Thursday, April 10, 2014

3rd time over the Andes: Chile to Argentina (April 2014)

It was during our break in San Pedro de Atacama that we discovered Teeny had a back tyre puncture.  First one of the trip.  Lucky it was there because our glue in the puncture repair kit had burst somewhere along the road, and we needed to replace it.  That evening we discovered what an earthquake really feels like.  The ground beneath us swayed back and forth as did the trees around us for at least 3min.  We found out in the morning that the earthquake epicentre was about 500km away from us and registered 8.3 on the Richter scale, a 2m tsunami had hit the coastal town of Iquique and many people had been evacuated.  
First flat of the trip

The culprit
 We left San Pedro de Atacama late in the afternoon after bumping into Kath and Rob who we had met at the Honda dealership in Santiago.  It was great to catch up with them and hear about their travels through South America.  We needed to do customs and migracion in San Pedro de Atacama as we were planning to do Paso Sico over the Andes.  This took a little longer than planned and we only hit the road at 1:30pm.  The great tarmac for 80km was well enjoyed and we could concentrate on the scenery instead of the road.  We climbed back up to 4400masl passing smaller salars and lagunas.  The ride was beautiful and we camped near to some rocks trying to escape the chilly breeze again.

 The next morning we entered into Argentina, and the road got pretty rough with corrugations again.  We were happy when we arrived at San Antonia de Cobres excited for the next days ride which would be off the main road and hopefully have less corrugations.
Some adjustments for the altitude
 Ruta 40 is well known by travellers as a spectacular route along the Andes.  This section was our first taste of it and it was amazing.  As we climbed up and over the mountain, in the distance we could see Salinas Grandes which only 2 months before we had been standing on.  The valley then became a beautiful mesh of colours as the switchbacks took us deeper into the valley and running parallel and many times crossing over the river.
We arrived in Cachi and loved the tranquillity of the town with the greenest plaza we’ve seen to date.  A hearty meal and off to bed to continue on Ruta 40 the next day to Cafayate. 

Road works

I like big butts and i can not lie ...!!!!!

 The drive through el Cajon valley towards Cafayate took us through odd rock formations and little towns with cowboys and farm workers.  We arrived in Cafayate, went back to the place we had camped before and enjoyed a delicious braai with tender meat that we had been talking about during our time in Bolivia.

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