When I left Gaston’s farm in Loncoche I rode south on Ruta 5 until Osorno where I turned east on highway 215 to cross the Andes and into Argentina.
The road got higher and went deeper into the forest as I got closer to the board. Tall pines covered the land right up to the edge of the road. There was one small set of waterfalls that I saw out of the corner of my eye as I passed them. A quick u turn in the road and I stood by the edge of the river and took in the view. I didn’t know what to expect for the rest of the days ride but this was a great start.
The border crossing here is at separate facilities that are separated by a few miles but it was a smooth crossing. To enter into Argentina I had to show them my receipt for my reciprocity fee, glad I held onto that. Crossing into Argentina felt like entering a whole new land. I was high in the mountains and able to see for miles. Massive granite spires shot up towards the sky and bald granite mountains rose in the middle of the valleys. Much of the terrain on the side of the road was some kind of ash or sand.
This was a great road that wound itself around the mountainside in switchbacks and big swooping curves around lakes. While searching for campsites in the Patagonia region I came across a blog post by some overland travelers that put together a list with GPS coordinates of all the bush camps and pay campgrounds they stayed at. They listed a free national park campground at Lago Espejo which was nearby so I headed there. It was a great campsite right along the beach. It was busy during the late afternoon but as soon as the sun was setting the families all went home and it was a quiet campground. It was a breathtaking sunset and a perfect welcome to Patagonia. (GPS S40 38.755 W71 42.145)
The morning on the lake was just a beautiful.
I could have spent more time exploring this area but I rode south to Bariloche to grab some breakfast. Most of Argentina’s gas stations have large cafes with free wifi and cheap coffee so I took advantage of that to see if Paul, Ian, and Ian were riding nearby. In need of an oil change I stopped by a shop that other riders had listed as being a good place. They didn’t have the oil I needed and the guy wasn’t really helpful so I rode around until I saw a small oil change shop. They had 10W 40 mineral and owner said I could change my oil myself there. He was really helpful. If you’re passing through Bariloche and just need oil stop by Gaston’s shop on Elordi.(GPS S41 08.191 W71 17.735)
It was getting late and checking on Paul’s Spot Tracker they had stopped in Chile for the day so I rode out of town and found a spot to set up a bush camp on the shores of Lago Mascardi. Luckily the only spot I could find had good wind protection against the strong winds blowing off the lake. When night came it was a beautiful starry sky. I laid on a fallen tree and just watched the sky. It was beautiful. Nothing but the sound of the wind blowing through the trees and the water of the lake. It was almost too perfect I couldn’t help but have the biggest smile on my face. I tried to capture a photo of what it was like but it can never really capture that moment. Add in some Sigur Ros playing on my iPod and it was a night I’ll never forget.
The next day I rode to the beginning of the famed Carratera Austral. The ride through El Bolson, Esquel, and down to the border of Chile was a beautiful morning ride with perfect roads and endless views.
Before I started the trip I thought my whole journey would be about 15,000 miles. Looks like I’ll be about 5,000 miles over that depending on where I end up going.