From Buenos Aires to the Uruguayan border – 8 days – 25 metres above sea level

Version française disponible ici. 

We entered in the urban area by the Ruta 8 and the dual carriageway. The trafic was important but manageable. A cycling path was going along the highway where a cyclist team was training. 

We have been invited by Ricardo, met a few weeks ago on the Chilean Carratera Australe. He is living in a residence with his family, next to Tigre city, in the West part of Buenos Aires. 

Our visit of the main Argentinian city started early in the morning by walking in the port of Tigre. This city of the suburb of Buenos Aires is located in the middle of the delta created by the rio (river) Uruguay and Parana de Las Palmas. Overlooking the sea, Tigre welcomes many “chic” nautical clubs where Argentinian people are meeting to practice rowing or sailing. A few metres further from this privileged place, the “Puerto de los Frutos” is a new hip place where arrive the fruits from the Delta Island and where the old warehouses have been refurbished into new shops. 

We went in the area of San Isidro where we visited the cathedral of Saint Isidore le Laboureur, symbolic monument of the city with a neo-gothic style and the main tower with a 70-metre height. On the way, we passed by the “Monumental” stadium whose the name matches well due to its size. The football players of the River Plate team were training there. 

To go in the historic centre of Buenos Aires, we crossed the residential borough of Palermo. In the nice buildings with a colonial style, there are many ambassades. 

Arrived on the Presidente Figueroa Alcorta avenue, we passed by the French ambassade. We discovered the Cultural Centre Recoleta before to go through the Recoleta Cemetery. We reached the “Casa Rosada” by the Leandro N. Alem avenue where is located the Parliament of the country. 

We continued our visit in the recently reorganised area of the old docks of Puerto Madero. We went closer to one of the basins where “La Fregata” was mooted, an old boat with three masts from the Argentinian navy. 

Our visit of the city ended by visiting the famous area of La Boca. Located nearby the old naval port, it was the area of the migrants due to the history. Men and women from all the nationalities came to start a new life in this eldorado of this vast country. They lived together during many years. In spite of the tourists, the daily life is still simple and popular, marked by the blue and yellow colours of the football club Boca Junior. The historic walls made in sheet metal were progressively replaced by concrete walls. In spite of the social difficulties encountered by the country, the colours and the good mood were still felt in this area. 

During the second day focused on Buenos Aires, we spent the morning on the Delta Islands. At the Tigre port, we used a beautiful wooden boat, a “Lancha Collectiva” looking like a Venitian Vaporetto. On board, there were many families who were going for a picnic on one of the several beaches. They hold baskets and ice bags full of good food for their lunch. 

On the various pieces of lands, the life was organised without cars, replaced by boats. Therefore, policemen were making their usual controls by Zodiac. Our “lancha collectiva” needed also to change its trajectory when the siren of the ambulance boat rang.

We landed at the stop of the “Tres Bocas”. We snaked our way on a small path along the edges of the island offering beautiful wooden villas on stilts on one side ; pontoons and boats on the other side. We did a break to enjoy a chill drink in front of the floating petrol station of the YPF company. Many boats were coming for petrol, we enjoyed our beer watching this dynamic show.  

t was late in the afternoon when we left Tigre to grab a train and go towards Buenos Aires. On the way to the historic town centre, there were roadworks which made us to stop at Bunes, a few stops away from the train station of Retiro. We crossed the Palermo area to reach the Lago del Rosedal before to go back to Tigre and meet Ricardo and his family. 

Our stop in Buenos Aires will be also the opportunity to learn more about the “Gaucho” culture, the Argentinian cowboys. For this, we went by sidecars with Ricardo, to the village of San Antonio de Areco, tens of kilometres further from the capital. We visited the museum of “Gauchesco Ricardo Guiraldes” which included a large collection of objects about the daily life of men and women from the Argentinian countryside. We saw knives, stirrups, objects made from horse leather plaited. It was the opportunity for Julien to buy a Bolina, a traditional beret worn by the Gauchos which is similar to our French beret but made in a lighter material. 

During the evening, when we were back in the city, we stopped in the nice area of Belen de Escobar. There was a friendly ambiance with beers served with an electro music and softened lights from the fairy lights. 

We left Buenos Aires and took the direction of North-East. Once passed the city of Zaraté, we stopped in a nautical club where the rio Pasque Talavera flows  into the Rio Parana Guazu. A modest campsite with many mosquitos but offers nice surroundings with wooden passerelles, a beach, a good and popular atmosphere. 

The next day, we went back on the road to reach Gualeyguaychu. Since the 19th century, each Saturday during January and February, the city organises the most famous carnival of the country. 

We passed the weekend in this charming fluvial city with a samba music and celebrations. 

