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Old 04-06-2011, 05:34 PM   #916
Adv Grifter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammin View Post
It's been a roller coaster of emotions in the last 24 hours: first, I lost my
wallet while going on a cycle ride, it slipped out Then, this morning I found out my new Indian passport was ready, much sooner than expected! Then, the Moroccan consulate said it was now impossible for me to get a visa here in Paris. I can only apply in my home country And then to top it of, a nice French person found my wallet, called the Indian embassy (since I keep a copy of my passport in there) and I got everything back

So... at least I don't have to wait any longer now for the passport, but the western door to Africa thru Morocco is now closed for me Looking at the east and that means heading into Egypt...
Jay, you truly led a charmed life! When on the road I re-configure my wallet and don't carry everything in it. Sounds like you did the same.
Great news you got it back. Reward?

What about coming in through Tunisia? Have things settled enough to get in there? I think quite a few Ferries from Italy go to both Libya and Tunisia. And perhaps from Greece as well?
What about getting a Maroc visa in Spain? Any chance you might get a different reaction there? And what happens if you just show up at the Maroc border coming off the Ferry? I needed no Visa at all (US citizen). But that was 7 years ago.

Now is the time to use any inside diplomatic connections that you may have. A letter of recommendation from another diplomat (or a CEO or Politico) can go a long way towards passing borders and opening doors.

Having worked extensively with various NGO's around the world, I can attest to the effectiveness of having connections and fancy letters of recommendations on official stationary.
I never hurts to try to meet with an Ambassador or staff and simply ask for a very simple statement of support on OFFICIAL STATIONARY ... AND STAMPED.

As you know, 3rd world officials love official, embossed stamps ... especially ones that say US Dept. Of State. I was lucky enough to be dating the daughter of the head of A.I.D. in El Salvador (where I lived and taught English). His letter smoothed over more dicey situations than I could count. The NGO's have much better connections but they need them when bringing film crews and tons of gear in. Only tossed in jail in Sudan
(house arrest).

Good luck with this Jay, I'm sure an opportunity will come your way.
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Old 04-07-2011, 06:06 AM   #917
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Quote:
Originally Posted by badguy View Post
Glad you got your wallet back! But sorry to hear about the visa.
SeanF was in Egypt (along the Red Sea and then down the Nile) and didn't seem to have a hard time. In fact, he had some really good experiences there judging by the last post of his RR.
If you end up going that route, I'm sure you'll have a great time Good luck whatever you do!
Thanks for the link to Sean's RR. Looks like it's ok to travel thru Egypt again. I got info from the CouchSurfing community in Cairo and they say all is well again, except a curfew at night from midnight - 6 am.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adv Grifter View Post
Jay, you truly led a charmed life! When on the road I re-configure my wallet and don't carry everything in it. Sounds like you did the same.
Great news you got it back. Reward?
It was a super busy street that the wallet slipped out on and I figured there was no chance on getting it back. But this is a nice neighborhood and I was hoping a good-natured person would pick it up. Good thing I waited on canceling my credit card and ATM cards, that would've been another headache. Also, it's not really a wallet, but a small ziplock bag reinforced with plastic tape. It helps for putting things like keys, coins, etc and I think not looking like a regular wallet helps also :) It was a simple French family that picked it up and I offered to give something, but they said no.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adv Grifter View Post
What about coming in through Tunisia? Have things settled enough to get in there? I think quite a few Ferries from Italy go to both Libya and Tunisia. And perhaps from Greece as well?
What about getting a Maroc visa in Spain? Any chance you might get a different reaction there? And what happens if you just show up at the Maroc border coming off the Ferry? I needed no Visa at all (US citizen). But that was 7 years ago.
I dont think Tunisia and Algeria are settled down enough for solo travel, plus the border from Algeria to Morocco has been closed for many years, they dont like each other, so no go there. And yeah, entering thru Tunisia and going across Libya was once a nice route, before the current situation.
I thought about going to another Moroccan consulate, but I have a feeling it's going to be the same response. I read in multiple guidebooks that lately Morocco has become very strict about visas for citizens from countries that dont already have an agreement to travel without visas (like the US, EU, etc).
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adv Grifter View Post
Now is the time to use any inside diplomatic connections that you may have. A letter of recommendation from another diplomat (or a CEO or Politico) can go a long way towards passing borders and opening doors.
Having worked extensively with various NGO's around the world, I can attest to the effectiveness of having connections and fancy letters of recommendations on official stationary.
I never hurts to try to meet with an Ambassador or staff and simply ask for a very simple statement of support on OFFICIAL STATIONARY ... AND STAMPED.
As you know, 3rd world officials love official, embossed stamps ... especially ones that say US Dept. Of State. I was lucky enough to be dating the daughter of the head of A.I.D. in El Salvador (where I lived and taught English). His letter smoothed over more dicey situations than I could count. The NGO's have much better connections but they need them when bringing film crews and tons of gear in. Only tossed in jail in Sudan
(house arrest).
Good luck with this Jay, I'm sure an opportunity will come your way.
Yeah, so I went to the Indian embassy today to ask for a Letter of Introduction and nope, sorry they dont do that. They couldn't care less about helping me out. She just said I should've applied for all my visas in India before starting my trip and she had no response when I said, yeah, that's all fine and dandy but these visas expire within a month or so and then what.
I'm trying to work some connections that I have but they're not going anywhere. Yeah, I worked hard at getting some sort of letter of introduction from an Indian official that I know, but the connection fizzled.

