January 05, 2009 GMT

Arrived at Santiago Airport 5:30 AM, 31st of Dec. Got through customs with no problems in about 45 min. Rental car place was not ready for me till 7:00, but were happy to tell me they had upgraded me to a 4X4 pickup at no charge. The problem was that the 4X4 pickups are two seats and 5 foot bed. Took till 9:00 to get this solved and get the right truck.

Truck has a portable GPS unit which helps a lot, punched in coordinates for HD dealer in Santiago and was there by ten. Got phone numbers, contacts and the obligatory shirt. Friendly people in the shop but only one had good English. I then started to look for a hotel where I had not got much sleep last night. Got lost at least a dozen times not finding anything that was not more than I wanted to spend so I headed out of the city toward Valparaiso (105 k) but traffic was horrendous due to the holiday and everyone heading to the beach for cooler weather. So I turned off toward San Antonio but it is a sea port and not set up for turists. Did find two Motels along the way but they charged by the hour. Ended up circuling around back to Santiago and getting a hotel room down town.

Santiago is a big city (14 million) and has a lot that looks like New York City but it also has some slum areas.

Arrived at Santiago Airport 5:30 AM, 31st of Dec. Got through customs with no problems in about 45 min. Rental car place was not ready for me till 7:00, but were happy to tell me they had upgraded me to a 4X4 pickup at no charge. The problem was that the 4X4 pickups are two seats and 5 foot bed. Took till 9:00 to get this solved and get the right truck.

Truck has a portable GPS unit which helps a lot, punched in coordinates for HD dealer in Santiago and was there by ten. Got phone numbers, contacts and the obligatory shirt. Friendly people in the shop but only one had good English. I then started to look for a hotel where I had not got much sleep last night. Got lost at least a dozen times not finding anything that was not more than I wanted to spend so I headed out of the city toward Valparaiso (105 k) but traffic was horrendous due to the holiday and everyone heading to the beach for cooler weather. So I turned off toward San Antonio but it is a sea port and not set up for turists. Did find two Motels along the way but they charged by the hour. Ended up circuling around back to Santiago and getting a hotel room down town.

Santiago is a big city (14 million) and has a lot that looks like New York City but it also has some slum areas.

Plaza in central Santiago, Big Cathedral on the left, note "Cuba" in back ground. A Cuban band was setting up to play, celebrating 50 years sence revolution.

Must have walked ten miles a day around Santiago and unlike Mexico, Guatemala or China, everyone is very respectable of your space with no one ever trying to sell you something you do not want.

On Saturday I headed out of the city, (not a big city fan) for Enzo and Martina's place in Valparaiso. This is not a small city but I can tell much more where I am with the Bay to West and hills to the east.
Valparaiso harbor, the house I am in sits high up on one of the hills overlooking the harbor.
Big Mac is nothing compared to this hamburger I got down town, was something over 8 inches with three patties of meat.
Enzo cooking "carne da vaca" Asodo

There are three moto riders from the USA here getting ready to ship home (San Francisco). Also to from Germany and I think another just got here. Had problems with paperwork today (Monday) should be fixed tomorrow and I can get on the road.

Bruce and Joe from San Fransisco (and me behind the camera riding up the cable car

Cable car unit to haul people up the hill, there are six of these in Valparaiso still running. Costs 300 CP (40 cents)

The House I am staying in is just below this one and built in 1906. These were grand houses when built and some are well maintained/restored.

Posted by Robert Thode at 04:45 PM GMT
January 08, 2009 GMT
On the Road, Norte

Tusday 6th January,
Have gotten moto out of port, to think how easy it is to drive up to Canada with no hassle, then see what it take to get a vehicle in to Chile is a real eye opener. I knew it would come with much paper shuffling as they are worried that you might sell it here and they would not get their duty. Total cost to port and agent came to $320 USD.

Moto in port with srink wrap removed so customs could inspect.

On Monday I went down to Valparaiso Port with Burce, Joe, Fred and Enzo to load their container. It took 4 hours of waiting and 1/2 hour to load. 20 foot container could hold 6 bikes.
Container loaded with three motorcyles headed back to Califoria. At one time I counted 13 crew there trying to figur out how to do what would have be a cake walk if they just would have let us do it.

Here we celebrate the crate being loaded and my moto out of port. Left to right, Joe (San Francisco) Bruce (San Francisco), Andy (Germany), Andra (Germany), Enzo, Fred (Los Vegas) family friend & Martina.

