|01-07-2011, 05:14 PM||#46|
Joined: Sep 2006
Location: Toulouse, France
Here are some more pics for you guys! Soon I'll even add some videos
One of the things we like about this trip is to be able to change our itinerary at the last minute. Whales seem to have already left the Valdes Peninsula so we are a bit less tempted by riding along the Atlantic coast to Ushuaia. Whales are gone but the wind and fields for 3 000 kms are still there. We could probably find a better road than Ruta 3!
We could cross Argentina from East to West, reach Mendoza against the foothills of the Andes and then take the stunning Ruta 40 to Tierra del Fuego.
The plan sounds promising: one way down on the East side of the Andes through Argentina, and one way up on the West side of the Andes through Chili.
At least we'll spend Christmas elsewhere than in a shopping center...
We take the road after a short stay in Buenos Aires at Laure's (thanks again for your welcome!). We were waiting for a DHL package but it never arrived as it was actually shipped to New Zealand instead... too bad!
We are looking for wide spaces, we are tired of this huge city of 20 millions inhabitants.
We are running away from the oppressive heat of the capitale, we go from one extrem to the other and we get in the middle of a rain and wind storm. The only campsite is about 20 kms away on this impassable track. We have mud up to the knees and the bike is 300 kg, it's not going to be fun!
And there is no-one on sight... we have to keep riding to find a refuge for the night. And what we find is a motel on the side of the road, which seems to be a "normal" motel...
But the owner, Luis, strikes up a friendship with us as it seems we are one of the only couples who does not pay by hour...! :)
And when we get into the room it is confirmed: there is no window, a miror on the ceiling... and "noisy" neighboors who come and leave every 30 minutes or so. It's grim!
Luis ans his wife come from Taïwan, they have lived in Argentina for 20 years. They think Taïwan is better and they earned more money there but it's too crowded. Here it's wide and there is nobody! Luis's wife offers some watermelon to us and a Taiwanese meal she has just prepared.
The sun is back the next day, we take the road very early to avoid the heat. We are so happy when we see the shape of a small mountain from far away. Is it a mirage?
No, it's not a mirage... Finally, some relief! We are in the Traslasierra Valley and we now ride along the Sierras de las Comechigones.
Finally some twisties, a delight on the bike!
Roads and tracks alternate in a great landscape. We have decided to spend Christmas here!
More precisely at Aquas Buenos... well, we actually don't see much water, all the rivers seem to be dry in the region at the moment!
I pitch the tent... while Marion take a break!
Marion: Obviously when I fold the tent in the morning, no-one is there to take a picture!
Marion: Aurel gets ready for Tierra del Fuego!
Even insects dress up for Christmas with these small bobbles... Who can tell us the name of this little one?
It's 24th December and it's 86°F. Where is the snow? How is Santa Clos going to land his sleigh?
The next day we take the road and cross the "Pampa Seca": an arid plain where tracks are lined with small thorny trees and of palm-trees which seem to be dying of thurst! Corn and potatoes fields are now far away... Breaks in the shadow are necessary.
Marion: Aurel could travel without water, he is a real camel!
We ride on more tracks that in Africa here, already more than 2 000 kms!
We reach the Parque Nacional de las Quijadas, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The site is amazing and desert. We don't meet anyone except a guardian at the entrance. Only some predatories are looking over us from above.
This guardian is not the one allowed to receive money. His colleague spends Christmas with his family so the stay is free for us.
The remoteness is total. The parc is stuck between San Luis and San Juan. The cities are linked by a road where outlaws used to attack travellers before taking refuge in the labyrinth of the sierras. They were called the "Gauchos de las Quijadas".
We improvise a shower with one of our clothes' bag. It feels good after a day in the heat!
As in all deserts the evening is quite cold. Nothing better than a big fire to get warm and to cook.
Marion: On my way to the well to do the dishes I am chilled by a scorpion... Aurel cannot help but he has to take a picture of it 10 cm away.
We are up at 6am the next day as we want to enjoy the sunset and to walk around when it's not too hot yet.
There was a huge laguna here millions years ago. Many fossils have been found; the site is popular among archaeologists.
The landscape is breathtaking. We don't get bored off these torn cliffs, dizzy canyons and red-orange rocks.
