The Grand Tour. South America in 100 days.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by muf722, Nov 14, 2017.

  1. muf722

    muf722 Muf

    Joined:
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    160
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    The two other bikes are a 2013 R1200 GS WC and a F800 GS. Owned by Joaquim on the far right and his friend in the middle. They are from the southern part of Brazil and are on an Ushuaia tour via Ruta 3 down and Ruta 40 back. They will ride all the long way to Ushuaia today, while I will take it slow and stop in Rio Grande.

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    I make a wrong turn and end up on an unplanned gravel road. I stop and check and its 100 km of gravel before I'm back on the planned route. I decide to do the detour, since I have the time, and it will be a good test of the gravel down here and the Anakees.

    The gravel in Chile turns out to be fine, and I'm soon confident to go 90-100 kph.

    Oh yes. There are two border crossings today, entering Chile and ending up back in Argentina. They make it easy with a numbered process at each border point.

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    Rio Grande was uneventful. Barren and flat like everything else in the last days. Now its the final push to the end of the world. A police check underway.

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    As you go south on Ruta 3, the bushes become smaller and smaller and in the end only yellow grass will grow. The receptionist in Rio Grande tells me Ushuaia is so beautiful and that I can look foward to get there. I cant believe her, since it must be more of the same. Surely nothing can grow that far south.

    Within a hundred km of Ushuaia, things suddenly change. Trees, no forrests of trees, and mountains show up. Roads have curves in them. What a pleasant surprise. I had no idea, which only shows how little research I have done on my route and destinations.

    The drone gets to fly here in my excitement.
    roadcapDen, DavidM1 and Parcero like this.
  2. muf722

    muf722 Muf

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2009
    Oddometer:
    160
    Location:
    Scandinavia
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  3. muf722

    muf722 Muf

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Far north actually. Leaving Ruta 40 for Chile today where I will stay for the remainder of the tour. Falling behind on the report due to missing internet the last week.

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    I did find some good coffee yesterday at Catedral. The ski village near Bariloche.
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  4. muf722

    muf722 Muf

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    Sep 21, 2009
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    Report is on hold, until I get back home. My Iphone has been run over by a car and is dead. My Gopro is lost in a park a week ago. Both my cameras have damage but are still working. The main problem is the harddrive where I store all data is broken beyond repair. I will try a disk repair shop when I get back, but my hopes are not high.:devildog
    joenuclear likes this.
  5. Parcero

    Parcero Mundial

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,294
    Location:
    Chicago physically, Colombia en mi mente.
    Enjoy the rest of the trip, in an old-school analog way. Looking forward to hearing about the rest of it.
  6. btrrtlwtr

    btrrtlwtr Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2014
    Oddometer:
    62
    ouch sorry to hear about all the hardware but as long as the hard drive between your ears is still working !!
  7. joenuclear

    joenuclear Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,101
    Location:
    Top of the Ouchitas, bottom of the Ozarks.

    It will just be a different kind of Adventure. Thanks for what you've shown us so far.
  8. powderzone

    powderzone Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2016
    Oddometer:
    386
    Location:
    Calgary
    Thanks for taking us along for the ride. Looking forward to future updates. Ride safe!
  9. muf722

    muf722 Muf

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2009
    Oddometer:
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    Scandinavia
    I´m back. Back home and back with the rest of the report.

    Lets just say I was kind of down a few days after realizing the amount of videos and photos I have lost. Roughly 400 GB of data. And finding out, that I can only blame my own ignorance and temper, as the cause. I plugged a 2 TB harddisk into my netbook for storage of all data. Since there was not enough room for the netbooks original USB power adapter behind the desk in the hotel, I used a phone USB adapter that fit. Later I found that this combo had drained the netbooks battery really fast instead of charging it. So the harddisk never really failed! It was just low voltage that gave this appearance. I have a history of failing harddisks, so when I made this analysis it was too late. I had smashed the disk on the corner of the desk and then to the floor leaving it in 8 pieces. So much for bad temper. I think it´s technically possible to recover the data by transferring the disks to a new one, but I think it´s going to be crazy expensive. Losing the pictures from my phone is another story.


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    Approaching Ushuaia, the landscape changes from barren to beautiful. Big surprise.

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    Getting close. Amazing views.

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    At the gate to Ushuaia. I feel happy reaching my primary goal. From here, everything is icing on the cake. The blue sign is an example to the active Falkland Islands campaign. The feelings run high down here. Something the Top Gear guys experienced first hand when they got kicked out.