The two riders from Germany have been riding in the South for six weeks and are now going North for four weeks. I was amazing to sit with this group with conversations in English, German and Spanish, Sometimes all at once.

And some think that some of my loads are wide. There were three of these beside the road at a toll both.


Fruit stand beside the Rute 5 (Pan American hwy) 150 miles north of Santiago. Moto is clean so I needed a picture before it gets dirty.

Posted by Robert Thode at 01:50 AM GMT
January 11, 2009 GMT
Chile Norte

January 7, 2009
Traveled North on Ruta 5 to Los Molles and stayed in a nice Cabones that looked out to the ocean. It was hot till Ruta 5 dropped down to the coast then it was quite comfortable. The Cabin had a stove and fridge so I walked down to mini market and bought some soup and three eggs. Cooked the soup and one egg for dinner and had the other two for breakfast. I had no oil so who ever had to wash the pans will not want me back.

Fruit stand beside the Rute 5 (Pan American hwy) 150 miles north of Santiago. Moto is clean so I needed a picture before it gets dirty.

January 8, 2009
Traveled on North on Ruta 5 to La Serena and looked for a hotel that was recommended in the guide book but could not find it so went for another cabin. La Serena is a fairly large city with an interesting central (old) section.
Had some time and decided to try to find motorcycle insurance. I can not enter Argentina without insurance. Chile does not require insurance and it appears that no one will insure vehicles that do not have Chelan license for use in Chile. Did find company that would insure moto for use in Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil. Cost was 39,610 CP (55 USD) for 5 weeks. No one in the office spoke English but with my limited Spanish and lots of pointing we got it done, a real accomplishment.
The insurance issue had been bothering me as I plan on crossing in to Argentina at the southern most pass. Have been told that I could buy insurance at the border crossings but this will be a little used border and could not get any assurances that it would have been available. Which would mean backtracking for several days to find insurance.
Met another moto traveler at a gas station on Ruta 5. He and his wife were also headed north on a BMW. They were from Argentina and provided many recommendation on where to travel in there country. Highly recommended northwest Argentina and marked on my map some good rides and towns to visit, most helpful.
There is an internet site (more than one maybe) where you can make phone calls for almost nothing all over the world. Cost to call the USA is $0.02 per minute. Tried to subscribe but there security system would not take my credit cards from unknown site. Will try again or at least make sure I do it before coming back next year.

January 9, 2009
Where I don’t need to be back in Valapariso till tomorrow night and it can be done in one day I decide to explore. Left La Serena and east up a valley. The idea was to ride to top of pass then come back down. Paso Aqua Negra is 4775 meters high and wanted to see how moto ran at that altitude. Went through 12 miles of construction with most of it tore up reaching 2150 meters (6500 to 7000 ft.) and 88 kilometers to go when I came to Aduana (customs). I did not want to check out Chile without the papers I needed to get in to Argentina so I turned back deciding to go south
Grapes being raised on rock hill sides under shade cloth
The map showed a
gravel road Ruta 445 from Vicuna to Hurtado at 46 kilometers. I could use a little practice on gravel so off I go. The first few K were packed gravel then things changed to Goat Path status and stated climbing. At about a third of the way and 1500 meters I began questioning if I should turn around, but things could get better. Well they could have but did not but at half way I decide to continue on. Reached 1750 meters then stated to descend so stopped and put coat back on, had taken it off due to heat and at 15 mph you do not get much wind. I made it almost through when down we go to a switchback with a sand wash at bottom. Have no idea what happened, first thing I know the ground comes up and smacks me. Came down on right shoulder and right arm on chest which knocked the wind out of me. Broke mirror on right side of moto but know other damage. Unload bike to lower weight so I can right it, then reload. 2.5 hours I make it to Hurtado and get two bottles of water (only had one with me). Have now decided to travel only road that might have some traffic, only one small pickup near the end on this one.
The road improved here as small buses were running it but then ran in to more construction as I headed to Rio Hurtado. Finally reached pavement and made it to Ovalle and a hotel about 8 PM. Over 12 hours of hard riding and I was so tired I did not ask what they charged, just give me a room.
My ribs where I landed on my arm were hurting (probable broke a rib) and shoulder was hurting. By morning I was better but limited how I moved due to rib damage. Not a problem riding but sure hurts to cough.
Construction on route to pass
Ruta 447 AKA Goat Road

Moto on Goat Road

Flowering cactus

January 1
0, 2009
Yesterday kind of took it out of me so I headed straight for Ruta 5, which is four lane toll road. Mostly uneventful day and made it to Valapariso about 4:30.
The Dakar race was in town today so we went down to take a look at the vehicles. Was hard to get any good pictures as there was just too many people trying to do the same. So we drank beer till 7:00 then tried again with about the same luck. A friend of Martina’s gave her a wrist band (press pass) and she tried for quite awhile to convince the guards that I needed to go in with her. Good try but it did not work. Finally made it back to the house hit the bed and was out.

