We have been on the road now for two weeks and this is the first opportunity we have had to put something on web page.
We left Valparaiso and travelled south while its still dry and before the holiday season starts. The goal being to get down south to Usshia and then head north onto the Salar Dar Undyuni before it gets water all over it. Then check out the Dakar Rally that starts in Buenos Aries on the 5th January.
We were late leaving Valparaiso because it took a while to sort out to pack every thing and we eventually got going. The first issues we had were reading the Chillian road signs then stopping and reading our maps. We ended up in a nice little sea side village calle Pitchilumu. About the size of Takaka but more run down. The major industry being tourism - lots of horse rides and some fishing...We stayed in a back packers.
We had a nice younger couple next door who were keen to talk about the motos but we couldn't communicate that well, who were interested in our bikes. I sent my firt spot signal so Judith could keep track of us.
The next day we went south along the coast hardly any traffic with nice tar sealed roads. To a small fishing village hen headed east toward the Andes and our goal of trying to ride as many gravel bqack roads as possible. We stopped in a small town called Curico where we came across a Yamaha dealership so I changed my back tyre to a trail tyre which I had bought in Santiago. Unfortuately they put the tyre on backwards and we had to wait for the two 1-3pm siesta to finish. Oscar the manager gave me some coolant for nothing and a Yamaha key ring.
Nearly got taken as we left the store as I was trying to get on the Tenere whilst the bike was moving and looked the long way. Fortunately the cars that were coming weren't too close.
We camped up a valley from there leading into the Andes we had three or four dogs for company which is normal in this part of the world. Camped close to the centre of the town. Two of the locals wanted to to know all about us and managed to converse abit.
We climbed up a steep gravel road and onto to the top actual pass 2500 metres Then down to the Argentine border control where we were asked for our Temporary vechicle import licence. The Argentine border guards spoke no English at all.
We eventually we ended up in a nice ecco hostal recommended to us by Andre a fellow adventure we had met in Pitchidangi 10 days before. We also met him at the Chillian boarder a friendly face who could help with the translation issues we were having.
The nex tday we tried to buy some Argentine cash at the local bank I estimate there were 120 people queing maybe more waiting for money so we gave up. Qued for petrol 10 minutes and went south on Ruta 40. Didn't find out later that they have waiting for there pay nobody trusts the banks. Its a cash society all there notes are worn out.
We went spent most of the first half of the day on gravel at 35-40 degrees celius. Not much traffic on Ruta 40 on this part of the Alto Plano. Not good place to have a break down.
Went on tell 8pm and camped at little town by the river called las Lajas our biggest day 510 km.
The next day started with a flat tyre(nail) outside an Argentine bank with no que.
We couldnt buy petrol because the local service stations fuel wasn't arriving tell 4pm so went onto to a nice Settlement called Alumine near the boarder and went for a swim in lago Alumine. We then went back into Chile we had issues with the Argentine customs who wanted to see our temp vechicle import licence. So we showed them the little two person crossing we had come across that had nos customs and they let us go.
Called into Pucon and got some food and we were sitting by the Lake when David Sinclair from Nelson who manages a back packers stode pass and was looking at our bikes so we had a cuppa with him and set off on a trail ride around VolcanoeVillarrica. Cool ride on the edge with a fully laden bike.Meet some Chillian adventure riders who had all fallen off and hey weren't carrying as much stuff as us. So quite proud of our selves. Found the nicest hot springs with a water fall in the back ground. We unloaded a ute full of rocks and pumice for the women running the place and she let us have a free swim.
Pushed on to Simon Harwoods house near Frutona where he is sharemilking for a NZ syndicate, great dairy farming county green and lush and plenty of rain.