The night of the Dakar we were up late with the ex-pat farm owners, specially since another Aussie has shown up, and looked over maps.
But we’re headed for Santiago because there’s a few jobs to do, and that’s where we’re going to start the next leg of the journey.
No point in posting the return track to Mendosa, so here’s the track over the Andes to Chile
The Aussie, Trevor, is headed out north too so we head off to Mendosa together. It’s a privilege to ride with him – he’s a pro. He’s been riding long distances for over 30 years. His bike is the excellent Super Tenere
We have a fast but uneventful ride into Mendosa. As usual I don’t like to hold people up for photos.
So the next day Lucinda (who’s a bit tired and in need of tlc after the last 5000 miles since Lima) and I head off early. We’ll maybe meet Trevor in Santiago. Out of Mendosa its a gradual climb at first past a long narrow lake
Then it dries out and although this pic doesn’t show it, we keep climbing consistently
Way up, on an excellent road. Although what we really need at this point is an excellent dirt road, it’s beautiful
To our right is Aconcagua, 22,800 feet. You’d never guess from the road and the shape of the mountains we ride through we’re at alpine
I stop because there’s an extraordinary tiny Convolvulus by the road. The flower diameter is no more than an inch
Good sized clumps
Sometimes growing with a yellow-flowered plant I haven’t identified yet
We keep climbing past small creeks
Then we peak out
Hard to believe but the border crossing is up here. Even harder to believe is the border traffic. I think I’m seriously missing Central America, Ecuador, Peru and even tough old Bolivia as I gloomily survey the depressingly new cars. To think I was excited when I crossed into the comfort of Argentina – that novelty didn’t last long. But there are personal contradictions here that haven’t been sorted out.
Looking at the line-up, the good news is I spot three bikes ahead, pretend I’m one of them and skip half of it. Excellent guys from Brazil
Good views up in the Andes, it’s all gigantic. This series of slabs and scree is maybe 5000 feet in screen here
The border, due to the traffic, is a bitch. I have to wait for an hour just to get to the building I need for aduana, which takes another hour. Plus the rest of the drill you’ve read about here often enough, it’s three hours before we’re through.
Once through we pass a Chilean ski resort and a lake, off-season
Down the hill a bit things get a bit weird. Innocently enough to start
Then we go through a few switch back curves that are more like airport runway construction technology than road works. It’s all very serious stuff
Then we get a peek over the edge and the road plunges off a cliff in a series of truck sized switchbacks. Impressive engineering, but I wonder again if this is what I want.
Still under construction but they put us through in groups
Very cool riding, paved or not
It wasn’t supposed to be a long day, but was. Another couple of hours into Santiago and we were done