Support truck for the Dakar race
January 11, 2009
Spent the day working on moto (repaired mirror), did laundry and reorganized stuff. Will get on the road early tomorrow heading south.

Posted by Robert Thode at 08:24 PM GMT
January 15, 2009 GMT
Sur, On the Road

January 12, 2009
Left Valapariso with Andy and Martin (from Germany, they have been two weeks in the north and now will ride four weeks in the south). Also heading south is Carl and girl friend Martrira (sic) but they need to stop in Santiago for bike repairs for a day but said they might catch up with us on there way down. Martin had a piece of luggage lost when he came in two weeks ago so we stopped at the airport and tried for an hour and a half to find out something but without any luck.



At a gas stop a guy saw my Washington plate and came over introduced himself. He is from Mount Vernon, WA and came down to Chile ten years ago to farm. Sounded like he had a fairly large operation and offered us use of shop if we needed it to work on the bikes.
There are many beautiful farm fields in this area. Fruit trees and vineyards predominate but also seeing hay, corn and vegetable production. We will push south tomorrow to try to find cooler climate.
Found rooms over a restaurant/bar. The sign says “Residencial”, must mean cheap hotel. Cost 5000 CP per room with shared bano, (about $8.00 US)

January 13, 2009
We rode south with definite change in crops. Saw more cattle the farther south we went, both dairy and beef. There also increased forestry the farther south we went, pine, eucalyptus, some cottonwood. These were all very well managed timber stands with trees planted in lines and neatly pruned.
We ended our day at Pucon, a tourist spot near a mountain that looks much like Mt Saint Helens did before it blew its top off. Andy and Martin want to climb it tomorrow with an outfit that provides all equipment. I thought about it but do not want to risk it with a broken rib. Rib was fine all day but did some work on the bike and it really irritated it every time I tried to bend over or lay on my back. The bracket that hold the boxes apart at the bottom was built to light and when I laid it over it bent in allowing the boxes to rub chain guard on right and brake caliber on left. I re-bent and reinforced it with tie down strap so it should be ok.
Campground at Pucon

January 14
Decided to move on south on my own and told Andy and Martin I would see them in Ushuaia as they planned on another day in Pucon to go white water rafting. gave it some thought but when I checked it was only class 3 rapids and not to sure how well I can run an paddle. Had problems with my camra and it was taking too light of pictures but finally found the switch that got bumped.
On the way south today I was thinking that it looked much like Western Washington, lot of trees and farms. Then I felt right at home when it started raining, first rain I have had in Chile.
Wheat field

Rode to Puerto Montt where I need to decide on a route. Ruto 7 may be closed north of Chaiten due to a volcano eruption and I have not got a clear answer on that. If I ferry to Chileo Island I can take a ferry over to Chaiten from there.

Walked down the water front to fish market with dozens of restaurants trying to get your business. Finally went in to one when they told me I could get a sample of every thing. I had Abolonie, two types of crab, clams, mussels, salmon and another fish.
Me on the waterfront in Puerto Montt with a cup of cafe from McDonalds

Boats in small bay by Prerto Montt

There were many of these small shops selling to tourists on the way to fish market. They had some very high quality goods, clothing, carvings and art type stuff. But one of the benefits of travel by moto is you can't buy anything because there is no room.

I head in to more remote areas starting tomorrow so I do not know when I will be able to upload pictures again, may be a week.

