After riding along the Carretera Austral, we’re currently cruising between Chile and Argentina up north. As we pretty much were rewarded by natures’ finest in the past, city life has got a greater focus on this part of our trip.
What did we like along Bariloche, Valparaíso and Mendoza?
- Getting that sunshine in our pockets! We were hugged by radiant sunshine – up to 32°C. No more milky skins but blessed with a peachy glow. Dimitri is more blessed with a tomato dip but that’s just how nature works.
- Street art! Colorful splashed tags, walls, houses, buildings. We’ve found Valparaíso cheerful and relaxed in this jewel of the pacific.
- Wine tasting! That’s pretty much all you can do in Mendoza 😆 Oh, and there’s the beer tasting as well. Great combo! Happy wife, happy husband.
What didn’t we like?
- Bariloche was quite a disappointment. We were promised it would be ‘a Swiss village in Argentina’ but it was loud, ugly, really expensive and German beer gardens on every corner of every street. We did have one of the best steaks in Alto el fuego though. Villa Angostura on the other hand (100 km North of Bariloche) was everything Bariloche lacked to be. Not much bigger than the main street, but plenty of window shopping, quite atmosphere, nice wooden chalets and beautiful lakes all around.
- Big city life. We’ve tried Bariloche and Santiago, even though we’re not city people. Unfortunately, we got disappointed by both. The streets are large, grey and full of tourist stores. We missed the cozy atmosphere and things to do.
- Car problems. Although we thought are Suzy was fierce and strong, we’ve encountered a couple of little issues along the way.
- First of all, the tires we bought in Belgium, weren’t suited for our Suzy (we found out here after 10K). We left with 6 tires, lost one about 6 weeks ago in Torres del Paine but lost a second spare tire 2 weeks earlier, driving on asphalt! We had the spare repaired by a professional after Dimitri´s own repair failed, to have another puncture the next day, again driving on asphalt. We continued our route only to have another puncture on one of the tires, without a spare left. We drove the last 200 km to Santiago on the highway, me looking at the right back tire the entire time and stopping every 10 minutes to put back air into it (Luckily Dimi built an air compressor in our car). It were the longest km EVER! Thank god for Cooper tires team in Santiago (we love big cities for that kind of things after all). Now we’re suited with 6 new S/T MAXX tires, ready to hit the mud, jungle, gravel and even lava! (well, maybe not lava). Let’s go 😆
- Secondly, we spend 3 days in a cute little apartment overlooking the hills of Valparaíso while letting Suzy rest in their parking lot. After that, the engine wouldn’t start anymore. The 2 new batteries we had installed earlier in Bariloche were dead. Seems our National Luna Battery Pack made a false connection and connected the car batteries to the life battery, instead of isolating them. A simple on/off resolved the problem, but we needed the two cars from our hosts to get Suzy going again.
The highlights of cruising through Bariloche, Valparaíso and Mendoza
- Camping in Epuyen. It’s a small town but they have a great camp place in the woods, with a 5 min walk to a lake where you can swim while looking at the mountains. The owners are French. They make their own goat cheese and you can taste their delish (vegan) kitchen.
- Wild camping at lago Nahuel Huapi. It’s an enormous lake so you have to find the right spot to descend from the side of the road. It’s peaceful having the lake view to yourself while cooking at the beach.
- Visiting the waterfalls of Cinconcon. It was recommended to us by a couple we met at lago Espejo (again a little piece of heaven). The hike up there is easy and fast. Normally you get to see 5 waterfalls but because of the wear down of the bridge, we only saw 3. Still pretty amazing 😉
- Wandering in Valparaíso, the jewel of the Pacific. We were blown away by urban street art, colors everywhere, dogs and cats on every street and the ease of getting lost in the narrow streets of this paradise town.
Where to next?
Right now we’re heading to Salta (Argentina), then crossing the border to visit the Atacama desert (Chile) and then finding our way up to the 4th country of our Global Honeymoon: Bold Boliva! We’re excited 🙂 Hope you guys are too!