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    From Ushuaia, Ruta 3 continues as a gravel road until here, where this sign marks the very end. The end of the world. Apparently it´s only 17848 km to Alaska. I´m at 19500 km riding from Colombia. Besides riding the continent from north to south, I also zigzagged west to east and feel happy about my longer route.
    powderzone, PapaDontPreach and Don T like this.
  10. muf722

    muf722 Muf

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2009
    Oddometer:
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    Even though I arrived one day later than the two brazilians I met earlier, I have now caught up and we meet by chance at the beginning of a long trek up to Laguna Esmaralda. So we join for the day.

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    The reception at my hosteria was helpful in choosing what to do while in Ushuaia. The route up to the lake is full of perfect views of rivers, waterfalls and mountains.

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    Laguna Esmaralda

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    All pictures taken with the drone on a short 5 min flight. Not to disturb other visitors.
    roadcapDen likes this.
  11. muf722

    muf722 Muf

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    River with several beaver dams

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    My tracker logged 22800 steps today. Considering how extreme the weather might be in Ushuaia, we were pretty lucky with calm winds and up to 15 C.

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    The reverse view from the lake. We were approached by someone who asked us if we were the three bikers. Indeed yes. "Well then. One of you have left a GPS on the bike." Me. The surprise of meeting the other two had made me forget to lock the GPS away while we were talking.

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    Untouched for four hours! On shorter stops, I always leave the GPS locked in the holder, but here my plan was to lock it in the pannier. My tent, sleeping pads and bike cover are always left on the bike. I have never had anything stolen from my bike. The two brazilians joke that no GS have ever made it across Sao Paolo.
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  12. muf722

    muf722 Muf

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    Before late lunch we stop at the official "Fin Del Mundo" monument in the harbour to take pictures. Its not very nice and we use the sign close to the monument instead.

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    On almost every sticker or tourist souvenir from Ushuaia, the lighthouse is depicted. I want to go there, but find it´s located far out in the bay some 12 km from downtown. There´s a gravel road along the coast part of way and a path even further and with a long flight with the drone I might reach the island with the lighthouse.

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    After 19 km of walking today, my legs are not up to the 5 hour hike out and back to the take-off point for the drone, so I will not make it to the lighthouse. Instead I make a shorter flight. Ferrys depart Ushuaia everyday for Antarctica and I follow a few of them.


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    I just realize that Antarctica is the last continent for me to explore on a bike. Well. Maybe not.
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  13. muf722

    muf722 Muf

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    Its an early morning departing Ushuaia. My plan is to ride past Rio Grande, up to San Sebastian, check out at the Argentinian border, ride to the Chilian border and check in, then ride the all gravel route to Povenir. All in all 450 km and to arrive before 1300. Then catch a ferry to Punta Arenas on the other side of the Magellan Strait. There´s only one ferry today and the next one will leave 30 hours later. So the weather, police check points, road works, road conditions and border crossings all need to play along and run smoothly for the plan to work. I have coffee with the two Brazilians at a gas station and we say "so long" as they will travel on tarmac and go further north today. At one border post, I arrive just after a busload of tourists, and I have to jump the line to stay on schedule.


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    The gravel route Y-71 to Povenir. It follows the coast and eventually got nice and curvy. With the ferry deadline in mind, I made this the only stop, and let my Gopro take all the photos. They are now gone. My planning was spot on and I arrive at the ferry at 1315. Just enough time to buy a ticket to the 1400 departure. The ticket office was in chaos since all computers were broken and the single line to a manual ticket vendor was very slow.

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    A small repair of one of the extra lights was necessary when I found it dangling from the wire. Strips and tape make for a quick fix.


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    On the ferry I meet the Colombian rider of this Super Tenere. He has spend two days riding from Ushuaia and had a fall on the gravel. He blame the tires which I find hard to believe as I know the Karoos quite well. They are great, but wear too quickly for this trip. The Anakees have been fine for the gravel roads down here. I meet him once more further north a week later.



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    New country, new beer. Punta Arenas, Chile.
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  14. muf722

    muf722 Muf

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    Short riding day up to Puerto Natales. Not too many features on these roads. Weather looks fine, but it is very windy.

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    Puerto Natales will be my base for a visit to Torres del Paine. In the afternoon, I ride up near the entrance to the park to scout a possible route in. Also the weather forecast for tomorrow is bad, and this may be the only chance to get a view of the mountains.

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    My planned route is closed off. I will have to use the northern entrance.

