Peru to Chile into Argentina

Tuesday March 26, 2013, Cafayate, Argentina.

Whew, need to cover some ground here so hold on…..

Wednesday March 20th, 237 miles from Arequipa to Tacna in order to setup for a Thursday border crossing into Chile. We rode through some of the most amazing desert topography I’ve been in. 

Long straight sections. 

Into beautifully colored hills. My wimpy camera didn’t come close to capturing the feel of this place. At times I felt like we were riding on Mars. 

Thursday the 21st, we rode the short distance to the Chile border and actually had a pretty easy crossing. The country may have changed but the topology was very similar. The main difference was that we were within site of the ocean most of the time. 

With long stretches between gas stops we had to carefully manage our fuel. Michael ran into a problem because the attendant didn’t fill his tank completely at one of the stops. Good thing we carry a couple of extra gallons. 

Again, more amazing scenery. Words or pictures really can’t capture it, well, at least mine. I would highly recommend this route. 

After 235 miles for the day, we found a place in the unique city of Iquique, Chile. I added it to my list of large resort cities I’ve never heard of. Interesting place, huge high rises and expensive hotel rates to go with them.

Friday the 22nd marked the 33rd wedding anniversary for me and Deby. We rode 144 miles from Iquique to Tocopilla Chile where we happened on a pretty nice hotel, the hotel Bahai. More riding along the Chilean coast which was bigger than life.

We stopped to take a picture of this small fishing village, the white stuff is salt.

Long lengths of road and mountains. 

We celebrated with some happy anniversary wine thanks to Michael. 

Saturday the 23rd we turned east into the mountains in preparation for a Sunday border crossing into Argentina. The route for the day took us from Tocopilla 172 miles, to the tourist town of San Pedro.  A large section of the trip followed a power line corridor into the mountains. 

Then more long straight sections. 

Before we came into the foothills of the Andes. 

For some reason we had advance warning that the hotels in San Pedro might be full so we made online reservations at the Casa Don Estaban Rural. The problem was that the road to the hotel was closed due to construction. In our effort to find a detour we ended up on a loose gravel road in someones back yard. While negotiating a U-turn, Deby’s front wheel slipped out and the bike fell on Deby’s ankle. Just then a person from the hotel appeared, I think he heard the commotion and knowing some motorcycle riders were looking for his hotel came over to help. We were within eyesight of the hotel but it was a long drive around several blocks to get to it. He drove around with his car lead us. We lifted the bike off Deby but it looked like she had a sprained ankle so she rode in car and we took turns shuttling the bikes to the hotel.

Back at the hotel we immediately applied the first aide we learned in our class, RICE, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Oh, and beer. 

We expected the worst, perhaps her ankle would swell, turn black and blue and she wouldn’t be able to ride for a few days. Later in the evening the proprietress came over. She knew no English and we only had a couple of words of Spanish but she managed to convey she was a “medico” and specialized in natural medicine. With permission she treated Deby’s leg. 

She made a concoction of this plant. 

Soaked a cloth in the fluid and wrapped Deby’s leg with it. She told us to then wrap it with an Ace bandage and leave it on all night.

Sunday the 24th we woke up wondering if we would be able to ride. To our amazement and the credit of natural medicine Deby’s ankle looked great with only a little swelling. On  with the boots and off we went headed for the Argentina border.

The Argentinian border crossing was one of the easiest we had for the whole trip. We had been clued in by our riding partners, who were a few days ahead of us that we needed to print an online form with a barcode to show at the remote border. We also found out that we needed to check out of Chile 100 miles from the border at a small office in San Pedro. We lucked out and had all our paperwork correct and managed to get across the border in record time, less than about 45 minutes.

More desert riding. 

Michael rounding a corner. 

We came to a Salar and met 6 other adventure riders. We had a great time hanging out and taking pictures. They were from Buenos Aries and were using their vacation to ride the area. We knew we were coming into a great riding area by the huge increase in motorcycles we started coming across. 

We decided to ride together down one of the best canyons I’ve been in. 

About 4:30 we all stopped in the town of Purmamarca. We didn’t realize it was one of the top tourist stops in Argentina, once we stopped and saw how beautiful the town was with the colorful mountains surrounding it we decided to spend the night. 

I didn’t take this picture but you can see the town with the hills behind it. Total miles for the day was 259 fantastic miles.

Monday the 25th we rode south towards Salta and on to our final destination, the town of Cafeyate. A tourist destination on the famed ruta 40 in the heart of the Argentina wine region.

Along the way we saw signs for a hot springs so we took a short detour for a soak. When we parked the bikes we had the first signs of fall. 

South on highway 9 was some of the most twisty road we’ve been on this whole trip. 

After Salta we came across this stop with close to 10 adventure motorcycles parked. We had to stop for a break. It was a group of riders from Uruguay and Buenos Aries who were up riding for a week. During our stop at least a dozen other motorcycles rode by. We knew we were in one of the best riding area in Argentina. 

After lunch we continued south into the Quebrada (Canyon) de Cafayate.  Lonely Planet describes it as a “Martian-like” landscape. We didn’t expect to be totally awed by this fantastic place. It was like riding through the Grand Canyon. My pictures just don’t do it justice. 

Some more pictures are HERE.

We rolled into Cafayate and were lucky to find a room in the mostly full touristy town. This morning we woke up and decided we needed a day for recharging batteries, doing laundry, and wine tasting so it was a day off from riding.

Tomorrow we ride south on the famous ruta 40 and hope to catch up with our amigos who are only a couple of hundred miles ahead.

To see more of my Peru Pictures click HERE.

To see more Chile pictures click HERE.

Argentina Pictures are HERE.

So far Argentina has been the most amazing, I might say it’s my favorite so far but that may be because we’ve just had three days of the most incredible riding ever.

Thanks for following, we love the comments and e-mails!

Donn and Deby 🙂 🙂



4 thoughts on “Peru to Chile into Argentina

  1. Wow! Your post came at a perfect time as we just opened a bottle of wine to sit out on our front porch on the Beni River in Ruenabaque.
    We were in Cafayete! And we saw the town of Punamerica as well. And yes, cameras don’t quite capture the colors. The Quebradas are our favorite highlight of this whole trip, as well as the gigantic Salar right out of Uyuni.
    We are gearing up for a 5 day 4 night trek through the jungle with a local tour starting tomorrow.
    I can’t believe you guys actually had the energy and oxygen to Hike the Inka trail to Sun Gate!!! We rode the train then the bus up to Macchu Piccu 2 years ago, but just scampering over the ruins with a fanny pack was enough for me.
    We continue to crave your posts but will be out of WiFi range for a few days, so will look forward to catching up later.
    Renée & Paul

  2. Reading about the “medico” for some reason made me remember the time Ellie Mae Clampett sprained her ankle and Granny whipped up a poultice for her. How did it smell? BTW, Amazing scenery! Please continue to have the time of your lives.

  3. Happy Birthday to the Big Balz down there (belated by one day). Sounds like the trip has been marvelous for all. What an adventure!!

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