Friday, March 18, 2011

Day 155 (305km): Canada to Argentina; achieved.

It rained hard throughout the night and then on and off in the morning. We waited it out a little bit and were rewarded with a rain free packing experience. The day almost started out with a bang when we went back into town to get gas though. There was a truck at the pump so we pulled up in behind. This guy then proceeded to back into Alberto when he went to leave. It was a flashback to the crazy lady in the ferry terminal at the beginning of our trip. Alberto gave him a honk and no real harm was done. Look behind you people! These aren't even small bikes.
Life is good when you wake up to this

The dirt road continued all the way to Chile Chico and the views continued to be amazing though different from yesterday. I was even surprised to see some gold and silver mines.
Some more lake
A different flavour
Some horses chilling

At the Chile component of the border we tried to keep our import documents. I know, I know, not legal but it's such a hassle to deal with the people and fill out the paper work. Everyone wants their 15min of fame and they paper work you to death. The border was really quiet though (easy to keep track of everyone) and as we went to leave on our bikes the Aduana guy came out and stopped us. Busted! The Argentina side was slow. My Aduana guy was slower than paint drying! Again the border guys did a useless check of our bikes and then we were on our way. He mentioned that two Canadians on bikes came through about 3 hours earlier. One was a black bike. Hmmm.
Chilean border
Yay we made it to Argentina!

What a difference in scenery after coming to Argentina. For one, the road is paved and two, the lake doesn't seem as blue. No more mountains, and hello pampas grass. We rode to Perito Moreno and started the infamous Ruta 40!

It was paved for a while and then we hit a desvio. This turned out to be a trick to put us on the original gravel road. So that's where we stayed for the rest of the day. The road is in pretty good condition but the intense wind adds a new aspect to riding in gravel. Driving along on the sides of the tires and then being pushed into the deep gravel. Very exciting stuff.
Ruta 40; welcome to Argentina

The scenery was special in its own way but after being spoiled yesterday it felt fairly hum drum. We were convinced we'd be rained on after the weather that passed through in the morning but somehow we got very lucky and stayed dry all day.

We made it to Bajo Caracoles, “short snails” for those of you who don't speak spanish, and took a look at the camping options. There were two in this 15 house town. Both looked ghetto. We both agreed that any bush camping we could find would be just as nice. So that's what we did. Riding on all that pampas grass isn't as easy as it looks. It's like riding a mechanical bull at the bar. Oh and the wind is pretty crazy so that intensifies the situation as well. Not to mention it adds a little spice to setting up the tent. Our new technique is to wait it out, the wind usually dies closer to sunset anyways.
Leaving the road
The power of GS²
Camped for the night, not a bad spot eh?

Chile Final Thoughts:

The first thing that comes to mind, unfortunately, is that Chile is expensive, but you get what you pay for. After traveling in cheap third world countries for so long, which one does on a trip like this, Chile seems inconveniently expensive in comparison but what I mean by “you get what you pay for” is that Chile is organized and civilized for the most part. Excluding the no mans mining land in the north, where it seems that anything goes, Chile is a developing country and with that improved standard of living comes a cost of living. On this trip we never let the higher cost of a country stop us from exploring it though and while most days were waaaay over budget it was worth it.

One of the primary annoyances of Southern Chile was the toll roads. There were so many toll booths and it's really annoying to stop and take out money to pay when you are riding a bike. Not to mention the added expense. Really annoying.

We found that people in Northern Chile weren't very friendly. Thankfully people in the south were. Very friendly actually.

Santiago is a really nice city. I'm not a city person but I think it's my favourite city we have visited on this entire trip. Bogota was in top place before but Santiago is just a small step above.

BMW labour rate comparable to Canada which is just crazy expensive on a trip like this. Save your BMW services for the other BMW dealers people!

Overall Chilean drivers were quite good. They only got crazy when we were on the Ruta 7 in the south. What did surprise me was how they stopped for pedestrians at cross walks. 

Hairstyles: for a while now back in Canada Alberto and I have fondly referred to the Argentinian mullet. Just check out the national football team for a peek at this popular hairstyle. What surprised me is that the Argentinian mullet is rampant throughout Chile as well! haha 

And last but definitely not least, Chile has AMAZING scenery. The Atacama is pretty in it's own way and the stars at night are truly spectacular. Then in the far far south it is unreal: glaciers, mountains, lakes. There is a lot on offer in Chile.


  1. Congratulations on Canada to Argentina. Very inspiring!

  2. indeed!! you guys are awesome!