Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South America Adventure

  • Well I hope you're enjoying it.

    Just waiting for the electrician to turn up, so I may as well do something useful... Now, where was I? Oh yeah, Bariloche. Nice place and clearly showing the influence of German settlers and also full of shops selling Gore-tex to hardy mountaineers. It was absolutely Baltic though - a wind that whistles through the Andes isn't going to be balmy, I suppose. Has a terrible effect on the bladder to - judging by these sculptures at least.


    The German influence extends beyond the architecture, there is a strong brewing tradition in Bariloche and many good pubs. We didn't hold back, that would have been rude...


    This pub was one of the few places where we ate an actual excellent meal. In fact, we managed two decent meals in Bariloche which was some sort of record given the overall pretty indifferent standards we encountered.




    We woke up on our second day to find our street cordoned off and some sort of protest going on. Turned out it was the second anniversary of the police shooting of an unarmed Indian (Mapuche?) lad. I suspect the lady shouting at the riot cops was his mother. Very dramatic, but the rocks were thrown only at the police who hih behind their shields, squirting papper spray on anyone who got too close.






    So, that was Bariloche: Beer and rioting. Bit like a Saturday night in Manchester then. Next we were heading south into Patagonia proper now.





    Staying on a farm in the town of Trevelin in part of northern Patagonia where the Welsh settled we met a German chap called Elmer, who was on a year long trip to South America on his Africa Twin. He'd travelled with his bike from Hamburg to Montevideo and was planning to stop often and absorb the culture as he travelled. His bike hadn't been on the dock in Monttevideo for five minutes before someone nicked his screen spoiler and auxilliary lights - one of the dangers of shipping by sea I think. Anyway, he wasn't phased by that, or by the fact that his AT was perhaps a bit big for him.



    Our next stop was our most southerly point - Puerto Puyuhuapi.


    The day started sunny, but after clearing Chilean custons (on the Argentine side there was a big sign in the office - Las Malvinas son Argentinas!) it started to rain. Fortunately the gravel road was well packed so not muddy, but it did mean concentrating hard. That said, I was having a ball. The road wound through towering mountains that appeared and disappeared through the mist and rain, and the scenery in the valley reminded me very much of the farms that line the road on the west coast of New Zealand's south island. Unfortunately because it was slinging it down no one felt like stopping and taking any pictures. So I nicked a couple off Google.;)



    Along here somewhere we came across two couples on Triumphs. One had a puncture in the rear tyre and had foolishly ridden on until the tyre had unseated itself. I don't know if Tigers have tubes (you DO NOT want to be changing a tube in these circumstances) but if it was tubeless they were never going to get the tyre reseated with a tiny compressor. They didn't want any help, so we left them to it. Someone with a pick up would have come along, but in the weather it all looked a little desperate.

    Presently we joined the famous Caretera Austral, Chile's Ruta 7. To Be honest, all we wanted was to get to Puyuhuapi by now, even Rob's Rukka was leaking..

    More later.

    Three Dawg. A man of many parts, most of them broken.

    Edited 3 times, last by Three Dawg ().

  • Puerto Puyuhuapi is a modest wee place with a few restaurants (one on the water which was quite smart) a couple of supermarkets (well, grocery shops) and several hostals. I liked the place, but by gum it was wet for our first day. Clearly it rains an awful lot - I was constantly reminded of the sodden west coast of NZ - because as soon as we arrived the hostal owner had our gear hanging up on a large drying rack in the back hallway. The main compartment of my tank bag is lined with a dry bag so everything in there was fine, but I forgot about the top pocket so my document wallet was wet, as was all my money.

    I handed all my cash to Mrs 3D, but she wasn't budging...


    Eventually the sun came out and we went exploring. I liked Puyahuapi, it had a certain ramshackle charm, although I think the rain would bug me after a while. Or an hour.


    This is a not untypical dwelling in the far south.




    Rob and I decided to get some gas in the afternoon while it was dry. Fortunately Ol' Eagle Eyes spotted this in my rear tyre.


    Repaired in short order (as you can see) with a 'string' kit that Rob had brought along. I decided this would be a better bet than my o/e BMW plugs, and I was right, it held perfectly. Tubes? Pfff...

    The kit was by Bikeseal, and was really heavy duty and easy to use.…plug-puncture-repair-kit/

    Sadly the next day saw us heading north, and therefore back towards Santiago. The good thing was that it had more or less stopped raining, so we were able to enjoy the ride to Chaiten.


    Chaiten was an interesting place. Some time ago the (previously dormant) volcano had blown it's top and basically destroyed the place. It was slowly being rebuilt, but it must have been a hell of a blow given that things must be pretty precarious economically at the best of times in such a remote location.

    Mahoosive volcano just behind the church not visible.


