ArgentinaPosted by Espen Thu, November 10, 2011 18:20:52
landscape changes dramatically when we cross the border to Argentina from
Carretera Austral. Suddenly we are back on pampas and plains that go on
forever. We were almost out of foood and fuel as we chose not to stock up in
Chile before crossing the border. Not that we've had any issues with food going
into Argentina, but you never know. The fuel in Argentina is also a little bit
cheaper than in Chile, especially in Patagonia as they hav a few cents
"Patagonia-discount". Probably some kind of subsidizing from the
government for people living in a region considered to be quite far away from
gas station sent us away with a "no hay gasoil". Da##! We wondered if
the fuel situation could be as bad as up north. Also note the South Argentinean
word for diesel - gasoil. Dangerously close to gasolin, and we did actually run
into a german backppacker couple that had just bought a car (petrol engine) in
Chile, and got it filled filled up with diesel as soon as they got across the
border... They had filled up somwehere ut in the sticks, and had to spend the
night at a run down hotel full of local truckers. The funny part was that we
had driven past that same hotel the day after they got going again, and thought
it was kind of a strange place, like out of a roadmovie.
asking around in Perito Moreno we found a Petrobras fuel station that had
proper diesel and filled up. Next up was finding a supermarket, but for some strange
reason everything was closed. It was Sunday, but normally shops are open. We
soon discovered that it was election day in Argentina this day, and everybody
was over at the city hall to vote. More asking around, and finallly we found a
small Tienda with some bread, cheese, pasta, vegetables, and even chicken
filets. But anything with alcohol was completely out of the question.
on the pampas are normally fast and good. Most are paved, but here and there we
come across roadwork that slow us down. In a couple of years you can probably
do the PanAm in a Ferrari...
Some of the
smaller roads are still gravel, of course, but with good suspencion you can
still blast across the plains doing a hundred kilometers per hour.
On our way
south we stopped at an UNESCO world heritage site, Cueva los Manos. This is an
amazing site where you can study 9000 years old rock art up close. Take a close
look at the pictures. These are the original paint. No reconstructions!
The road we
are now driving south is the "Ruta 40". This road runs for more than
5000 kilometers parallell with the Andes mountain range from the northern part
of Argentina and all the way down south. Now mostly paved, but this was THE
adventurous rute for years and years. Getting closer to the Park Nacional Los
Glaciares, we took off and headed west towards Mount Fitz Roy and the town El
is a nice little town with camping in the town center, and many nice and cozy
small restaurants (and good wifi :-) ). For the first time in weeks we also
start to see other overlanders. Getting further and further south, there are
fewer roads to drive, and my guess is that down in Ushuaia it will be almost
crowed. We'll see...
day we had a hike up to Lago Torres. Fantastic views! A little later in the
season this must be paradise for hiking and climbing. Still a little cold, and
with snow in the higher areas. I think we both could have stayed here longer,
but we have to make it to Ushuaia and back to Punta Arenas within a week. Now
we really start to feel the end of the road coming close!
ArgentinaPosted by Malin Sat, October 29, 2011 05:05:09
crossing into Argentina at the Paso Hua Hum border crossing, we were in the
Argentinian lake district, and it seemed like a relaxed place where people stop
along the road for a chat. From here it was just a short drive to San Martin de
los Andes where we stopped by the tourist office to ask about campgrounds. We are
probably of the first tourists to arrive for the summer season which starts in
December…, and most campgrounds are still closed. But halfway on the “camino de
los Siete Lagos” – “road of the seven lakes” - at Lago Villarino, one camping
area without facilities should be open for camping.
south from San Martin de los Andes we started to notice a lot of grey dust
along the road, and suddenly we realized it was not just along the road, but
all over, kilometer after kilometer. After some time we understood that it must
be ash from a volcano eruption. The further south we got the ash layer became
thicker. At Lago Falkner, the campground with facilities was still closed, but they
were working on removing the ash from the camping area.
We found our spot for
the night at Lago Villarino, and we were careful to clean our shoes for ash
before climbing into the tent that night. It was a beautiful location for a
camp site, and we enjoyed a slow morning with breakfast and reading our books.
Lago Villarino the weather was perfect with clear blue sky and sun, but the closer
we got to Villa La Angostura we drove into a strange grey “cloudy” fog. In some
places it looked like it was winter, with snow and berms along the road, but it
was just more ash….
Getting closer to town we could see how they were working
on moving all the ash. People were working with spades and brushes in places
where they could not use machines, and then the trucks came in, got filled up,
and then drove out of town somewhere to dump the ash.
I guess I have seen
images like these in newspapers and on TV before, but like always its different
to see it with your own eyes. At the
tourist information we learned that the ash came from the Vulcan Puyehue in
Chile that erupted on the 5th of July, more than four months ago.
