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.