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Old 10-14-2010, 08:43 PM   #1
rdwalker OP
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Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Cappuccino Tour


For past several years I have been traveling with my friend Lewis, with whom we do have a running joke about always being on the lookout for a perfect cappuccino.
This has become a theme and we call our rides "Cappuccino Tours".

This is it, then: The Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego Cappuccino Tour. This ride took place last season, but I never got to do a proper RR. Better late then never.

A few teasers to let you know what to expect. Enjoy!





Entering Argentinean province of Tierra del Fuego.

Beautiful, peaceful glacial lake.





Been there, done that?

Crossing the Pampas.





Even the horses are posing.

Towers in Torres del Paine park.





Guanacos - roaming the tip of South America.

Windy, eh?


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Old 10-14-2010, 09:20 PM   #2
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Old 10-14-2010, 09:25 PM   #3
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Old 10-15-2010, 03:05 AM   #4
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Flying south to Patagonia.



The idea for this trip came from an issue of Dual Sport News several years back (nowadays, Adventure Motorcycle News). There was either an article or a letter to the editor that caught my eye: the author was describing riding in the south of Chile and mentioned in passing that he was just setting up a motorcycle touring and rental outfit.


Lewis and I have ridden in several worldwide locations by then - South America became a logical choice for our next outing. We decided to rent bikes from that DSN writer, Roberto, and to hire him to accompany and guide us through Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, to reach World's End - the end of Route 3 in Argentina.



The organization of the trip took quite a while; Roberto, an American expatriate living in Patagonia, had a rather sporadic access to phone and email. Fortunately, I started the preparations well over half a year in advance.



Finally, the time of departure arrived. Our plans called for Lewis meeting me in Punta Arenas, Chile, on 2nd March 2009. My brother was going to join the fray as well, but a medical emergency in his family forced him to back out within a few weeks of the trip.


It was a gloomy late-winter day at Newark Airport. At least I was flying into a similar climate: fall conditions in the Southern Hemisphere. Drastically changing climatic zones is a pain: one needs clothing for hot and cold weather and I somehow always mess that up.




First stop en-route: Lima, Peru. While waiting for the plane to Santiago, Chile, I had my first cappuccino of the Cappuccino Tour.




OK, here it is: the Santiago flight.



Santiago is a wonderful city and worthy of a report on its own. It's a motorcycling forum, though, so here are just a few pictures - to give you a flavor of the place.

Santiago skyline:




A good attitude: cops on dual-sport bikes.




The city is very civilized and modern. Here is a food market filled with restaurants.




Street vendor selling 1973 memorabilia. We did not gain too many friends by installing Pinochet.




The inner section of the city really appealed to my Europhile sentiments. This would not be out of place anywhere in Central Europe - in Santiago, I felt right at home.




On the road again. At the Santiago airport, awaiting departure to Punta Arenas. Checking out the cappuccino, of course...




This will take me to the End of the World.





Punta Arenas: arriving by taxi from the town airport.




Afternoon stroll through the pleasant streets of Punta Arenas.




Punta Arenas ("Sandy Point") - and the whole surrounding region of Chile - is a geopolitically interesting place. It really has little economic standing of its own; the base for its 19th century development was sheep farming and prisons (Punta was a penal colony). Now, it is the "foot in the sand". Chilean government encourages and supports settlements here, by subsidies and by tax incentives - in order to be able to claim it rights in the upcoming struggle for sub-Antarctic natural resources. That is my political opinion, but well justified.


Hotel Nogueira in the historic section of town.



City square. Another example of the phenomenon first seen in Santiago: streets in this part of the world are filled with stray dogs, seemingly everywhere.



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Old 10-15-2010, 04:33 AM   #5
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This is going to be great

Thanks for the intro... and lovely pics..

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Old 10-15-2010, 07:11 AM   #6
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Old 10-15-2010, 10:12 AM   #7
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On the road, at last.


Getting to Patagonia is a haul, if I say so myself - especially if one needs to squeeze an adventure trip into a very limited, American-style time off. I had about 10 days to my disposal.

The flight alone requires some 18 hours in the air, excluding the stop-overs. A distant land, indeed.



The night before, I successfully met up with Lewis in Punta Arenas.



We also met our guide, Roberto, and picked up the bikes. Since the trip was to be relatively short (5-6 days of riding) with an ambitious itinerary, getting someone with local knowledge and speaking the language to accompany us makes most sense.

After an overnight stay in Hostel de la Avenida we are getting into the gear - ready for the first day of riding in Chile.



Lewis trying to squeeze his stuff into the side cases of the rental KLR's.



Last preparations in town. Everything a GO?



On the way out of Punta Arenas, we pass city harbor, where the ferry from Porvenir is docking. We will arrive back here in a few days, returning from Tierra del Fuego.



Heading north along the Straits of Magellan. A reminder of how treacherous and deadly these waters are: near San Gregorio, we pass a place where two wrecks from different centuries are almost on top of each other.



The boiler of a steamship wrecked here in 1932.



Just next to it, an elegant skeleton of a sailing ship that met its end here in 1893.



Stopping for lunch at Hosteria El Faro in Punta Delgada. We will take a ferry here to cross from the South American mainland to Puerto Espora on the Big Island of Tierra del Fuego.



The ferry is arriving. The water flow of the Straits is so strong that the ship is "crabbing": even though it is positioned sideways, it actually moves directly toward us.



Crossing the Magellan Straits. In all comforts of home?







Land Ahoy! Tierra del Fuego - straight ahead.

