A minor but secondary effect of being ‘not at home’ for the holidays is making sure you can find places to stay and food to eat when most things are shut down. In tourist places this is easy, but I couldn’t hang around waiting for the infrastructure of travel to resume, so we headed south to Cafayate. It’s the start of Ruta 40 if you come into it from Salta.

Ruta 40 is, for travellers, one of the legendary roads.


5121 km’s long down the remote and lonely eastern Andes from Bolivia to Ushuaia, you don’t ride it continuously or you’d miss spectacular diversions into Chile, but some do and they get huge points for being stubborn in a not-so-bad way. We have a plan and it includes Chile.

Although mostly paved, it’s famous for having 100’s of miles long sections of ripio, which is small diameter, deep loose round gravel that doesn’t work so well on a moto. And if you’re caught in the rain you can be looking at  miles of slick mud. Crashing spectacularly on Ruta cuarenta and getting good crash-site photos is a tradition. Gas stations (or any services) are infrequent and running out is always an issue, no matter how much you’re carrying. The Rotopaxes are full and I can ride 260+ miles between top-ups.

Rather than spoil the many crazynesses of this mythic route, we’ll blog them as they come, depending on where and how we go.

The day’s track
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The novelty of Argentina’s relative sophistication hasn’t worn off and even the smallest towns feels maybe a bit too comfortable. We haven’t seen motos in any quantity in a few countries but there are plenty here

Into some hills

Alongside a muddy river. They’re all muddy

These escarpments for miles

And past a huge cave in a mountainside called Giganta del Diablo, the Devil’s throat, not to be confused with the waterfalls of the same name

Into Cafayate

After finding a place for Lucinda we took shelter while it rained for an hour and went back to explore. A very pretty village

Relax in the shade, grape vines overhead. It’s easy to be content here for an hour or two

It’s wine country. $7 to $10 a gallon

Acacia in bloom everywhere

A perfect place to be for New Year’s. Around 10 there was a pageant. Check out the video to the left (click, click to enlarge, click the HD button). Great music, inspired all around. Dogs are a part of the Latin family. Sometimes they’re a problem for the rider (more on this another time) but they always have ‘rights’ that North American dogs don’t have, like being able to wander around the stage during the New Year’s pageant.

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