We had a
desperate need to do laundry and get online again, and while looking at
campgrounds (that did not really look that tempting with all the ash) we got a
good offer for a one room apartment. It was great to live indoors again for
four full days, and we spent most of the time in Villa La Angostura inside the
Through our windows we could not see any of the surrounding
mountains on Saturday because it rained the whole day, but on Sunday it was a
clear day and we had excellent views to the mountains. When we were leaving on
Monday the strange grey “cloud” was back again. We wondered if the “cloud”
reappeared on Monday when they started to move all the ash again. The cloud
covered a huge area until south of San Carlos de Bariloche.
de Bariloche did not look so nice as it was under a grey cloud, so we just
stopped for lunch at the lake and quickly drove through the city. In El Bolson
the sun was shining and we found a campground where we camped under blooming
apple trees. It felt like spring at home. Before entering Argentina again we
had decided to eat a proper Argentinian beef before going back to Chile.
recommendations from our camp host we had a great dinner that left us wondering
why we are never able to find beef this tender in Norway even if you buy the
most expensive meat you can find. We still don’t know. The plan was to leave
the next day, but I had enjoyed a bit too much red vine the day before, so it
was an easy decision to make to spend another day reading books under the apple
It also gave us the opportunity for a BBQ dinner with more good meat.
morning we were ready to leave Argentina and find our way to Carretera Austral.
ArgentinaPosted by Malin Thu, October 06, 2011 02:15:46
of the nicest and most relaxed border crossings at Paso San Francisco we had
now entered the last country we would visit on our travel from Alaska to Ushuaia.
We wondered why not all border crossings can be like this with polite and
friendly officers. Maybe it has to do with the work load... We crossed the
border late in the afternoon and in the book (the immigration officers wrote
everything into a big book by hand) we could see that we were car number three
and four crossing into Argentina this day.
After entering Argentina we were
driving through landscape that looked like it was painted. Descending as far as
we could before dark we got to about 3000 meters and found a place off the road
somewhere to camp for the night.
Next day we
followed again some coordinates in our GPS… Toyotours.com had the coordinates
from some other travellers that had camped there earlier. About 200 km from the
border in a narrow valley was Termas de Fiambala. We had no expectations to
this place, because we have seen many different kind of hot springs on this
trip. We paid 40 Argentinian Pesos (about 10 usd) per car to camp at the
parking lot of the Termes, and we would then have free access to the hot spring
24 hours a day. Our intention was to spend one night here and then keep on
driving to Mendoza, but it was such a great place to relax so we spent three
days soaking in the springs and reading books.
Before arriving in Fiambala we
had driven every day for 13 days, since Sucre in Bolivia, and it was time to
stay in one place for more than one night. We would definitely have stayed
longer if they had internet. After nine days offline Espen felt the need to
find internet and see if the world was still the way it used to be.
leaving Chile we had filled up our fuel tank and the jerry can with diesel
because we had heard reports from other travelers that northern Argentina was
rationing out fuel. One couple had spent 5 days filling up their limit of 20
liters of fuel per day to get enough fuel to get to the next gas station in Bolivia.
We were also travelling in less populated areas, and from the last gas station
in Chile to the first in Argentina, if driving over Paso San Francisco, it is
about 460 km. When we got to the first gas station in Tinogasta the line of
cars and motorbikes that waited to fill up went around the block. Still good on
fuel we drove another 130 km to Chilecito. Here we found a gas station with
just a short line up, but first we were told they could only fill up for 150
pesos (27 liters). We said ok and were ready to continue our search for more
gas stations afterwards when the guy just fill up the tank for us. We don’t
really know how this works or is supposed to work, but we didn’t get as receipt
so we think the guy was just being nice to us. Anyway, now we had enough fuel to get to
Up on Ruta
40 we saw this sign saying 4000 km to Ushuaia if you follow the road straight
south. We will make some detours into Chile so we have some more kilometers to
go. A grim reminder, though, of the end of the road getting closer…
A couple of photos from the drive towards Mendoza. Andean sunset and an arch on an island in a lake by Rodeo.
starting this trip we have talked about Mendoza and its fantastic beef and
wine. In 2006 we had a few days in Mendoza and we remembered it as a really
nice city, and it still is, only this time it is spring and a bit colder. Espen found internet again,
and we had some relaxing days in town with good food and red wine.
bellies it was time to cross back into Chile, this time at Frontera Los
Libertadores. The road from Mendoza to Santiago, Chile, takes you across the
Andes and a few kilometers from the natural bridge at Punta del Inca
get a glimpse of Americas highest mountain and the highest mountain outside the
This time we just looked at the mountain from the road,
but in 2006 Espen stood on the summit 6962 meters above sea level.
I turned around after base camp with a lung
infection, and the doctor told me it was either antibiotics for 6 days in base
camp or leave the mountain. It would
have been great to give it another go, but we are a bit too early and the
season on Aconcagua has not started yet.
So with a
glimpse of Aconcagua it was time to say goodbye to Argentina for a few days,
and dip into Chile again.