The following Monday, we crossed the Rio Uruguay to reach the country of the same name, last country of our adventure in South of America…

Where to have a drink?

Café de la Vieja Soderia
Bolivar 196 – San Antonio de Areco, Argentina 

In this little village highlighting the culture of the Argentinian countryside, there is this old house made of stones at the corner of this street. There is a cosy atmosphere around an old zinc bar. The decoration is inspired by the old brands of soda and their advertising of the 70’s. On the shelves, there are the old returnable bottles which are refilled after being drunk. A perfect place for a snack in the middle of the afternoon or for a chill drink after visiting the local attractions.

Flora Cerveceria

In the city of Ingeniero Maschwitz in the suburb of Buenos Aires, this area with a friendly atmosphere has just been created. Around the Mendoza street, there are many new bars and restaurants. We opted for a small terrace by the “Cerveceria Flora” ; the beer is good and the atmosphere with the colourful fairy lights is warming.

Argentina – from Ushuaïa to the Argentinian capital – 17 days – 6 metres above sea level

Version française disponible ici. 

We left Ushuaïa with a drizzle. But after the first cols, the sun was back. Until Rio Gallegos, we didn’t have any other choice than using the same road as for the outward journey. We crossed again Chile, the Strait of Magellan, plus two border posts. On the little piece of Chilean land, we stopped to meet the colony of Royal Penguins near the Cerro Sombrero city. On the way to reach the entry of the park, we noticed the first welding (did in Tortel in Chile) on the mudguard of our sidecar didn’t last. As we shouldn’t leave the asphalt until Buenos Aires, we opted for continuing without repairing immediately. 

After passing by Rio Gallegos, the temperature was higher. It was finally with shorts and flip flops that we set up the tents for the wild camping night by the edge of the Rio Chico. The “Ruta 3” was similar to the previous “Ruta 40”. In addition to the monotonous straight lines and the wind, there was the problem of the heat. Indeed on the asphalt with a blazing sun, it was almost 40°C. The sidecars requested more regular breaks to cool down the engines. But sadly, on this deserted road, it was rare to find a tree to get some shadow. After an afternoon with an oppressive heat, we finally opted for a new strategy: waking up before the sun and riding before having too high temperatures. 

After a night at a municipal campsite at the seaside city of San Julian (where we have been able to visit the replica of a ship of the Magellan expedition), we set up the tents in a petrol station. This deserted area do not offer nice wild camping spots. In the best case, the petrol stations offer the possibility to set up a camp in a shady and wind-protected spot, with WiFi plus an access to the bathrooms. All of this without spending a penny!

A few tens of kilometres before Comodoro Rivadavia, the asphalt of the Ruta 3 had a shape of small waves. The up-and-down created vibrations which increased the crack of our mudguard. We opted for removing it in the aim of finding a welder in the city. Thanks to the advice of a friend of Ricardo (from La Nutria campsite in Chilean Patagonia), we went to the Tonneria del Sol. Seduced by our arrival in this workshop with a “Fifth Element” atmosphere, we gave our mudguards to Fito, our “Bruce Willis,” for repairing the cracks and reinforcing the parts for the next journeys. 

This night, we set up the camp at the municipal campsite of Rada Tilly. The beach was only two steps away and it was about sunset time. It was a perfect timing for a swim in a water as cold as the English Channel during Spring ; before to enjoy a chill beer in front of the ocean.

We continued our journey towards North until Puerto Madryn, a big seaside city on the Atlantic coast. Huge ferries made a stopover for a few days, the time for the passengers to spend their money in the restaurants and casinos by the long seawall. You will have understood, we didn’t really “feel like being home”! So we went back on the road to find a quieter place to pitch up the tents. Thirty kilometers towards North, on the way to the peninsula Valdez, we found our corner of Paradise : a beach with duns protecting the camp from wind. 

After a new night with the gentle lapping of the waves, 200 kilometres on tracks were planned for the day to go on the Vandez peninsula and to meet the Magellanic penguins. Officially, it was possible to see orcas during this time of the year. But we were not lucky enough for this. However, the Magellanic penguins were walking with a rolling gait for our happiness, less than 10 cms in front of us. 

We have been lucky enough to see sea lions and sea elephants, plus a “Peludo” which is a kind of armadillo going around near the ranger office. We ended the afternoon with a swim by the wide and beautiful sandy beach of Puerto Pyramides, isolated between two limestone cliffs. Before to go back to our wild camping spot, left in the morning, we filled up our water tanks at the fireman station of the village. 

Our journey towards North lead us to San Antonio Oeste. This little city by the sea has nothing fancy, but we were seduced from our arrival. Plus, at the first roundabout we stopped by a shop of a local olive grove offering a delicious oil and marinated olives. 

