Thursday 28 December 2017

Its getting Colder and Windier , thats for sure .

The Journey south has been a constant battle against the wind, fuel consumption is down about 30 % and at times ( as you will read ) it has become quite dangerous. 

Our goal was to get to Ushuaia in Argentina for Christmas. This is about the most southerly town of any size in the world. However to get there you actually have to enter Chile for a few hundred kilometres and then back out into Argentina. In effect Argentina has a small plot that is isolated from the rest of the country by a piece of Chile. 

There is also a ferry to get just after the Chilean border.

Border crossings are all very similar and you really need to allocate a few hours for each. So far our timing at the borders has been impeccably bad. We always seem to turn up just behind 3 coach loads of tourist. There is nothing more depressing than joining a very long queue and nobody joins it behind you. 

Pat did however, adopt a lone Swiss motorcyclist called Jan, who became quite a feature over the Xmas period .

Smuggling food across borders is now normal. The vehicle searches are brief, but I am sure we will get caught sooner or later. Retrieving 2 kilos of prawns and a pineapple out of your backside is however quite unpleasant for all parties involved

The ferry to the main part of Chile cost 680 Argentinian Pesos and took about 30 minutes 

We headed for the first sizable town called Cerro Sombrerro and a set up camp in the closed camp site, only to be quickly evicted by the owner. We then discovered a group of travellers all camped out in the garden of the Tourist Information building that had good wifi and heated toilets and showers for free.

That night we had 11 in the truck for a drink, from various nationalities including German, Swiss, Finnish and American. It was a really great night. 

What we didn't know was that the next day would be a disaster that we will remember.

As previously mentioned we had to leave Chile and re enter Argentina. For some reason the exit from one country to the entry to the next are about 15km apart so in essence its like doing two separate border crossings .

I have also mentioned the wind being dangerous, well it really caught us out here. 

At the exit from Chile  the force of the wind was such that we could hardly stand up. We had finished the exit procedure and had just got back to the truck . Pat opened the cab passenger door by about an inch and the wind caught it and flung the door open. This pulled Pat out of the cab and threw her horizontally to her landing site that was about 3 meters from the vehicle . She landed on her back ( she must practice her landings ) and we really thought she had caused some serious injury . A man stopped in his car to help us but couldn't actually get to us against the wind even though he was crawling on his hands and knees.

I couldn't shut the cab door against the wind and I really thought we would also lose the door. 

Pat was in agony and we managed to get her laying down in the lower bed and eventually continue the journey. The entry into Argentina  was interesting as Pat couldn't get to the border office . They let us in with a bit of persuasion .

Pat had to travel in the back laying down all the way to Ushuaia . It was like driving an ambulance .

The preceding 100 km before Ushuaia were really beautiful and scenic. You enter Ushuaia via a main gate to be confronted by the very disappointing view of an industrial commercial  dump. 

We did question at this point whether it was worth the journey. However, once you get through the commercial part the port area was really quite pleasant and we parked on the waterfront for a few nights . 

By now  Pats bruise had grown to  to about the size of Alaska . Ouch.

Whilst parked at this point we saw a small rowing boat come ashore full of King Crabs, so I employed my best negotiating skills and payed well over the top for a Crab. It was enormous and very much alive and hell bent on escape. Feeling sorry for him we took him for a drive round town to show him the sights  then converted him into lunch. He served his country well .


To make Pat feel better we teamed up with our Brazilian friends, Nicholas and Ellis, and hit the the local Casino, which was in fact a collection of posh slot machines . We completely blew about £5.00 but it put a smile back on Pat's face. 

We decided that this  wasn't the place for Christmas so we all moved to a really beautiful camping area just out of town It was set in a steep sided valley and you could catch trout in the river. 

Eight for Christmas dinner in the truck was a challenge but it was  a great night. 

We returned to the port area of Ushuaia and for the first time all was calm. Absolutely stunning 

We are not sure where we are heading now but I can guarantee it will be north.

Sunday 24 December 2017

Happy Christmas to you all.

This post will appear to be slightly out of Sync , so I will have to fill in some recent gaps after Christmas.

