Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Our last lake in Chile we saw through drizzle and rain, so we were keen to cross the Andes to finer weather. The border is of course at the top of the mountain range. Exiting Chile - no problems. Passport stamped & GR2's import licence handed back - then drive for 50km to repeat the process. No quarantine, no vehicle check, nothing. Sadly it's still raining so we pull into a camp area in the Nat Pk on the Road of Seven Lakes. It is still raining in the morning so we decide not to spend hours driving the scenic route and detour past Lago Tralford - great choice as it is a gorgeous drive (dispite the bad road). As the rain clears we head south through a gorgeous valley surrounded by huge craggy mountains. Then on to Bariloche (chocolate capital of Argentina) where we only stop for hot chocolates & cake. The place is busy. We are heading cross country to Peninsula Valdes on the Atlantic Coast - so a long drive is ahead of us (Route 62). It is pretty bare with very few towns. We pull over for the night in one of these between an ATM & the police station, and get a bonus of free Wifi!
The next 120km are pretty amazing - we drive through a massive river canyon - shades of Kings Canyon (Aus), but it is incredibly windy....saves us a lot of diesel. Once we leave the river the road becomes a tad boring. Finally we arrive at the Welsh town of Gaimam (I am hanging out for tea & scones- yummy - we think the waitress says $16ARG each, but it is $60ARG each!! We get a doggy bag.)
Then on to the most boring road yet, before finally reaching the Peninsula. Phew - it costs us $70ARG each (Argentinians pay $20 & locals pay a mere $7.....), but it is a "must see" destination. We have the whole weekend here as we are booked into an autoelectrician's on Monday to get the diesel heater looked at. We use 2 camp spots - the unofficial beach camp at Playa Pardelas as recommended to us by Stephen. and the next in the town of Punta Piramides on the end of the beach with other local motorhomes & caravans. We do the touristy drive to see the penguins nesting up & down the cliff and strutting their stuff on the beach, see the sealions with their "puppies" (who are adorable), and also see herds of guanacos, rheas (like small ostriches) and amardillos.
Monday we have maintenance work to do: firstly the diesel heater which had a broken wire, lots of groceries and finally GR2 gets a good wash. She was filthy from her time on the ship & in port, and also from the dust & salt spray on the Peninsula.
Our next detour is the massive "March of the Penguins Seaside Style" at Punta Tombo. Apparently there are half a million of them, not to mention all the babies they have just had. John is penguined out, but they are soooo cute, and just a tad stinky.
We carry on along the coast on a dirt road - camp right beside the beach & have a great BBQ steak, with not a soul in sight. Awesome. We give the next peninsula a miss as there are still more penguins and head inland for a change detouring to a petrified forest. For some reason I thought they would be standing!! They were all lying on the ground and had been for 150million years. Still the scenery was pretty awesome. A far cry from the flat Estancias (stations) we had been driving through.
Anyway southwards we go - again following the coastline with some lovely beaches and amazing cliffs, stopping at a few more Nat Parks and YES seeing a lot more penguins. Beaches covered in penguins !! There are signs for pumas, but we can't even manage to spot one.
Further south another border - all is very easy, just queues of people. Wait in line to get passports stamped, then wait in line and either hand in our vehicle approval, or receive a new one. Going into Chile they are fussy about food, so we have been feasting on our fruit and veges. This time they want us to boil our eggs - fresh one are not OK. Then onto a ferry and over to Tierra Del Fuego. Antartica here we come!!!

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