The Tierra region is actually an archipelago of many islands; from now on, we will be traveling on Isla Grande (the Big Island).



Out of the ferry, we still travel a while on paved roadways...



... to reach Hosteria Tunkelen in Cerro Sombrero.



The place is operated by European expats and seems to cater to motorcycling travelers. Soon after our arrival, the lot was full of bikes - a group with Motoaventura, a big-name tour operator in Chile, showed up just before sundown. Notice the ratio of bikes to cars!


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Old 10-15-2010, 06:09 PM   #8
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Wicked Oooohhhh babyyyy!!!!

OH YEAH!!! I'm in for the short trip south

bring it
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Old 10-15-2010, 06:42 PM   #9
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Old 10-15-2010, 08:08 PM   #10
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Into Argentina.

Thanks, guys! As we continue...



Lovely house cats at Tunkelen. Even Lewis, a dog person, found some new friends.





This is the real deal - it's hard to believe that we are now crossing the pampas on the exotic Tierra del Fuego. I read so much about the place in my childhood - it is exciting to finally have arrived.

One of the big industries here (besides oil, of course) is sheep ranching. The roads are lined with fences stretching out for hundreds of miles in the middle of nowhere. I could not believe the distances that were covered by fencing - I am guessing that the labor either is or was very cheap.





The gravel roads have an excellent surface, hard-packed and well drained.



The route of the day will take us from the Hosteria in Cerro Sombrero, across the Chilean-Argentinean border, to the famed city of Ushuaia.





There are very few large wild animals around - aside the seemingly ever-present guanacos. After all, most of the land is fenced off for the sheep 'estancias'.



Guanacos belong to the same camelid family as the domesticated llama. They do roam relatively free, as they are able to jump the sheep fences.



Traveling east, we arrive at the border crossing into Argentina. In a long line of travelers, we spend about an hour processing our papers at the Chilean checkpoint.



Now, we travel a few kilometers over "no-man's land", to cross the actual borderline - entering the Argentine province of Tierra del Fuego, Antarctic and Islands of Southern Atlantic.



This is not like the quick check going from US into Canada (or the non-existent frontiers between EU countries). Here, after the lengthy procedure on one side, we go through the same on the other. Personal documentation is checked by the border police - that it the easy part. Afterward, we go through customs, filling out countless forms in order to import our motorcycles.





The Falkland Islands conflict took place almost 30 years ago - a classic case of "wagging the dog", when the Argentine junta in power at the time attempted to rally support and distract the public from the terrible economic and political conditions at home - by engaging in a war in pursuit of some old nostalgic claims.

As we all know, the war was lost, but the feelings are still raw. Islas Malvinas is the Argentine name for the Falklands.



Very soon, we reach Argentine Route 3 following the coast of the Atlantic. A well-paved road, takes us south past oil pumps exploiting the newly important local resource.

Our destination is Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world.



En route, just below Tolhuin, we stop at the very picturesque lake Fagnano.



A brief break at the local Hosteria. Roberto is trying to score some points with the girl running the bar.



No luck... I think she has seen - and resisted - much better attempts... But she makes some great cappuccino. Of course.



The hosteria is directly on the shore of Lago Fagnano, with some spectacular views. If I ever do this run again, I'll try to stay at this place.



We cross the last mountain range before Ushuaia, passing Lake Escondido. A glance down the cliffs reveals old Route 3. Traveling on that must have been an adventure, for real.



A Route 3 rest area displays the latent patriotic fervor. The graffiti says "Malvinas are Argentine", "The English are Pirates".

Amusingly, with regard to pirates, the Argentine claim to the Falklands is partly based on landings by pirate David Jewett - an American corsair licensed then by Buenos Aires (United Provinces of South America, which in early 1800's gave birth to Argentina) .





The climate and the terrain become beautifully stark. We are nearing Antarctica!





By the evening, we reach the town of Ushuaia. For adventurers, its main claim to fame is the location at World's End, end of Route 3, right at the Beagle Channel - most southern city in the world. Its harbor is an important departure point for Antarctica, handling traffic ranging from major cruise ships to supplies for Antarctic research stations.



It was also a staging point for the invasion of Falklands thirty years ago; memorials of that effort are everywhere.



The Argentinean Tierra del Fuego region is very much like its counterpart in Chile. Initially settled as a prison colony, now it is the doorway to the riches of sub-Antarctic ocean floor, maintained to validate any upcoming claims and support any upcoming conflicts for rights in the area.

The region is so important that - 3 years before the Falklands war - the countries of Chile and Argentina were on a brink of war for ownership of the archipelago. According to official history, the invasion of Chilean territory by the Argentine forces was averted 6 hours before beginning, by a last-minutes appeal from the Pope. Contemporary reports are more clear-headed: apparently, Pope's pleas were a face-saving mission for the junta; in reality the attack was given up by the Argentineans as they realized that their chances were poor.

Still, bad feelings remained. As a result, Chile supported UK against Argentina during the Falklands war - and, on this trip, I have seen mine fields still guarding the border between the two countries.

227



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Old 10-16-2010, 12:50 AM   #11
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Old 10-16-2010, 01:14 AM   #12
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Way cool.
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Old 10-16-2010, 02:25 AM   #13
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Very good. Thanks for taking us along on your journey.
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Old 10-16-2010, 06:50 AM   #14
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enjoyed the rr and pic's.

if it was a mile or two closer!!!!!!!!!
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Old 10-16-2010, 07:49 AM   #15
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enjoying the report! I appreciate the fly & ride information as I don't have the time to ride all the way there ;-)
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