The lady at the Moroccan consulate was nicer today and I asked if I could get a visa on arrival, but she said she doesn't know and the strict rules come from the foreign ministry and she can't do anything about it. I think it would be quite risky to just show up with no visa. I think I'd get turned back right away.

BUT, in some good news, I went to the Egyptian consualte today and lady said I can get a visa on arrival in Egypt with my Indian passport. She said they also can't give me a visa here in Paris since I dont live here. I think this is becoming a standard line for embassies.

I dont want to get on a plane with the bike if I can help it. I thought about trying to catch a boat somehow from Spain to Dakar, but that's not a real possibility and I'm thinking that since I'm so late now and will be riding right through the rainy season of West Africa, it wont be enjoyable at all and I'll have to stick to all tarmac, where it exists. So, East Africa it is then.

There's a ferry from Venice to Alexandria leaving every Wednesday for a 4 day journey across the Med. Overland to Egypt is not a good option now with the situation in Syria.

Before I leave Paris, I need to make adjustments to my carnet, since I left out Egypt in the countries I had planned to travel through (cause it's the most expensive in terms of fees), thinking that I would only enter Egypt next year on the way back to India with a new carnet. So, let's see how long that takes.

And bugger, I thought I had a lot more time here in Paris to catch up on the ride report and I definitely want to be caught up before leaving... long nights ahead.

The only constant is change.

So now the trip plan has changed completely. I didn't do any research into East Africa, spending all the time on the boat reading up on West Africa and learning French! Good thing I've been listening to my Arabic language tapes here in Paris. "mumkin maya, minfudluck" - I would like some water, please

At least going down the east side there are fewer countries, since each one is bigger, so should be less time spent haggling over admin stuff, but as many other travelers have experienced, Africa is plagued with ancient bureaucracy. My plan now is Italy-Egypt-Sudan-Ethiopia-Kenya-Tanzania and then figure out which way to go...
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Old 04-07-2011, 07:18 AM   #918
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East coast

Hi Jay

sorry about the trouble with the west coast, sometimes I think the world is behaving like in stone age or at least 15th century

I think you sorted all the options, right ?

Tunisia -> Lybia -> Egypt right now is a no go !
Turkey -> Syria -> Jordan -> Egypt is possible, but you just don`t know ... the situation in Syria can change daily ....

