Alpha had dinner arranged; one of Santiago’s finest Steak/BBQ restaurants and it did not disappoint…..started with Pisco Sour’s, followed by the finest Carmenere with great steaks and ended with, I don’t know what…….
The following day we met with the other ride members for a ride briefing and a communal dinner at another great BBQ place in the finest of settings in downtown Santiago. So, we have three Australian blokes, two Australian couples, three Americans, two of which are father and son and one from Zimbabwe, i.e. Roomie espousing everything from Zim diplomacy, Zim magic and plain BS.
Monday started early with a very early departure to the airport (6am) for an 8am flight to Temuco and a transfer to Pucon in the Chilean lake district to pick up the bikes, a ride orientation and our very first taste of what was to come! Pucon sits below Volcan Villarrica, a live and spectacular volcano, surrounded by numerous volcanic lakes and is highly popular area for tourists from all over South America for both its summer activities and excellent winter sports opportunities.
Let the ride begin! Today we head to the border for our first border encounter and crossing into Argentina and 332km run to San Carlos di Bariloche. The 75km ride to the border was spectacular, mountains, lakes, valley’s, and Twisties, a biker’s delight. A landscape only an active volcano could create. Fair to say that there was a huge buzz running through the group after that squirt to the border. As far as land border crossings go it wasn’t too bad very efficient on the Chilean side and a tad more officious on the Argentinian side but after about 2 hours we were good to go.
The Argentinian side greets us with 12kms of graded gravel until the bitumen starts and with the grader at work there was a few slippery bits. Now we are on the other side of the Andes and it is astonishing how much drier it is on western side and astonishing the change of landscapes but it does not disappoint. Simply the most awe-inspiring scenery I’ve seen and ridden. The seven lakes district and the road down to Bariloche is a kaleidoscope of natural beauty, sharp jagged peaks slicing into the blue sky and reflected in the glacial lakes in a diversity of blue hues. Once travelled you will never forget the Camino de los 7 Lagos.
An area rich it outdoor pursuits. It is summer and people are mountain biking, kayaking, walking, climbing and camping in the lushest countryside against stunning backdrops. I can see on the peaks dotted with idle ski lifts that winter is also just as popular.
Then it happened: a lunch stop in the picturesque town of San Martin de los Andes saw me reach into my jacket for my wallet……..it wasn’t there. I think we all know that feeling….no it must be here but it was not on the bike. Don’t panic check your bag tonight and maybe you left it in there but I knew I was fooling myself as I had it in my hand at the border. Fruitless searching later that evening confirmed it was gone. I’ve lost a camera out of that same pocket on the Road of Bones; good thing I carry extra cards and cash, so whilst incredibly frustrating I will survive! So, if anyone is travelling that part of Route 40, it’s a little black wallet with a copy of my passport in it, two cards and 40 Chilean pesos.
One thing it didn’t was wreck the rest of the day. As I said earlier the Camino de los 7 Lagos and Route 40 to Bariloche continued to assault the senses right up until arrival in the bustling town of San Carlos di Bariloche. A rest day tomorrow, guessing my time will be spent organising new cards!