Posted by Robert Thode at 01:49 AM GMT
January 24, 2009 GMT
Ruta 7

Chiloe Sur

January 15
Checked out about 45 K of road on east side (Carretera Austral, ruta 7) up to where I would have needed to take ferry for a way. It was doable to ride down the Carretera Austral but requires several ferry rides in the process. The volcano that erupted in May just north of Chaiten caused major problems in the village and has the road closed. So I returned to Pte. Montt and traveled on down Ruta 5.
To get to the island of Chiloe it is a short ferry ride, cost 5500 CP. When I got near the terminal the line was at least a mile long of cars and trucks. After sitting in line for awhile a gentleman came up to me and told me that motos could go to front of line. I really felt guilty, but around them all I went. Seems that every ferry has some small place that a car will not fit well so they put the motos there. Talked (or tried) to several about the moto and where I was going on the crossing.
On Chiloe I continued down ruta 5 to Castro, taking my time and stopping for pictures. Chiloe is a very pretty land 250 K long and 50 K wide. Most is rolling hills that look like they have been subject to glacial action but was told it was just uplifted ocean floor. Most were not over 150 Meters in elevation. Livestock (small scale) seemed to predominate the landscape with areas of native or eucalyptus timber production. Once in Castro I wandered around looking for a suitable place to stay and eating some food. Went in to a turismo shop to check on and book ferry to Chaiten. Was told that ferry did not leave from there, as my map indicated, but from Quellon, 70 K south, at 8:00 AM. So off I go, in a rush this time to get to ferry office before it closes.
Was not easy to understand the what, when and where when I got here. But I purchased a ticket for me and moto which said 8:00 on the 16th but was told it would be 3:00. What I have found out today (16th) was that all shipping was shut down for two days, not sure why, but ferry will not be here till Saturday at 4:00. So have had a slow day and most of tomorrow will also be stuck waiting for ferry. Maybe Andy and Martin will catch up or Carl will show up so we can be confused together.

January 17th
Not much to do today but wait for the ferry to show up. Actually it is sitting anchored and has been all morning but they say it will not load till 4:00. The town of Quellon (K-yon) is kind of a dreary place so will be glad to move on.
The ferry moved to dock on time but it took 2 ˝ hours to load and start moving. We traveled at 23 kph (by my GPS) and had about 70 k to cross. As we were waiting to load Jaime and Miguel (from Pte Montt) were real interested in the moto Miguel has been and active rider for years and Jaime rides a Yamaha. They were on there way to Miguel’s cabin and insisted that I follow them there. The ferry got to dock at 10:45 but it was 11:30 before we got off and on the way to there cabin, was very glad that I did not need to try to find a place to sleep at midnight. They fed me and provided beber till about 3 when I made it to sleep. The next morning, more food then showed me his old cars that are stored there, 62 and 65 Dodges. Next it was set up grill and cook steaks, way more than I could eat. Finally headed south about 2:30.
Planned to go about 100 miles on the Carretera Austral, (ruta 7). Carl and girl friend cought up to me about 75 miles in. So I had someone to ride with again. Carl had word that there was stretch of construction that they were shutting down the road from 10 to 2 each day so we pushed on to the next town and found a cheap bed for the night.

January 19th
As I was loading this morning I found a problem with box mount on right side, bolt was sheered and one mount broke. I jerry rigged it and moved on to Coihaique which is a bigger town to find help in repair. Coihaique is a real neat, clean and modern town, would be a good place to spend some time. I was able to find a motorcycle mechanic and he helped me remove parts that needed drilled which we took to a “machine shop” see pictures. It took about 4 hours to drill out holes, re-tap and weld mount bar. Cost 20,000 CP or m/l $30. Will reload the boxes in the morning and be on my way.
I have traveled about 400 K on the Carretera Austral, ruta 7, it is mostly gravel or ripio (loose stones). The worst are the construction areas as the loose gravel can be real squirmy. I think the plan is to widen it all and pave it, but it will take years. It is hard to describe the ride, it is really amazing and almost mythical with the road winding through forest with the clouds holding to the tops of the mountains. Best I can say is look at the pictures, but they never capture it all.
Rented cabin here in Coihaique but I can not get the internet to work so not sure if I can upload any of this or not.

January 20th
Rode down to Puerto Ingeniero Ibanez with the plan to take a ferry across the lake to Chile Chico, then into Argentina. The ferry for the day had already gone so I decided to ride around the lake, 300 K, and hope to be in Chile Chico before the ferry tomorrow. The road around turned to gravel in 24 miles and was solid washboard. 20 miles in I stopped to take a picture and saw that the only bolt that we did not replace with a larger one had broke. So I rode back to Pto. I. Ibanez and will wait for the ferry then find someone in Chile Chico to drill out bolt. Met a rider here from Washington, Tom, that ha

s been on the road for six months, riding from Puerto Bay to Ushuaia. I think that I will ride on down with him if schedules match. Plan on passing the rest of the more challenging roads where I can not keep box mounts together. Tom has problems with his shock so is also looking for flater roads.
The landscape around here is just amazing. The other thing the Patagonia is known for is the wind and it is here in full force. Next stop Argentina.