You know already about the ferry from Venice to Alexandria, I think right now the best and safest option, should cost about Euro 350.- to 400.-

Once in Egypt don`t forget to get your Sudan visa in Cairo ....

And remember, from Paris to Venice you can drive trough Switzerland

Good luck and have fun
Thomas
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Old 04-07-2011, 10:17 AM   #919
Adv Grifter
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Thanks for the comprehensive Update Jay.
Sounds like you're working your butt off just to be able to move forward ... the lazy days of travel in Latin America are over now.

If rains in Africa limit your route ... what about skipping it all together? (for now)

Maybe do a Russia/Mongolia ride? With Summer right around the corner, your timing would be perfect for the Northern hemisphere. Read up on Walter Colebatch's Siberian Extreme threads, lots of good info ... although I wouldn't follow his route. Too many deep water crossings!

What ever route you choose ... ride safe and rubber side down!
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Old 04-07-2011, 10:37 AM   #920
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Hi Jay, you've probably already thought of this and scratched the idea, but here it goes just in case... Taking into account the extra money spent while in Paris waiting for your other visas and especially the carnet update for Egypt, wouldn't it be feasible for you to store the bike in Paris, catch a plane to India, get all the visas you need there and then continue the trip the way you planned it at the beginning? (obviously the money factor is important here)

Good luck with whatever you decide is the best way to go.
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Old 04-07-2011, 11:06 AM   #921
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And remember, from Paris to Venice you can drive trough Switzerland
Hi Tom, yup, only viable entry is by sea to Egypt. Do you know if I need to book ahead for that ferry, or are they flexible. Need to wait to update Carnet. Yup, Sudan visa in Cairo. I was tempted of driving Cote D'Azure... but let's see.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adv Grifter View Post
Maybe do a Russia/Mongolia ride?
Hey Grifter, interesting idea... That could be an option. Cause why do Africa when it's going to be miserable and rushed by the weather. Let me mull this over while I prepare a chicken curry tonight for my hosts

Quote:
Originally Posted by SS in Vzla. View Post
catch a plane to India
Hey Silviu, yeah, I was looking at that option, cause it's not too expensive to fly to India from here, but my EU visa expires on May 7th.
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Old 04-07-2011, 12:18 PM   #922
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ferry

Hi Jay

the cote azur is nice, but pretty expensive and no bush camping possible, same for the italian riviera .... hope you have some possibilities for couch surfing.

btw, the mountain area is much more preferable because of less traffic and nice scenery

in northern Italy you have more or less the same costs for travelling ...

gas ... more than in Germany
accomodation ... same like in Germany
food /supermarket ... more than in Germany

in Switzerland the gas is about 20 eurocent less, food and accomodation is about 20-30 % more than Germany.

Don`t think Italy is cheap, it`s definitly not .... that`s why I wouldn`t take the chance having to wait for the ferry in Venice (very costly), book in advance

http://www.visemarline.com/en/homepage.php


I like the idea from adv grifter, spend spring/summer in eastern Europe and ride to Vladivostok ....
It`s going to be f****** hot in the desert areas of Africa and wet in the equator regions (muddy/slippery tracks and roads )

Whatever you decide, have fun and happy trails
Thomas

PS: Thanks for all the nice pics, brings back a lot of memorys ....
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Old 04-08-2011, 08:59 AM   #923
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Originally Posted by Tom-Traveller View Post
Hi Jay
the cote azur is nice, but pretty expensive and no bush camping possible, same for the italian riviera .... hope you have some possibilities for couch surfing.
btw, the mountain area is much more preferable because of less traffic and nice scenery
Don`t think Italy is cheap, it`s definitly not .... that`s why I wouldn`t take the chance having to wait for the ferry in Venice (very costly), book in advance
I like the idea from adv grifter, spend spring/summer in eastern Europe and ride to Vladivostok ....
It`s going to be f****** hot in the desert areas of Africa and wet in the equator regions (muddy/slippery tracks and roads )
No bush camping in Monaco, sacre bleu!
Ok, I think I'll go thru the Alps then. But I'd like to avoid the toll roads. I'll book the ferry once I get carnet sorted out, then the trip is on again!

