Thread: unURBAN Adventures - Alaska to Argentina to AFRICA!

  1. #501
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    N. Indiana
    Posts
    897
    Looks like you guys are still plugging along! Good work and beautiful pictures, as always!
    Semper Fi
    My KLR build

  2. #502
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    474

    Default Lake district Argentina


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    After crossing into Argentina at the Paso Hua Hum border crossing, we were in the Argentinian lake district, and it seemed like a relaxed place where people stop along the road for a chat. From here it was just a short drive to San Martin de los Andes where we stopped by the tourist office to ask about campgrounds. We are probably of the first tourists to arrive for the summer season which starts in December…, and most campgrounds are still closed. But halfway on the “camino de los Siete Lagos” – “road of the seven lakes” - at Lago Villarino, one camping area without facilities should be open for camping.
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    Driving south from San Martin de los Andes we started to notice a lot of grey dust along the road, and suddenly we realized it was not just along the road, but all over, kilometer after kilometer. After some time we understood that it must be ash from a volcano eruption. The further south we got the ash layer became thicker. At Lago Falkner, the campground with facilities was still closed, but they were working on removing the ash from the camping area.
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    We found our spot for the night at Lago Villarino, and we were careful to clean our shoes for ash before climbing into the tent that night.
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    It was a beautiful location for a camp site, and we enjoyed a slow morning with breakfast and reading our books.
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    Leaving Lago Villarino the weather was perfect with clear blue sky and sun, but the closer we got to Villa La Angostura we drove into a strange grey “cloudy” fog. In some places it looked like it was winter, with snow and berms along the road, but it was just more ash….
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    Getting closer to town we could see how they were working on moving all the ash. People were working with spades and brushes in places where they could not use machines, and then the trucks came in, got filled up, and then drove out of town somewhere to dump the ash.
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    I guess I have seen images like these in newspapers and on TV before, but like always its different to see it with your own eyes. At the tourist information we learned that the ash came from the Vulcan Puyehue in Chile that erupted on the 5th of July, more than four months ago.
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    We had a desperate need to do laundry and get online again, and while looking at campgrounds (that did not really look that tempting with all the ash) we got a good offer for a one room apartment. It was great to live indoors again for four full days, and we spent most of the time in Villa La Angostura inside the apartment.
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    Through our windows we could not see any of the surrounding mountains on Saturday because it rained the whole day, but on Sunday it was a clear day and we had excellent views to the mountains. When we were leaving on Monday the strange grey “cloud” was back again. We wondered if the “cloud” reappeared on Monday when they started to move all the ash again. The cloud covered a huge area until south of San Carlos de Bariloche.
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    San Carlos de Bariloche did not look so nice as it was under a grey cloud, so we just stopped for lunch at the lake and quickly drove through the city. In El Bolson the sun was shining and we found a campground where we camped under blooming apple trees. It felt like spring at home. Before entering Argentina again we had decided to eat a proper Argentinian beef before going back to Chile. With recommendations from our camp host we had a great dinner that left us wondering why we are never able to find beef this tender in Norway even if you buy the most expensive meat you can find. We still don’t know.
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    The plan was to leave the next day, but I had enjoyed a bit too much red vine the day before, so it was an easy decision to make to spend another day reading books under the apple trees.
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    It also gave us the opportunity for a BBQ dinner with more good meat.
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    The next morning we were ready to leave Argentina and find our way to Carretera Austral.
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    M&E
    ---------
    unURBAN Project on http://www.unurban.no
    ...and more pics on http://www.flickr.com/malinandespen

  3. #503
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    DFW
    Posts
    292
    Wow, looks nice some nice meals! The salt flats looked surreal in the photos - I'm sure they were more impressive in person!