In the next episode: Mendoza, "the region of sun and good wine".
|01-08-2011, 06:59 AM||#47|
Joined: Jul 2010
Location: Los Andes,Venezuela
Nice to know you are fine
Nice to know you are fine, I think will be good for us the readers if you guys direct us from yours old treat to the new ones.
And for us is better you split because now we have 2 Ride Report to read
|01-08-2011, 06:05 PM||#49|
Joined: Feb 2008
Location: Close enough to Detroit to hear gunfire
Best ride report in a long, long time!
GET SMUGMUG NOW. $5 off code hYt2lOVPfVbjc
2007 KTM Adventure 990
2005 HD Road King (yeah yeah, I know)
|01-13-2011, 07:09 AM||#50|
I am the Thai Tiger
Joined: Aug 2010
Location: Fredericksburg, VA
I'm really enjoying the ride report. Hoping to get more. My wife (who teaches spanish) was requesting a Belize vacation this summer. I referenced her to your ride report as an alternative. Wish me luck!
|01-13-2011, 09:04 AM||#51|
Joined: Sep 2006
Location: Toulouse, France
Here is an update of our journey !
Welcome to Mendoza, the region of sun and good wine!
Mendoza region is an oasis created by men. Water from the thaw is canalized in a large irrigation network. Families try to refresh themselves in the canals when they walk around at weekends.
No swim break for the adventurers, we take the road on a track to get deeper into the wine region. We are on the opposite side of the world but we're still French, we're not going to miss one good opportunity to taste some local wine :)
Little by little thorny trees are replaces by vineyards, fruit trees (full of peaches and abricots at this time of the year), olive trees, poplars and wipping willows.
We can see the Andes! Our friends in France complain about the snow but we also have it here... :)
We ride in Tupungato valley about 60 kms South of Mendoza. Vineyards are at the foot of a 6800 m high volcano. The weather gets cooler, the plain is at 1200m high.
We visit the main and most famous bodega of the area, Salentein. A bodega is a winegrowing entreprise and this one is owned by a Dutch people.
Grape harvest won't happen before March. Too bad, we're going to miss the "Fiesta de la Vendimia"! We won't be lucky to see the "Fruit Benection" to thank saints for the quality of the harvest and place the next one under the protection of the Carrodilla Virgin, "boss" of Mendoza vineyards.
But the visit is still worth it! The owner of the bodega is not only a wine passionate he is also an art collector; the place is a real museum!
We are visiting the huge cave where wines get older sheltered from the sun and heat. It's a beautiful room. It's not only a cave, the owner also organises piano concerts there!
This is a 360° view of the main cave. You can slide the picture on the right, left, above or below with your mouse.
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A good tour necessarily includes a wine tasting and obviously we can't leave before trying the wine! :)
Marion: Aurel did not have enough wine during the tasting, so he decides to directly drink wine from the cask!
There is no room to leave with a box but we'll be happy to get one bottle for the night. Delicious.
A road links Mendoza to Santiago in Chili by crossing the Andes. An Argentinian met a couple of days ago highly recommended this itinerary. So we decide to go there at least to Las Cuevas which is at the entrance of the international tunnel.
We go deeper into the mountains, the landscape is amazing. Our first step in the Andes is Potrerillos. The village is not great but the environment is just beautiful.
We camp on the edge of this turquoise water lake.
It has not been raining for a while here!
There are not much people around here, the only Argentinian we meet is not very talkative but he gladly accepts a tuna can...
The next day we meet Martin while filling up before going deeper in the Andes. He is living in Santiago and also drives a KTM 990 Adventure.
We get along well so we decide to ride to the border together.
The 100 kms with Martin are sublime, we would like to stop every 500 m to make a picture but we still have to go on...
Marion: I'm going to become an expert of pictures in motion!
We meet more and more bikers, it's true that the road is a delight!
Here is a video we made, get on the bike with us for 7 mins of nice riding!
On our way to the border we stop at Puente del Inca, 2 700 m high. This natural bridge across the Rio de Las Cuevas is of a yellow-orange color because of the iron and sulfure deposits contained in the water. This bridge was originally one of the extremity of the Inca Kingdom.