Well we made it to Ushuaia , which is at the vey bottom of South America in Argentina.

Its been a long road down here , but we are looking forward to the slow scenic route back up on the west side of the continent.

We have 8 in the truck for Christmas dinner so it should be fun

Best wishes to you all 

Neil and Pat xxx

Saturday 16 December 2017

No Whales but plenty of Elephant Seals, Penguins and Dead Trees

Yes the title says it all . 

We spent two days at two different locations around the Valdes Peninsular, in recommended locations and not a whale in sight . However, we always knew that we were right at the tail end of the season.

The locations we stayed at were absolutely stunning. Although the second one at Punta Ninfas was a bit remote and we didn't hang about the next morning as the sky was changing rapidly and we had a 50km drive over dirt road that had mud bath written all over it .

The wind here is incredible strong and sometimes as warm as a hair dryer. So much so that we managed to dry a full size towel straight from the machine in 15 minutes. 


You know it can get windy here when you see that they have attached guy ropes to a lighthouse. ( look closely )

Camerones, further south was a real highlight. Its a smallish coastal fishing town that in some places appears to be caught in a bit of a time warp.

The local store looked like something out of a movie, You know the sort where the explorers stock up just before being murdered. It sold everything from fruit and veg to parts for you trawler. The cash register ( Still used ) was in itself a magnificent antique.

Another great thing about this town was that it had a small Fishmonger that doubled up as a shed in someones back garden. Here you could buy 1 Kilo of king prawns for 80 Argentinian Pesos , which is about £3.43. Well it would be rude not to have a prawn fest so we bought a kilo and so did our Brazilian friends Nicholas and Eliss ( pronounced Eleese ) We cooked both kilos in a bit of a cook off style event and then ate the lot, Fantastic. 

We have picked up another two kilos for our freezer .

Just about 20 km down the coast is a natural Magellanic Penguin breeding colony. Its a great place and you can get within a few inches of them. We were slightly too early for the chicks to leave the nest but we could see them down their burrows. 

Ellis, who is from a warmer climate, found the wind a bit cold. We just sweated it out.

A few interesting facts about the Magellanic Penguin to help you sleep.

They can live for 30 years
They usually pair for life
In September the male arrives and finds his old nest and tidies it up .
A couple of weeks later the female arrives and does nothing. ( Except the necessary )
The male sits on the eggs and gets the food and keeps it all tidy.
The female does nothing
The chicks fledge in February and the next September it all starts again.

If however, the male turns up and his female doesn't the male will sit on a stone in the nest in a deep sad  depression. he might do this for the next 3 or 4 years 

If however, the female turns up and her male hasn't, she gives it about 10 minutes and then finds another male. Typical.

The journey back was fun  

The Sunset was incredible

Elephant seals are pretty common around here and some of them can weigh 300 kg's. They don't appear to do much, lots of lazing around slapping each other and farting. Must make a note of this come my re incarnation.

Large colonies are dotted along the coast

With exception films like Lord of the Rings , who ever heard of a petrified Forrest. Well I hadn't, let alone seen one for real.

The Bosque Petrificado  is a really interesting place.

Apparently about 150 million years ago a large ash cloud from a volcano buried  a forest of fir trees.
The trees absorbed the carbon and hardened, turning them to stone over a long period of time.

This left an entire forrest of petrified trees buried under ground. Millions of years of erosion has now exposed them and you can now see plenty of them lying around. They look just like wood, well I suppose they would wouldn't they .

The road south , "Route National 3" is incredible long, straight and in the main quite boring. 

The wind is incredibly strong and relentless. Its a constant battle with the steering to keep in your narrow lane and the trucks heading the other way pass by only inches. It can be very tiring and sometimes a bit dangerous.

It can also be very lonely for the driver especially when your Sat Nav says its not going to speak to you for over 300 km and your co pilot is snoring and dribbling for 295 of the kilometres . As shown in the next two photos.

We always new this part was a long slog but we plan to start the drive back north at a much more leisurely pace.

You can see a lot more detail of each place we visit on the "Places and Photos" page