Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Christmas and New Year.

We rode onto El Calafate. Battling the wind which has now become a constant reminder that we are in Patagonia and getting further south. From a distance El Calafate looks like a town set back from the near by glacial lake in a very arid environment and didn't look very inviting. The town of El Calfate is quite green and its main industry is catering for the tourists who are travelling 80 km further west to the massive glacial wall of Porto Merino. We by chance ran into Lukas and Whitney on the main street and ended up staying in the same hostel as them. The owners of the hostel were very welcoming and made us feel at home Belena and Dorio. We had Christmas meal on Christmas eve a roast chicken and all the bits and pieces. In between skyping family in NZ.
On Christmas eve all hell broke loose we fireworks going on for two hours. We received gifts from our hosts which was nice.

The next day (Christmas day) we rode onto Puerto Natales. It was interesting to see all the families parked up beside streams barbecuing sides of lamb in the shelter of trees out of the wind. It smelt pretty good as we passed by. We stayed in a hostel that was more like a hotel. Which was nice and got laundry done which is a constant issue.

The next we turned around and went north into Torres Del Paine National Park. We went up to Lago Grey and looked and the huge Glacier at the end of the lake and met our Australian/German friends on motorcycles again. We camped near the start of the trek into Torres Del Paine. Surprised by the number of young backpackers who get them selves to this remote point and do the "W" walk ,which involves walking up the valleys and out again. Very dry underneath beach forest.

     We got early the next day to beat the crowds and we at the Torres Del Paine massif quite. Interesting to see horses packing in food into a NP where a small cafe and backpackers were located. The Torres were pretty cool and I enjoyed seeing the giant Condors soring on the massive up drafts. We went back and stayed in the same hostel in Puerto Natales.
The day after we left a huge fire started in Torres Del Paine NP. Everybody was evacuated. Apparently a Israeli backpacker started a fire in a area that was not a designated area.hes been arrested.

At Pueto Arenas we had to do some servicing on our bikes. I changed my back tyre for one that we found sitting in the car park at the hostel car park Puerto Natales a really Pirelli tyre with a small whole in it. I also had to get some welding done on bike where the  bash plate attaches to the frame. I also located another bolt for my clutch lever which had rattled out. The corrugations have taken there toll a bit. Joe changed his oil.

That evening Joe and I went had a beer with Salvar Harambour at his home. Salvar is a member of the Motorcycle web group adventure riders ADV and has been helping me get a front tyre sent down from Santiago to fit my bike. Lovely family and we enjoyed there company.There daughter Camila is world BMX freestyle champion.

The next day we caught the ferry onto Terra Del Fuego over to the town of Provenir. Met up a Japanese couple on a BMW1200GS and a German guy on a KTM990. We ate takeaway at Porvenir and decide to make a run for Ushuaia. A trip of 450km for the day.
Came across a landrover that had rolled just before had arrived on the gravel road fortunately nobody was hert. Tailwinds as we headed west. Which meant Joe's bike started to run hot. Fun racing the cloud shadows. We had the dust actually blowing from behind us and up into bikes.
We got to the San Sebastian Chilean boarder which had 120 people plus trying to get down to Ushuaia. Terrible ques and an in efficiency. That took nearly two hours to get your passport stamped. My passport is now fill of Chilean and Argentine stamps with the number crossings have had.
Tierra Del Fuego has surprised both Joe and I with its contrasting scenery, flat wind blown tussock country to alpine passes with lush beach forestBoth of us have enjoyed the ride there.

We stayed in a over crowded hostel in Ushuaia. Ushuaia is a busy place with the recent arrival of a cruise ship and smaller ships that go out to Cape horn and down to Antartica. We rode out to the end of Ruta 3 and into Tierra Del Fuego National Park and took the  obligatory photo.

We had hoped to run into a large gathering of other adventure motorcycles. There were other riders about but scattered all over the town.
We camped in a camp ground which is also home to the Ushuaia rugby club. This is Argentina.

At the camp ground we met Mark (Maxvolt) from NZ who had started in Buenos Aries one month before. He had spent two months learning Spanish and he was pretty good.The other 4 people were from the UK. Really good evening drinking a few beers and a couple of red wines.

Feeling abit under the weather Joe and headed north hoping to find a hostel open in Rio Grande. Everything is closed including the hostel. We headed on into the wind and stopped 5km north of Rio Grande. We got speaking to a Argentine family and there friends and shared some mate (tea but tastes abit like tobacco). We were invited for tea at Roberto's place and he helped us find a camp site. really nice to spend time with a local family and try and converse in English and Spanish
Were now staying at old farm homestead that has been bought by Geopark a oil and gas exploration company that Salvar manages waiting for my tyre to arrive. Just south of Rio Gallegos

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