Facts and Figures
Feb 3rd - Feb 15th 2010
Argentina & Chile
Start Mileage - 25143
Miles - 153
Futaleufu (Camping Espajero (Argentina)) - Lago Puelo (Camping El Zorro)
We were planning on heading to El Bolson today, but after receiving an email from Markus and Nick we thought we might catch them up at Lago Puelo where they are staying, not far from El Bolson. Another drizzly start to the day but it had dried up by lunchtime. Through the border with no problems and heading for tarmac, but not for long and we are back on ripio until Trevelin. Back in Argentina and we have left the rain in Chile but pick up the wind again!!!!† We stop in Esquel for lunch, parking up outside an ďIrish PubĒ (itís painted green and has a couple of shamrocks painted on the walls!), I fouled my footing and dropped the bike catching my thumb and it feels like I have just broken it, itís ok though.
With the bad news from France the other day and all the other stuff going on, dropping the bike on tarmac was the last straw and I blew big time with Lorraine copping most of it.
A bit of a subdued ride after lunch, with the wind blowing a bugger again the slightest thing was annoying me and again Lorraine copped it all.
More rain until nearly at Lago Puelo. We found El Zorro easy enough hoping Nick and Markus were still there (I needed someone else to bitch to!). Speaking to the owner we find out that they had left just a couple of hours before we arrived.
Pitched up and into town for some proper food, nice meat for the asado from the local Carniceria and a couple of litres of wine.
Do we chase Nick and Markus tomorrow or not?
Lago Puelo (Camping El Zorro)
The couple of litres of wine made our minds up whether we chase the guys or not, as we didn't surface until lunchtime, we are staying put! More nice meat from the Carniceria, and wine! A nice relaxing day.
Start Mileage - 25304
Miles - 101
Lago Puelo (Camping El Zorro) - San Carlos de Bariloche (Camping Los Coihues)
We managed to contact Markus so we know the lads are in Bariloche but not exactly where, we will email them when we get there.
The sun is shining and itís another great ride along the lakes and through the mountains. About 20KMís outside of Bariloche we saw a couple of KTMís parked on the side of the road, and a hand cart on the other side, so pulled in for a chat. Rupert and Elizabeth† from Germany were riding the KTMís, they had seen the other couple of guys (sorry we didn't get their names) and the German flag on their trailer and stopped for a chat, they had arrived in Venezuela and are walking to Ushuaia pulling/pushing their trailer!!! Big respect to them but they must be mad!!!!† While we were parked up another bike pulled in, Leo, an Argentinean from Buenos Aires on a little 150cc cruiser, he has been on the road for 14days and is just riding around his country until his money runs out.
We left for town and to email Markus/Nick and hopefully find out exactly where they are. We found a nice cafť for a coffee and some munchies while we waited to hear from N & M. We hadnít even got our helmets off and were invited to join two guys already sat there for a coffee. Minutes later another guy looking at the bike introduced himself and was enquiring about the trip, it turned out he is the producer of Brazils version of ďTop GearĒ and has invited us along to maybe appear on the show if we go to Sao Paulo. Have to wait and see if we are going to visit Brazil and become TV Superstars!!!!
After a couple of hours and the laptop battery gone flat we thought that as we hadn't heard back from the lads we should start finding a campsite. All the sites in town were bloody expensive so we headed out to the one Rupert and Elizabeth had mentioned earlier, 14KMís out of town but cheap.
It was cheap and a good site with a great atmosphere, hot clean showers, wi-fi, electric and a room to sit in out of the weather, Sebastioan, the host is very welcoming and we felt comfortable as soon as we arrived.
San Carlos de Bariloche (Los Coihues)
06/02/2010 - Pissing down all day, sat indoors checking websites and looking at flights home. Home made bread and empanadas from the kitchen (nice) and an impromptu musical evening from some of the other campers, guitars and singers.