I gave skipping Africa a thought, but then said, nahhh, I've been dreaming of this for so long, I'm going whether I get burnt by the sun or drowned in mud

Gots lots of good info today, I called the consulates of these countries in London and Delhi and I confirmed that I can get visa on arrival for Egypt and Ethiopia and shouldn't be an issue for Sudanese visa in Cairo and then Kenyan visa in Addis.

Just need to buy Michelin Map 745 for North and East Africa. I have the other two covering Africa.

Only one issue with the bike that's still bothering me: the starter plate knocking sound. The bike isn't any more difficult to start, except there's the big knocking sound sometimes when I shut down. I'm not in a good place to work on the bike here and the part I need to replace, I can't find easily. Im told there's a really good mechanic in Cairo who all overlanders use and I think he's just the guy to fix this. I also need to replace a few gaskets at some point, definitely before heading into the sand of Sudan.

Yeah, it's going to be bloody hot as I'll be going there in their summer but I've read some ride reports and sounds like the plan is to do what the locals do. Get an early start at 6 am, stop at noon, take a siesta till 4, when it's baking hot, then continue. I can also finally get to use my cooling vest (soak in water and put under jacket for evaporative cooling).

I'm thinking now to arrive in Kenya around September and then we see which way the wind blows.
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Old 04-08-2011, 12:56 PM   #924
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Good luck with what you decide Jay. Also, I have not checked these out for Africa, but they were great in the Guyanas and the price is right so its worth downloading them for Africa just to have them.

http://garmin.na1400.info/routable.php
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Old 04-08-2011, 03:36 PM   #925
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Jay, you may want to look at this ride report, as these guys just came up the African East Coast.

http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=653492

They are off road quite a bit. A fair amount of insight into border crossings.
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Old 04-08-2011, 11:49 PM   #926
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some thoughts ...

Hi Jay

good decision .... I would like to join you and riding in Africa is a blast. Unfortunately we have to wait another 2-3 years and save funds. But in 2013 it`s our turn again .... yippeeee

OK, some advise

Every autobahn in Europe (except Germany) are toll roads, in Switzerland you need a Vignette CHF 40.- .... almost all passes in Switzerland and France are still closed (snow)

http://www.tcs.ch/main/de/home/verke...e_tunnels.html

and the usual way is through the Gotthard (17km)- or Bernina (7km) tunnels in Switzerland, which are again toll roads
A free of charge way through the swiss alps is going to Chur, then take the Julierpass road to Silvaplana, then Malojapass to Chiavenna. This is a amazing road to the Lake of Como in Italy

If you stay at our place and start here, I would recommend at least 2 days ride to Venice .... The lakes (Lago di Como/Iseo/Garda) are beautiful and the whole region is worth staying for a while

About Sandrina .... there is a Suzuki dealer 5km from our place, we bought our KTM`s there and the mechanic is a friend, so if you need parts or advise .... here you go and my garage is your garage

In France it shouldn`t be a problem to get the Michelin maps 745 and 746 .... I ordered mine from Touratech

Most traveller recommend the GPS maps from

http://tracks4africa.co.za/

no idea how accurate they are .....

I have been riding motorcycle through the Alps for a long time and still there`s plenty to see .... it doesn`t really matter which way you are going, it`s beautiful everywhere and don`t speed (expensive) ...take your time and enjoy the scenery.

