November 28, 2006 GMT
Tres Dias

High on Life - Up the Andes... again

What a culture shock... leaving Bolivia and entering Argentina.

Argentine servos (gas stations) have cafes that are a) open, b) stocked and c) clean! Along the highway you find pull outs with a shady tree and picnic table. Tourist information offices are open with friendly staff and information!! OMG! we felt like we had returned to civilization.

River Scene - Ruta 52

Our first stop was San Pedro de Jujuy where the hotel proprietor, Don Nacho, proudly informed us of the 'new road' over the Andes to Chile, how it was in excellent condition and was open '365 days of the year' with no tunnels unlike the passes further south.

Ruta 52

This road did not appear on our map and according to our 'trusty' guide book is a ripio (dirt) road in poor condition until you reach the Chilean border.

A day trip to the beautiful relaxed city of Salta and the Automovil Club Argentina for a new updated map clearly showing 'Ruta 52'. Again people informed us of the 'Best road in the Country', we decided to see what all the fuss was about.

Rock Formations - Ruta 52


Yacuiba - Bolivia
* Clear Immigration in Bolivia;
* Go to Argentina;
* Clear Bolivian Customs in Argentinan Customs building (window marked).

Pocitos - Argentina
* Go to Customs window and fill in bike paperwork;
* Go to the Vehicle window and have paperwork and bike checked;
* Return to Customs window for final checks;
* Take passports to the Gendamarie (Police) who check them quickly and send you to the Immigration window;
* Hand your passports over to the Immigration Officer and mill about outside for a while until the Gendame calls your name and returns your passport.

Valley - Ruta 52

Ruta 52 from San Salvador de Jujuy to Passo de Jama and Chile exceded our expectations.

Yet another climb into the Andes, with endless switch-backs reaching skywards from the small town of Purmamarca and the spectacular mountain of seven colours.

Mountain of Seven Colours

After two hours, (stopping to admire the view often) we finally reached the highest point of the careterra - Abra Potrerillos, 4,164 meteres - where a wide plain appeared below us and a familiar sight (for us Aussies) of several large salt pans where the road traversed at almost the mid section of Salinas Grandes.

Ruta 52 bi-secting Salinas Grandes

We descended towards the lakes for perhaps 1,000 meters and ventured across the dry, crusty salt pan on an oil sealed gravel surfaced road. It seemed to us a very civilised and comfortable approach to viewing a large salt lake complete with salt brick buildings, sculptures and working salt mines.

Salinas Grandes

We stayed overnight in the isolated pueblito of Susques, high in the Andean mountains surrounded by spectacular rock formations and colourful mineral tainted streams.

Leaving Susques

Typically, at over 4,000 meters, the morning air was cool and crisp as we left for Paso de Jama and the border with Chile promising to return soon to Argentina for a longer stay.

Delicious & Nutritious Roadside Lunch - Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Sardines!

Posted by Julie Rose at November 28, 2006 09:31 PM GMT

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