January 2024

After our very quiet non-celebration of the New Year, we left our remote place behind and drove north, back in to Chile again, for the 5th time. We had planned one more stop in Chile; Torres del Paine. This national park is the tourist attraction of Chile. Also known as Chiles milk cow, given the steep entrance prices and the extortion rate camping fees. However after doing some research we had found out that Torres del Paine resembles El Chalten (which is free!) a lot.

So we decided to explore the beautiful and free area around it instead of going on a severely overpriced ($30 pp) hike. And we were not disappointed. We camped at a beautiful river, Rio Serrano, with a nice view on the Torres. Outside the NP, so free:) We drove the roads around the NP along the beautiful Rio Paine and visited another lake, Laguna Azul, and cascade del Paine. We camped at another location with a gorgeous view, I even got up at sunset to admire it. Which, to be honest, was not hard to do, since the wind was so strong we didn’t get much sleep anyway.

Then we drove out of Chile for the last time. Chile is a nice country but they are very strict at the border with food, so every time we crossed we had to get rid of, or hide a lot of it. We re-entered Argentina at El Calafate, but we didn’t visit the beautiful glacier Perito Moreno again. Instead we drove to another part of the national park Los Glaciares. An unknown part that has few visitors as you have to drive over a gravel road in bad shape for three hours to reach it. The rangers house was closed but they had very obligingly left the wifi on. So we camped in front of the rangers house for three days enjoying the beautiful view over the mountains and Lago Viedma, while also using the free internet in the middle of nowhere 😁. We went on a hike to (another) Laguna Azul. A beautiful hike to a lake and for the first time in a long time, we were alone. A very nice experience in an otherwise very touristy area. The next day a group of tourists came by on horseback from a nearby estancia, so we thought that, with the weekend approaching, it was now time to move on.

After a stop for groceries we drove on to another national park, Perito Moreno. There are a lot of things with the name Perito Moreno in Argentina. Perito Moreno, whose official name was Francisco Pascasio Moreno, was one of the founders of the Argentina scientific society. He went on a lot of expeditions, especially in Patagonia. He explored numerous rivers, lakes and mountains, among them mt. Fitzroy near El Chalten. So there is a glacier Perito Moreno, which is in the national park Los Glaciares and there is a national park Perito Moreno, which is not near the glacier. There is also a town called Perito Moreno which is not near the glacier or the national park. So, now that you’re confused we will move on. We did a short hike in this national park but it wasn’t as beautiful and with the strong winds and the rain, we left after one day.

We decided to drive part of ruta 41. This off road track starts in the national park and is 90 km long. This section between the park and Lago Posadas is officially closed and is therefore no longer maintained. A 4×4 vehicle is not a luxury on this road. It was beautiful and so remote that we didn’t come across anyone during the two days we were in this area. We wild camped for two nights at a part where we had seen many puma tracks. So we kept a watch out for pumas from the morning until late in the evening when it got too dark to see outside. It was very boring honestly. We had put out a little piece of meat, which was eaten during the night, with fresh paw prints around it. So the pumas only came at night when we were unable to see them.

We drove on to lago Ghio, another windy location. Here other overlanders had pumas come up close to their van in the daytime. But again no luck. Then two days later, while driving an asphalt road in between two towns, suddenly a puma crossed the road. It disappeared again in the bushes before we even got a good look at it, let alone take a photo. Seeing a puma in the wild is rare, so I guess we are lucky but I would have liked to have gotten a better look. There are more sightings in other areas, so who knows. We also drove another part of the ruta 41, with many colourful rocks and (dry) lakes.

We drove further north, meanwhile camping at beautiful lakes and rivers. January and February are the summer holidays in Argentina. And with the Argentinians being outdoor lovers we were now never alone anymore. This was definitely a first for us, normally we are alone, especially in the night. Now everything was overrun with people and this took some getting used to. Understandable everyone wants to enjoy the nature and nice weather. But to be honest we are looking forward to more quieter times. On the plus side, nobody looks at us funny for camping somewhere.

Past Bariloche we managed to find a more remote location at the river Limay. Here we were mostly alone, so we decided to stay for a few days. But that didn’t happen. Kilian had a very weak cellphone signal every now and then. And early in the evening he got a whatsapp message from his mother that his father had taken a turn for the worst. With the signal gone again, Kilian got on his bike (which was faster than packing up the van) to drive 6km to get a better signal and call his mother. When he came back we decided that we would drive to Bariloche the next day as this town has an airport. Hopefully Kilian could fly home in time to be with his father. However the next morning as soon as we had some signal again, Kilian got the message that his father had died in the night…. We got on the phone with our insurance company and they arranged for a flight home the next day, the 30th of January. After careful consideration we decided I would stay behind with the van. There was no known safe long term parking in the area. This way Kilian could get home quickly instead of us driving possible days before finding a place to leave the van behind safely. I would simply stay in the area around Bariloche until Kilian would be back. How it went during these almost two weeks I was alone? You’ll be able to read about that in our February blog.

2 thoughts on “January 2024”

  1. Marcia en Kilian, gecondoleerd. Wat verdrietig dat je er niet bij kon zijn toen hij overleed. Hadden jullie elkaar tussendoor nog gezien of was het in 2022? Sterkte…
    Groetjes Ilona

    Reply
    • dankjewel. We zagen elkaar geregeld met behulp van videobellen. Mijn vader verbaasde zich elke keer weer.

      Reply

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