Gregor and I carefully timed our drive across Argentina so that we could be on the Atlantic Coast during the month of October. That’s the month when migrating Southern Right Whales arrive in peak numbers on the shores of Península Valdés. It’s also the time when Magellanic penguins mate at the rookeries along Argentina’s coast. Having been land-locked for a month, we were looking forward to seeing the ocean again. (more…)
After a short stay in the city of Mendoza, we headed for the foothills of the Andes mountains to enjoy some nature time. The Andean foothills (precordillera) is a dry desert-like region where you can find wine valleys, ranches, cowboys, paleontological sites, and oil-extracting pumpjacks. It just so happens that the foothills in our home province of Alberta has plenty of ranches, cowboys, paleontological sites, and pumpjacks (but no wine valleys). As we drove through the Andean precordillera, we couldn’t help but feel at home.
Gregor and I were super excited to enter Argentina. We were 19 months into our Pan-American journey and we still hadn’t set Lucky’s wheels on Argentine soil. There was a good reason to wait: we needed Lucky to be in tip-top shape before entering the country. Frankly, Argentina is not the place for your vintage camper van to have a breakdown. Reputable VW mechanics are scarce and foreign car parts are inaccessible due to the country’s unfavourable import policies. (more…)
Entering Chile was like entering the first world again. Gregor and I had just finished driving Bolivia’s Lagunas Route, where the roads were pure dirt and we had little contact with civilization for four days. Once we crossed into Chile, we found ourselves on a pristine highway with speed limit signs, tidy shoulders, SOS stations, and runaway lanes – all indicators of a safety-conscious society. At the Chilean Customs office, the uniformed officials took away our Bolivian fruits and vegetables – the protocol of a highly regulated agriculture industry. And when we were charged $30 CAD to “camp” in a hostel parking lot, well, there was no denying that we had entered a country of means. (more…)
There’s a desolate dirt track in southwestern Bolivia’s altiplano (high plains) called the Lagunas Route. It stretches for over 400 km (250 mi) through a treeless, uninhabited wilderness occupied by colourful lakes, thermal springs, canyonlands, and volcanic formations. The Lagunas Route is the kind of dirt road that 4×4 vehicles were made for – you know, the kind you see in the truck commercials. Once you’ve filled up at the last gas station you’re in for at least three days of self-sustained off-roading. So what do you if you’re in a 2WD van on a 4WD route? You follow a Toyota truck. (more…)