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The next morning I crossed over the Andes and in to Argentina. When I entered Chile through Peru a while back, there was a customs strike. I was held up for a few hours because of this. It turns out that they conveniently did not give me a critical document for importing the bike . The customs agent refused to stamp my exit document without this paper. I explained that I never received any document from them and this was probably due to them being preoccupied with striking. Finally I was able to convince him to simply check the computer in front of him to see if I was in it. He reluctantly did. Of course he saw my name, and that I was legit. Finally I get my exit stamp. Fricken customs agents.

The Chile to Argentina border point.

On the Argentina side of the Andes I dropped down in to a town called Bariloche. Really nice area. So nice that stopped for lunch just to hang out a bit.

I made it all the way to Esquel that day. That night I met another rider from Germany who was on a six month trip.

That night it got really cold and snowed. This was unexpected. I realize that I’m really late for Ushuaia (the farthest south city in the world). Most everyone says that you should do it before the end of January and now its February. With my current plans it would still be another 3 weeks or so before Id get there. Possibly way too late. And now I’m seeing snow. Time to rethink the whole route.

I decided to skip everything for the time being and do a straight shot for Ushuaia and get it out of the way. You cant ride all the way down to South America and not go to Ushuaia. I could than take my time going back up north. I checked the map for the fastest and most direct route possible and high tailed it south. Unfortunately this meant taking the worst road in Argentina, the ruta 3. The next few days would be some of the most miserable riding imaginable. Days of super high cross winds across flat nothingness.

H


Ok, so I screwed up and now I’m back tracking. I guess there is something to planning ahead, but anyway …. to save time I decided to take a more direct route north. This meant taking a small ferry crossing toward Puerto Montt and getting off the cool Chilean Carretera Austral.

I didn’t want to stay in Osorno so I headed toward the Argentina border. I found a small town on a lake called Entre Lagos. There was a camp ground right next to the lake so I figured perfect time to pitch the tent.

Made a fire that night as well. Its always good to be doing some camping.

H


I wanted to stay in Chile as long as possible. So instead of crossing over the border here in to Argentina, I continued south. The plan was to take the Carretera Austral (Chile CH-7) as far south as possible before crossing over. Out of the desert and in to the mountains, the southern part of Chile is simply stunning. Check out this perfect volcano:

I made it as far as Hornopiren where I needed to take a ferry to where the road continues south. I got in late and the ferry office was closed so I had to wait a day for it to open. It was pretty cold so I opted for a small family run hotel. Really nice and cheap. Cool building too.

The sea tide is pretty extreme in this bay.

The next day the ferry arrived and the office opened. Unfortunately, the ferry was booked solid for the next week. There was no way to move south without the ferry and I wasn’t about to hang out here for a week. So I was screwed. My only option was to go north again to Osorno and cross the border in to Argentina there and jump on the ruta 40 (something I wanted to do going North bound later on). Once again my total lack of planning bites me.

That night a met a couple from Germany who just got off the ferry. It seems that north bound the ferry is quite empty. They pointed out an alternative route to get around the ferry and only lose about 100km of the Carretera Austral. However, you still had to go north to Osorno and cross in to Argentina. Should have noticed this option sooner, but I think I still would have tried for the ferry any way.

The rest of the night we told tall tales to one another over countless beers. I even got to practice a little German. Good times.

H


I headed back to Antofagasta for a few days to get some work done. Lots of fires back at home that needed tending too. Once finished I headed south on the 5 toward Santiago.

It took about 3 days to make it to Santiago. Taking the 5 you realize how long this country is. You’d ride all day and barely make a dent on the map.

Santiago was experiencing a heat wave when I arrived. The city is not in the Atacama desert, but it was much hotter here. First on the agenda was to do some bike maintenance. I found a great garage that let me have the run of the place. So with two helpers I was able to change all the necessary fluids and make the bike adjustments in record time.

Final drive fluid looks brand new. Excellent!

A few days later, Jeanette flew in with a fresh set of tires and we checked out the city.

Presidential Plaza.

Bomb squad diffusing a car bomb near by.

And we think LA is smoggy.

Santiago was a pretty amazing city. Some really creative and original building designs.

You can’t come to Chile and not go on a wine tour. The following day we visited the Concha Y Toro winery.

The Diablo cellar. This is where they keep the good stuff:

The story here is that the vineyard owner noticed that barrels of his wine started missing. So he started a myth that the devil resides down in the cellar. The trick worked because no more wine went missing. Casillero Del Diablo is the name of a very popular wine here in Chile and is sold all over the world. You can find it everywhere. It’s really cheap and pretty damn good.

H


Like most places Ive been to, San Pedro De Atacama was suggested to me by some fellow travelers as a place that must be seen. So I left Antofagasta and headed east out in to the Atacama desert. The Atacama desert is the driest place on earth. There is simply nothing living out here.

Finally just outside San Pedro it got a little more interesting.

First on the agenda was to find a place to stay and it turns out this town is not cheap. I guess being so remote, they can charge whatever they like. Later I found a bar and tried to figure out what to do next. Fortunately, I met some really nice Brazilians who filled me in on what to do here.

So the next morning I was off to visit some volcanic pools and geysers.

Than some small town in the middle of nowhere. Forget the name, but they had lama kabobs. Really tasty.

Here are some lamas still living:

I think this town was suppose to be significant but I forget why:

Later on that day I took a swim in a salt lake. The water was so salty you could float in a seated position. Swimming was next to impossible. The water made you too buoyant.

Covered with salt I headed over to a fresh water oasis a small distance away to get cleaned up.

Next up was a dry salt lake where pisco sour was served.

Pretty much a perfect day out in the Atacama desert.

H

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