A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: ScottyJ

A coddiwomple to the Americas and beyond……

……to travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination.

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What a superb word for those of us that just like to head to distant lands with no formal itinerary; so in answer to those questions of what, where and when…..”I’m coddiwompling”…..and to me that seems very worthwhile!

So after a superb summer in Russia and eastern Europe indulging language, culture, food and wine the wanderlust upwelling has indeed been rising helped along by the urging of my Road of Bones travel mates, Alpha & Roomie, to saddle up and ride raucously through Patagonia from Santiago to Ushuaia. Why not? :)

Arrived in reasonable condition at Santiago airport and first impressions were affected by the three-hour disarray and disorder that was getting through immigrations and customs. Enough said, a smooth transfer saw us arrived at our digs and the long-awaited meeting with Roomie, who had flown in from Memphis and who I had not seen for two and half years. It was good to see the boys and in usual “Zim” fashion Roomie had the aperitif waiting……let the fun begin!!

Posted by ScottyJ 11:29 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Cool Chile & Amazing Argentina

Santiago to San Carlos de Bariloche…

sunny 28 °C
View A coddiwomple to the Americas & beyond on ScottyJ's travel map.

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!

Posted by ScottyJ 01:52 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

South to Patagonia

…..wind and untamed wilderness

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San Carlos di Bariloche is situated on the shore of the spectacular lake Nahuel Huapi and encircled by soaring mountain peaks. You could be forgiven for thinking that you in the Austrian or Swiss alps as the area is heavily influenced by immigrants from Germany and Switzerland evident in the chalet style buildings, fine pastry cafes and chocolate shops for which Bariloche is well known. The day was not totally lost as I registered the card losses early and then enjoyed a walk around the town, a lazy lunch and cerveza then some me time on the beach.

Before I go further I word on the cuisine. Whilst I have been looking forward to partaking in the grilled meats for which Chile and Argentina are famous I am astounded by both quality and servings; truly superb and it is hard to go past the grill menu in every restaurant, I never thought I’d say it but it soon became even too much for me! I guess the grills are the perfect accompaniment to the Carmenere and Malbec.

This morning we leave at 9am to head on Route 40 to the quiet town of Esquel 320kms due south. This town is the terminus of the legendary Patagonian Express and the riding today is easy on well paved roads. Furthermore we leave the mountains and lakes today and start to descend to the sparsely forested foothills as we head towards the real Patagonia. The less said about the pizza last night the better!

A 550k day today as we head to the distant and remote town of Perito Moreno. We have to put in some big days just to get the distance covered but the payoff was in the riding. Our first experience of the real Patagonia and what lay ahead. The foothills that surround us like crumpled blankets start to unwrap and Patagonia opens up before our eyes. The first part of the day has us bracing against a slight chill as we relish the descent and fast flowing constant radius curves before finally being assaulted by the infamous Patagonian winds for the rest of the afternoon. We arrive at Perito Merino at around 4pm having covered the distance in just eight hours inclusive of the roadworks. The picturesque village of just 3600 is surrounded by “Estancia” (cattle farms/ranches), and is also closely situated next to Lago Buenos Aries the second largest lake in South America with an area of 2240 sq./km most which belongs to Chile.

After such a long day on the bikes it wasn’t long before the dust of the day was being washed down with some perfectly chilled longnecks extending into an evening of “Parillia”, fine Argentinean Vino Tinto and side splitting humour.

Posted by ScottyJ 10:15 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

South to Patagonia

Estancia La Angostura

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Today is a treat! After leaving at 8.30am we head out again onto the Ruta 40 to travel 330km to “Estancia La Angostura” a traditional Argentinean farm that has been in the family since 1910 and be treated to a traditional Argentinean meal.

The ride today was extraordinary, this is big sky country……breath-taking, astounding, amazing. Vast steppe like plains, abrupt terraces rising and falling and always imparting vistas that don’t seem quite real; all this wrapped in the big blue sky. Excellent riding but today was for valuing this unique wilderness.

Turning off the Ruta 40 we had a 30km ride on gravel to reach the Estancia. It’s been a little while since I’ve ridden dirt and some would say loose gravel is just the start you need to become reacquainted with your dirt riding skills. The Estancia was situated under the lip of a crater like formation on a vast flood plain with stunning views across the never ending plain. Our hosts welcome us to their home and the rest of the day is ours. I spend the time enjoying the solitude that surrounds me and later in the day make my way to the kitchen where the gaucho/ chef is preparing the lamb for dinner. In traditional Argentinean style the lamb is split open and mounted on a large stake with the ribs and legs unfurled onto crossbars. The charcoal fire is prepared, the carcass basted and the stake driven into the ground and so the process of cooking the lamb begins. Finally, some 2.5 hours later lashings of freshly grilled lamb are served accompanied with a variety of salads and vegetables all from the farm’s lush garden. The wine, Malbec of course and a touch of the local Cab Sav.

Posted by ScottyJ 10:25 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

South to Patagonia

El Chalten

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This morning he saddle up for the 325km ride to El Chalten with about 150km of Argentinean gravel. The first 40km connects us again to the Ruta 40 and the section that has yet not been sealed. With a variety of surface conditions, it is reasonably easy ride but you need to be switched on as any inattention will see you in the thick loose gravel dealing with a bike that feels like a large slippery, squirming eel and that will get the sphincter puckering. 

We all made it without incident back onto the tar with a few stories to share and the ride into El Chalten. We again do battle with the Patagonian winds as we thunder across the limitless plains imagining that they will never end. However, subtly a shadow appears on the horizon and continues to grow to into the extraordinary towers of the Fitz Roy range and the beginning of the Patagonian ice fields.

El Chalten is a young town built in 1985 to help secure the disputed border with Chile but today with all that settled its sole reason for existence is tourism. Trekking or climbing are predominant reasons for visiting the area however there is a variety of other recreational and sporting activities not to mention an abundant variety of restaurants, wine bars and pubs and my personal favourite “La Vineria”. A rest day today and a chance to explore and I opt for the 15km walk. Taking a mini bus to the start point Roomie and I begin the walk with a couple of others through the mountains enjoying stunning views and glacial views of Cerro Fitz Roy. It was just the exercise I needed and it was good to stretch out but even better was the massage that I had booked at 5pm, then it was straight to “La Vineria” for tapas and vino. Alpha didn’t make the activities this day as he introduced a newbie to an Alpha night out!

Posted by ScottyJ 10:28 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

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