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Published: February 10th 2011
The famous La Cuarenta! Patagonia, Argentina
One of the main reasons why I wanted to return to this part of Argentina was to do the Ruta 40. I have heard mixed reviews about the La Cuarenta but I feel this is a journey I had to do for myself. I made a reservation before setting off for Argentina and paid for the two day trip at the Chalten Travel Turismo office in Buenos Aires when I arrived.
I knew it would be a two long days of travelling with an average of 12 to 14 hours on the bus but I underestimated the amount of time it really took when I sat on the bus all that time!
I decided to do a narrative version of the trip and divide this into two parts so it does not become too long winded for anyone to take in.
I left El Calafate around 8.00 am in the morning after having a wonderful stay there. I had to change bus at junction of the Ruta 23 (towards El Chalten) and the Ruta 40 where I joined others who were doing this journey. Luckily, I had a front row seat where I could stretch out but the
view was not brilliant because of the cracked windscreen. The bus was a commun and certainly was a no thrills service with no toilet so we had to rely on the far and few between stops! There was no air conditioning but being quite down south, the temperature was pleasant too and, obviously, windy! We continued onto Tres Lago, where we stopped for petrol and refreshments. Soon after, we began on the ripio
(gravel) roads. I thought we were in the middle of one big construction site. Apparently, one of the national projects is to pave the Ruta 40 in Patagonia (the Santa Cruz and Chubut Provinces). Some parts have alreadly been done but there is still a lot of the ripio roads and the driver had to go slow! I think there are advantages and disadvantages to the project. One of the advantages is that it will open this part of Patagonia and better infrastructure especially for tourism and business. One would argue that the nostalgia and mystery associated with the Ruta 40 would not be the same anymore.
After some considerable distance, in the early afternoon, we stopped at Estancia La Siberia, near Lago Cardiel (in Santa
The Ruta 40
Santa Cruz Province, Patagonia, Argentina
Cruz Province) for a comfort stop. We were really in the depths of rural Argentina and we continued on the ripio
road for a very long time until we hit some tarmac...suddenly the coach was livelier, and we could go faster. The ripio
roads were making us sleepy!
Apart from the never ending Patagonian Steppes with its flat grassland, there were some amazing cloud formations and we saw some mountains from time to time in the distance but hardly any life other than an odd one or two estancias. It felt surreal to say the least.
Later on in the afternoon, we reached Bajo Carcoles after what felt forever being on the road! It is a village in the middle of nowhere. It is not the most exciting place I ever came across on my travels but it is an essential stop for petrol, using the bathroom and to stock up on supplies. From Bajo Carcoles, we entered into canyon like countryside and it was somewhat richer to what we had seen on the trip so far. I think the Las Cuevas de Los Manos is in that area and some people on the bus are planning to
A Lone Motorcycle
Through a cracked windscreen, Ruta 40, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina
do that. Another 126 kms or so, we finally reached Perito Moreno for our overnight stop. It is the biggest town we reached since departing from El Calafate. It was kind of a shock to the system after travelling for so long in the Patagonian wilderness. I found Perito Moreno a pleasant town with adequate amenities for the visitors and there is an active community there.
We stayed overnight at the Hotel Belgrano. The hotel was basic and I felt I was going back in time with the 1970s furnishing and decor with faded photographs and pictures. What I found surprising, not so surprising I should think, is that smoking is allowed inside the hotel. Coming from the UK, this is something I am not used to and being a non-smoker I cannot do with the smoke! The hotel certainly offers a no thrills service but I was able to have a good night´s sleep, which is unusual when I am only stopping overnight somewhere.
The following morning, we checked out after having breakfast. We had joined another bus which was more modern and as there were spare seats I was able to stretch out and have more
Life on the Bus!
Ruta 40, Santa Cruz Province, Patagonia, Argentina
space for the long journey ahead of us! Monica, our guide on this leg of the trip, advised us that this stretch is going to be a smoother one as this stretch of the Ruta 40 has more tarmac roads and only 60 kms or so is still ripio
. Continued in the next blog....
Tot: 2.322s; Tpl: 0.06s; cc: 12; qc: 27; dbt: 0.0283s; 2; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb