Argentina ( english version )

Publié le par Hervé Descamps

For the pictures please ... in few time !!
This is the english version of our trip in Argentina ( 2008 )

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We do it all over from November 20th to December 6th.

Our programme features some changes.  We will inform you after completion of the reconnaissance by Mandes Travel Europe.

contact@andesmoto.com

 

The trip is possible by 4x4 or on the bike.

Available are:  7 bikes Honda Transalp and 3  4x4 (Ford Ranger and Mitsubishi L200)

For more information, visit http://www.andesmoto.com
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Argentina 2008

 

5 times the size of France and 25 millions less inhabitants, that means a  small number of people per sq. km  The whole population concentrates in cities and the countryside is covered mainly by immense haciendas, mostly belonging to rich families (haciendas covering several thousands of hectares are not rare!!) and a few pueblos sheltering peasants and gauchos.  We had heard that much talk about Argentina that one day or another we had to go.  This is the beginning of our trip.

We left France on a sad winter morning, and arrived at Buenos Aires after a 14 hrs flight via Madrid.

At arrival temperature amounts to 30°C in full summer. The atmosphere reveals kind of a rhythm of tango!!

 

Buenos Aires

 

What shall I tell you ?  An immense metropolis on the edge of the Rio de la Plata, the largest estuary in the world.  Some people will describe it as the Paris of South America!! In this city, Argentine, Plata everything tracks back to money!!

La Boca, superb site with its multicoloured small houses, its artists in the streets, its tango tunes rocking a population that sticks to the tourists.  Men are clothed like Al Capone and the girls put their thighs on you for a mere 5 pesos.  Maradona is ever present as a wooden statue and the dogs wear the azul y blanco stripes.  But the beer is ok and it seems unconceivable to travel to BA without visiting this district.

Palermo Viejo: Nice paved streets, much more peaceful.  Switched-on bars serve evenly good beer, some facades are worth to leave your path, an immense pedestrian street where your credit card seems to be attracted by shop entrances.  Nice!!

Recoleta:  Money. Cultural events for a few thousand dollars.  Fashionable shows. Superb artists on the posters and a sample of what is to be seen by a tuned argentine.

San Telmo: doubtless the most interesting area of Buenos Aires.  The bed of real tango.  If you pass here, as we did, on Sunday you'll see the most beautiful 2nd hand market in your life… whatever you want, you will find it… from the handmade knife by Beljambe to the enamelled poster-plate 'La Vache qui rit', even an 18th century writing desk and the Napoleonic hussar saddle… everything is to be found at San Telmo on Sunday … and if you don’t, order it, you will get it the next Sunday.  Mixed with this are tango schools at every street corner, and all bookshop windows display the integral history of Argentine with the Che on top of it!!  Children play in the squares surrounded by pigeons seeking for the smallest crumbs and all kinds of vagrants smoke pot as on Provence markets in the '70ies.

We spent two days in BA. It was a need, allowing us to recuperate the time lag but also to get acquainted with the ambience of the country.  Portenos (nickname to inhabitants of BA) are most welcoming.  They love everything from Europe with a particular link to the French..  Wasn't Calos Gardel born in Toulouse?  If ever you go, do not hesitate to get lost in these areas and ask for the route, you will meet charming people.

 

Salta … La Linda!

 

