New pics and maybe a video on Flickr!! Will update blog in the next couple of days.
Back in Argentina and a really easy border crossing. Taking what the locals call the 7 lakes route, its really beautiful, it starts around San Martin, nice but expensive town, has a German log cabin feel about it. Thats where we bumped into Dan and Marien again, small world!! We ride the route to Angostura with them and find a really nice campsite off a dirt road. lots of lakes to see and cool roads to ride so have a couple of days here.
Next to San Carlos De Bariloche, bigger but nice place, find campsite out of town. battery on my bike seems to be playing up so Tim swops them over as i ve been riding with my lights on, to see if it puts a bit more charge in. All ride a local scenic circuit, again a stunning place. Dan treats us to a couple of pints (bless him!) of local brew at a brewery bar. Have few days here then leave Dan and Marien there as we head south and them to Chile.
Ride to Lake Steffan, long twisty, downhill dirt track to a campsite by the lake, nice but cold showers! Been in El Bolson a few days now as waiting to here some info on the bikes before we head any further south. Met nice Dutch chap at a petrol station who had left Cartaghena in Colombia only a week before us and doing more or less the same route! He was on a 03 KTM but had had lots of problems with the bike and had to take it on buses and trucks from Peru to Chile to get it to a KTM shop (bit rare KTM shops) Thinks he lost around 5/6 weeks of his 3 month trip with it breaking down twice! Then he had to push it over the border as the officials wanted to class it as cargo! i hope the rest of his trip goes a bit better.
Visited a forest where artists come and do chainsaw sculptures. Long dirt road up to it then a 1000 mtr steep walk to the site and then they charged you to get in! Worth it though some of them were really good, see the pics.
Still having probs selling the bikes, They make everything so complicated over here. It is ilegal for us to sell them as there on tempory import papers and UK registered. We ve had loads of interest in them as bikes are expensive to buy here but there doesnt seem any way around the papers. So finding out what would happen if we just sold them, if it would be on the system that we still have 2 bikes in Argentina when we got to the airport. If they broke down or we had to leave them for some reason they would still be on the import papers so I m not sure what the aurthorities could do about it! Trying not to end up in an Argentinian jail!! Heard of travellers giving there bikes away as its so expensive to get them shipped back, but again there then been ridden around on tempory papers still in your name! just found out its going to cost over 600 quid just clear them at the UK port! Apparently you can not do it yourself, but looking into it. Seeing what it would cost to ship them from Chile now too as heard a bit cheaper. Going to cost about 1000 quid each from Argentina!
Well think we ve sorted out what to do with the bikes. Shipping them from Santiago in Chile, its cheaper than Buenos Aries (approx 1600 pounds for both bikes) and it means we get to ride up the Chile coast which should be really nice, rather than miles across a straight flat road through desert to Buenos Aries, which is further as well. We could sell them but it is illegal (in most of South America), theres ways around it but its risky and we dont think worth it. Hopefully should be able to clear customs (least do some of it) ourselves in UK to so that will save a bit of money. All this means we have to get a 24 hour bus from Santiago to Buenos Aries for our flights but it still works out cheaper - it will be an adventure in its self, the way they drive!
Anyway heading back North now, got as far as a national park (Alceres, we think) near Esquel, the windest road I ve ever ridden on, its the only time I ve felt like you could get blown off the bike!! Met two cyclists at the campsite there, one had ridden around the world. The other started in Europe, he had just come up from Patagnia and said the weather was terrible and some days the police shut roads to all traffic as it was so windy, he had hitch hiked or walked it was so bad. Wish we had time to get further into Patagonia as we ve only touched the north end of it, but not sure I`d enjoy the weather on a bike.
The national park was Beautiful, four huge lakes and free camping, we had bracing washes in the lake (icy cold, snow melt) although we did have to pay to get into the park and of course it was double for us `gringos´! It was fairly quiet which was nice as its so touristy here and its the locals holiday time, but also the nicest time of year to come. The weather is so hot (its melting the ´hold alls` luggage) weird as theres still snow on the mountains and we saw our first glacier. The park is named after the ancient cedar trees, some are 3000 years old and 57 meters tall, would have loved to have seen them but you have to take a boat ride and it was really expensive. So we took a walk to some 300 year old ones, well one tree actually and it was a sorry looking specimen, we wouldn t have known if it wasn t for the sign saying what it was! so bit disapointed! There was a park in Chile that had a rare stance of 650 year old mytrte trees in it, right in the middle, but you had to hike to them and we re not kitted out for that.
Covered about 9000 miles so far and reached just under 5000 metres high (colca canyon). Going to enjoy these last few days along the coast. Oh and thanks for the really nasty cold I ve now got - Dan and Marien!!
Now for a bit of exciting news, Tim asked me to marry him, and I said yes!! Crikey !! He reckons if we take a few more nude photos and do a calender we may be able to afford it !!
Well back in Chile, border crossing really busy and we had the usual confusion of us having two bikes! (not sure why but it seems to be confusing) Stunning road again into Chile, but raining so decide to get away from the mountains and head to the coast. Stay in a little town that has a huge covered area with loads of little eateries that were really cheap (try crab and cheese empanards - pasties to us, yum) and traditional dancing on a stage. Camping not cheap around here (lots of haggling!) and most of the showers only have cold water. Have to head in land a bit as Tim neads to get some welding done on a bracket on the sub frame thats cracked. Find a really good campsite with the nicest couple running it, tim has to strip the bike down to get the welding done so stay a couple of nights, they let us use the kitchen and their PC and come over with a bottle of local Pisco Sour for a drink with us. In the morning they show us their family photos! Site is called Los Aromos in Chol Chol 20kms out of Imperial, (will put good accomadation etc up on horizons site after trip)
There seems to be problems in this area with the indigenous population, Mapuche people. The Europeons took their land in the 1900s, still seems to cause issues, though most of them survive on the tourisum here.
Heading north to Buchupureo, really nice site with hot water!! But have to ride a horrible dirt road with deep, not gravel but big pebbles, not nice to it. Meet (Gemma and Alfonzo, shes from Brigton and hes Chile, enjoy few beers with them, Gemmas only the second British person we ve met and only seen one UK reg bike!) watch bizare band with them that are trying to make a bit of a come back. Avoid Concepcion the town that had the big earthquake last year and has smaller ones all the time. See lots of damage from it still all over this area.
Seeing quite a few cowboys, not quite how I imagined them to look, like in the westerns. They wear ponchos and big hats. At Pichilema at mo, seaside town (bit like skeg) loads of surfers though as huge waves, they hold the world championships here, Tims having a go later...!
Start the bike shipping process on wednesday, wish we had the time and money to carry on south and up through Uraguay, Brazil etc. (but miss my dog too much !) We ve had a fantastic trip and even though its been more expensive in a lot of countries than we thought for food, accomadation and fuel, I wouldnt change it (if your thinking of coming do it soon as it doubles each year in some areas) We ve met the most fantastic people, made good friends and seen the most amazing and quite often sureal things! And I m sure thats what lifes is all about!!
More pics on Flickr!! Bikes crated and ready to go, cost less than we thought too!
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