Our first attempt to see the Aconcagua, hightest summit of Americas, is a failure. Clouds are there and it starts raining. We go back to the valley to camp. The next day we try again and we are lucky to get to the Parque Provincial Aconcagua under a nice sun.
The Aconcagua is also called the "roof of the Americas" or the "Stone Sentinel". It's majestic.
The summit is at almost 7 000 m high, 4 000 m higher than where is our treck. We are a bit short of breath at 3 000 m high. No, we won't do the 15 day trekking to reach the top... to easy!!
Rough camp is forbidden in the parc so we go down a bit.
We find a great landscape to pitch the tent. There are rocks on the ground which is not the best to sleep but it's so much worth it!
Marion: Aurel has ideas to protect us from the cold at night; he leaves a pan full of embers at the tent's entrance. The tent warms up in a few minutes! And there is also the hot-water bottle with water boiled on the fire... it's perfect!
It's cold and we sleep on rocks but we're happy! :)
This is worth any IKEA kitchen!
Clouds are gone when we get up, we can't dream of better!
And we also take the opportunity to write an article before folding the tent!
We take the Villavicencio track to go back to Mendoza before starting the Road 40 which will lead us to Ushuaïa.
At Paso del Paramillo pass (2 800 m) we meet a very nice Argentinian who explains that we can find thermal springs in this parc. Two Argentinian bikers also meet us there and give us some good tips.
Wherever we stop we meet people. A German couple who has been travelling for 6 years, a farmer who loves bikes, fuel pump attendants surprised to see a bike with 3 fuel tanks, bored policemen, curious kids, families on the road of holidays... These brief meetings always end up with tips on places to visit, roads to take, an invitation to drink mate or to stay at their home...
The rocks track going down to Mendoza is vertiginous, twistees are steep. But the view is magnificient! We should not stay around here too much tough, rocks seem to fall quite often...
We see llamas for the first time since the beginning of the trip.
After this first tour in the Andes and some wine tasting, it's time to head towards the South! We only have... 3119 km left before reaching Ushuaïa!
To be followed...
|01-13-2011, 05:54 PM||#52|
On the right, the "soon to be departed"
Che's free spirit lives on in every biker dreaming of remote and desolate places.
One day I'll go from Hudson Bay to Ushuaia, and back!
He, whose nuts skim the ground while airborne, won't crash very far!
Pedibus Cum Jambus 1200 S
IBA # 38875
|01-21-2011, 03:14 PM||#53|
Joined: Sep 2006
Location: Toulouse, France
Here are some news, we've pretty busy riding
After discovering the wine region and the Aconcagua, we let Mendoza behind us to ride down towards Ushuaia along the along the Andes, on the famous Road 40.
The Road 40 always surprises us. That's what we like about it. It's sometimes an asphalt road, sometimes a track of rocks, soil or sand. We are surprised at each bend. For example here, close to Pareditas, we suddently discover a huge turquoise water lake surrounded by hills whereas the track was quite straight and flat up to now.
We are on a montain track once we have crossed the dam, great!
Our first step is El Sosneado. We meet Jose and his family and they let us pitch the tent in the garden. They own a kiosko (a kind of small grocery store) in the middle of nowhere. There are not many people around here except employees from oil drilling companies.
One more time the bike kindles people's curiosity and it's a good way to start a conversation. A local oil company employees love the bike's color which matches with their work clothes!
The next day the weather is thundery but we still take the road. We play cat and mouse with the rain all day but we don't regret it as it gives the landscape a fantastic side. Clouds seem lower with the altitude and we feel that the sky is going to fall over our heads!
However we don't hang around as the track gets more and more saturated with water and at some places we have to ford streams of 50 or 60 cms!
Some people call this region the "black pampa" as there are a lot of black volcanic rocks. Yellow bushes form a superb contrast!
Tough it's sometimes raining the region is quite dry and only a couple of rivers manage to wade through volcanic rocks.
This water pours forth in the lake located at the end of our step, in Barrancas.
After this day in the cold and humidity we take refuge in the only hostel of the village; we treat ourselves with a night in a "real" bed. But we deserve it after 398 kms of track included 150 of corrugated iron!
