The Ruta 40 is the most famous road of the country. It crosses the country from North to South over 5000 kilometres from La Quiaca city, located at the Bolivian border, to the Cap Virgenes located at the entry of the Strait of Magellan. Ruta 40 is a symbol due to its localisation as it is the most Southern road of our world due to its Patagonian part ; plus due to the sites possible to reach from it including the glacier of Perito Moreno and the Fitz Eoy Mount in El Chalten.
Its straight lines are crossing one of the most symbolic landscapes of the South of the country which are the plains of the Argentinian countryside. With huge fields of moors and prairies, the road was surprising at the beginning before to be quickly monotonous. Without a single tree or other vegetation, we needed to fight all along the day against the wind, which never stops to blow.
The few cities and villages crossed on the road were usually separated of 100kms. Without seeing any house or any shop, we explored this desert.
On the Ruta 40, at the North of El Calafate, the petrol stations were rare and it was also tricky for those ones to ensure regular petrol deliveries. By crossing the border at the North of the road, we anticipated this difficulty and filled up our additional tanks on the Chilean side. Without any issue, we reached the petrol station of Gobernador Gregores City. However, we were in a tricky situation to reach El Chalten from “Gobernador”. We didn’t think about the increase of our consumption by riding with the wind coming from the front, so we run out of petrol just a few hundreds of metres from a YPF petrol station. The short distance between the petrol station and us helped us to solve this problem easily. But we didn’t except this petrol station will not have any petrol until the next delivery on the following day. We waited patiently and enjoyed the beautiful scenery offered by this nice city at the bottom of the mountains of the Argentinian Patagonia.
The Ruta 40 and the glaciers of the South-West of the country has its twin sister, the Ruta 5, on the Atlantic Ocean side. The Ruta 5 crosses the country from Luja in the province of Buenos Aires to Santa Rosa in the province of La Pampa, alongside the sea. As its twin, the road is crossing the Argentinian countryside. In spite of going along the coast on the map, we barely saw the sea. Here again, we rode over thousands of kilometres on straight lines through a constant wind making the road harder.
On the roadside of both roads, there were many flocks of guanacos, ostriches and sheeps. But to avoid they cross the national roads, there were barbed wires on the side of the asphalt. This austere equipment gave the feeling to be in jail. It also made the researches harder to find a wild camping spot at the end of the day. In these conditions, plus with the deserted plains not offering cosy spots protected from the wind, we mainly camped in the YPF petrol stations. After obtaining the approval from the manager, we used to pitch up the tents on a piece of grass at the back of the shop. We were able to enjoy all the facilities of the petrol station while being protected from the constant wind.
From the crossing of the Strait of Magellan, we rode to Buenos Aires under a blazing sun. In this deserted area, it was impossible to find some shadow. The lunch break was done leaning back against the sidecars, in the shadow of our top cases. Due to the 40°C on the road, we opted for waking up early to ride a maximum of kilometres before the heat.
In spite of the Ruta 5 and Ruta 40 that we used, the South of America offers nice parts of asphalt with curves crossing this beautiful scenery.
The first part which gave our smile back was the one from El Calafate to Perito Moreno. The time of departure determined our journey. By leaving early, we didn’t need to share the road with the buses of tourists. So we enjoyed this little road going alongside the Lago Argentino. There were a succession of curves with little walls made of stones on each side of the road, before to see the beautiful glacier under the morning sunshine.
The 100 kilometres before our arrival in Ushuaia were also an enjoyable riding time in Argentina. In spite of reaching the most southern city of South of America, our itinerary crossed the mountains surrounding Ushuaia. The road was going up and offered a nice viewpoint over the Escondido lake. The clouds above the summits around were making the sky oppressive. The natural elements were accentuating this feeling of “end of the world”.
A few hundreds of kilometers before Buenos Aires, we left the Ruta 5 to go exploring the Sierra Ventana. Famous for it’s production of wine and cheese, it’s also a nice rolling area to ride. Winding road between the hills and curves in the valley alongside the Rio Arroyo Sauce Grande. During the breaks, it was possible to have a swim in this rio ; or to chill in the shadow of the vines of a bodega ; or also to get tempted by discovering the local cheese farms perched on the top of the hills.
Argentina offered us varied travelling conditions which allow us to explore the treasures of this vast country without any issue.