We entered Argentina via Frey Bentos, and because we already discovered Buenos Aires we decided to go down the route RN3 to discover the East coast of Argentina. Before reaching the world famous Península Valdés, we had about 2000 km of Argentinian pampas to cross.
What did we like along the Ruta National 3?
- Great wild camping spots! Driving down the coast means great scenery to set up A lot of locals help you out for the best spots where you can shelter from the wind.
- Lots and lots of wildlife (penguins, guanaco’s, tarantulas, snakes, birds, armadillos, ostriches) in and outside of National Parcs.
- Meeting other overlanders on the road (most of them are retiring and don’t plan to return back home J) Others are making a trip for several months in a camper van, by bike or motorcycle.
What didn’t we like?
- The must do and known tourist attractions (Península Valdés and Punta Tombo), were the most disappointing in terms of wildlife. There are far more beautiful, more quiet and free(!) alternatives with more animals to spot (Punta Ninfa’s and Cabo dos Bahias).
- The wind! It’s constantly changing direction, blows pretty hard and is cold! Not only can it damage our tent, it’s also very noisy so every day again we need to look for shelter. Pretty hard in a country where the only trees are around villages and farms. So far we were lucky finding sheds or hide behind some small trees, but wild peeing remains challenging J
The highlights along the Argentinian East coast
- Wild camping in Península Valdés. Although you can only officially set your tent in one camping, the app iOverlander, got us to the the most amazing wildcamp spots on our trip so far. Cooking in the dunes, waking up with the sound of waves and drinking morning coffee on the top of a cliff – loved it!
- Meeting sea lions up close in Punta Ninfa’s. At just a couple of hours driving from Península Valdés, at the feet of a light house, a huge colony of sea lions rests (and farts, and burps, and makes all other kind of strange noises). We slept on top of a cliff and descended the steep hill in the morning to get as close to a couple of meters of the impressive sea lions. We got as close as we dared, and were totally alone with them. Best wildlife moment ever!
- Discovering the penguin world at Cabo Dos Bahias. This is a free ecological reserve. We had the whole park to ourselves as it is not well known to tourists. A path takes you across the colony of the thousands of Magellanic penguins to see them cuddle, shout, fight and take care of their chicks. As they lay their eggs in November, December is the perfect timing to go see them: fluffy baby penguins all over the place)! The park also offers a couple of amazing cliff views over the two bays (Dos Bahias, check) and it was the place with the most guanaco’s we had ever seen J. They all live together peacefully.
More detailed planning along RN3
Day 1: Gualaguaychu
- Slept on a camping with one other camper. Asshole played Argentinian ‘tsjingel tsjangel’ music really loud. A snake tried to get him in the morning, but failed unfortunately 😉
Day 2: Lobos
- Surprise visit by the cops at 1 AM as the owner of the field we were sleeping next to was a bit worried. They were very friendly and wished us an excellent night’s rest and further travels.
Day 3: somewhere along Ruta National 3
- Camped at a local gas station and took a nice hot shower for only a few pesos.
Day 4: Las Grutas
- Got us a free camping spot with great facilities, just because it’s our honeymoon J
Day 5-7: Puerto Madryn
- Stayed in an Airbnb to prep for the rest of our trip. Met a lovely Argentinian couple and the owner, Sylvia, was an excellent example of how friendly and helpful tge Argentinians are.
Day 8-9: Península Valdés
- Enjoyed the most beautiful wild camping spots and got a surprise visit by a tarantula! Except for Sarah’s panties, no damage was inflicted 😉
Day 10: Punta Ninfa’s
- Met up with sea lions up close. Tried to burp and fart as much as they did to blend in, failed miserably.
Day 11-12: Punta Tombo & Trelew
- Visited Punta Tombo during daytime and camped in the garden of a big family in Trelew (shelter from the wind, whoopwhoop!)
Day 13: Cabo Raso
- Slept in a ‘ranch’ (probably as big as your bathroom, but still nice!). Once a small town, it’s now only one house with a very entrepreneurial woman running the show.
Day 14: Cabo Dos Bahias
- Pinguin wildlife! Slept at a lakeside at Playa Honda where we had an amazing sunset with two rainbows (no unicorns).
Day 15: Comodoro Rivadavia
- Big petrol-industry town. Slept in a hostel to take a shower and to work.
Day 16-17: Rada Tilly
- Slept in an Airbnb to prepare our trip and to work.
Summary: overlanding along the Argentinian East Coast
Driving down the Ruta National 3 offered us the Agentinian Pampas – the biggest planes we’ll ever see – as far as the eye can reach, for days in a row – excellent wild camping spots and close encounters with marine wildlife. Next part of our journey: crossing to the mountain part of Patagonia for Christmas and New Year’s Eve!