07/02/2010 - Drier day today so we catch the bus into town, doesn't go into town tho so we missed our stop and ended up a long way the other side of town!!!!!! Another bus back towards town but this time making sure the driver tells us where to get off. Another expensive and touristy town. Having given up on the chance of meeting up with Nick and Markus we were wandering around when who do we bump into Ö. Nick, sitting in a cafť, Markus had split from him and was getting himself ready to head for Buenos Aires and to ship to South Africa.
After a coffee with Nick we arranged to meet up tomorrow and ride the Lakes Route together.
Back at the site we spent the rest of the day on Skype.
Start Mileage - 25405
Miles - 97
San Carlos de Bariloche (Camping Los Coihues) - Villa Angostura (Camping Unquehue)
We are meeting Nick at 12:00 at the cafť we had met him in yesterday for a coffee and lunch.
Rupert and Elizabeth left early heading for San Martin de los Andes, we should meet up with them again somewhere.
We were all fed and watered and ready to hit the road at about 14:00
We were headed for a campsite recommended to Nick by some Argentine friends of his, it was supposed to be cheap as it was university run. Another really nice run† to Villa Angostura. Looking for the campsite which was proving difficult to find we ended up riding around in circles. At one point we lost sight of Nick and took the road we guessed he would have taken, next thing we are back where we started and Nick was riding towards us, all of us completely baffled as to how we had managed it!!!!!† We eventually found the site, 3KMís down a wet muddy track and not as cheap as expected and very basic, with hot water at extra cost.
Nick had arranged to meet up with his Argentine mates in Angostura for a last night together before they headed home and Nick moved on up North, so we headed back to the fuel station in town to wait for them to arrive and check with the tourist office on camp sites in the area.
The Argentine guys had all split up as they were hitching to Angostura, two of them had got a lift but the others were still waiting for a ride. Small world syndrome again, the two guys that turned up first (sorry canít remember your names) thought we looked familiar, we had met them before at the Canoe Club in Rio Grande on our way South Ö spooky!
Eventually every one had turned up but time was cracking on. The discussion on where to camp started. Nicks mates didn't want to spend money and were going to wild camp in the forest which would have meant trying to get the bikes through trees and muddy fields looking for somewhere, we opted for a proper site and to meet up with Nick tomorrow.
We all split and we headed for a cheap site recommended by the tourist office, 20KMís out of town and only AR$10 per nightÖ. Could we find it? We rode at least 30KMís out and then back again, ended up in a campsite 200M from the fuel station we had been sat in most of the afternoon! And definitely not AR$10 a night. A bit of crappy end to the day, and itís raining!
Start Mileage - 25502
Miles - 17
Villa Angostura (Camping Unquehue) - Lago Espejo Chico (Camping Espejo Chico)
Wet start to the day. We are meeting Nick at 12:00 for a small ride to Lage Espejo. Managed to pack the tent away dry before leaving in the drizzle and headed for the fuel station to meet up with Nick. After all the discussion on where to camp last night, they ended up at the Uni campsite that we first went to, and went straight to bed after putting their tents up, not much of a farewell gathering for Nick!† Shame, he was looking forward to it after being with them for so long.†
A short ride out of town then we turned off the pavement onto a dirt track. Although it has stopped raining the roads are still† wet and it proved to be a bit of a challenge with the bike slipping all over the place and nearly ending up in a ditch again, no tread on the back tyre didn't help! The track got better as we went on. Amazing scenery once again. A quick smoke stop then back on the road, passing lakes that are so smooth the reflection is a perfect mirror image. We found the turning for Espejo Chico, 2KMís down another dirt track, very muddy from the rain and a bit of a struggle for us, Nick had no problems negotiating it but it took us a while to manoeuvre the beast through the mud puddles. Nick came back to check on us thinking we had had a fall. A really nice campsite alongside the river and the weather is changing for the better, itís starting to warm up at last. Nice to sit in the sun again.
Lots of fire pits around the site but there are no grills, we could hire one from reception for AR$5 Ö.. Ever the stingy git, I found a couple of bits of re-bar that would do for a grill and we skewered our sausages onto tent pegs, thatís an extra litre of vino tinto we can buy!!
