Driving to the end of the world


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South America » Argentina » Santa Cruz » El Calafate
December 27th 2012
Published: January 2nd 2013
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Drive Day 1 Drive Day 1 Drive Day 1

The wilds of Patagonia
After an amazingly fun Christmas in Bariloche it was time to head south to see in the New Year in Ushuaia. Ushuaia lies just over 1500 kilometres from Bariloche, so its 4 days of driving, 2 border crossings and a ferry to catch across the Magellan straights to reach our next stop, so with a quick goodbye to the staff at Los Coihunes we get an early start to hit the road…



Whilst its summer over here and we’re essentially chasing the sun for most of my trip as we head south we’re heading into colder territory. Ushuaia has an average temp this time of year of 10’C…. So it’s away with the shorts and vest tops, and on with the thermals, lots of layers and sitting on the truck covered in blankets, just as we’re heading into a whole heap of camping, yay!

Drive Day 1 - 27th Dec 2012

Day 1 took us about 600k into the wilds of Patagonia, the sky – an amazingly bright blue - stretches on forever , the land is pretty flat and coarse, the monotonous landscape broken occasionally by weird and wonderful rock formations rising from the
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The wilds of Patagonia
horizon. We drove for 14 hours all in, stopping occasionally to stretch the legs at the side of the road.

Luckily in this part of the world the sun sets late, very late, meaning that we could drive for longer, covering more ground and still have light to pitch the tents and set up for dinner. We stopped around 9pm, camp for the night was just off the road, down a short dirt track to a natural dip in the landscape, this dip afforded us some protection from the winds that had whipped up as the day progressed but not much, putting up tents in the wind was a slight challenge, putting dinner on even more so but as it was still light at gone 10pm at least we weren’t working by torch light. As the nearly full moon rises – giving us more light – and sun finally started to set the cold sets in, once we’ve eaten and cleared up its midnight, we crawl into our tents, wrapped in layers of clothes, knowing that tomorrow brings a 5am start and more 100s of kilometres to go. What an adventure!



Drive Day 2 - 28th
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Rocks breaking up the flat landscape
Dec 2012

Awaking just after sun rise it was a quick breakfast and back on the road. Overnight the wind had really picked up, it was bitterly cold as we packed the tents away and got ready to get back on the road.

Before starting the long drive today we fitted in a quick visit to Cueva de los Manos. Having set up camp only a few ks away from the UNESCO World Heritage Site we were there for the first tour of the day.

As far back as 9000 years ago a community of primitive people would pass through the valley and stay in the caves as they hunted their prey across Patagonia, during these stops they would place their palms on the rock and leave a mark of their existence - There are dozens of these hand prints in orange, red and yellow, plus drawings of their prey and the animals around them. It’s mad to think that thousands of years before the Egyptians started with hieroglyphs the people of Patagonia were documenting their lives in the art on the walls of these caves, each print a personal acknowledgement of their life, each group of hands a demonstration of their community, around the hands pictures of their daily activity a testament to their culture.

From the caves it was back on the road for more driving, the roads deteriorated at the point and the off roading capabilities of the truck were put to the test once again. As the day progressed the weather worsened, the wind picked up and it looked doubtful that we’d find anywhere sheltered enough to camp out in the open of the plains, as we were making good time and had travelled further than expected we decided to leave the wildness for the night and find a campsite in one of the towns that sit alongside the plains. Pulling into El Calafate to camp for the nigh it was luxury – it may have still been camping, but after the wildness of the night before, toilets and showers were a godsend!



Drive Day 3 - 20th Dec 2012

Back onto the plains of Patagonia we continued our journey south to the end of the world! We expected today to be one of the longest days, with most probably the least amount of distance covered, and we weren’t wrong.
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Looking for a site - slightly sheltered from the wind, it'll do.
After driving all morning we reached the border crossing between Argentina and Chile, annoyingly to reach Ushuaia you have to cross from Argentina into Chile, drive for a bit more, cross some water and then cross back from Chile into Argentina. So lots of standing in queues/ filling out of customs forms / getting passports stamped…. only to repeat the process in reverse less than 24hours later.

Thankfully the border crossing ended up being a lot quicker than some we’ve experienced recently, it still took a few hours but at least we didn’t have to empty the truck of all our belongings to be passed through the x ray machine as we have done before.

Once into Chile we had to cross the Strait of Magellan, an hour wait for the ferry and a half hour journey across the water and we were across and on our way again. Bush camping again this evening, this time in what felt like a disused quarry, colder than before so we gathered fire wood and spent the evening stood around the fire before huddling in our tents, hoping that we’re not blown away in the night.



Drive Day 4 -
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Setting up camp
30th Dec 2012

Shorter drive day today, another border crossing, this time back into Argentina from Chile, quickest one yet, the further south we go the more efficient the immigration guards seem to get.

As we wound our way from the border you can feel the air getting colder, in every direction you look snow covered mountains appear, the rain started a few hours out of Ushuaia and continued to accompany us on our journey in, it really did feel like we’d arrived at the end of the world.

We arrived into Ushuaia early afternoon, have checked into a hostel for the next 3 nights and are looking forward to exploring the southernmost town in the world.

Tomorrow we’ll be celebrating the end of 2012 at the end of the world! How cool is that???



Feliz año Nuevo!

Much love xx


Additional photos below
Photos: 18, Displayed: 18


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Drive Day 1Drive Day 1
Drive Day 1

Wild Camping - find a spot and camp... 9pm at night, still as bright as at midday
Drive Day 2 - Cueva de los ManosDrive Day 2 - Cueva de los Manos
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The animals they hunt
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Drive Day 2 - Cueva de los Manos

The Cueva de los Manos lies at the bottom of this valley
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Drive Day 3

Drinking beer on top of the truck whilst sitting on a ferry...
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Drive Day 3

Argentina or Chile? The Patagonia wilderness looks the same.
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Drive Day 3

Wild Camping in a quarry, fire needed to chase away the cold
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Smiling through the cold....
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Drive Day 3

Cooking off the truck


4th January 2013

Artwork
Those hand prints are just awesome, quite mind blowing when you think how old they are. Not sure I would like the cold weather! We just seem to have rain, rain and more rain! However there is a glimpse of sun today for a change! xx

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