An overlander's account of South and Central America by motorbike - the trusty Suzuki DR650. Within are great travel tips and hints (2011).

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Infamous Ruta 40 - Cochrane to Ushuaia (24th Feb - 5th Mar)

Well...I´m very far behind on posts (In Buenos Aires, 20 March, as I write this).  Spending a lot of time riding, enjoying life, riding, camping and doing other things without the net!  However to keep things updated I´ll jump on here n there!  I haven´t figured out how to make the pics fit nicely on here yet.  And keep in mind that none of these pics are doing ANY of this justice. 

Highlights ahead - Windy ruta 40, Canadian amigos, finding free wine on the road, Torres del Paine trek, Glaciers and USHUAIA baby!!!

24th Feb 2011 (456 km) - Estancia Angostura (camp). 
I woke up today overlooking the valley from the "land before time".  After a cuppa and packing up the tent I headed down the way and East to Bajo Carocales, smack bang in the middle of Ruta 40...where there was supposed to be fuel.  Upon arriving, it turns out they were fresh out of petrol!!!  So after asking around town if I could buy a litre or 2 off people (and noone having any!) I found out I had to double back 75km to a town I´d ridden past as it was 5k off the track.  I was about to nudge off when Charley from Canada rocked in on a BMW GS650...and realised he´d have the same problem trying to make the next fuel station south.  I told him I was gonna duck out and headed off first.  About 2km away from the other town I´d run out of fuel...and Charley passed me and took a bottle to fill with petrol!  In the meantime I emptied my petrol stove into the tank which had got me to town and surprised the apples out of Charley!!!  Some locals had also offered to come back with fuel as well.  (Turns out it was a petcock problem and I had 1.5L fuel left - I have an inline fuel filter and the sieve filter on the Reserve was too much resistance in the line - this problem went on until Valdes Peninsula when I finally cut the sieve out).  On the ride back to ruta 40 we rode past several small boxes of juice on the side of the road!  They´d fallen off a truck that´d gone by just before.  I jumped off and kicked a few find 5 full boxes...of WINE!  What a great little detour.  I´m not a wine drinker, nor was Charley, but free wine is free wine!  So it was red wine and pasta for me that night.  Sensational!!!  I also scored a Condor feather on the way back - I was going to take some claws off the fresh corpse, but someone had already pinched the drumsticks!  How inspiring!  Charley was on a bit of a solo tour and had organised to stay at a ranch so I tagged along and camped out at this beautiful ranch after quite the windy ride in the arvy (being pushed from one dirt rut to the next by wind can be quite a pain in the arse...and at times a bit dangerous!  It turns out the Germans I´d met a few days before on the Hornopiren ferry were also staying there...and had just been talking about me to some ladies when I walked in, and they said "and thats him!".  I also met these ladies a day or 2 later on a trek in El Chalten!

25/26 Feb 2011 (292 + 75 km) - El Chalten - Hostel del Lagos (hostel). 35 Arg pesos
Charley and I left around 10 and headed out.  Eventually he left me behind because his BMW 650GS was doin a little better than my DR in the wind!  And he was headed further to El Calafate.  After splitting I managed about 90km/h riding into the wind and rain...FREEZING cold.  But El Chalten was worth it.  Found a place to bunk up...35 pesos a night for a bed in a container or 30 pesos a night to camp.  Hard choice there after camping and the current wind and rain here!  I spent a couple days here and did the Laguna de los Tres trek (the video on my facebook is here).  Ate locro, and had local cervezas at the cervicaria (cheers Woz for the tip).

27th Feb 2011 (? km) - Puerto Natales - Casa Alicia (hostel). 10000 Chile pesos
I headed off to El Calafate and saw the Perito Merino glacier!  Unreal!!! Saw a monstrous chunk fall off and create a wave an insane surfer could surf!  Eventually i pushed on to Puerto Natales after another easy border crossing at Cerro Castillo.  I actually had 1 garlic and 2 potatoes which I wasnt spose to take into Chile, but when I saw that the 5 coppers were playin fetch with the sniffer dog and he had nooooo interest in me whatsoever I went on...and ate the vegies for tea that night.  Caught up with Charley for some beers and a yarn and prepared for the Torres Del Paine trek!

28th Feb 2011 - Torres del Paine, Campamento Torres (camp)
 I headed out to the east end of the trail and found a tree to strap my bike to next to a refugia (hotel pretty much).  This took much asking but they let me.  After strapping her to the tree nicely and leaving my bags behind inside, I took off with my one-strap duffle bag...which tore a strap as soon as I left!  I left around 1530 and booked it north (quite an arvy slog uphill) to the Campamento Torres, ditchedn the bags and headed for the Torres del Paine lookout (Towers of Paine).  Everything was wet, as I´d been riding in rain and had started with wet gear, but when I saw the towers, nothing else mattered!!!  A sensational view and hard work of course.  I returned down the bottom and had started cookin tea when the ranger there come up and had a yarn...and offered me weed.  Hehe, I said no cheers, and he left pretty soon after. 

