After one 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.
Before 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 Mendoza.
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.
Since 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.
With full 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
you can get a glimpse of Americas highest mountain and the highest mountain outside the Himalayas, Aconcagua.
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.