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Old 11-15-2008, 01:43 PM   #1
tmotten OP
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Buenos Aires to ......... Buenos Aires

Or as it´s quickly becoming. Buenos Aires to ...... Quito, Equador. Or anywhere else we can fly or ship out of. We´re burning cash here, and the crash of the Aussie dollar isn´t helping.
We arrived in Buenos Aires not happy by the advice the Flightcentre chick gave us when she said the plane would definately only stop in Santiago and not Auckland.........

Auckland airport is not a bad place to stop over. You´re guaranteed there will be some code of footy on. So I managed to watch a bit of Ireland - Samoa in the League. This stop increased our travel time total to 24 hours though, and we were routed when we arrived. We managed to find a hotel close to the airport for ´mucho pesos´, and managed to get to the cargo area pretty early in the morning. Now the fun was to begin. It´s basically a ´bend over, and pay cash if you please´ type of excersive. But we were pretty lucky, as they took credit card. So we paid LAN Chile, for the ´handeling´, and the waybill to take to customs. Luckily again the chick at customs took care of the whole thing. All we had to do was fly into town for mucho pesos by taxi, pay for some local bike insurance, fly back out of town (the airport is miles away from town) and try not to be cought out by the lunch brake.

We simply waited while the lovely chick took care of it all. Than the bikes appeared and we could unpack them. This is when I discovered that my beautifully crafted crashbar was completely rooted by the handling guys. One was named He-man and tightened the strap so much it buckled the bar and bent the whole thing south. Gazilion of crashes by both myself and my missus couldn´t manage that, but one flight, and it was busted.

Anyway. We did some more paying and finally were allowed to leave to ride the endless kilometres across the farm land and desert these guys call La Pampa. It can´t be good if there is name for it, right? I can only compare it to crossing the Nullarbor. Luckily I have only done that by train, but we were now doing it by bike. Destination San Carlos de Bariloche in the Argetinian Lake District, some 2000km from BA.

Bloody hell this is tough going. It´s dead windy, and dead hot, and dead fenced. Seriously. Every road is fenced and if you go and camp along some of the wider sections of a side road you get the coppers coming to kick you off.

What for? There is nothing there??

Sad to say that on one U-turn in this loose dusty crap I produced the first drop.


Things get a bit easier when we reached this major river caller Negro I think.

There were heaps of orchards and some private camping, to which these fella´s showed us the way.

The flat La Pampa started to give way to the slightly hilly La Pampa. The bikes love the twisties there.

And this finally started to give way to the Lake District around Bariloche.

From here you can take the partly dirty road to San Martin de los Andes.

There are some awesome camping spots around here. Not always rough ones, but there are some ´municipal´ ones.

More on my blog.

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Old 11-15-2008, 01:48 PM   #2
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Sounds like you've got a great adventure planned, crashing Aussie dollar be damned!!

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Old 12-01-2008, 12:47 PM   #3
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The route to SM de los Andes, was going to spit us back out onto Ruta 40 which runs from the north-east of Argentina to the southern tip of it. We took it back to Bariloche for a day off. Normally we arrive late for a night, and ride out again in the morning. But this time we thought we´d use the oppurtunity for doing some laundry.

And eating some cheesy fondu.

We arrived just a bit too late for this history show they put on, but it was pretty cool seeing an endless string of all these guys in their traditional kit riding out of town.

From Bariloche we headed south along the famed Ruta 40. I´ve never heard of it before I started researching this trip, but apparently it´s similar in fame to Route 66.

I try not to research to much normally to keep that sence of discovery, and you always end up changing your mind anyway. In this case I noticed on the map that there was another national park between Bariloche and the route south. Luckily enough, because it has become a bit of a highlight.
The park (Parque Nacional Lago Puelo) is set amongst these snow covered mountains with a bunch of lakes in it.

The road through it is all dirt.

We found an awesome camp site here. To me it´s the best of all our travels. We shared it with this crazy Polish couple who were cycling around the world for the last two years. They moved up the lake a bit, so it still felt like we had the place to ourselves. But the company was really nice so we went to get a bottle of vino to share around a camp fire. Magic.

The photo´s never do it justice, but you get the picture.

The riding here was great.

The park spits you out back onto Ruta 40 and it become very barren again.

We thought camping was going to be a problem again, but we weren´t surprised with a police visit this time.

The first day of proper dirt riding over Ruta 40 was just brilliant. I loved every minute of it. The bikes are performing as they should, and you really don´t notice the luggage much at all. Mine weighs 275kg + fuel and water, but we were flying over this stuff at 80-100km/h without problems.

The further south it went, the more the straights became twisties.