  4. #504
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Eugene, OR. USA
    Posts
    1,828
    being in Portland Or. during an eruption of St. Helen's I would advise you to wash and hose out running gear etc. Volcanic ash is super abrasive. We completely scratched a windshield even while using washer fluid and our wipers. It would be a great idea to have the truck greased and lubed.
    Law of Mechanical Repair:
    "After your hands are coated with grease, your nose will begin to itch and you'll have to pee!"
    ...Don Dieball

  5. #505
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    474
    Quote Originally Posted by vivithemage View Post
    Thanks for the reply and update!
    Can I ask how much you had saved up?
    Hi vivithemage!
    Sounds like you are planning something :-) I'll try to give you some more costs info.
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    My guess is about 30,000 USD?
    - Adding up our average cost for the whole trip, we are at about 65 USD per day for the costs mentioned in the last reply. As we have been on the road now for almost 18 months, this means we have spent 65 usd x 540 days = 35100 USD.
    - We have had 4 service for the car, and including changing the bushes for the rear axle control arms, this is about 2000 usd.
    - In Moab we bought new tires and wheels that sat us back about 3000 usd, but this would be cheaper for smaller tires.
    - Before we left North America we "upgraded" the car with a solar panel, a big propane bottle (with hoses and conections), a satphone (with 500 minutes), and a water purification system. All this cost about 2800 usd, but we count on using this on later trips/expeditions/adventures/etc.
    - Insurance is also not in our average travel costs. A travel insurance willl be different depending on citizenship. Shop around. We pay about 1000 usd per year (Columbus Direct). We also have a world wide coverage for our car (the company is Alessie in Holland), which gives us liability for all countries (exept Mex, Belize, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Colombia where you must buy at the borders) and a comprehensive insurance paying us 40000 usd if it is stolen, burns, rolls/crashes, etc. This cost in total about 3500 usd per year (no kilometer limitations). Not sure if I would buy the comprehensive part in the future. This is the expensive part, and most other travellers don't have it.
    - if you feel like flying home to check in on friends and family, this should also be taken into the budget...
    - lastly, for the cost part, modifying the Patrol. The offroad modifications was done before we decided to go on this trip. I would probably not gone to the extreme for a drive along the PanAm. A normal 4x4 with a good set of coils and shocks will do just fine. Add a locker in case of trouble, and it will take you anywhere you want to go. Better to prioritize a fridge and an extra battery than fancy offroad stuff. We have met people driving down here in old vans (with and without camping interior), small sedans, "normal" RVs, and super modified offroaders. Many do it on a pushbike! Buy a vehicle you like, make sure it is well maintained, and you'll be fine!
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    You said you had gone out on 6~ month trips before, without the vehicle, were they all backwoods style camping? Or were they in and out of cities? Being unurban, I bet it was backwoods?
    - Both. We have done several backwoods trips up to a couple of weeks, but you need cities/siviliazation to stock up on food and stuff. We were quite used to sleep in a tent, though, so we knew we would be able to live for a while in a roof top tent. However, for the PanAm, I think I would go for a live-inside-vehicle the next time. Most of the longer travels have been as backpackers, meaning that we travel by public transport. These runs basicallly between cities and villages.
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    Where/how did you plan your trip? Did you pretty much map out most of the cities you wanted to hit? Most of the hot spots, like arizona/flats/mayan ruins?
    - We outlined most of the route at home before leaving. We started with making "x"s
    on a map of the things and places we had heard about/wanted to see, and then we tried to draw a line through as many of the "x"s as we could without adding too many kilometers to the trip. We talked to a biker here the other day that had biked 25000 kilometer to Tierra del Fuego from Alaska, but we are getting closer to 60000 kilometers. So there is definitely many ways to do this. The details of the route we fill in along the way, and the info we find in tourist information offices, guidebooks (we use Rough Guides and Lonely Planets), from other travellers (blogs and fellow travelers), and of course, Internet.
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    Have you done a lot of off roading before, in your patrol?
    - Yes, I've been playing a little bit offroad before we started on this trip. Both in my Patrol (not so much as it was relatively new) and my previous car (also a Patrol). But offorading is not important for a PanAm trip. There are rough roads, but it is still roads. I guess the worst thing you could come across is mud, but in our 18 months I havent seen anything that a normal 4x4 could not handle. Don't worry about it!
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    Good luck on planning! (and ask as much as you want!)
    E&M
    ---------
    unURBAN Project on http://www.unurban.no
    ...and more pics on http://www.flickr.com/malinandespen

  6. #506
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Santiago, Chile, Chile
    Posts
    563
    Quote Originally Posted by unURBAN View Post