Start Mileage - 25519
Miles - 56
Lago Espejo Chico (Camping Espejo Chico) - San Martin de los Andes (ACA Camping)
Hopefully the muddy track has dried out, no rain through the night so it should be ok. Not far to go again today, just a nice slow ride taking in the views, 35KMís of ripio then back onto asphalt until San Martin. Lots of traffic on the ripio causing a lot of dust for us to contend with so lots of stops along the way, but really nice scenery alongside the lakes, so calm that the reflections were picture perfect mirror images. We would have stopped anyway, dust or no dust, the scenery was amazing.† We arrived in San Martin de los Andes around 15:30 and found the ACA campsite easily and managed to blag a discount again with our expired AA cards. It wasn't until we had been there a while that we noticed the two KTMís parked behind us, it was Rupert and Elizabeth. We wandered into town and sourced a launderette (might have some clean clothes for a little while!), some alcohol and food. Sat around the fire for the night after dinner chatting and drinking, a much better day today, riding in the sun is much more preferable than the wind and rain!
Start Mileage - 25575
Miles - 125
San Martin de los Andes (ACA Camping) - Pucon (Chile(Camping La Poza))
Nick got us up at 10:30 asking for the laundry ticket. The campsite was a bit noisy being right on the road, lights on all night and car headlights shining into the tents. We decided to move on today and head back into Chile and the volcanic town of Pucon. All of us are a bit tired of the ripio and we opted to take a different pass than the one we had planned to. We reached the Chilean border mostly on tarmac all bar the last 10KMís. another easy and friendly border crossing. Having a smoke after clearing customs we got chatting to a Chilean couple on a DR350, a bit newer than Nicks. They were heading in the opposite direction to us so we exchanged road reports, they were really pleased to hear us say that the road they were heading for was really good, the way we were heading according to them was the worst they have experienced yet, top speed of 20KMH and it has taken them a hard couple of hours riding the 30Kís of ripio we had still to ride Ö. Bummer!!!
Too late now, we are not turning back, bite the bullet and go for it. We should know by now not to take other peoples advice as gospel and not to make any decisions until we can see for ourselves. The ripio was fine, a bit corrugated and some loose stuff but we managed to keep up a good speed, apart from being held up at a bridge while it was being repaired. We finished the pass and were soon back onto proper tarmac again, nice and smooth. About 20KMís out of Pucon we got our first sight of the volcano that dominates the town, smoking away merrily Ö why are we going here????
We found a good campsite down by the lakeside eventually ÖÖ..† after pulling into the wrong place first off, a nice 5 * hotel but way out of our price range, and they didn't do camping. We got directions to the campsite, which was just behind the hotel, Lorraine decided to walk, Nick shot off and I got lost again, itís only around the corner FFS!!! Pulled into the campsite and Nick is already there chatting to some guys. Small world syndrome again Ö. We have bumped into Jan, a Dutch guy riding a 1943 WW11 ex Canadian Army Harley. We have heard all about him from Markus, they rode together for a couple of months around Bolivia and Peru. We arranged to meet up later for a drink and chat and went to put the tents up. As we were leaving to head into town another bike pulled in, Ben and Karla from New Zealand on a KTM 900 Adv. We pointed them in the direction of our tents and went to get supplies, should be a good party tonight.
A great evening with the guys swapping stories and advice over a good chicken asado and lots of vino tinto.
Pucon (Camping La Poza)
A lazy day around the site and in town. Met up with guys throughout the day and arranged another party for tonight. Another good night. The rain held off until we all started to thin out then it came down with a vengeance.
Start Mileage - 25795
Miles - 220
Pucon (Camping La Poza) - Tumeco (Metrenco (Hostal Am Tul))
A drizzly start to the day, shall we move or shall we stay??† Jan is moving on early today to Bariloche. While we are making our minds up we go over to see him off. We arenít the only ones with good intentions of early starts that never happen!!! We probably didn't help keeping Jan behind by chatting, and after losing a part of his sunglasses and spending ages looking for it he eventually fired up the old girl and putt putted out of the site at 12:30. hopefully we will meet up with him again in Colombia. The weather has brightened up now so we decide to move on. Ben and Karla have gone into town to source some maps for their ride so we have a slow pack down hoping to catch them before we go. Unfortunately we couldn't hang on to long and had to leave before they got back. Sorry to have missed you.