Pictures below but do not have time to do captions now, will fix later.

Boats at Quellon
Ferry Quellon

Island of Chiloe
Moto on ferry
These truckers were good, had to back in to ferry
BBQ at cabin
Two from Brazil that we meet on the ferry stopped by cabin

Jamie and Migul at the cabin
Hostel we stayed at on ruta 7

view from Ruta 7
view from Ruta 7
Cattle Ranch
Carl filling with gas at a local station
Machine shop that drilled out broken bolts for me
Ruta 7
Construction on Ruta 7
I was heading for the pot of gold but never found it.

Posted by Robert Thode at 04:41 PM GMT
January 30, 2009 GMT
Fin Del Mundo

January 22
Caught the ferry to Chile Chico at 10:00 and arrived at 12:30. Checked out of Chile, then down the road to check in to Argentina. Once we moved into Argentina the land flattened out to desert range land. A view we would have for many days. We road hard on Ruta 43 all the way to Fitz Roy on the east coast and rented a cabin for the night.
Saw a small tire shop on the way in so I went down their and asked it they could drill out broken bolt. We worked on it for at least a ˝ hour but he would not take anything for his work.
Somewhere on Ruta 43 we stopped for fuel and when I went to get on one of the kickstand bolts snapped. They had come lose and I had tightened them but must have been bent. Found a stick and cut to right length for a crutch till I can make a fix.

Ferry to Chile Chico, was a tight load

young girl on the ferry that wanted to talk the whole way, so she helped me with my Spanish

January 23
Pulled out of Fitz Roy early heading south on Ruta 3. Kind of a boring ride, only flat straight roads. With the wind to keep you on top of it, we ride with a 10 degree list to the right. Passing the trucks can be tricky as the wind is blocked as you pass but hits hard as you clear the front.
Goal was to ride to Rio Gallegos for the night. We arrived at 4:30 and Tom suggested we go on another 43 K as it looked like there was something there. There was, the border (must pass through part of Chile to get to Ushuaia. So we checked out of Argentina and into Chile. Chilean Customs (animal plant person) took my wood crutch for holding up the moto, had bark on it. So I am on a bike with no way to get off. Stopped and found a stick along the road that worked. Ended up a small Hotel/café/bar in the middle of nowhere, ran a generator for power.
It was getting cold the farther south we went but I went out and lowered the muffler far enough to get the non-broken bolt out of kickstand mount. It was bent and would not tighten up. Replaced with a new one from kit so now I have a side stand but will use a block to keep it more upright, less stress.

The long straight road

Llamas running wild along the road

January 24
Up and off to Purta Arenas to catch the ferry across the Str of Magellan. My luck with ferry is getting better as we pulled into Purta Arenas, got gas and went to check on ferry. When we got to ferry they were loading, so we got tickets and rode on to the ferry.
Pulled into Ushuaia about 6. Got a nice room at Rio Uno.

The road south from crossing the stright

The top of the pass to Ushuaia, The last 110K was the perfect ride, good weather, great road, 120K sweepers to the twisties on the pass and views that were spectacular. (also no speed tax collectors)

view from the pass

January 25
Spent the day taking pictures, getting laundry done and went on a tour to see the penguins. Ushuaia is a tourist town with cruse ships docking here. It is also cold enough that the electric vest is really great.

The picture to prove I made it, This is the end of ruta 3, only way to go now is north

Me with the penguins (I am the one with blue vest)

This penguin is of a different spices and a loaner

Wind blown tree

January 26, 27,28,29
The long ride north to Buenos Aires. These days kinda got pushed together in to a blur. long days and many miles. On the 26th had dinner with a fellow traveler who had ridden with Tom through Mexico. In looking at my bike he mentioned how exposed the shift linkage was. Next day at 4:00 I found out, deep loose rock on a detour and I washed it out. The rest of the way I shifted with vicegrips on the shaft. Spent the last night in Azul, 300 K out of BA so we could come into the city with time to find where we were going. GPS lead us in all the way to Dakar Motos.

Back to pavement and the long road north, now we lean to the left to counteract the wind. Some of this was constant 80 to 100k cross wind. For the little while we went in the same direction as the wind it felt as if we were not moving.

Met up with Pat and Chris from Canada, will ride into BA with them and then maybe north.

January 30
Spent the day resting and waiting for HD to finish survice. Pat, Chris and Tom want to head north tomorrow. Will go with them if bike is ready.

Moto travelers at Dakar Motos

Posted by Robert Thode at 03:32 PM GMT

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