met on our first stop, and she has followed us on Facebook some. We hope to meet her again, and maybe we will call that the end of the journey (fin de viaje). Obviously we have a journey ahead of us as we figure out where to settle, and we will likely be nomads for some months that follow, but that's really a different journey.

    But we have four weeks of adventures here in Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls - I will definitely report on that. And I always appreciate it when people post details about their bike transport experience so I will cover that as well. More to come but the end is in sight!

    One thing that is on our radar, as it is for anyone traveling out of the country at the moment, is the potential for COVID-19 to impact our travels. So far there are only a few cases in Argentina reported, but four weeks is a long time in the life cycle of a contagious virus. The big concern would be travel restrictions - but that is what it is, and we'll just take it as it comes.
    jowul, AngusMcL, Velko and 7 others like this.
  10. Davidprej

    Davidprej Davidprej Supporter

    Dec 27, 2012
    Lafayette, LA
    Great pics and I love the detailed reports. I'm saving places you visited and stayed on my Google Maps. To that end, I found Villa El Chocon (with no second 'h'). https://goo.gl/maps/7dbTFEYMpWEa5h8G6

    And there's a Catriel https://goo.gl/maps/YvbqCFsUHqFhBALa8 with the Hotel la Posada del Rio Colorado. I found the rest of the places you visited.

    I'm not trying to be a nit-picky you-know-what, just enjoy following along and want to make sure I'm not lost. Good luck with the Coronavirus. Things are developing fast and unpredictably.
  11. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA, 2016 R1200RT Supporter

    Jan 4, 2014
    San Jose, CA
    Thanks - I need an proof reader! I try to get the spelling and accents correct on the Spanish names, and the towns in particular, so I seriously appreciate the correction. I edited my post to correct my spelling of Chocón, which I think I spelled three different ways, all wrong :-)

    Glad you are finding the post interesting and useful - have you tried clicking on the Google "My Maps" links I've shared with the map images? Even if I spell things wrong, the tracks shown there are taken from my Garmin Inreach Mini, and it knows where I've been even if i don't :-)
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  12. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA, 2016 R1200RT Supporter

    Jan 4, 2014
    San Jose, CA
    We spent our first two day sin Buenos Aires just relaxing - and today we thought we'd start checking out some museums, and ... today (today!) they closed all museums as a preventative measure, due to the Coronavirus :-(

    With the museums closed, it really impacts our plans for touring the city. There were at least a half dozen museums we hoped to go to. I am checking on flights to go up to Iguazu - they haven't shutdown the outdoors yet, so we should still be able to go see the waterfall!

    Here are a couple of pictures I took just now, from our apartment balcony. Pretty cool view. It is somewhat ironic how the stun setting in smog is always so pretty - just like Los Angeles :-)


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  13. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA, 2016 R1200RT Supporter

    Jan 4, 2014
    San Jose, CA
    Well - things continue to evolve here as elsewhere, as regards COVID-19/Coronavirus in general, and travel in particular. Argentina has already shutdown incoming AND OUTGOING direct flights to the USA (and other high-risk countries), and in additions to the museums, theaters and the like being closed, now, all national parks (including Iguazu) are closed.

    So ... we have moved into full-on "get the heck out of Dodge" mode. But it isn't so simple. We can still (as I'm writing this - but things change almost by the hour) fly home using non-direct flights. In particular there are several options connecting in either Bogota, Colombia or Panama City, Panama. But we also have to get the motorcycles out. This morning Dakar Motos says that the flight ban includes the commercial flights they use - but they are working on other options with some optimism. They have 15 other travelers stuck here they are trying to help - we are not alone. I will get an update from them tomorrow. I have told them we would also consider shipping to Mexico, and we are looking at taking the ferry to Uruguay (right across the channel from BA). I don't know about shipping options there, but you can get a 1 yr TIP and store your bike.