Plodding along nicely on the asfalto at our usual 100KMH I notice Nick dropping back, shaking his head and looking down at the bike every now and then. It was getting time for a stop for a late lunch so we pulled into a roadside eatery. Nick says he is losing power and canít rev the bike or keep up with us so we try to find the problem with his bike. Change the brake pads, check the plug, drain the carb, clean the air filter and check the throttle operation but no success, still no power. We are not far from Temuco which looks a fairly large town so head off after lunch to find a mechanic, however, being Saturday afternoon we aren't expecting success. We pull into a fuel station and luckily for us there is another biker there who knows a local mechanic. Nick explains the problem and the guy phones his mechanic mate, he will be with us in 30 minutes. Not long to wait and the mechanic turns up, a quick look around and check the plug. He thinks that may be the cause so Nick puts a new one in and goes for a test ride, no different. Now he thinks it may be the carb but he canít do anything about it as itís getting late so he tells Nick to bring the bike to his shop tomorrow at 10:00.
We get some vague directions for a camp site, there are none in town but apparently two at opposite ends of town. Kicking his bike over, Nick brakes the sidestand, not his day!! Not ours either, again we spent hours looking for the campsites we had directions for without success. At about 22:00 we find a hostal and think sod the campsite weíll stay here, turned out as cheap if not cheaper than camping if we all shared one room, done. Nowhere to buy food at this time of night so we cook up all our dried stuff and some tuna with some local sweetcorn donated by Tilly (the hostal owner) she also gave us a bottle of her wine to wash it all down.
Tumeco (Metrenco (Hostal Am Tul))
Valentines day as pointed out by Tilly!
A nice lie in, comfy bed, 1st one for a while. Breakfast was all laid out for us, plenty of coffee, bread, cheese, ham and chutney. After breakfast Nick went off to meet the mechanic, we sat outside in the sun grabbing some rays. Tilly asked if we were leaving today but we donít think we will, not sure if the bike will be fixed and we donít want a late start again.
Nick arrived back at 13:30, bike all fixed. The mechanic stripped the carb down and found a hole in the membrane which was causing the loss of power, but he didnít have a replacement. After stripping down about a dozen carbs he found a membrane that was close enough to the original. Fitted and test run, perfect again, he even welded up the sidestand and all for CLP14,000. Nick says the bike is running better than it ever has, he thinks he must have had a hole in the membrane since before he left home and it gradually got worse and finally gave up yesterday.
Spent the rest of the day not doing much.
Start Mileage - 25795
Miles - 172
Tumeco (Metrenco (Hostal Am Tul)) - Lebu (Camping la Fortuna)
Another good filling breakfast and then itís time to get packed up for the road again. Tilly wonít let us go without getting her picture taken with us and with her sitting on the bikes. Photo shoot over we hit the road, coast bound. The map says we will hit ripio along the way at some point, just to keep our hand in!! But turned out to be tarmac all the way. A nice run heading towards the coast and some nice Pacific sunshine hopefully. An uneventful ride until we got to Lebu. We pulled into the Town main square to look for the information office to get campsite details and were mobbed by the locals, most of them young women, Nick was in his element! Although he didn't have any success. Nick had found out that there was a surf competition coming up at the weekend so we might stay here a while but will check it out first, a bit late for exploring now. Lorraine had got some directions to a nearby campsite from the tourist office, but meanwhile the Mayor had come out of his office and flagged down a local guy on a bike to escort us to the supermarket first and then on to the campsite. Wrestling Nick away from the girls we set off following our guide, but he had to drop something off at a mates first so we had a mini tour of the town after all before getting to the supermarket.
Stocked up with essentials, we arrived at the campsite, not a bad place with a swimming pool and lots of space with plenty of asadoís although the swimming pool was the only place that had water!! No hot showers then.
Plenty of firewood lying around so we could keep a good fire going through the evening to stave off the cold.