From the end of the world to Christmas Eve
After leaving Puerto Natales we stayed in Punta Arenas to catch a morning ferry over the Strait of Magellan to Porvenir and continue on the Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego towards the end of the world and the most Southern point of our journey - Ushuaia. The town of Rio Grande in Argentina was chosen as the spot to stay for the night. Right when we entered the town we saw another couple on a BMW R1200GS and by coincidence we stopped at the same hostel. It was Claudio and Cris traveling from Brazil to Ushuaia and then all the way to Alaska in 12 months. So we were glad to share the room and our impressions of the places we have already visited.
You can follow them on instagram and facebook: ClaudaoeCrisOnTheRoad
The next day was a big day! We rolled into the famous town of Ushuaia - the Southernmost town of the world and as they call it - fin del mundo (end of the world). The weather, which is usually tricky there (people say that you can get all four seasons of the year in one day in Ushuaia) welcomed us with pleasant 18 C degrees, but showed some tricks - it was sunny, then suddenly it started to rain, then again it was sunny and then we saw ice falling on the ground - it was hailing!
We took time in Ushuaia to write some postcards for our friends and family and then planned to quickly mail them before leaving the town, but apparently it is not so easy there... The only post office was crowded with people - the queue was zigzagging in the spacious hall an then outside, down the staircase and into the street! We waited for some time, but soon realized that it is hopeless - the queue was barely moving! So the decision was taken to mail the postcards from Rio Grande - a much less touristic town on our way back North. But the situation there next morning was equally hopeless... No wonder why the statue of a postman in front of the post office there has a green face!
Just to make things more interesting, my motorcycle started to act strange - one morning after a whole day of riding bumpy gravel roads in the South, it almost refused to start! We checked the battery, suspecting that the contacts may have vibrated off, but it looked fine. Next day it continued to struggle to start and at some point the rear light went off... but after about an hour of riding it "woke up" again indepenently. In the evening after we reached our camping in Rio Gallegos, Linas opened the cover of the battery again. Looking closer he noticed that the bolt connected to the negative pole of the battery has slightly changed it's color and a wire was showing signs of melting a little. The battery wasn't completely stable in it's place and probably all the hundreds of kilometers on bumpy gravel roads has done the evil job... After cleaning the contacts and making sure the battery sits tight in it's place all the strange behavior of my bike went away and it had no more objections against continuing our ride North.
Riding back on Ruta 3, along the eastern coast of Argentina meant we would be going through new places, but seeing the same views as on Ruta 40 - the same Patagonian steppe - a big vast plain boring view for over a thousand kilometers... We were still excited to see Guanacos and Nandous, but this 4-day ride totally redefined our concept of a boring ride. Before experiencing Patagonia, we were complaining about a 100 kilometers boring ride through a steppe in Azerbaijan, but Patagonia is whole new level of boring!
Luckily there was a colony of very sleepy sea lions on the beach right in the town of Caleta Olivia. These guys are huge! And they didn't mind too much having me walking around, taking pictures. It's incredible to see so many wild animals in their natural environment here in Patagonia!
Speaking of the natural environment, in the same town - Caleta Olivia - we got into a road blockage with about a hundred of trucks, crowds of people, burning tires and all the other attributes of the famous road blockages of South America. Lucky for us - we were of no interest to them, so they let us pass without any fuss.
Another challenge together with the very similar views of empty fields of steppe was wind. Oh boy, it can get windy in Patagonia! Did you ever try riding your bike to the right while seriously leaning it to the left? On our most windy day we were riding over 400 kilometers of almost straight road while leaning to the side of the wind, sometimes as much as 45 degrees! It's a pity that most of the wind here blows from the side of the road - the moments when you get such a strong wind to your back, it feels like gliding on air! ... but it rarely happened to us...
From Comodoro Rivadavia town on the east coast of Argentina we turned west and away from the Atlantic ocean. Riding towards the town of Sarmiento, Linas wanted to visit the stoned forest of 65 million years old, so we took a turn to the Bosque Petrificado Sarmiento park. The park ranger, who lived there together with his wife and a funny barking poodle welcomed us with cold version on Argentinean maté, called Tereré and after we finished walking in the "park" of stoned trees he even played a song for us on his guitar!
We added a new wild animal to the list of those we saw here: it was a mother skunk with it's baby!
From Sarmiento we continued to Facundo where we reached a lonely campsite on the side of the road by the river. But it wasn't so lonely after all: the only guests for the night were us and a couple from The Netherlands traveling around South America in their motorhome (which we first briefly met back in El Calafate), we had a great time talking and laughing all evening.
Their nice blog with a map and pictures can be found here: https://www.polarsteps.com/TeunvanZoest/
In the morning we split, but all went in the same direction without the exact plans on where we will stop for the following night which was actually Christmas Eve.
And after all day of riding we met them again in a cozy wine-yard camping next to Trevelin, not far from border between Chile and Argentina! And that is where we all spent the rainy evening of Christmas Eve.
Merry Christmas, everyone!!!