    But .. (as I said, changes by the hour) .. tonight at 5:00 PM the President (of Argentina) will make a speech to the nation, and the rumor is that he will announce a 10 day total lock-down on all travel. If that indeed happens, it will at least make our short-term decision making process simple!

    If we had to get stuck somewhere, this isn't so bad. But we are anxious to get home to family. We'll take it a day at a time - this is called "adventure travel", right?

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  14. danisOTR

    danisOTR Living Life on the Road Supporter

    Apr 13, 2007
    Traveling in the US
    We are in Celestun Mexico contemplating hunkering down until this passes. The closest population base is Merida which is 50+ miles away. Our hosts are encouraging us to stay. We teach them English they teach us spanish. Fresh seafood daily. Tempting.
    eakins, jowul, JimsBeemer and 4 others like this.
  15. 2004ret

    2004ret Adventurer Supporter

    Apr 15, 2006
    Coronado, Ca
    Epic trip deserves nothing more than an epic ending - not necessarily this ending, but a big challenge none the less. Congrats on nearly completing a couples trip for the ages, and a huge thank you for taking us along, by this epic ride report, packed with useful information for whoever chooses to follow your journey in years to come! Safe travels home, enjoy the ending!
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  16. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA, 2016 R1200RT Supporter

    Jan 4, 2014
    San Jose, CA
    Here is an update on our situation. Uruguay closed all land and sea borders with Argentina shortly after my last post - so that option was ruled out. Fewer options makes life simpler. Javier and Sandra at Dakar Motos said that they cannot get any freight shipments out - even some that were scheduled were cancelled (we met one of those riders, from Canada - more later). Then through a post I had made on the Panamercan Riders Association Facebook page, we got into touch with Eddie, a rider from Colombia, who was also trying to ship his bike with Dakar Motos. Eddie gone and asked about suspending the TIP at the Argentinian aduana office, and it seemed doable from what they told him. Dakar Motos had negative opinion on that option, but it seemed to be no issue when he talked to the aduana office. And we also realized that when we crossed into Argentina last time, they gave us 8 months on our TIP, not the 90 days I had assumed! So even if we just left with existing TIP, we'd still have until October to come back and get our bikes out of the country.

    Considering all this, we decided that the basic plan we'd work towards was to get tickets to fly out, find a place to store the bike, and if we could suspend the TIP, all the better, if not, we have a hard date by which to return (October 21, 2020 was date on TIP).

    So I got tickets - which was a bit hard because when I tried to do it online it showed lots of available flights, but it kept failing to ticket at the last step. I called United (I am booking through them) and was told it would be a 2 hr wait to talk with someone! But it turned out to be only ~45 minutes, and the agent was able to get us booked for flights this coming Saturday. She also explained that the online system is not keeping up with flight availability, and the flights I was trying to purchase were actually sold out. Most flights were sold out - Saturday was earliest we could fly. But in any case, that part was done. We've got a ticket to ride.

    We teamed up with Eddie and started looking for places to store the bike. This is how things go in the international adv rider world: Eddie, whom we met online through Facebook, had met a Canadian rider, Zachary, at some point in the past, I think Peru. They happened to reconnect here in BA. Zack was one of the people with a scheduled shipment for his bike with Dakar Motos that was cancelled (thanks to Air Canada). Zack had found this motorcycle parking business and told Eddie about it, and last night Eddie, Carol and I went to check it out. It is perfect - we are sharing a parking spot with Eddie - three bikes in one space in a gated, guarded parking structure in a good part of town, and only about a mile from our AirBnB. Other motorcycles are parked there long term as well - motorcycle parking is their business. We looked at two other options, and by far this was the best one; I'm very comfortable leaving the bikes there. Owners are Ed and Elisa, both riders themselves. Ed is a US expat and Elisa is from Spain and was a college professor. After checking out the parking, Ed had us all (Carol and I, Zachary and Eddie) over to his house for a few beers and to meet Elisa - we had a great time; Ed has a lot of interesting stories from his very eventful life! This is their business: https://www.xfiltrate.com

    Zachary had already gone to the aduana and successfully had is TIP suspended - he said it was straightforward, and the process and documents he needed were exactly what the aduana told Eddie when he inquired about it. It is a good thing when you get consistent information from a bureaucracy!

