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Old 04-04-2013, 01:26 PM   #68
camitzi OP
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Joined: Feb 2013
Location: Vancouver BC
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Iguazu Falls and Salta

We left Uruguay and crossed back into Argentina through the border north of Salto, crossing over a long dam.

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Our next destination was Iguazu Falls. The ride was a nice one, twisty at times (oh, we so missed that in the last while), through swamps and green jungle. The earth turned red too (they call this area "Tierra Colorada" - Colored Earth)

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We ended up again riding until late in the dark trying to get to the next town that would have a hotel. We were on the highway close to Paso de los Libres, riding at over 100 km an hour when I saw Vasile swerving slightly right in front of me. I thought he was trying his tires, he does that sometimes. On the side of the road I saw a shade that looked like a flag or something. But the next second when I got right by it, the shade started to move towards the center of the road, and that's when I saw it was a horse! I swerved quickly as much as I could, and as I was doing this, I saw another horse on the other side of the road, so I was going straight towards it. Swerved again and luckily managed to avoid them both. I guess this is one of the biggest reasons why people should not ride or drive at night in these countries. Both Vasile and I were like "What the hell was this?" Around Buenos Aires there were signs on the highway encouraging people to call police if they see loose animals on the side of the road. Maybe they should do that everywhere.

Happy we got away unharmed, as this could have turned into a disaster, we soon got to Paso de los Libres and called it a day.

The next day we had an awesome ride through beautiful, rich jungle vegetation.

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We got to the famous Iguazu National Park where there is the Iguazu Falls, the second largest falls in the world as volume of water. We left the bikes at the entrance of the park and we took a little train to the cataracts.

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And we saw myriads of butterflies

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Once we got off the train we started walking on a bridge over the swamps and the river

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And here we were lucky enough to see a caiman and a big cat-fish in their natural habitat.

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The butterflies were very friendly and welcoming

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And we finally got to The Devil's Gorge, the most spectacular and astounding view.

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On the way back we had the chance to see some more of the fauna of Iguazu.

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We saw lots of big, colorful butterflies, the ones that you only see on tv or at the butterfly garden and a toucan on top of a tree, with his big, orange beak. Unfortunately it was too high in the tree, so we could not take a picture.

I felt like I could have spent a couple of days in that park, it was so special.

Before we left Puerto Iguazu we went to see the intersection of the Rivers Uruguay and Parana, which are the borders between Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. *On each side there is a monument representing the flag of each country. You stand in one place actually and you can see a bit of each country.

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There was a ferry crossing the river actually to Paraguay, so we thought we would give it a chance and try to cross. As Canadian Citizens we need a visa for Paraguay, but we were hoping that we could get it at the border. Unfortunately this was not possible, but the border officer directed us to the Paraguayan Consulate in Puerto Iguazu. We went there, but they could not give us the visa, as their computers system was not working. But they were very nice though and they recommended us to go to the consulate in Posada. They even called the consul there to make sure we could get the visa the next day. But later on that day we gave up on this idea, and we decided to go to Salta, and skip Paraguay.

The ride to Salta was not too bad, despite the straight road. It was nice and warm (28 C), green, and lots of wildlife to see,*among*which this "little" friend.

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Yes, that's right, a dead yellow anaconda on the side of the road. He must have gotten out of its swamp to warm up and he got hit by a car or something.

While riding on Ruta 12 we saw some big electrical towers, so Vasile figured we were close to some big dam that someone told us about. We turned right onto a side road, and we got to a small border point, where the officer told us we could not ride to the dam, but we could go on an organized tour the next day, all free. So we stopped for the night in Ituzaingo, the next day we went to the "Oficina Central" where they put us in a van and took us in a guided tour to see the dam. I have to admit, it's quite impressing, especially when you have someone very qualified who explains to you all the details.

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One*annoying*thing in Argentina were the "routine police checks". We were getting stopped sometimes twice a day for these checks. And yesterday we got stopped twice in a two minutes span. The first time, there were 8 of them in the middle of the road, stopping all the motorcycles. Reason: we did not have a fire extinctor,which apparently is mandatory in Argentina. We explained to them that in case of a motocycle accident we would not be able to use it anyway. We totally understand each country has its laws, but this one we found it a bit of a money grab law. And what really bothered us was that he said "The fine is 4000 pesos (about 800 USD, which I totally doubt, that's their salary per month), but this time I will make an exception. You give me 700 pesos and I let you go". I guess he was not expecting Vasile's answer "No way, man. I am not giving you a penny" cause he looked kinda shocked, and he let us go right away. We barely took off and turned right onto a big avenue, when we got pulled over again. We were thinking "We won't get away until they make us pay for that freaking fire extinctor". But no, this time there was something else. Apparently motorcycles were not allowed on that avenue. We apologized to the officer and told him we did not see any signs suggesting that, so we didn't know. He told us there was a sign four blocks before and that we would see another one six bloks further. I explained to him that we had just turned onto this avenue at the previous intersection, therefore we could not see that sign. We*promised*to get out of there at the first turn, and eventually he let us go. We got off that avenue and took a side road parallel with it, kept riding, but we did not see any signs that would say motorcycles are not allowed on the main avenue, and this time we really looked for it. As we were following the GPS, the GPS was directing us back onto the main avenue, as we had to cross a big bridge over a river. We took our chance again and turned onto the main avenue again. Three seconds later we saw a police station, but they did not stop us or anything, nor were they bothered by the fact we were riding there. We were just curious: if motorcycles are not allowed on the main avenue, the one that was crossing the bride, how do motorcycles cross though? I guess we will never find out.
A couple of hours later, Vasile stopped as he felt there was something wrong with his bike. It had a very slight wobble. He checked his front wheel out, and he realized the bearings were gone, so he had to do another fix on the side of the road. And this time he wanted to do it the right way

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Once this done, we thought that would be it for the day. But we were wrong. Vasile's bike was running out of gas. We have done a long stretch in between cities, and we didn't gas up in the last one. We were really hoping we would make it to the next town, but we didn't. The bike died, so we had to pull over into the grass, as the highway didn't have a shoulder. My bike still had enough gas to run another 14 km (according to the bike's computer) and Vasile found on the GPS a gas station 12 km *away. As it was getting dark and I am blind like a bat in the dark Vasile took my bike and went to get some gas, while I was waiting by the big KTM, waiving proud to all the bikers passing by and waiving at me

Vasile came back 20 minutes later with a jery-can of gas, and this way we could make it to the gas station, and then to Salta. And before we got to Salta we had to go through a storm too, which left us nice and soaked. And in Salta another surprise (man, I thought that day was never gonna end): all the hotels were full because of the Easter. It was a Thursday, and apparently here everyone is off for Good Friday and they all go, for whatever reason, to Salta. We asked at quite a few hotels, no rooms, and they told us they didn't think we would find any. So we found a campsite on the GPS and we decided to go there. But on the way there, we stopped by a Yamaha shop, as the KTM needed a new front tire and my bike a new chain. We didn't find what we needed for the bike, *but the owner there told us about a hotel close by that might still have rooms, so he escorted us there. And indeed, we found a room! No camping in the middle of the night.

And here are some pictures we took the next day.

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And our dear hotel. Don't let the old sign full you, it was not cheap, but it was decent, and the people very nice.

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Next we will do some riding around Salta, and then head to Atacama Desert. Stay tuned.
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