The 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 everything.
The first 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.
After some 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.
The roads 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 Chalten.
El Chalten 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...
The next 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!