My arms hurt a bit with the loaded bike and my passenger... but I don't complain as 1000 kms away Dakar pilotes ride much more than that...
The hostel's owner shows us a map of the region which is much more precise than our own map; it will allow us to sometimes leave the Road 40 to take not busy tracks and discover undreamed places! The bike and a map, both are a very good way to start a conversation!
We meet Paula (the owner's daughter), Medel and their five kids.
They live in the South of Patagonia and come here to visit their family for Christmas holidays. After an evening with them they invite us to stay at their home once we get there! It will be a pleasure, we'll see you in 2 or 3 weeks!
During the evening the Dakar summary is in the background. Most Argentinians are crazy about it!
The next day the weather is perfect. We see the Tromen volcano from far away (3978 meters!)
From closer it's even more impressive.
The whole region was shaped by different eruptions.
So the track alternates with valleys, craters, canyons, plains, etc.
This geological activity sometimes gives a bright orange color to the rocks inside the rivers.
Early in the morning, sheeps, cows and horses usually block the road. Gauchos bring them from fields to fields.
The beginning of our trip in South America was not very diversified in terms of landscapes. We always needed to ride about 1000 kms to change it. It has been the whole contrary since Mendoza! After a volcanic region we are now riding on small hills which are more and more covered by huge araucarias (sometimes higher than 30 meter high!)
The araucaria's nickname is "the despair of monkeys" as its branches are covered of rigid leaves looking like sharp scales. It comes from the dinosaures area!
The mapuche culture (tribe who was living in the region before the colonists) venerates this tree and its kernels was their main food a long time ago.
The fauna changes again when we reach the region of Villa Pehuenia; fir-trees start appearing.
The lakes water is very pure! The water of Aluminé lake is transparent, the mountain and clouds reflect like in a miror.
A bit further on the track we meet one of the symbol of South America, a llama. It is calmly looking at us, impassive.
This animal goes well with the region, quiet and peaceful.
Some other show up and soon it's a small herd that comes to us!
They look like cuddly toys! 2 meter high cuddly toys tough... :)
They are not shy and they gladly come closer when we give them a bit of hay.
Another couple meet us to play with the llamas. They explain that the llamas come from the North and that they've managed to acclimatize to the harshness of the weather. Indeed it's -25°C and 1 meter of snow during winter around here.
Vivianna and Xavier own a "casa de te" a bit further and they invite us to drink a hot chocolate with dulche de leche and a piece of cake, chocolate cake as well.
I know one girl who is going to be happy... :)
Marion: Vivianna, your cake was delicious!
They show us the wool that they get from llamas to weave clothes.
After this "cakes and llamas" break we finally reach the end of our step, the Parque Nacional Lanine.
Marion: Another day with 300 km of track, it's not easy to be an adventurer! But it's so beautiful that we never want to stop!
We feel tired but Marion does not budge tough!
Here is a short video to give you an idea of what the riding looks like.
We pitch the tent under a small rain on the edge of the gigantic Huechulafquen lake (23 km long!!). In the morning the mist partly hides the mountains but the sight is grandiose.
When the mist disappears we discover the imposing Lanine volcano (almost 4 000 m high)
Our goal? To touch the snow! It takes us 4h on foot to reach the base of the glacier.
During the trekking some small more or less nice creatures try to climb up onto our feet.
It's such a reward! The walk is amazing. Only damper the top of the glacier is hidden in the clouds when we get there!
After 4h up we only need to walk down! 3h later we are back at the campsite.
After a good night sleep we are ready to discover the lakes region around Bariloche, the Road 40 has not finished to surprise us!
To be followed...
|01-22-2011, 08:28 AM||#54|
Joined: Nov 2009
Location: LA PECHE, QUEBEC, CANADA
Toute une aventure!
Outstanding pictures and report!
Thanks to share it with us / Merci de la partager avec nous!
"30 YEARS OF RIDING IN A FEW MINUTES"
|01-29-2011, 12:01 PM||#55|
Joined: Sep 2006
Location: Toulouse, France
I've been pretty busy recently. Last week we had 11 punctures, it took sometime to repair and kept us away from the internet for a while
But here are some more pictures!