There is a 90 minutes flight from BA National Airport to Salta (plus a couple of hours delay due to a strike by the flight personnel !)  This happens not only with us here, but there it happened in a very South-American ambience:  negotiations in full sight and comments from the crew to the passengers in total serenity!  Salta is the capital of NOA (North West Argentina), 600.000 inhabitants perched on an elevation of 1250 m at the foot of the Cordillera.  Founded 1582 by Spanish colonists, most major buildings kept their original architecture: decorated balconies, private homes with look of small palaces, mansions with patios, that many marvels to be discovered as we stroll through the streets, walking or with the help of taxicab drivers always ready to boast their town in between the comments of a soccer game.  Salta also is the compulsory starting point for all tourists wanting to go for an adventure, be it on foot, on horseback, on VTT or as we choose:  on bikes and 4x4.  Salta is a large city where everyone meets in the evening on the grand square to attend a gigantic 'passagieta'.  If you stay 48 hrs at Salta, you get acquainted with half the population of the city, just like in a South European village in the 70ies.  This city is captivating and its architectural patrimony is remarkably well preserved.  Moreover it counts a good number of museums of various interests; in short Salta is a stop to prefer.  Suggestion is the Tren de la Nubes, a tourist train taking you to San Antonio de los Cobres, 4000 m high in the magnificent Cordillera.

Some features of Salta are unavoidable: for instance the central market offering every morning a display of NOA craftsmanship, mixed with all other consumables of the region.  Don't miss the butcher's stand: you will learn how to cut meat … not recommended to vegetarians!  Another splendour is the cableway to the park dominating Salta, on Cerro San Bernardo.  You will admire not only the city but enjoy a magnificent viewpoint on the very close Cordillera, and finally Place 9 de Julio, the meeting point of all citizens at aperitif time.  You will appreciate the orange juice poured from a decanter, the parade of the gauchos every time the guards are changed, and the ambience of a small country-town where everybody knows everybody.

 

From Salta to Cafayate

 

We leave Salta southwards by road N68.  60 km of tobacco, maize and vines cover hundreds of hectares.  The road is covered with potholes. It links villages where children, various animals and rolling wrecks without any signals require our caution.  Before descending to Cayafate and the Quebrada de las Conchas, we make a short incursion to the largest artificial water reserve of Argentina: the Dique del Corral.  It is kind of a Serre Ponçon (dam in France) multiplied by 10, where private holiday residences mix with fishermen's sheds.  The track to the dam is superb.  Back to N68 for lunch.  From there everything becomes simple: there is nothing around any more.  The first albergo is our choice.  The more as they have chilled beer, delicious goat cheese and assorted deserts.  The stop is highly appreciated.

After a short rest, we get the full view of what comes ahead.  The Quebrada de Cafayate is a great geological site. From the Devil's gorge to the Amphitheatre, along the Obelisk the 3 Crosses and the Toad, ending in the Castles and the multicoloured mountains, our digital cameras get hot.  However we care for the road haunted by a number of lorries that do not mind the landscapes or the visiting tourists.

When the vines take the place of the desert, when the underground water is canalised and the green colour replaces the dominating earth, we arrive at Cafayate.  This peaceful village is beginning to become known in the whole world, and it makes its authenticity suffer. Nevertheless it is nice to have a drink on central place, eat an ice cream at Miranda's and especially taste the white wine of Torrontes, floral nectar produced by the sun, water, region and elevation of the place.

 

From Cafayate to Tafi del Valle, and back through Quilmes …

 

We leave Cafayate full south through the famous Route 40. It is funny to find in the middle of Cafayate facing the youth hostel a milestone indicating 4430 km to Ushuaia, the far end of the trans-Argentine road.  We follow road 40 over 80 km in the middle of the pampas and the cardones, these giant candelabra-shaped cactuses so characteristic of Argentina.  On the road one has to care of asses running in the free and unexpectedly crossing one's path.  We quite often cross buses serving the country and who seem to stick to the middle of the road in order to avoid potholes and despise all other vehicles on two or more wheels.

At Amaicha del Valle we bend to Tucuman with a stop to visit the Pachamama Museum, a vast area dedicated to geology and to the history of the chalk valleys.  The Museum was installed by one Hector Cruz who made a fortune selling souvenirs to tourists, and who must have tried to redeem the fact that he sold part of the Indian patrimony plundered earlier by himself.  The Indians still do mind him and he is not too much appreciated in the area.  Nevertheless his Museum is very interesting.  To join some kind of a village that looks rather Swiss than South-American named Tafi del Valle, we climb our first pass over 3000 m : the Infernillo. Our guide has promised us horrible weather, but fortunately he misses his point and we have a stop nearby a souvenir-shop, a sheep breeding, and lamas in the free. Happy moment. Our next stop is Tafi, a welcoming holiday resort and starting point of numerous ballads in the surrounding green mountains.  Lunch with compulsory parillada, excursion to the summits over a goat track, siesta in the sunshine under a tumulus to the glory of mother Ge, and finally back on road 40 returning to Cafayate.  On our way home a detour to visit Quilmes, a natural amphitheatre where the Indians built a city impregnable to the Spanish invaders due to its position.  They resisted for 130 years and finally taken they were exiled over a distance of more than 1000 km to a place that became … Buenos Aires!  A just twist of fate.  Back to Cafayate after another visit to bodega Etchart, an estate owned by the family Ricard, well inspired by investing in this magic place, producing wines with a particular taste.

 

From Cafayate to Cachi …

 

The serious job begins here.  Just after the village of San Carlos, it's spring and it's joking gauchos, we take road 40, a tortuous track along Rio Calchaqui.  We are welcomed in a series of superb and different quebradas.  Dunes with a Saharan look, mountains leaping into the flatland like melting chocolate pies, peaks protruding out of earth like an immense quiver, and along this journey the blood red of the mountains contrasting with the greens of natural oases and the colour of the vines climbing uphill. We take the opportunity to visit the most elevated vineyard in the world: over 3100 m altitude, and growing the most ancient stocks (153 years) of reputed vines such as Chardonnay and Malbec, all absolutely free of Phylloxera, an inestimable patrimony.

See : http://www.bodegacolome.com/index.html

 

Out of Colome we have lunch at Molinos, in the residence of the former governor of Salta. The house was turned into an albergo in the middle of a patio as large as a village place under a gigantic pepper tree.

50 km remain to Cachi by a very sinuous mountainside track.  The road requires our utmost attention.  At the foot of Nevado de Cachi (over 6000 m) we arrive at Cachi (2200 m). This small village is a paradise of silence and quietness.  It is known that here people die by age only.  With its church copied from a Sergio Leone – picture, it's houses of brick and mud, it's central place and museum of archaeology displaying inestimable items of the Inca and pre-Inca periods, the place is quite interesting.

 

 

From Cachi to La Poma and back.

 

20 km of difficult track lead us to the site of Las Paillas. A magic spot in the middle of cactuses where a 360° panorama can be seen over the adjoining valleys.  It's fabulous. Next follows a climb to La Poma, still on route 40, to discover the twin volcanoes (Los Gemellos) and their pumice fields.  The new village (3000 m elevation) was built 70 years ago after an earthquake that completely destroyed the ancient town and it's mud buildings. By lack of time we could not climb the Abra del Acay at 5000 m.  We will do next time.  Back to Cachi by the same road, a marvel upwards, a rapture downwards.  Highlight of the day is the flight of two condors following us.  The largest bird in the world is very impressing, and they say it brings luck …

 

From Cachi to Salta

 

We follow again route 40 along river Calchaqui up to Payogasta, a most poor region of the country in the middle of garlic and chilli-pepper fields. Next we leave the mythic road to ride full South reaching after some km the famous Recta Tin Tin, an old Inca path and a 14 km straight line in the natural Park of Los Cardones, where elevated to 3000 m we cross the usual paths of asses, lamas, horses, guanacos and vicunas.  The signs announcing begin and end of crossing spots – nothing but poles on the road – prove the intelligence of these animals at such elevation … or the naivety of the authorities responsible for placing them!  The end of the straight line coincides with the end of the tarmac road.  The subsequent climb of the Piedra del Molino (3350 m) happened on a magnificent track.

Down from the Cuesta del Obispo we take our time.  I must add that this is a mythical place in our trip, with a sequence of twists where we better do not meet trucks.  This track is impracticable under rain.  It caves in so frequently that it is under perpetual repair, the workers living on the spot.

Reaching the valley we arrive in the Quebrada de Escolpe, a very narrow gorge overlooking the Rio.  The colour of the mountains, from red to green depending on the copper veins is hallucinating, and the three rusty bridges seem to come from an adventure story.  Unbelievable those 35 tons-lorries passing here! We have lunch in a rural school.  The teacher-educator-nurse-cook and mother relies ever more on passing tourists to close her quarterly accounts with regard to governmental shortcomings. After the last bends and carefully avoiding the trenches caused by frequent thunderstorms, we hit tarmac again at Pulares, the first small village where the population makes a living of the wood they collect in the nearby forest.  At El Carril only 20 km are left to Salta.  Part one of our

voyage is over.

 

From Salta to Tilacara.

 

Leaving Salta northwards one has options:  the 4-lanes road takes you to Jujuy within 2 hours, and the mountain road (the Cornisa) through the tropical forest.  Narrow and sinuous it is not an easy trip but the landscapes along the different "diques" (dams) are superb and stops are compulsory in order to let pass herds of horses.  Which do you think we preferred?  Three hours and after a meeting of gauchos and a stock car competition we are at Jujuy, the gate to the Argentine Northwest.  Next we will enter Indian country, where Pachamama is the cult (mother earth).  It is the only place in Argentina where we touch a culture which origin is negated by the population.  I love the saying that resumes Argentine's history:  Guatemalans are descendants of the Mayas, Peruvians are descendants of the Incas, and Argentines descend from vessels!!)

Just after Jujuy we enter the famous Quebrada de Humahuaca, since 2003 under protection of UNESCO.

Next we follow RN9 snaking through the mountains whose colours would dazzle Cézanne.  Yala, an oasis along the Rio Grande, a green spot, volcano at an elevation of over 2000 m marking the limit between vegetation and desert with its cactuses.  Tumbaya where earth serves architecture.  The crossroads to Purmarmarca and next Maimara with its chapel and its famous 'painter's palette' decorating all tourist documents concerning Argentina.  Here we are in the middle of a geological paradise.  Further on we arrive at Tilcara, elevation 2350 m.  An interesting Inca fortress dominates the village and the museum displays objects related to the local history and some very interesting thematic collections.  Less cultural but very nice, the little market allows us some purchases at very reasonable prices.

 

Tilacara – Iruya.

 

We leave Tilacara under 30°C and a deep blue sky.  A few km further, the cross point of the Tropic of Cancer, clouds start hiding the sky.  We arrive at Humahuaca after admiring the most beautiful synclinals ever seen.  Respect for tradition still is vivid: every day at noon they out the Holy Patron inherited from the Spanish colonials (a wooden statue protrudes from a church wall and blesses the crowd at 12.00 sharp).  It faces a gigantic monument dedicated to independence, to the Indians and their last chief.

As our strength will be tempted afternoon, we have lunch on a piece of lama meat with mustard sauce, served to us by a Frenchman from the Southwest, accompanied by traditional andine music (quena, bombo and charango).

We had to go, so "alea jacta est".  We leave the tarmac after a few km and follow a track along the Rio, crossing quite some fords and keeping an eye on the skies, wondering what would happen in the case of a rainstorm.  After Iturbe and its abandoned railway station we climb to gorgeous landscapes, a paradise of colours and contrasts.  Our GPS persists climbing and at 4000 m we make a halt at Abra del Condor.  A thick mist engulfs the place, and we can see nothing.  Our descent is misty too but suddenly the air cleans up and we discover a small blue church and some tiny houses against the cliff.  We are in sight of Iruya, an end of the world beloved by poster collectors. Pre-columbian architecture, paved streets, playing children, a café with a corrugated roof, hummingbirds sucking nectar, screaming parrots, hovering condors in search of prey, asses grazing some rare herbs, and workers at leisure.  That is Iruna.

 

Iruna – Yavi

 

Back over the same track to Humahuaca with a short digression to the barrier of Pueblo Viejo, a totally autarkical village where tourists are not invited, and we do not disturb them. After a stop near a small school at 3800 m elevation, where the teacher informs us about his intendancy problems and repairs of the quite crumbling premises (the school shelters some 100 pupils and the teachers have to proceed themselves with repairs of the roof and the windows, suffering badly from the Andine climate), we climb again the Abra del Condor … still in the mist.  1000 m lower the sky clears up and we can admire the colours of the mud pueblos, the tiny fields cultivated by hand and the surrounding pealed mountains, true deserts where one wonders how the rare inhabitants can survive.  Back on tarmac we ride full north and reach the border village with Bolivia: La Quiaca.  In the meantime, after a siesta and a couple of bikes out of petrol, we can appreciate a full impression of loneliness disturbed only by the herds of lamas walking free along endless straight lines.  At La Quiaca we are spectators to a procession of inhabitants: like ants and with ass-loads they go to the twin Bolivian town in order to avoid taxes due by trucks passing the border.  It is hallucinating.  Some 15 km further, after crossing a typical plateau of the Altiplano populated by guanacos and vicunas we arrive at Yavi, a small village absent in tourist guidebooks, but which is very well representative of this region.  One night at over 3500 m in an albergo with stone beds and very authentic rooms, an improvised meal, and an ambience reminding us of that other hostel in the Auvergne, sheer happiness!!

 

From Yavi to Purmamarca:

 

Early rise that morning to visit the village.  Yavi had its hour of glory in the 19th century when it was fief to the marquis del Tojo.  This person, questor of the Spanish crown, diverted some gold coins and after melting them covered the altar and quite all the wooden décor. Next to the church a small museum is dedicated to the memory of the marquis and his descendants.  Adjoining the museum is a garden equipped with tables chairs and stone barbeques, giving an idea of the fairs happening in this lost village.  Back to the plateau and Quiaca, followed by the straight monotonous lines towards the Quebrada de Humahuaca.  Not the most interesting part of the voyage but except heading to Bolivia which is not on our programme there is no alternative.  We launch the engines and early afternoon – after lunch at the hotel school of Humahuaca – we take the direction of Purmamarca.

The five ultimate km in front of Purmamarca are worth all the pleasures in the world.  The canyon gives access to a geological symphony where the name of "mountain of seven colours" is short of the truth.  Hundreds, even thousands of colours appear as daylight shifts along the road that snakes around the village.

The view is startling and one would like to wander on this track and stop every 5 m to picture these only memorable sites.  I have never seen such geological marvels!

The "little lion" (meaning in Quechua language) is as well a coloured paradise as a village of dry bricks and cactus-wooden balconies.  The population seems not at all dependent on the flood of tourists. In the centre is a market place as elsewhere where prices are not any high.  A couple of local handicraft shops welcome visitors and buyers.  There is always someone talking with competence about his craft.  This village is captivating indeed, and as the hotel offers everything our tired bones can wish, we should have stayed a few days more.

 

From Purmamarca to San Antonio de los Cobres

 