If you want to come to our place, ride from Paris to the Vosges (France) and then the Black Forest (Germany) and then cross at Waldshut into Switzerland.
It`s about 3km from the border and the beer is cold

Greets Thomas
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Old 04-09-2011, 04:12 AM   #927
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Good luck with what you decide Jay. Also, I have not checked these out for Africa, but they were great in the Guyanas and the price is right so its worth downloading them for Africa just to have them.
http://garmin.na1400.info/routable.php
Thanks for the info, Vince. Yeah, I found this conversion when I was looking for maps for Europe from Open Street Maps to Garmin, but my request didn't get processed in time, but I've submitted a request for Africa, they say 728 in queue ahead of me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ride2live View Post
Jay, you may want to look at this ride report, as these guys just came up the African East Coast.
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=653492
They are off road quite a bit. A fair amount of insight into border crossings.
Excellent, thank you for posting this! Will read them up

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom-Traveller View Post
Every autobahn in Europe (except Germany) are toll roads, in Switzerland you need a Vignette CHF 40.- .... almost all passes in Switzerland and France are still closed (snow)
If you stay at our place and start here, I would recommend at least 2 days ride to Venice .... The lakes (Lago di Como/Iseo/Garda) are beautiful and the whole region is worth staying for a while
About Sandrina .... there is a Suzuki dealer 5km from our place, we bought our KTM`s there and the mechanic is a friend, so if you need parts or advise .... here you go and my garage is your garage
In France it shouldn`t be a problem to get the Michelin maps 745 and 746 .... I ordered mine from Touratech
Most traveller recommend the GPS maps from
http://tracks4africa.co.za/
If you want to come to our place, ride from Paris to the Vosges (France) and then the Black Forest (Germany) and then cross at Waldshut into Switzerland.It`s about 3km from the border and the beer is cold
Greets Thomas
Hey Thomas, thanks for the good info. Ok, I will be swinging thru Switzerland then. Good thing they joined Schengen recently, so I dont need a separate visa But there's still an official border, right? I didn't get any customs paperwork when I landed in Hamburg. Do you think that could be an issue?
Ooh, riding around Lake Como would be sweet. There must be some CouchSurfer there, hopefully in a castle
I found a book store selling the Michelin maps here in Paris. I think I'll go ahead and get the T4A maps since they seem the most advanced, even if they're not fully complete yet.
I was thinking of leaving behind some of my cold weather layers, but I guess I'll hang on to it for a bit further. See you soon.
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Old 04-09-2011, 05:09 AM   #928
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Patagonia, Part 4: Backtracking up the Austral and down the 40

January 17 - 21, 2011

I had reached the current terminus of the Carretera Austral in Chile's Northern Patagonia. From Villa O'Higgins, to continue south to Ushuaia, one needs to backtrack about 300 kms (186 mi) north before catching the road east across into Argentina and then turning south.


After spending a relaxing morning at the campground in Villa O'Higgins chatting up with other travelers, I got a move on to catch the 1 pm ferry from Rio Bravo to Puerto Yungay, because the next ferry was at 7 pm. I slightly envied the cyclists and backpackers who could continue on foot south to El Chaltén, whereas it would take me 4 days to loop around to get to the same place.


My route backtracking from Villa O'Higgins, around Lago Carrera General and down Ruta 40 to El Chaltén and El Calafate. The Carretera Austral ends at Villa O'Higgins as the huge Southern Patagonian Ice Field prevents progress further south and this demarcates Northern and Southern Patagonia in Chile. Click on it to go to the interactive version in Google Maps.


The Carretera Austral heading back north to Rio Bravo. This 100 km (62 mi) section felt the most remote of the whole route and was quite a special place to ride. The local weather was affected by the one big mountain ridge that the route crosses, being foggy and cold on one side and sunny and slightly warmer on the other side.


Yup, I've been there. Maybe when I come back next time, I can head right and see if the Carretera continues further south...


Back on the ferry over to Puerto Yungay.


The 20 km (12 mi) stretch from Puerto Yungay to the turn off to Caleta Tortel was quite mountainous.


The route went thru narrow canyons and the high humidity with the low temps chilled me to my bones.


A signboard showing the turn off from the principle route to the small town of Caleta Tortel, about 22 kms (14 mi) away.


Welcome to Caleta Tortel, a small coastal village near the mouth of Rio Baker.