With Loïc, my friend with who I crossed Africa before, we have just jumped at the chance of seeing each other! We often go to the same places but at days or weeks interval. This time we are "only" 300 kms away from each other.
Only problem, Loïc is in Chili where all roads are blocked by strikers' barricades, and Marion and I are in Argentina. I will have to find a road to cross the border and make my way through the barricades!
Early on 16th I get prepared to meet Loïc in Puerto Natales by riding as much kms as possible on the Argentinian side so I will only have one barricade to cross on the Chilian side. That's more logical I get there as Loïc is waiting for a ferry. It would be annoying if he could not get back to the city to take his boat.
The plan for the day:
- 96 kms of road
- 108 kms of track
- 85 kms of road
- a border
- 10 kms of road
- 6 kms of road
The temperature is close to 0 outside the tent. The decision is taken that Marion will stay at the campsite to avoid 600 kms return in an arctic cold. The first 100 kms are tough, it's freezing and the road rises more and more to reach a pass. I am frozen :)
When the track replaces the asphalt I stop 5 minutes to smoke a cigarette and try to get warm. Without success, the wind makes it even worse... I start to ride on the track and the bike slides from side to side like if I had punctured both tyres at the same time. I quickly understand when I stop to check; the surface is not "hard and dry" as I thought it was, but it is actually mud. And I have 90 kms left of it! I change the tyres pressure from 2,6 kg to 1kg and I start riding again. My only fellow travellers are foxes, flamingos, hares and small ostriches; hopefully the bike won't breakdown around here!
I finally get to the end of the track 90 kms, 50 puddles and 200 slides later, I am even more frozen. There is only a tiny fuel station without heating and I take refuge in it to avoid the wind for 30 minutes.
When I tell the pump attendant that my plan is to meet a friend in Puerto Natales in Chili, he announces that the border is close... this day gets better :)
There are only 85 kms left before the border so I decide to go check myself. The situation gets worse, it starts to rain and I even get some snow flakes. I am so cold that I decrease my speed from 110 km/h to 100, 90, 80... and I reach the border city at 70 km/h. Again, I find a refuge in a fuel station. I stay 1h there waiting for the rain to stop.
Once warmed I leave the road and take the track leading to the Argentinian border office. Formalities are quick and I ask the custom officers if the Chilian side is open; I am answered a simple "no idea". The Chilian custom office is 3 kms away.
Thanksfully the border is open when I get there; I can enter Chili! But the custom officer informs me that there is a barricade a few kms away and that nobody can cross it. She makes me swear that I will come back to the border if I don't manage to cross it. "yes, yes, I promise..."
I obtain the magic stamp after a few formalities.
I slowly ride towards the barricade at 10 km/h, not knowing what to expect. The situation Loïc had to face between Ushuaïa and Puerto Natales is not a good sign! On the side of the road I see dozens of tourists walking towards Argentina with their bag on their back. It's an exodus! But I have never been so close to Loïc since South Africa, I am not going to give up now!
It looks like a barricade we know at home. Lots of trucks on the road, guys with hats, sausages cooking on the fire... and a small gap between trucks to get round the barricade! Without a doubt I thread my way through it and I cross the barricade without stopping and ignoring strikers' calls. Mission accomplished! :)
5 kms away I meet Loïc in front of his hostel, finally! We are now together for 24h. 24h to relate bikers stories, drink beers, eat at the restaurant and finish the evening with a bottle a Pisco, a Chilian alcohol, which carries us to our beds.
The city is in stage of emergency, shops are close, militaries patrol and hundred of tourists are blocked here; they camp in a gymnasium waiting to be able to leave the city.
The Red Cross feeds everybody and provides mattresses. And because it's 2011 the Red Cross has even added the wifi :)
The army tells tourists what to do and where to go. It organises the evacuation to Argentina by plane. But we don't care as we have bikes :)
The next day I let Loïc in Puerto Natales where he will take his boat to the center of Chili, and I return to Argentina to meet Marion. Before I leave the hostel's owner informs us that the martial law has just been declared in the South of the country. From now on barricades won't let anyone go. This time I don't manage to get round it and I have to negociate. I let you discover it in the video... :)
See you soon my friend!
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