A journey this was! We leave direction Chile by route 52 climbing to near 4200 m in never ending bends. Trucks also crawl up the mountain, rejecting gasoline in every twist.  Arrived at Abra de Lipan we stop in a café in order to recover our energy as we start feeling the lack of oxygen, even if we chewed coca-leaves since early morning.  This journey will not descend below 3000 m and we have to keep our force. The road down to Salinas Grandes is sumptuous not only as to geology, even if more monotonous than we have seen before.  On the other hand the botanic world as well as the fauna are a marvel.  First a couple of condors gliding in the wind, vicunas drinking in a Rio, and an enormous herd of asses grazing along the road.  Not to mention the hares crossing our path, and other unidentifiable animals that alike the marmots in the Alps, sit up to watch passers by.  Finally we reach the plateau and its 525 km² salty plain that looks like an immense snowfield.  A 'salar' like this one, product of a conjunction of altitude, volcanic heat, rain, rain streaming, winds and air temperature, is not frequent in the world.  In the middle of this immense white space a couple of houses built with salt cubes.  We have pick-nick here wearing our sunglasses.  An unreal world but how spectacular it is!  We return to road 40, rather track 40 to San Antonio.  The Argentine Puna gives us thrilling enduro moments, when everyone pays more attention to place his wheels instead of enjoying the savagery of the landscape.  Sand desert scattered with pampa herbs and some cardones (dried Rios), and in the middle of nowhere a small village without water lodging five or six families in houses made of salt (the best possible building material over here), flanked by a hostel that is worth a visit: solar oven, handmade gsm-antenna, a meat attic, walls made of dried dung … the complete panel!!  But a never seen welcome, a kindness that makes tears surge, and the hope of a comeback to meet again people we became friends in a few hours. The final part of the track requires our efforts, but all of us arrive safely at San Antonio.  The sun is still high, and our guide takes us 20 km further, over a much better track, to see the viaduct of Polvarilla, a stop of the Tren a las Nubes (train to the clouds) at an elevation of 4200 m.  Only five amongst us have enough courage to climb to the top of the viaduct.  The view is striking, somehow like the first stage on the Eiffel tower, without the cars and also without security barriers.  To walk on a railway track, higher than 4000 m, a summer evening, spitting one's lungs because of the last cigarette half an hour earlier … an unforgettable experience.  We spend the night at San Antonio, elevation 3800 m, in a very nice hotel.  Some of us appear not to have slept well … why would that be!!

 

From San Antonio de Los Cobres to Salta … end of the trip !!

 

The morning of the last day we do not know whether fatigue or desire to enjoy more make our convoy slow down.  The last spectacular viewpoints come in the down-slope to Santa Rosa de Tastil, one of the last elevated villages.  Here we make our last purchases with the ladies awaiting tourists while chewing coca, and visit the last museum managed by a lady-curator playing 'für Elise' by hitting cobblestones, reproducing petroglyphs between two visits, and painting splendid aquarelles.  We proceed towards the valley following the track of a small train of which we earlier caught a glimpse.  The building of this track took 25 years and the lives of many Indian workers caught by avalanches of stones.  The last Quebrada, names del Toro is worth a detour but our minds already wander in the valley ahead.  We stop for lunch in a hacienda under repair where pepper plants and ancient rosebushes grow, a heaven of peace to the glory of the gaucho people and their sheep breeding.  That last track drowned us in dust as trucks pass by.  Some truckers like to think they are Vatanen, and believe me, facing in a bend a fool at the wheel of a 25 tons vehicle is quite stressful.  To ease our return to normal life we proceed to Salta by the highway, where one frequently meets a gaucho halted in the middle, watching a grazing cow.  Country of contrasts up to the end of progress, such as I told you!!

We are again on a reasonable elevation.  Temperature is close to 30°C.  Back in town we leave the Cordillera behind us.

End of the trip …

 

Acknowledgements

 

To Jack and Mathilde who made possible this superb circuit and had prepared our dream voyage in this marvellous country of Argentina.  Do not hesitate to contact them for organizing your coming tour: http://www.andesmoto.com/

To our friend Pablo which appeared to be an essential guide along the tour, and who astounded us with his multiple knowledge, geological as well as human and cultural.

To Gerard, French expatriate, so well integrated in this country, which often gave us lessons in humanity and fraternity.

And to Argentina, in the future our fetish destination.

We will come back in 2009, hoping this trip record will have given you desire to come with us!!

 

 

Argentina:

 

To get there:

 

It is quite easy.  If you dislike swimming the only way is flying.

From Paris Buenos Aires is a direct destination.  From many other cities in France it is possible with a stop at Madrid.

To reach Salta you will change airport (by taxicab) and board a flight of the Argentine national lines.

Another less known method: Direct flight Madrid – Salta by the traditional airlines (Alitalia, Iberia, Delta Airlines) or by low cost flight (Aerosur, Air Comet).