    Still lots of empty properties, but the town was functioning - we stayed in a nice cabin in the woods above the town.


    Just about anywhere looks better in the sunshine.

    The naxt stage I was looking forward to. The Caretera Austral ( Ruta 7) has two ferry rides in it, the first fairly short at 45 minutes, the second longer at 3 1/2 hours. I was praying that the weather would be good as I suspected it would be spectacular.

    First ferry was at Caleta Gonzalo, then once off that there was a twenty minute ride to the next one at Voduahue to Hornopiren. We already had tickets so enjoyed a fairly leisurely gravel road up from Chaiten to the first ferry.



    Straight to the front of the queue at the ferry terminal (natch), unfortunately Rob decided to cause a spectacle by falling off here. DOH! No harm done, except perhaps to his pride.


    Jammed in.




    In convoy to the second ferry - about a 20 minute ride.

    We were on the second ferry first.




    That's Hornopiren the mountain, just above Hornopiren the town. We stayed in a very strange (and potentially lethal due to the stairs) house on stilts overlooking the harbour. - the ferry is pulling away in the background. Funny place Hornopiren, we went out to the local supermarket and were served by a lad wearing a carboard box on his head like a hat. Well, I suppose you have to make your own entertainment in such a place.


    Three Dawg. A man of many parts, most of them broken.

    Edited 2 times, last by Three Dawg ().

  • The following day started very wet, which was a bit of an issue as they seemed to be tearing up the road everywhere making the riding very dodgy in places. Once again I was thankful for my TKC80/E07+ tyre combo.

    We were heading for Puerto Varas, a nice looking place on a lake, with another ferry ride to entertain us. I managed to leave my lights on while we waited for the boat, but fortunately was able to bump it on the slipway ramp. On the other side we wound around the coast which in many ways reminded me of west coast Scotland.


    Anyway, apart from a near dead battery, what should have been fairly straightforward day turned into a bit of a mission. Rob and I had slightly different maps loaded in our Garmins - we both used Open Source Maps, but perhaps different versions. I was also having problems with the charging cradle on my unit, which is a bit rubbish really - two tiny pins which succumb eventually to the vibes and dust on a trip like this. Also, I'm ashamed to say there was some human error involved - I had been succesfully using the Booking dot com coordinates for our overnight stops, but on this occasion I keyed in something incorrectly, with predictable results. We got separated because of a disagreement between GPSs, and then I nearly ran out of juice on mine while lost in the back blocks of Puerto Varas.:rolleyes:

    Eventually I realised my mistake and re keyed the coordinates and we made it to town to find that for about the fourth time there was a cock up in our reservation.:cursing: I was getting sick of this, and had noticed a nice looking four star hotel on the waterfront so was ready to bail out and let Amex take the pressure, but eventually after a bit of faffing around we were given a slight upgrade and decided to stay.

    Puerto Varas turned out to be a pleasant little place with some nice craft shops, good bars and some really buzzy restaurants. It also had a VERY eccentric museum...



    Managed to get a haircut. Looks like she got the parting in the wrong place though...

    Funky bar where we had the best Pisco Sours of the whole trip.



    Three Dawg. A man of many parts, most of them broken.

    Edited once, last by Three Dawg ().

  • Well it was part hoarder's hovel, part museum. The stabilisation mechanism on my camera failed so it wasn't taking such good pics in the poor light, but this was one of the more conventional displays.


    A corridor - see the crown wheel and other metal set into the floor?


    And a really creepy painting...


    Three Dawg. A man of many parts, most of them broken.

  • The following day we dipped back in to Argentina to San Martin de Los Andes, and back out again the following day to continue north to Pucon. This was tremendous riding; a little gravel but miles and miles of well surfaced roads through the mountains.


    Crossing the border into Argentina we were slightly puzzled by the completely stripped look to the land and trees. It was only after a while that I realised this was as a result of a volcanic eruption. Must have been a hell of a thing. You can see the ash next to the bikes in the first pic.




    Amazing rocks.


    Nikky constantly losing her gloves was something of an issue for Rob...


    Scenery was still on top form, and the view from our hostale wasn't too shabby either.




    SMDLA was a grand little town, clearly a place for outdoor enthusiasts. However, after a long day in the saddle you need a bit of a feed, and the town's restaurant industry is happy to oblige.


    Or would sir prefer a libation?


    After SMDLA it was our final border crossing and back into Chile, heading for the town of Pucon.

    More great riding through Arucaria forests and past volcanoes




    Pucon lies on a pleasant lake beneath an active volcano. It's another town full of little shops selling outdoor activities like white water rafting. I liked it. We managed to find a cool little bar on the lake shore for a cold one.



    That evening we made the mistake of ordering a meat feast. This was supposed to serve just two! Even South Africans would have struggled.