Then, we discovered the “Club Nautico Social y Pesca” composite in San Antonio Oeste. In addition to its camping activity, it welcomes the fishermen of the city all along the year. We had an amazing time with all the team of the campsite. We indulged ourselves in a day off. We stayed in bed late and went to the beach of “Las Pidras Coloradas” near the next city, Las Grutas. The sunshine was beautiful this afternoon, but just after leaving San Antonio Oeste, the wind was blowing and it was finally with some rain that we arrived on the sand. A lovely beach with a few rocks on this vast yellow field. Behind one of them, a grandpa and his grandson were playing Tejo. Inspired by the Colombian game, it was adapted to the beach. The aim is to throw,as close as possible, the flat disc of your colour to the smallest disc (the equivalent of the “jack” when playing boules).

After a day of work on the sidecars and two nice “Parilla” evenings at the Nautico Club, we went back on the road towards Buenos Aires.  

A quick break at the olive shop before to go back on the Ruta 3. The scenery was changing: trees, bushes, corn fields and nice flocks of bovines. We set up the camp behind the sandy dunes of El Condor beach. The spot is well-known by the local fishermen. The city is also famous for its “cliff with parrots”. Indeed, we have been wakes up the following day by many birds perched on the electrical lines above the tents. There was a “Hitchcock” ambiance.

This day on the Ruta 3 has been marked by changing the bearing on the side wheel of our sidecar. A tough repairing due to the blazing sun on a motorway rest area. The bearing has overheated due to the worn and the heat. It was hard for Julien to remove it and replace it. But thanks to his efforts, we managed to reach “El Balcon del Arroyo”, a family cheese factory. This small local farm offered us the opportunity to taste delicious matured cheeses reminding us our French cheeses. After many months without being able to find a good cheese, we do not need to mention that we indulged ourselves in a good dinner with bread, red wine, cheeses and saucisson.

With Franco’s advice, we left the Ruta 3 to cross the “Sierra Ventana”. A rolling area offering beautiful viewpoints and nice curves. It was a pleasure to ride the sidecars on these curves after the long kilometres on the Ruta 3. We did a stop in the small village of Villa Ventana before to swim in the river of the village of Sierra de la Ventana. At the end of the afternoon, we reached the bodega of Salugaray. We visited the vineyard before to enjoy a tasting. The owner of the property kindly offered us to camp between the vines. 

Back on the asphalt, we will remember our break in the city of Colonel Pringles as the  local radio, Canal 2, interviewed us for a few minutes in Spanish. The beginning of the celebrity in South of America! The day ended with a swim in a river crossing Azul city. We did a last stage in Lujan in the suburbs of Buenos Aires. The campsites being out of our budget, we pitched up the tents next to the ones of the local fishermen by the river of Lujan. They fished during all the night while we were recharging our batteries before to go exploring Buenos Aires…

Where can you buy local produce?

The olives Oleosan
San Antonio Oeste, Rio Negro, Argentina

After a day on the straight lines of the Ruta 5, we stopped by this olive grove  located nearby a roundabout symbolising the entry of the port of San Antonio Oeste. The welcoming and the presentation of the property were done by the owner with a high tone of voice.
The place is actually a shop, the olive trees and the fields are located just a few kilometres further. We saw them only on a video presenting the oil production and other derived products.
During the tasting, this noble product issued from an organic production was melting in the mouth, giving a refined taste. They accompany very well a glass of wine in the shadow of the Argentinian trees. 

The cheese factory El Balcon del Arroyo
Tornquist, Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina

To reach the family cheese factory, you need to drive on a few kilometres on a narrow path crossing the fields where the cows graze. The familial farm is just downhill.
We have been welcomed by the owner who told us the story of his products while visiting the milking parlour and maturing room. Indeed, here in Argentina, there is a cheese factory maturing the cheese while main of the other cheese factories make fresh or pateurised cheese.
During the tasting, we have been surprised by the similarities with our cheeses made in the mountains. One of the flavours that we missed the most from the beginning our trip. The other flavoured cheeses with herbs or spices were also very surprising and reminded us some British cheddars.
We left the place with the pockets full of good produce including a bottle of local wine recommended by the owner to accompany his cheesy specialities. 

Where to eat? 

The foodtrucks Beltza and Unakombi
Villa Ventana, Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina

The small village of Villa Ventana has similarities with the French Alps villages. There were two food trucks on one of the shady squares. The first one was serving delicious burgers and churasco from his truck. While the second one was serving local beer from his fully equipped Combi Volkswagen. A perfect combo for a break in the middle of the valley.