 

On the spot:

 

Car hire:

Nearly everywhere. Choose a sturdy car able to take you through everything.  Best choice anyway is a 4x4, with or without a guide.

Bike hire: (less common):

At Salta, with Jack and Mathilde … best ratio quality/price  See: jack.linton@free.fr

Taxicabs:

In all cities, cheap tariffs (2 to 5 € a trip).  Drivers are always nice.

Buses:

NOA is well served and you can visit everything by bus.  They are fast, comfortable and reasonably priced.

 

Items for repatriation:

Pullovers, socks, gloves, scarves (prefer handmade, little more expensive) in lama wool or vicuna if you are the wealthy type, ponchos (beautiful but expensive), hats, wooden objects, ashtrays made of salt, leather ware…  For small purchases the local markets will do, but if you need a more important gift you will find everything at the central market of Salta the night before departure!  Do not pack coca leaves in your luggage … it may cost you some troubles upon arrival in France!!

 

 

Biking in Argentina :

 

Except for the fact that riding often is a big lotto game, where priority is resumed to the size of the machine coming from the left or the right, the practice of biking is not yet an accepted standard.  Argentines will eventually mention some enduro drivers or even Sebastien Porto, GP driver, but none the less it is considered as a minor sport, opposite to futbal, polo, and any car sports.  Argentines consider the bike as a mean of transport for lower classes.  Better to ride a worn R12 than any other bike.  Some manufacturers propose local made machines, with an engine volume never more than 200cc, with an engine dating from the famous Honda twin. Only Honda was able to conquer a place in the sun. Its Transalp is a bestseller in the larger capacities.  The advantage you have with the Transalp is that it can be repaired in the whole country without weeks of delay in expecting the spare part costing 3 pesos and 6 centavos that stops your progress.  In our two days at Buenos Aires we didn't see any more of these than countable on 2 hands.  I had the opportunity to discuss with the owner of an antique Harley, and I got the answer to my question …  it is a matter of insurance.  It is quite impossible to insure a bike, even a minimum cover.  Insurers make a favour to their clients: you have cars insured, your house, and your personal insurance with a broker, and then he will make a favour to you.  Hence 90% of the bikes are in use without any insurance.  As the compulsory helmet mostly serves as a basket, as the bike same as any other means of transportation is ridden solo, by couple, often by three persons or more with friends, as speed limits are wishful thinking, and as one needs to return home after drinking a few beers, you will understand that riding a bike in Argentina is a bit like Russian roulette with 4 bullets in the gun!!  As to ourselves, we had at our disposal 7 superb Transalps of the most recent generation.  Available in perfect condition they go for raids with clients of Andes Tour, but they also can be rented – insurance included – direct at Salta.  The bike is an excellent tool for discovery, but one has to realize the roads are not always tarmac in full length. This means you can shift from a superb dammed track to the most ignominious mud pool after riding a sandy zone alike Sahara. Hence care is required, and at least for the pilot a continuous attention is a must.  On the road potholes like ostrich nests are frequent, as well as gasoline patches left by trucks, buses and other passing tractors.  Caution, otherwise the penalty may be high.  Argentine on the bike however is sheer happiness and encounters follow easily with this way of travelling, enticing attention, curiosity and questions.  You will never stop listing the characteristics of your bike, quote its engine capacity, and if ever you meet an Argentine riding your way he becomes a pal right away…  Nice people these Argentines, even if it is not a part of their culture they are always interested by bikes as indeed they have a passion for mechanics.  I am convinced that once the insurance problems will be solved, there will be much more heavy bikes in this country.

 

Our plans for the coming years:

 

The complete route 40 from the Bolivian border to Ushuaia.

Incursion into Chili after passing Salinas Grandes.

Incursion in Bolivia after passing la Quiaca.

A ride to Brazil and the Iguazu falls.

 

There are lots of things to do in this country!

Publié dans Tourisme

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