So Jelle arrived on Sunday fifth of February, ready for a couple of months of cycling across Patagonia. He sure made a good choice! This Lake District, which started in San Martin de los Andes, was possibly the prettiest area that I had seen on this trip.
With Bariloche being very expensive, we cycled out of town without spending much time there. Instead, we headed to the South of the Guiterrez lake. There we spent a whopping 200 pesos (13 euro) per person at a camping, but the setting at the lake was beautiful and it was a good and quiet start for Jelle.
The landscape continued to amaze. We cycled along beautiful mountains and lakes. Just how you would imagine Patagonia!
Second day, we crossed path with Clovis from Brasil and Bob from China. I had met Clovis in Uruguay and again in Montevideo, so it was great to camp together and catch up.
We got to El Bolson the next day, which is another hiking paradise. Another cyclist, Maya from Japan, had suggested that I should go to the camping run by Jorge Rey, who was the first person to cycle from Ushuaia to Alaska in 2001. Since then, he had kept traveling, by any means possible. He rode a horse for example from Patagonia to Brasil, went to Antartica three times, walked the length of Argentina with his dog, intended to climb Mount Everest, but broke his leg at 6000m, served in the army and fought in Iraq where he got shot 12 times,… He had photos and scars to prove all of this, but I felt that he really needed to hear from us how amazing he really was. So I do wished he was slightly more integer, but still he had great stories.
From El Bolson, we continued a bit on the Ruta 40 which was quite busy. Therefore leaving and taking the 71 (asphalt up to Cholila, ripio afterwards) was very sweet. We now headed towards the national parc ‘de los Alerces’. Jayson and Véronica, a Brasilian couple I had met just before Bariloche, had told me about it and apparently there were many free camp spots at the lakes. That sounded good!
We had a big day with 105 km including half a day of headwind and 30 km of ripio. Jelle did really well and survived his first stretch of dirt road fine. The free camp spot at the Rivadavia lake was truly amazing and we bumped into my Brasilian friends again!
So we spent a day there to relax, swim in the lake and make friends around the camp fire. Next day, we went for a small hike to a waterfall with Flor and Valeria from Cordoba, Argentina to have lunch. Then, we continued bumping 28 km down the ripio towards the ‘playa Frances’ to enjoy another free camping. Flor and Valeria caught up with us by bus and we camped together, making a nice fire. So nice to take it easy, travel slow, enjoy the beautiful area and make lots of friends!
Then another 25 to villa Futalaufquen, close to the end of the park. We met Robert and Ivan from Argentina on the road and camped together at another free camp. Flor and Valeria joined us once again and we all enjoyed the amazing cooking skills of Robert and Ivan.
In the morning, I fixed up Ivan’s bike and gave him a short course how to fix his brakes, gears, etc…
We left around 1 pm, and literally while getting back on the road, we saw Jayson and Véronica again. So the six of us cycled towards Trevellin, where we stocked up on food for the last time before heading towards Chile.
But Argentina didn’t let us go that easily. 40 km of bad ripio took quite some effort. We camped somewhere along the road, before finally crossing into Chile!
The border crossing went smooth. The Argentinian side was even funny. The customs officer let us pass without any questions because we were on bicycles and while stepping out of the office, one of the immigration ladies started singing Shakira’s song mentioning ‘bicicleta!…’ Haha, buena onda (good vibes), Argentina! See you later!
The Chilean side was more strict, with more serious customs officers. Here, we weren’t allowed to bring in any fruits or vegetables, nor seeds. So there went the quinoa and lentils in the bin…
We cycled ten km to the village of Futalaufu, where we crashed at the campsite, searched a bank, stocked up on food, got in touch with our families, wrote the blog, and planned our Chilean adventure down South.