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    I take a photo of a wall map to plan my tour of the park. All the roads shown are gravel and I will ride around the park and do some hikes. Plenty of wind warning triangles on the map.
  15. muf722

    muf722 Muf

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    On the road to the park, I stop to take some photos of a double ended rainbow. A passing bus caused such a heavy wind gust, that I lost grip of my Sony camera and it hit a rock and cracked the housing. Somehow it still works. The rainbow is hardly visible so not worth the shot.

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    The gravel roads are not well maintained but mostly fine. Some washboard sections. The main challenge was the wind. It could blow you across the road and I felt most safe in the center.

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    Its cold and windy, so I dont care to remove my helmet. Not even for a selfie.

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    A waterfall from Lago Nordenskjöld. No drone shots today. Its too windy.
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  16. muf722

    muf722 Muf

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2009
    Oddometer:
    160
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    Scandinavia
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    Weather was a factor today. Scenery was fine.

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    Llama posing

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    If you stay quiet, they do not move.

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    Torres del Paine
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  17. muf722

    muf722 Muf

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2009
    Oddometer:
    160
    Location:
    Scandinavia
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    After a coffee break, I find my bike knocked over from the wind. I did think of it, when I left it on the sidestand, but concluded it would be almost impossible. Is was possible.

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    I head for Lago Grey. The furthest you can ride in the park. Nice scenery underway.

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    Almost there and another puncture. I come to a stop on the left side of the road so I can spot passing traffic. Its the rear again. Notice my Gopro on the handlebar. I take it off to change the battery later on and perhaps I leave it on the ground next to my helmet. Anyway, it is still there on the ground somewhere, my mind going elsewhere. If you feel for a treasure hunt, the position is S51*07.879 W73*04.491. Find it you keep it, but please mail me the memory card.


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    The noise of the wind made it hard to locate the hole but here it is. I´m afraid my skills entering plugs has not improved so reaching 0.8 Bar still pumping, the pressure suddenly went back to 0. Bummer. So I enter my last full plug leaving me with a half used one and I use the last CO2 cartridge. I pump like crazy again but I can feel the little pump failing. I only reach 1.2 Bar and the dash flashes red for unsafe. The nearest manned location is the entrance ranger station some 55 km away so I will try to call for help. The high price to enter the park should ensure a good safety level. Cell phone coverage is non existing out here, but I always carry a sat-phone. I find telephone numbers for the ranger station and the police, in the pamphlet they hand out with the entrance ticket and make a call to the ranger station. They seem to refuse to understand english so I call the police. Same story. Only spanish is spoken so I try my best with saying Emergencia and repeating my position and ask for help. The policeman try to transfer me to another line, but it´s just a ringing phone with no answer. I hang up and try all over again, but without any luck. There has been three passing cars during the last hour and I have stopped them all. None have a pump. Finally I decide to ride with the tire as is, to the ranger station.
    Parcero, Don T, knight and 2 others like this.
  18. JoeBiker25

    JoeBiker25 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2014
    Oddometer:
    140
    Location:
    Gilroy, CA
    Brilliant photos!!! WOW!
    Sucks to lose your GoPro footage and your HD issues. I have had lots of HD and memory card failures and everytime all files were recovered with the right software.
  19. muf722

    muf722 Muf

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2009
    Oddometer:
    160
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    Scandinavia
    I still hope for a possible data recovery, but haven´t been to the disc doctor yet due weather. My car is on summer tires and winter is refusing to yield.
    Parcero likes this.
  20. muf722

    muf722 Muf

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2009
    Oddometer:
    160
    Location:
    Scandinavia
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    I make it to the ranger station. The pressure actually goes up a little on the way due to the rise in temperature in the tire. Good plug. I borrow a pump to restore the pressure to normal.

    Inside, I explain my phone calls to the police and ask them to call off any rescue attempt. They confirm that most likely there is none due to my poor spanish! I head back towards Puerto Natales.

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    Halfway to Puerto Natales, the plug fails. Tire pressure is back at zero. I´m left with half a used plug, no CO2 and a failing small pump. I do my best, but can soon tell that despite my efforts I still have a leak.

    I need help.

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    Yes. Overlanders to the rescue. Janine and Gunther stop and offer the necessary plugs and tools and Otto II (the merc) supply electricity for the compressor. Try to google Gunther Holtorf. He is a very famous traveller and hold several records. We end up talking for hours. The missing air valve dust cover that went flying in the wind was replaced with a three pointed star one.