The community was built in 1955 to exploit the Cypress trees, which are abundant in this area.


For most of its history, it only had sea and air access and land access via the spur from the Carretera Austral was only built in 2003. The unique look about this village is that all the houses are constructed on stilts and there are no regular streets in the village, only wooden walkways.


A fishing boat waiting for the tide to come in.


There isn't much flat land here and I guess they went with stilts because the ground must be soft from all the wetness in the area. Also nowadays, it looks eco-friendly as the human construction on stilts has a much smaller footprint on the ground and local vegetation than the usual raze to the ground and pour concrete over the land.


Heading back to the Carretera and the high humidity showing through with these low hanging clouds in the valley.


The tagline of being the 'most beautiful road in the world' certainly rings true.


With epic views around almost every corner.


A local cowboy with an equal-sized herd of sheepdogs to keep the bovines in check. These dogs were harmless but nonetheless would come barking and attacking as I rode by. I just pick up my legs and power on through.


Enjoying the intimate feel of the tall, dense forests.


I fueled up in Cochrane, just enough to get me across the border to cheaper fuel in Argentina and headed out to look for a place to camp.


I found a nice spot along Rio Baker with ample firewood lying around, nestled under these tall trees.


I came along the shore of the river for a bit to find this secluded spot. The camping opportunities in Patagonia are just sublime but be prepared for regular nightly rains on the Chilean side.


The next morning, I reached the turnoff at El Maitén and headed along the coast of Lago Carrera General to the Argentine border. An impressive ride along 120 kms (75 mi) of stunning coast line.


The road climbed high up the lake's rocky shores offering great views of this massive expanse of shiny blue water.
Click here to see the high resolution version.


The lake was relatively narrow along this part and the steep snowy peaks appeared very close, adding to the dramatic setting.


I was looking forward to riding around Lago Carrera General and it certainly impressed. The road is exciting as it twists and turns along the jagged coast line and then the views are stunning of the turquoise waters with a backdrop of snow-peaked mountains.


A natural horse with my mechanical horse, same difference. As the road dropped down to the water I noticed this lone horse who felt abandoned. He was drinking water from the rain puddles and I felt like telling him about the fresh, sweat-tasting expanse of water just a few feet over.


sanDRina was running like a champ and the road was in good condition, allowing for higher speeds and greater distraction by the scenery.


The clear, turquoise waters of the Carrera General. When our problems with global water scarcity become more prevalent in the coming decades, this place is going to become the new Middle East.


The lake spills over the border and the half in Argentina is known at Lago Buenos Aires. The border is defined by a change in the climate and terrain and the steep mountains along the lake's coast abruptly end as it leaves Chile for Argentina. Chile Chico is the last town in Chile and it's neighbor across the border is Los Antiguos, where I camped for the night after filling up with cheaper Argentine petrol.


Back on the Ruta 40, heading south. The road is paved from Los Antiguous to the town of Perito Moreno where it meets the 40. The town is not to be confused with the famous glacier of the same name, which is much further south near El Calafate. The 40 is under going major construction and looks like they'll have it all paved within a few years. So, get down here soon if you want to enjoy some of the wild-ness before it's tamed. But it's hardly wilderness, since the whole of Patagonia is fenced off by ranchers. The one companion along the 40 is the constant fences on either side, revealing the history of this land when big estancias (ranches) were established in the early days.


From Perito Moreno, Ruta 40 is very remote and there are no petrol services en route for 460 kms (286 mi) till Tres Lagos. One could side-track to Gobernador Gregores, which is about 70 kms (43 mi) off the route, but I had no worries with the 800 km (500 mi) range of my Aqualine Safari tank.


sanDRina in the big sky land of the Argentine Patagonia.


This is where the winds are very pronounced, constantly blowing and keeping a check on the height of the flora, ensuring nothing more than a shrub could thrive here.


Small stretches of the newly paved sections of the 40.