1st Mar 2011 - Torres del Paine, Campamento Italiano (camp)
I left C. Torres and headed for the next camp and the valley above which has 360 degree views!  stunning i´d heard!!  On the way I managed, once again to get lost (happened in Nepal on Annapurna circuit, got lost and ended up scaling landslides and cliffs).  This time wasnt so bad but had some hard hills and thick scrub to push through to find the trail again!!!  I ended up behind people that id passed an hour before!!  I made it to the camp at 1600 and headed for the lookout.  Absolutely amaaaaaaaaaaaaaazing views.  Mucho tranquilo!!!  After chillin out I headed back down to camp.  Had some tea and mussels and then ran out of petrol in the flash tucker tonight!  I was pretty paranoid about where I left my moto so I ended up deciding to do the trek in 3 days (recommended 4-5 days).  I missed nothing, but had a few longer days.

2nd Mar 2011 - Cerro Castillo - A local´s house
Today my hard pushing and wet gear caught up with me.  My feet and shoulders ached!  I sucked it up and put on 2 pair of socks and headed for the last point on the trek...Glacier Grey!!!  I ditched the bags at regugio Paine Grande and headed 11km up the track for the glacier. I had to make it back in 5hrs as I was catching the ferry back to my beautiful Nessie at 1815!  After pushing hard and fast I made it to the lookout.  Sat down.  To my right was a bay full of glacier chunks.  Ahead was the monstrous glacier, spanning as far as the eye could see ahead.  Cliffs and mountains surrounding me.  I relaxed and listened to nature for a bit before playing 1 song...Adiemus by Enya (listen to it...its one for the big moments!).  As I listened a Condor soared RIGHT above my head and stuck close by for quite a while.  In all honesty, the moment was worked for so hard, and was majestic at it least, I shed a couple of those grand happy tears!!  My camera gave me 2 pics here and went flat...a sign to just enjoy the moment. 

I made it back and got the bike and headed for Puerto Natales, but was too late so I pulled into Cerro Castillo at dark.  The guy at a hostel there wouldnt let me camp as there were no I went across the road to a house with a fence...and asked there.  An old Chilean Cowboy and his daughter welcomed me with open arms.  Coffee, bread, and a bed for me and a shed for Nessie!  AMAZING!!!

3rd Mar 2011 (? km) - Puerto Natales - Hosteria Rogers - 8000 Chile pesos/night
Upon returning to Puerto Natales this morning I found a hostel with a lovely couple.  Today I did a major service on the bike and they were very helpful with little things I was after!  I´d done 4000km now.

Which just reminded me...I was on the road after my first week of riding.  It was cold so I pulled into a shop for some hot tucker.  The menu was a bit expensive and I saw Ensaladas quite cheap!  WOW i thought, cheap Enchaladas!  WHat came out was half a tomato and cucumber on a plate with some lemon.  Today I learnt that Ensaladas....means salads. 

Anyway I told my hosts I was planning on making completos for lunch...they said NOOOO come eat with us.  ANd I dined with them on one of the finest meals I´ve had yet...A monstrous saucepan full of fresh mussels, with potatoes, salad and bread!  Amazing people and very kind. 

4th Mar 2011 (? km) - Estancia Las Flores, near San Sebastian, Tierra del Fuego!!!!
After leaving Puerto Natales, I eventually hit a dirt road that headed straight East...with the wind!!!  Dirt roads mean, no traffic and it was a fantastic morning, with sheep, llamas, ducks and flamingoes everywhere!!!  I also made up a song I will eventually record with video one day. Hehe.  I made it down to near Monte Aymond to get the free ferry to TIERRA DEL FUEGO baaaaby!  The reserve fuel was still playing up and I´d been carrying 6L spare fuel in softdrink bottles for yonks now just in case.  When riding these roads with a crossbreeze of about 110km/h your bike gets thrown about like a rag doll!  Its amazing.  The problem is the tracks made by the cars on the road are great for riding, but when a gust pushes you over, you cross all the loose rubble pile in between them!  What a sham!  By the´s reallllly flat and dry down here!

I headed south on TDF and eventually it started getting colder and colder and darker and windier, so i pulled in to a ranch, and asked if I could camp.  The middle aged bloke said yeah and he showed me to a shearers quarters.  I was surprised and said how much.  Nothing.  We talked a bit, and put the moto in a shed.  The quarters had 2 beds, a table and a fire box thing.  Unreal!  People can be amazing!

Bikers note - free ferry.  Fuel in Cerro Sombero.  It was full when i was there


I hope this finds you all well.  Happy Birthday to all of you if I´ve missed it while being on the road!  Take care and see you soon!








1 comment:

  1. rossy!!!!!! your journey sounds amazing so far! gosh u have some guts goin it alone! hope you are well and take care! will be watching out for updates!

    Jazz M