Riding the Caretera Austral in the daylight was much more fun than in the dark, a little faster and time to look at the beautiful scenery. After the town of Coihaique, we rode north on tarmac at first, then back to gravel. It was a reasonably good road, but narrow with lots of traffic. On a nice straight stretch I decided to ride as close to the verge as possible, got a little too close and dumped the bike!
How did that happen and where did all that mud come from?
Ah well about time I suppose. Apart from a sore knee, I was fine. As usual, it was my carrier that suffered the most. The latest repair had broken and we had to strap up the whole thing before I could continue. At least this time, I took it all in my stride, confidence intact for a change.
The road was being repaired on a large scale, closed for 4 hours a day, for serious maintenance. Luck being on our side, we arrived just as the road was being reopened, it was like a bad obstacle course, and my idea of hell. Stretches of deep earth, deep gravel, steep inclines, narrow bridges and lots of huge road building vehicles.
Waiting for the construction crew to do their stuff
We made it through without incident and kept riding towards the Queulat National Park where we wanted to visit the hanging glacier. The lost time in the road works, meant riding in darkness again and we eventually decided to camp just off the road as there was no sign of the campsite.
The next morning after 20kms or so we came to the campsite and glacier, more wedged than hanging, but a nice walk nevertheless.
The road was pretty good after the village of Puyuhaupi and we rode almost to the border, the only thing we had to be wary of was the livestock roaming free on the roadside. They didn’t always stay off the road and with Dieter in mind we rode very slowly.
Another early border crossing in the middle of nowhere, our last for a while. After the hassles and time spent at borders in Central America, we really appreciate the efficiency of the Chile and Argentine borders. As we rode to Esquel and on to Bariloche, it felt like a Sunday instead of a Monday, the banks and shops were closed and people were out picking rosehips. Later we found out it was a bank holiday – Malvinas Day.
Bariloche was a nice town, lots of money here! Big houses, fancy shops, expensive restaurants. A nice change from the last few days! It was a good place to relax for a couple of days. I spent a lot of time on the computer and Arno spent his time looking at the chocolate shops, that is when he wasn’t fixing things on the bikes. We did get time to have a ride around the area though, and see the beautiful scenery.
Scenery around Bariloche and Llao-Llao
Tearing ourselves away from the comforts of civilisation, we rode towards the east coast of Argentina. The wildlife was calling and we wanted to see some penguins, seals and sea lions before they all left for warmer waters.
Peninsular Valdes was flat, windy and full of sheep. We rode to the east side of the peninsular, avoiding the herds of guanacos who like to show off their fence jumping skills, to see sea lions and penguins. Then up to Punta Norte and sat waiting for the orcas to come and feast on the few seals that were lounging in the danger area. It was obviously a mackerel day however and the seals lived to swim another day. It was a windy ride back to Ruta 3 where we had the wind behind us for a pleasant change.
The road was boring apart from the people we met. I was surprised to see motorcyclists still heading down to Ushuaia. One couple stopped for a chat.
All wrapped up for the chilly south
Cicero and Lourdes were from Florianópolis and had a month to do a round trip down to Ushuaia, up through Chile and back to Brazil. They were both on a Honda 350 with minimal luggage and a wicked paint job. Email addresses exchanged and photos taken, we were off again, northwards, destination Viedma.
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