I went on two winery and an olive oil production tours. It was a relaxing way to spend an afternoon in Mendoza even though I’m not a wine person.
The barrels are made from a special oak imported from France in the late 1800s.
The largest cask holds 35,000 L…one of those and I’m set for life. 😛
Tasting was done in an impressive underground dome.
The second bodega was a small family owned vineyard and winery with a wicked cool cellar.
We made a quick stop at Vírgen de la Carrodilla (patron saint of the vineyards) on the way back.
We went to a parrilla libre (all you can eat BBQ) afterwards. They will keep bringing different cuts of meats until you are stuff to the top.
I have been defeated after round 1.
The next day I headed out west toward the Chilean border. The scenery through the Andes was spectacular.
I didn’t quite make it to the border before hunger took over. It was already late in the afternoon and the restaurant at this out-of-season ski resort had lodging as well. Easy decision…
Puente del Inca (The Inca Bridge) was just a few miles up the road from Los Penitentes where I spent the night so that was the first stop next morning. It is a natural arch that formed over the Vacas River. The building on top of the mineral deposit was a thermal resort and spa at last turn of the century but was abandoned after decline of the Transandine Railway.
Crossing the 3km international tunnel ‘Cristo Redentor’ that connects Argentina and Chile.
Technically I was already in Chile mid-tunnel but the actual border crossing is further down the road.
The Argentina-Chile border at Los Libertadores is a 1-stop shop similar to crossing between USA and Canada. Just sit in line and wait…there’s no questioning on where to go.
Exiting Argentina & Entering Chile (Los Libertadores Pass)
- Acquire Customs Declaration form and 2 copies of Temporary Vehicle Importation forms from the first booth pre-queuing up
- Have passport stamped and receive a stamped ticket as well as both Temporary Vehicle Importation forms stamped at the Aduana booth
- Pull up to the inspection area and present all luggage
- Hand over the first copy of Temporary Vehicle Importation form at the exit booth
The series of switchbacks after the Chilean border was quite a feat of engineering. The only faster way to drop 1km in elevation is to let gravity take over.
On the way to Santiago…elevation was dropping and temperature was on the rise
I stayed at Casa Matte in Santiago which is a popular biker hostel. It’s a decent place in the heart of the city and has a workshop with tools but it was a little steep at $25 per night for a shared dormitory.
Casa Matte is a great place to meet other travelers. I met Mark & Takaya (Canada), Thierry (Switzerland), Kevin (USA) and Peter (Australia) and we wandered the streets of Santiago for rest of the afternoon. It’s funny that I’ve ran into Thierry 5 times either at a border crossing, on the road or at hostels for the past 2 weeks all by coincidence.
The hang out continued after dark with cervezas and disco lights.
I thought it would a good time to wash all of the Bolivia dirt off the bike but the oil level warning light started flicking a few miles after I left the carwash. I didn’t spot anything wrong so I continued heading south because it’s just too damn hot in Santiago.
I ran into Craig from Minnesota on Ruta 5 and he already knew my name before I introduced myself. (I’m internet famous! :P) We camped in Salto del Laja for the night.
We checked out waterfalls from the bridge next morning…a large one in the distance and a few small ones down the river.
Nope, just cleaning up farmlands.
Beautiful resort town of Villarrica…so much traffic here it reminded me of people heading up north on a long weekend back home.
I spent the next 4 nights camping at MotoCamp Pucón. Cristian opened this place after traveling around the world for 4 years on his R1200GSA. I met a couple of old friends and made a few new ones. It was so nice here that it’s hard to pack up and leave!
Check out this awesome inline 4 beer tap
We had a mega parrilla feast the first night. People were impressed that I devoured 3 plates of meat.
We all pitched in and made some pasta dinner the next day. Good friends, good food, good times…
Damien, Nat, Sarah and I went on a 7-hour hike up Santuario El Cañi the following day. It was stupid of me to do it in riding pants and boots. Other than my lower half getting steamy, my feet ended up with blisters from the downhill trek.
Monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana) is native to central and southern Chile and it’s also the national tree. The conifer leaves are very tough to the touch.
The mirador at the end of the 8.5km trail has breathtaking views of the surrounding volcanoes.
Damien, Nat, Sarah and I at the summit
I went to Osorno to get the bike serviced before Patagonia and decided to take another rest day. My lower back is so sore and stiff from the hike that I can barely throw my leg over the saddle…must be getting old.