    The home made icecream was easier to digest...


    The following day we took a ride up to get as close as we could to the volcano. In parts it was quite technical, but without luggage and reasonably practiced we made it up fine.


    Nicky and Rob found another lake with a nice beach.


    A little light protesting on the way back in to town.


    That evening we went to a local restaurant recommended by the owner of our hostale. OK, local as in nearby, not local as in Chilean food as it was Italian. The owner was very enthusiastic, and rightly so - bibs on and tuck in!

    Three Dawg. A man of many parts, most of them broken.

    Edited 5 times, last by Three Dawg ().

  • OK, time to wrap this up.

    The ride north from Pucon was nothing special - a lot of slabbing along Ruta 5, the Pan American Highway. Towards the end we managed to come off the main road and rode through pleasant landscapes, but compared to what we'd seen earlier in the trip it was a bit low key.

    We did however stop in one place which had some pet ostriches (never quite found out why) as well as a fine waterfall, and also a place with traditional style Mapuche cabanas. I managed to avoid dressing up as an Indian, thank gawd.





    She's not taking this cultural experience entirely seriously, is she?


    Putting on a brave face in a truly rubbish restaurant - it was the only place open in town.


    Not creepy at all...


    Our next destination was the port of Valparaiso. This city is known for its funky vibe and street art - seemed like a great place to wind down before we headed back to Santiago.

    We rented a rather lovely Italianate vila overlooking the centre and the post in the distance. It even had a garage.



    The street art is amazing - you can come to an arrangement with the local artists so if you give up a wall or a garage door then once it's been painted it will be left alone. Very civilised. Around where we stayed there were loads of funky little shops, bars and restaurants. We loved the place, and werelucky enough to be given a guided tour by the guy who owned the house.


    The view.


    The art





    Cool buildings




    The poet Pablo Naruda's house was fascinating.

    Cool restaurants with wandering jazz band.


    We bought some local art - the artist was wearing a Joy Division tee shirt, so he was off to a very good start as far as I was concerned.


    Buying groceries evidently much fun!


    Plant a garden in the street, why not?


    There was a bit of protesting going on, and on the second evening we came out of the restaurant to find armed riot police on the street, but they clearly didn't think we posed much of a threat and let us pass without any hassle.

    We managed one last run out - up the coast through Vina Del Mar to Zapallar for a spot of lunch at a restaurant recommended by the guy who owned the villa we were renting. Villa Del Mar is all highrise apartments and more than a little like the Costa Del Sol, and you shouldn't take that as being a compliment. The traffic wasn't good at all, but we made it. Kind of wonder if it was worth it as although the restaurant was in a lovely setting, once again the food was indifferent. Saw some pelicans though, not a bird I think I've seen in the wild before.

    Zapallar is full of fancy holiday homes - this is from the restaurant. Nice.


    Waiting for the women to finish photographing the birds.




    Unfortunately the ride back was even worse, a bit of a damp squib to end on really. The following day we slabbed it back to Santiago to meet up with shipping agent Julio who wrapped up our bikes and sent them on their way.



    Job done, both bikes on their pallets and wrapped in miles of cling film.

    Back at the airport hotel we celebrated a successful trip with a couple of bottles of bubbly, and then the following day it was the loooong flight home. The Andes looked great from above, but riding them is really where it's at.



    So, South America. Good place to ride? Oh yes, superb. Some of the driving left something to be desired, especially in the cities of Argentina (they don't like gaps between vehicles in the same way as nature abhors a vacuum), but mostly it was easy going and little traffic. You could do this whole trip on a road bike if you wish, but the mighty GS or something similar is useful for when you have to do long stretches of gravel like Ollague to Uyuni. We had no issues with the bikes other than Rob's key and my puncture, although my GPS charging cradle stopped working (a known fault) and my headlight assembly vibrated loose a few times. My TKC 80/Mitas E07+ tyre combo was great and after 6200 miles both tyres still have a little left in them. Getting the bikes to Santiago was expensive, but once there things are cheap. Our accommodation ranged from about $25US to $100US a night, with about $50 being typical. I think fuel was about 80 pence a litre. Everyone was super friendly and tolerant of our pathetic attempts to speak Spanish. Wine is cheap, as you might expect and there are plenty of different craft brews to try, although the ever present Cristal is pretty drinkable for a mass produced beer. Despite all the civil unrest we never once felt threatened, although I think we were lucky finding a window of peace in Bolivia. I would ditch the linings for my riding suit and take an extra thermal layer and an oversuit if I was heading to Patagonia again.

    Now, where to next? As they say, yer a long time dead and there's no pockets in shrouds...:D


    Three Dawg. A man of many parts, most of them broken.

    Edited 4 times, last by Three Dawg ().

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