Day 91 to 98 – Argentina – One Last Country, Lots of Wine and a Well Deserved Pause!

2016-12-11 – Day 91 – Santiago, CL to Lujàn de Cuyo (341 km – 5,5 hrs)
2016-12-12 – Day 92 – Luján de Cuyo, AR
2016-12-13 – Day 93 – Luján de Cuyo, AR à Mendoza, AR (24 km – 1 hrs)
2016-12-14 – Day 94 – Mendoza, AR
2016-12-15 – Day 95 – Mendoza, AR to Uspallata, AR (123 km – 1,5 hrs)
2016-12-16 – Day 96 – Uspallata, AR to Santiago, CL (255 km – 5 hrs)
2016-12-17 – Day 97 – Santiago, CL
2016-12-18 – Day 98 – Santiago, CL to Montréal, CA

After my rear suspension repair, several options were presenting themselves to me. I had the possibility of returning north to visit the places I had missed, having to go as directly as possible to Santiago (Cusco, Bolivia, northern Argentina), but my heart was just not there and going back several thousand of kilometres was not something I was enthusiastically considering.

Also, I could have simply continued my journey towards Patagonia, but I took the decision to return to Montreal for the holidays and take a well deserved break to see my loved ones. So I booked a flight with Air Canada for December 18th.

I am now facing a nice problem. What do I do for the next 10 days ?!

Santiago is a beautiful city, but after a few days it was time to get moving. As I had visited the areas around this city several times in the past, I must admit that my enthusiasm was a bit low. In addition, the living costs in Chile are very high and I did not want to pay hundreds of dollars for hotels to see places I already knew, even if they are superb (Valparaiso, Santa Cruz…).

What do you do when you have an energy drop and lack of motivation? Well, you make a small change… of country!

Argentina, and the beautiful wine region of Mendoza, is only a few hundred kilometres away so why not finish this first half of the trip by crossing the border of the last country I will visit! So I decide to leave for the superb Route 7 on December 11th.

The border crossing is a bit particular and a little different from the previous crossings. Here, the offices of Chile and Argentina are gathered in the same building, which greatly simplifies the procedure. This is very useful because the residents of each country frequently transit between them by car and although the importation is always necessary, it is greatly simplified.

Well, this simplification of the procedure does not mean that it is simple! We are in Latin America after all.

I stop at the first installations I see, park the bike and get enter (good idea, because we are almost at 3000 metres, it is cold and the windy!). I am then told that, in fact, even though the services are under the same roof, there are two border crossings, one in the east, going out of Chile and entering Argentina, and another on west, for exiting Argentina and entering Chile. Why do things simple when it is possible to make them complicated? So I continued a few kilometres east to get to the right place!

It’s not so bad, because the scenery is breathtaking!

Once in the region of Mendoza, I decide to stop about 20 kilometres from the city, in a small campsite where I am warmly welcomed and, since it is a week day, I am offered a cabin with Hot water (good, let’s say lukewarm), fridge and even air conditioning! And all this, for $10.

The many vineyards around the site are very beautiful and I take advantage of these days to do some jogging and wine tasting!

The sommeliers from the superb winery Achaval Ferrer are very intrigued by the big Canadian motorcycle!

Perfect kit for a perfect night in Argentina!

And the motorcycle is secure!

The Mendoza region also offers a serious contrast with Chile for 2 things. First, there are dogs everywhere. It was very difficult to sleep at night and even to run in the morning, because I was constantly stopped not by a dog, but by dozens of animals making it their mission to take turns running after me and barking with all their strength. Quite unpleasant and pathetic.

The other thing, a little less aggressive, but still unpleasant, is the presence of several old vehicles on the road. I met Carlos in order to insure my motorcycle for the next few months, and this chic guy explains that the presence of old cars and trucks is due to the fact that the owner of a vehicle must pay about 1500$/year for the registration fees, and this, for all types and sizes of vehicles. It’s astronomical! However, after 15 years, these charges no longer have to be paid, so people keep their car for very long! It is not uncommon to see very old Renaults or Valiants, with a long trail of smoke behind them.

This bike path made me laugh! Barely wider than a bike! The cyclists must stop when they cross, because the cement is several centimetres higher than the base, and as the track is too narrow, it becomes dangerous!

The rest of General San Martin Park is however large, very beautiful and peaceful.

One of the pleasant things in the centre of Mendoza is the presence of large trees on just about all the boulevards, which allows walking without being cooked by the powerful sun!

After a few days in the region of Mendoza, I slowly return to Santiago to store my bike for the holiday break. I stop in the village of Uspallata (Argentina) where I spend a relatively quiet night in the free municipal campground.

Arriving in Santiago, I spend a night at Hostal Casa Mate, a well-known spot to the motorcycle adventurers community. I took advantage of the workshop available to the visitors to do the maintenance on my motorcycle (engine oil, transmission and final drive, as well as the replacement of the spark plugs and air filter). The bike is ready for its next mission, which is to take me to Patagonia!

Quiet evening with road veterans who obviously had good stories to tell!

On December 18th, I leave my motorcycle at Hernan’s, the owner of the condo that I rented for several days in the centre of Santiago. What kindness to have offered me to take care of La Gorda for a few weeks.

It is with a little pinch of the heart that I leave her behind, but with enthusiasm that I fly to Montreal to join my girlfriend, family and friends!

Happy holidays to everyone! I thank you for your cheering words during the last months and we’ll meet again in January as the task before me is not small! Patagonia is waiting for me with a firm hand with its hundreds of kilometres of gravel roads, sometimes in very bad condition, difficult weather, its navigation challenges, high winds, but also, I hope, it’s incredible landscapes and other nice encounters!

Until then, even if the south offers incredible weather, there is nothing like a beautiful white Christmas in Montreal!

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Day 99 and 100 – Chile – Back to South America!

2017-01-16 - Day 99 - Montréal, CA to Santiago, CL 2017-01-16 - Day 100 - Santiago, CL I am back in Santiago, Chile, after a well deserved but a bit too long break. It was nice to spend time with my girlfriend, my mother and my friends, but I realize, ... Read more

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Day 84 to 90 - Chile - Finally, I made it to Spain! Wait a minute, I'm in Chile?!

2016-12-04 - Day 84 - Arequipa, PE to Iquique, CL (742 KM - 7:50 hrs) 2016-12-05 - Day 85 - Iquique, CL to La Serena, CL (1329 KM - 13:50 hrs) 2016-12-06 - Day 86 - Iquique, CL to Santiago, CL (451 KM - 5:00 hrs) 2016-12-07 - Day 87 ... Read more

Marc Ouellet

Adventurer at heart. Travelling on 2 wheels to South America soon!

  • Geoffrey

    The break will be worth it. Family, friends, food, wine, conversation, snow shovelling, ice scrapping, etc. You will be relaxed and ready for the adventure.

    1. Marc Ouellet

      🙂 You always have the perfect words to help see things in a positive way! Well, in this case, the 5 first words… The last couple, I could have done without! Old Orchard Pub soon please!

  • Greg Zyn

    There are so many good wine places in Argentina, and this post here confirms that. I’ve been to most of these places, because I live near Argentina, and it’s easy for me to visit these places. By the end of the year, I plan to visit all the sites listed here.

    1. Marc Ouellet

      Indeed, there are! I’m looking forward to visiting this region of the world again. I wonder how the present economic situation int the country affects prices for the locals as well as for the North Americain tourists…

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