    So just an hour ago, Eddie, Carol and I all rode to the aduana with letters requesting the suspension of our TIPs due to the pandemic and no ability to get the bikes out of the country, copies of various other documents, and in less than 30 minutes we had the suspension! It was not difficult at all. I think they realize that they have to accommodate people in this situation - if it was normal times, I suspect it may be more difficult.

    So everything is in order for us to leave on Saturday - we found a department store nearby that had some cheap, large suitcases, and we are going to buy one of those to unload some stuff we need from our panniers. Then we park the bikes and wait for Saturday. Risk is that airports can close - rumor is that Bogota is going to close soon, and Argentina is stopping all domestic (but not international) flights and long distance buses for the next week, because of a holiday coming up, and they don't want people to travel. We are (we hope) flying into Panama City, then to Houston and on to LAX, As long as Panama doesn't shut down international flights between now and Saturday (which honestly is not a given) we should make it home!

    Meanwhile things here continue to get more restrictive. I was stopped when coming back form the copy store today, by the apartment security - I had to show them my passport to prove that I have been in Argentina for more than 14 days. I was also told that because I was over 60, I was supposed to wear a face mask when on the street, for my own protection. The other day, on the way to check out the parking, the Taxi driver was afraid of us because we are from the USA. This (fear of Americans) is a real thing - we can tell that people get nervous when they find out we are from the USA. Most are ok when I explain we have been out of the USA for over a year. But here in Argentina, this isn't a "China virus" (and I hate that needless slight used by Trump), it is primarily an American (USA) and Italian virus. They have setup blockades on the highways, and they are stopping you if you have foreign plates, and if you haven't been in Argentina for 14 days or more, you are forced into quarantine. Our friends Chris and Sharon are currently in this situation in Gobernador Gregores, and there are plenty of other similar accounts on the various forums. Thankfully we have been in the country for more than that so it isn't an issue for us.

    We just have to hope that the international flights don't shut down. And it seems really strange to be leaving our bikes behind - especially for me. I feel like I'm abandoning it after it faithfully brought me all this way, lol. "I'll be back for you, don't worry!"

    Eddie! Thanks so much for all your help amigo! And nice bike by the way! Eddie grew up in New Jersey, but has moved to Colombia and owns a hostel in Salento, Colombia. Having someone that speaks Spanish fluently was a huge help to us at the aduana.
    These photos were taken this morning in front of the aduana office - all smiles because we got our TIP suspensions!!
    jowul, AngusMcL, Joris van O and 12 others like this.
  17. Turkeycreek

    Turkeycreek Gringo Viejo

    Oct 26, 2010
    Banámichi, Sonora, Mexico
    The ADV community is amazing the way we help one another. As are the connections we make. (Ed and Elisa stayed with us in Banamichi about 2 years ago. great people.)
    Good luck
  18. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA, 2016 R1200RT Supporter

    Jan 4, 2014
    San Jose, CA

    Truly! And it is a relatively compact and intertwined community - as evidenced by the fact that you have met Ed and Elisa! That is awesome. The picture is us with Ed, Elisa, Eddie (from Colombia) and Zachcary (from Montreal) taken at Ed and Elisa's house here in BA. Image quality is poor, but the memory it records is not! From L to R Zachary, Ed, Elisa, Eddie, Carol, myself.

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  19. 95Monster

    95Monster Long timer

    Feb 4, 2015
    Los Angeles
    Great news, Jim. Glad yall are coming home while this thing, hopefully, sorts itself out.
    JimsBeemer likes this.
  20. Parcero

    Parcero Mundial Supporter

    Aug 7, 2008
    Chicago physically, Colombia en mi mente.
    Best of luck getting home safely. Keep us posted on your progress.
    JimsBeemer likes this.