    The next morning we were ready to leave Argentina and find our way to Carretera Austral.
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    M&E
    Cool reports guys, we are all following your path .... looking forward to see the "Carretera Austral" report & pictures .... saw it in your Google Earth map and can imagine all places visited. Although I saw your Twitts and you are already down to Tierra del Fuego / Ushuaia all the way down to the tip of America...
    JP
    2000 Nissan Patrol Y61 4.5lt , 4" OME lift kit, 35" Cooper STT, ARB bull bar, ARB roof rack, Safari Snorkel, IPF 900XS

    Web : http://sites.google.com/site/jpsnissangupatrol/

  7. #507
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    76
    Wow, thanks a lot E&M!! I am planting the seed in the girlfriends brain, to see if we can make the trek ourselves one day.

  8. #508
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    mtns of SoCal
    Posts
    1,040
    My favorite thread to pop into ... thanks for being so generous with your time, advice, pictures and stories! Most enjoyable, an enviable trek for sure

    01 Provan Tiger CX
    04 TJ

  9. #509
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    474
    Thanks again for all the commentrs, Everybody!
    Good luck with the planning, vivithemage, and yes, bobdog, we gave it a GOOD wash and greased and lubed. Seeing all the cars parked in the streets with the hood open and people standing around scratching their beard is always a good reminder to take care of your gear.. :-)

    E
    ---------
    unURBAN Project on http://www.unurban.no
    ...and more pics on http://www.flickr.com/malinandespen

  10. #510
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    474

    Default Carretera Austral in Chile


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    It was a bit grey and wet when we again crossed the border from Argentina into Chile. This time we our goal was to drive the Carretera Austral, formerly known as Carretera General Augusto Pinochet, which was built in 1976. It is a beautiful drive through a really wild country in Chilean Patagonia. The whole route is about 1200 kilometers if you take the ferry across from the island of Chiloé or Puerto Montt to Chalten and drive all the way down south to Villa O’Higgins. We, however, hit the Carretera Austral a few kilometers south of Chalten, from the border crossing Futaleufu.
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    We found a place to camp by Rio Frio the first night. It was almost dark when we saw a sign saying camping, and “gap” in the fence along the road. In Chile and Argentina we have been able and comfortable doing quite a bit of bush camping, but in some areas, especially as we’re getting further south into Patagonia, we are actually struggling to get off the road because of fences. These are running along all the main roads, about 10 meters from the road. You can of course pull off and park for the night, but we like to get a little bit away from the traffic. Not that it would bother you much as there aren’t many cars driving by at night (we counted 3 one night along Routa 40 in Argentina, and this is one of the main roads going south!), but better safe than sorry, right? Anyway, we drove in on the camping at Rio Frio, but the place was deserted. It said 1500 pesos (3 USD) per person per night, but we couldn’t find anyone to pay. Still very early in the season, I guess.
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    Carretera Austral also takes you past some of Patagonias fjords, and the Salmon you find in the supermarket back home could come from here.
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    We took it nice and slow, and this picture is about a day and half down the road. We camped in “the far end” of this valley.
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    Patagonia is famous for its rain, low temperatures, and strong winds. We have been a little nervous about how much beating our roof top tent can take, but so far we have had no issues. Not even with the weather itself. The next morning we woke up to a clear blue sky, and no winds. Here we are enjoying our morning coffee and tea at Rio Ibanez about 50 meters away from our camp.
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    Around the city of Coyhaique the road is excellent. The part of the road we drove had tarmac about 1/3rd of the way, but the road was never in bad condition. Good for any kind of vehicle.
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    We drove around Lago General Carretera to get to Chilechico (you can take a ferry across the lake to save about 200 kilometers, but it is an AWSOME drive – highly recommended (at least in nice weather….)), and view just got better and better.
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    Half way around the lake you have to decide if you want to keep driving south to get to O’Higgins and “the end” of Carretera Austral (at least for the moment). We went east for Chilechico and the Argentinean border in order to put in a couple of long driving days to get down to Ushuaia in time for Malin to get to work in Punta Arenas.
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    E&M
    ---------
    unURBAN Project on http://www.unurban.no
    ...and more pics on http://www.flickr.com/malinandespen

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