The south of Argentina is famous for the prevailing winds. It´s where the Pacific winds cross over land to the Atlantic. And they blow fierce. Hence these signs. This is what day 2 of the big push towards the Glaciers National Park was going to bring us.

With the winds it was really like there were 2 people riding the bike. Note on the picture that although I´m turning into a left turn, I´m still pushing the bike to the right. At one point I got blown of the road.

The scenery started to change further south from steppe to more lunar type landscapes.

Being more and more remote, we had to increasingly keep an eye on our fuel range. This town of 100 had one restaurant, one shop and one fuel station. And all in run by the same bloke. But he had a proper coffee machine, so we were happy.

We encountered quite a bit of wildlife. I´ve had two armadillo´s cross in front of me, at least 10 rhea´s which are like an emu or ostrich. Beautifull to see them run. And off course a few lama´s.

The ripio (what they call a gravel or dirt road here) lasted untill the tiny town of Tres Lagos from where the bitumen lead you all the way to either the tourist towns of El Chalten, or El Calafate. We chose to drop into El Chalten first. The weather was really shitty here. The hostel owner told us that the town wasn´t built in the best possible location, as the weather is always better just outside of town.

This is the road leading in to it.

We only stayed a night there as we´d come back to see if we would be able to cross into Chile from here. Something that as far as I now had never been done on a motorbike because it´s really a horse track between 2 lakes. Sounds like a challenge to me.

The road to El Calafate (largely Ruta 40 again) is almost entirely paved, but we enjoyed the dirt sections the most. Helped that these were the least wind swepped sections.

The glacial lakes here have this vivid turqoise colour.

The only real reason for El Calafate to exist is the glacier Perito Moreno. It´s massive. 50-55 metres high........ and a bit nippy.

After getting sick of all that pizza and wifi everywhere, it was time to make a move towards Chile and the Torres Del Paine.

This national park is in Chile, so it was going to be our first border crossing on the continent. And it turned out to be very easy. No issues with our very basic bike papers or anything.

The road in and to the national park is all dirt, so it became quite an eventfull ride.

After about 90 km to the entrance of the park you pay your 20 Aussie dollars and you ride wherever you want to along the few dirt routes. It´s all quite well setup really and offered some awesome dirt riding.

The mountains are these bunch of wind carved jagged peaks which has some walking trails in and around it. But to accomodate the tour buses, they also built these dirt routes around it, although nowhere near as many as the walking trails, which get much closer.

Awesome riding though.

We figured that we´d take 2 nights at one of the camp sites available. These offer the required tent shelters. Because the winds can reach up to 300km/h (in winter) there are a real necessity for camping around here. No rough camping allowed anyway.
On this campsite we were visited by a Puma, and judging by the staff´s reaction this doesn´t happen very often.

They first saw it on the ridge, but because they chased it up there, it turned into the camp site and walked right passed our parked bikes. Luckily Mars wasn´t there, because I was on my way getting beers when we saw it.

We are parked just on the other side of that dirt path.

It walked across the road into the mountains after that.

The weather was much improved after the cloudy and windy day before, and we did a bit of riding around the park.

Our next plan was to ride the Carreterra Austral in Chile north to Santiago. Unfortunately, due to all the glaciers and mountains, this part of Chile is seperated from the rest and only accessible via boat to the north, or by road via Argentina the way we came. So we had to get backtrack into Argentina and find another border crossing into Chile. Unlucky for us the border crossing we had in mind is currently not accessible by motorbikes. We had planned to take a ferry across Lago Desertio near El Chalten, but we met some cyclists that did that and they mentioned mud up to the knees and thick trees fallen onto the horse trail. So we now had to try and see if there was another ferry crossing across the larger Lago Villa O´Higgins which required us to drive all the way back to Tres Lagos.

Again unluckily, the wind was twice as bad as before, and we were really getting blown of the road at times.
Some of it was dirt, but as if it was planned, they were the least windy sections and are a lot of fun.

In Tres Lagos they told us that the ferry we saw on a map didn´t operate anymore, which meant we had to backtrack another 300 odd km along Ruta 40 to Baja Caracoles.

Where I had a great time riding days before, now it was pure misery. The winds were so strong that you couldn´t stay in the wheel tracks and at every gust we were blowns into the deep pebbles on the side of it which sent you off the road due to the lack of traction for the next gust.

Just minutes before we arrived at Baja Caracoles, Mars had a her second drop doing a U-turn. The first one was scraping a car, but the driver didn´t care less about that one. Mars was less impressed with this one. But she hides it well, eh?

From Baja Caracoles you can take a little track (Ruta 41) to the border. This was a fantastic dirt ride. The track was in a lot better condition and became a windy 4WD track towards the border which just begged to be flewn over.

