San Pedro de Atacama/Chile – Mendoza/Argentina

San Pedro – THE tourist village in the Atacama and correspondingly expensive, but it just offers the level of service and convenience, we need once again. 2 days of getting us and our equipment back in shape.

One last time we have to go by bike across the Andes. Compared to the last stage, it’s a simple route despite some passes of over 4000m.a.s.l.. Only 4.5 days, we need in the end for about 550km. Initially, we finally make peace with the wind, which has recently annoyed us so much. A strong tail wind allows a decent speed. So, in a little steep descent, we can increase our speed records to a proud 87km/h (Denise) and 97km/h (Tom) respectively. But this stupid wind. On certain days, it is able to remain a head wind, no matter whether we cycle towards the west, east or south.

For the time being, we leave Chile once again and enter Argentina.
For the first time ‚Buenos Aires‘ appears at a road sign – originally our final destination in South America. We have the euphoric feeling of having almost succeeded. All of the major difficulties lie behind us. Only 500km to Salta, and then only 1,300km to Mendoza and then another 1,200km to Buenos Aires, we think.
Scenically this route offers again some highlights. It continues along small lakes, over a white, glistening, structured salt lake, through gorges with giant cacti. Then, the road plunges ludicrously into the valley, winds through a fissured landscape. The mountains around the town Purmamarca shine in all colours – various shades of red, brown, yellow, grey, blue, green, and turquoise – completely mind-blowing.
Behind this descent, we are about 2,000 meters lower in altitude. After the arid plateaus, after weeks there are finally trees again. You can smell the vegetation, feel significantly higher temperatures. Parrot noise – a swarm consists of many couples who apparently always have something to clamour about. It is as if after a winter semester the summer is returning. What an elation. That night we camp without the tent and without water bags under our heads, which we recently had to, to prevent them from freezing.
But in the following days we move back into the inner tent, because the heat also comes with unpleasant side effects of mosquitoes, flies, ants.
Following a small street – best road asphalt, but only 3-4m wide, running through the wooded hills and winding around valleys, as if you would drive along the Norwegian fjords – we come to Salta, a city considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in Argentina.

After a rapid ride with an average of more than 100 kilometres per day, we reach Mendoza. A ghost town. There is hardly anyone on the tree-lined avenues, all shops are barred. It is Sunday, early afternoon. Mendoza later proves to be a vibrant city. Every day between 1 pm and 5 pm the people and the traffic disappear from the streets, the shops close for siesta. Everything falls into a slumber of Sleeping Beauty. The life in Argentina happens first and foremost in the evening. In some restaurants food is only served after 8-9 pm.

As a place to stay in Mendoza, we have our ‚own‘ house. Hugo is our host, a nice, elderly gentleman with German and Swiss ancestors. We had met him on the way to here, he invited us, since he is extremely concerned about our security. We see little reason for this. To us Argentina seems very friendly and relaxed. On the street we are greeted kindly, people are interested but not pushy. Motorists swerve. In shops or restaurants you are treated as a customer, as we are used to. In Argentina, we Gringos differ a little less from the locals.


translated by Denise and Tom, checked by Kirsten

photos to this article: San Pedro de Atacama/Chile – La Cumbre/Argentinien : Fotos

8. Oktober 2008 - Tom | english texts | Kommentare :: comments :: comentarios | Inhalt drucken

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