The scenery is not that exciting, but the massive expanse of land with hardly any relief is enough to be enthralled by the landscape.


The road surface is hard with loose gravel but since there are so few turns in this remote section of the flat Argentine Patagonia, I could ride at much higher speeds than I usually did. Previously, my top speeds on gravel roads was no more than 60 kph (37 mph), but I think riding the Lagunas Route in Bolivia upped my confidence and I was easily cruising at 100 kph (62 mph) along the 40. With the correct air pressure in the tires, the bike doesn't squirm as much and just motors along.


Ruta 40 Rocks! The current 40 runs parallel to the new 40 that is being paved and the route constantly crosses the new road and alternates which side it's running on. In some places, the detour was quite rough with big rocks showing through, but most of the old 40 is still a pleasant ride.


I was making good time and knew I would need another day to get to Tres Lagos, so I explored a road leading away from the 40 up to an estancia and found a nice place to camp in the middle of Patagonia. There are no other plants around but I figured these small shrubs would offer at least some kind of protection from the wind, which was a non-stop howler.


This was the roughest camping experience to date due to the fine talc texture of the sand and the constant wind, which made everything dusty and my Catoma Twist not being a sealed tent showed its weakness here as fine dust was blowing up inside the tent. I quickly setup camp, which is a strength of the Twist and dived inside to shelter from the wind. I was forced to setup my stove under the tight confines of the tent's vestibule and made sure to protect the nylon tent's wall from the heat of the stove with the aluminum guards.


I slept well but woke up to see that my sleeping bag was covered in a fine layer of dust. However, who cares, because I knew I was in a special place, in the middle of nowhere Patagonia and woke up not to miss sunrise in this magical land.


The Earth, slowly spinning on its axis in space and constantly revealing the Sun's rays in one place and diminishing it at the other end of the planet. What a realization it must have been for the first human to understand that it's the Earth that spins around the Sun and not the other way around. Knowing these basic truths leads to a much richer life experience and the never-ending pursuit of deeper truths of nature.


It was bitingly cold and I covered up every bit of exposed skin before going about the routine of breaking down camp and packing up sanDRina. I'm wearing my fleece beanie under my hat and my rain jacket to provide maximum protection from the cold winds. Oakley goggles doing a good job to seal against the dust.


A memorable experience of wild camping in Patagonia.


Back on the 40 and eating up the big distances with ease. With the road hardly turning, it gave me time to gaze up at the wind-swept clouds of Patagonia.


My faster speed on the gravel caught up with me and one of my tool tubes under the bike had cracked and I realized later that I had spilled some very important tools along the 40. This was the thin-walled welding rod holder tube that held my TyrePliers bead breaker (pictured in the foreground), along with my tire irons and bike krutch. It was the longest tube that I could find to house these large tools, but the thin walls were no match for the rocks being kicked up from the 40. I had to backtrack around 35 kms (22 mi) until I found my tools spilled along the road. The other thicker-walled tool tubes that I have from Devon at Mega Tool Tube have been no problem, so far. I wrote to him and he said he would make me a thick-walled long tool tube to house these tire tools.


I was heading to El Calafate to see the famous glacier, but wanted to swing by El Chaltén first.


Less than a thousand kilometers to Tierra del Fuego, but I would be side-tracking into Chile once more for Torres del Paine.


Where a fence runs across the road, it flattens down into a cattle guard and it's not advisable to cross them at full speed since some of the guards have big dents in them that could damage the wheel rim.


An unlucky calf trying to jump the fence and paying the price. I guess Patagonia could be the ideal pasture land with nothing but shrubs growing but due to the low precipitation, I would think regrowth could be adversely affected by overgrazing. Plus, the grazers would have to quite tough to brave the constant winds and the persistent chill in the air.


After hundreds of kilometers of nothing but barren steppes, seeing this turquoise lake near Tres Lagos was a strange and welcome sight.