The border was again very simple, with even less paperwork. The weather became a bit rainy though, but the Chilean border guard offered us a cup of Nescafe to warm up. Can´t say I´ve ever had anything like that happen before.
We plugged in our modified heated jackets and put on our rain gear and away we went into Chile. That heated clothing thing is just fantastic. Can´t rave about it enough. I bought a Gerbing battery heated vest and found they used heated pads kept in little pockets. All the other gear is resistance wire sewn into the usually crappy fabric. But with this we would be able to sew pockets into our windproof softshell jackets and we´d have 2 in 1. I also asked a mate at work who´s an electrical engineer to built me a 7.4v - 12v converter. This way we could run it straight of the bike and leave the battery to warm up the sleeping bag at night if things get really cold. It´s now summer anywhere we go.

It all improved on the other side of the pass, and it then became all about dodging Llama´s. Whole herds of them hanging out in the background.

Mars noticed a crack in her pannier though, so we needed to be on the lookout for an aluminium welder somewhere.

Cochrane, the first town we´d visit, didn´t have any. But we were told that Coyhaique 350km odd up the road would.

At the outskirts of Cochrane we met 2 Brazilian and 1 South African bikers and they had some good news on the purchasing tyres issue. Osorna had everything we would need, and luckily for us it´s right at the end of the Carreterra Austral.

The Carreterra Austral was meant to be gorgous, but besides the areas around Cochrane I thought is wasn´t living up the reputation. The condition of the road is really bad but due to the blind corners it doesn´t allow you to ride agressively.

At a place where we had lunch the owner told us about this road up a river valley which he said would be awesome. But besides the camp site we found it wasn´t all that realy.

Some glaciers up in the mountains.

It was a cold night, but the morning scenery made up for it.

The rest of the day did offer some great views along the lakes.

The pavement starts in the last tiny town 100 odd km before Coyhaique and becomes this race track of concrete for a section of it. But than it turns to bitumen all the way through a valley that had me wonder if I was in the European Alps and almost thought about popping into my folks for a coffee. But reality kicked in and we rode into Coyhaique and the fun of finding and haggling for hotels was to start.

tmotten screwed with this post 05-03-2009 at 06:16 PM
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Old 12-01-2008, 01:03 PM   #4
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Outstanding photographs!
"Confiar es bueno, pero no confiar es mejor." -- El Tejano en la pelicula "El infierno."

"A cheeseburger, a tank of gas, and the hell out of here!" -- Graffiti, Men's Room, Fontanelli's Tavern, Norman, OK c 1974
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Old 12-01-2008, 01:11 PM   #5
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very cool ride. im in BA and plan to head down in a few weeks. if get to ecuador give a shout i have family their. good luck
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Old 12-03-2008, 08:45 AM   #6
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We´re sitting in Coyhaigue at the moment getting some things fixed. Mainly the rear luggage racky thingy that broke. I think I need to start thinking about some other way of lugging the luggage at the back when I get back and hope for the best between now and then. I´ve at least talked the Mrs into a smaller and lighter tent than the one we currently have which weighs a tonne.

The damage

The repair

Old mate put some round bar into it, but when I shook it around I could hear it move, so I´m not sure if it´s welded in.

He repaired the crack in the pannier as well. Other things are numourous loose bolts, some of which lost somewhere along the Carreterra Austral.

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Old 12-03-2008, 10:56 AM   #7
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Thumb Great Report!

Thanks for posting...look forward to seeing more soon!

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Old 12-03-2008, 11:02 AM   #8
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What a awesome trip...I am soo jealous...
02 R1, 08 Tiger
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Old 12-03-2008, 04:59 PM   #9
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10+++++great weather too!!
A life spent inside a camera: Auto/Motorcycle factories/museums/travels/trains/planes/bikes/cars
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Old 12-03-2008, 05:09 PM   #10
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That's some rugged territory.

Well, I ain't always right but I've never been wrong.
It seldom turns out the way it does in the song.
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Old 12-04-2008, 01:25 PM   #11
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Great riding and report
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Old 12-04-2008, 01:36 PM   #12
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Holy shit!!!! WOW. How awesome would it be to see that? To cool!!! Thanks for sharing this RR with us.

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Old 12-04-2008, 05:00 PM   #13
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great pictures

and nice report!!

Simpson Trip 2008

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO - what a ride!"
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Old 12-04-2008, 07:15 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by tmotten
Thanks! looking forward to more!
"Motorcyclist are always going to be frowned a pond..." an inmate in the AUS group

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Old 12-05-2008, 04:51 AM   #15
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Hi folks - look like fun . . .some great shots. All that prep in the Gympie hills and not one Puma! I thought you had everything covered up until then.

Stay safe.
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