I camped next to the only gas station in Tres Lagos and was advised to setup next to this wall to hide from the wind. I also managed to throw some water over my body at the station's bathroom, since my last shower in Villa O'Higgins, but I would have to wait till I reached El Calafate tomorrow for my first shower in five days. With the cooler temps, you don't notice your body odour and besides, there are more important things like surviving through the night, than smelling nice. All the water I camped next to was freezing cold and not inviting enough to take a dip.


I asked the station owner and his wife if they had any food in their convenience store. I was looking for something to add to my usual fare of pasta and beef liver pate, like a can of peas or beans, but they didn't have any. However, the owner came by later and gave me a big milanesa (breaded steak) sandwich and I was truly grateful. And then again in the morning, he came over with some bread and cheese. I was touched by the kind heart of these Argentines.


Suiting up for another chilly day in Patagonia, which isn't so bad if you have enough layers and the right kind of protection from the wind.


The road is paved from Tres Lagos south, at least till Rio Turbio (turn off to Puerto Natales). This is the 90 km (56 mi) one-way route into El Chaltén.


The views along the way were beautiful and I was hoping for clear weather in El Chaltén.


Getting closer to the chills of the snow peaks of the Andes.


And voila, the small touristy town of El Chaltén under the famous towering Fitz Roy Mountains, which were sadly covered under clouds. A clear view of the peaks is a rare experience due to the micro climate that the tall mountains create. This hamlet is a hiking base and was packed to the brim with foreign tourists, ranging from bus loads of backpackers to herds of European motorcycle tour groups. I took a picture and turned around. From Villa O'Higgins, which is not that far as the crow flies from here, the overland route by foot comes in to the north of town.


A picturesque valley and I would've liked to spend more time here, but the commercialization of a place turns me off.


Heading back to the 40 along Lago Viedma with the Perito Moreno Glacier just across those mountains.


This whole area from El Chaltén down to El Calafate is part of the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares to protect the numerous ice rivers flowing down from the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. There was no entrance fee to the park from the road.


sanDRina posing with the turquoise waters of Lago Viedma, which is colored like so due to the minerals held in suspension that are eroded down by the glaciers. You can see the broken cap of the red tool tube, which spilled the tools along the 40.

The four days to loop around from Villa O'Higgins to El Calafate was a wonderful experience, especially as the contrasts of the two side of Patagonia were quite evident. The lush, green side of the Chilean Patagonia striking against the dry, wind-swept steppes of the Argentine side.
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Old 04-09-2011, 05:25 PM   #929
Adv Grifter
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Wow! Great stuff ... makes me realize just how much I missed! Even though I worked on a large Estancia (200,000 Hectares) near San Martin de los Andes and rode horses on all day treks to the hundreds of lakes just on the property alone, I realize I didn't even see 1/100th of the amazing sites you've seen.
Well, I've eaten the Calafate berry so am destined to return! (old local mythology)

I love the brief insights into the normal nuts & bolts of touring in such rugged conditions. At some point it might be good to do a review of all your gear and systems. What worked, what did not, what you tossed out and what you added as you went.

I'm sure several companies would offer sponsorship based on your extensive travel and use of their products.

PS My tool tube (Home made, Black PVC) became brittle over time from the heat of the header pipe. So much so I could punch a hole into it with a screw driver. This after six months of use ... about 12,000 miles.

I love your various tool tubes that appear to house all kinds of mysterious things. You've no doubt worked out a great system for traveling, camping an cooking as you've progressed along. You can see it when you look at the bike. It's loaded but there is order in the chaos. I can spot it.

Like Grant & Susan's BMW or Helge Pederson's BMW ... you can see the years and miles that help build the bike up to work for you.

Continued safe travels!
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Old 04-09-2011, 07:06 PM   #930
LXIV-Dragon
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Been following you since day one.

I hate the thought of this trip ever coming to an end but I cannot wait to see what you think was the best part. An impossible decision I dare say but the photos from the salt flats are the most breathtaking so far.

Enjoy, and stay safe.
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