After 48 days on the road, 11900 kilometres, we are back at home in Mendoza! It was a beautiful trip, we saw amazing landscapes in both Chile and Argentina, and met some very nice people. We lived almost entirely in the truck, never slept anywhere else than in the truck, went four times to a restaurant either because we were visiting a city and it was not convenient to go back to the truck to have lunch, and once to celebrate our arrival in Ushuaia the end of the world. We had no mechanical issues with the truck, and no major issues with the camper either. I took lots of photos which I will post later.
Looking back, we covered all the spots we wanted to visit, and were not disappointed. We came home a bit earlier than planned, just because once we had seen and done what we had planned we moved on. We were lucky to always have at least one day in each place with sunshine and blue sky, so we never had to wait for good weather. We had to change our route in Chile after driving part of the carretera Austral which had a long section of gravel in fairly rough condition. We arrived to buy tickets for the ferry and were advised that the road was closed on the other side due to heavy rains, and a section of the road was gone as well as part of a town. There was a free boat in place to detour by sea but there was a delay of about 10 days to get on it. So we turned around, drove up the gravel section again and crossed into Argentina where we had entered. That set us behind a day but we were ahead of schedule so it didn’t make a difference. That allowed to to visit El Bolsón which was not planned, and we entered Chile again further south to catch up with our planned itinerary.
What would we do differently next time? Well, campgrounds in south America are notoriously poor. Most are nothing more than a dusty parking, sometimes with trees, sometimes these trees give shade. The washrooms are almost always in a state of dis-repair (clogged toilets, missing faucets, leaky sinks, cold or no showers at all, etc) though we did come across a very few that were well run and well maintained. What we were looking for was electricity so we could recharge the truck’ secondary battery. So the lesson is to be as independent as possible in order to wild camp as often as possible. Is it safe? It felt so in most of the south where there are very few large cities and lots of wide open spaces, and other travellers who do the same. We ended up stopping overnight at gas stations with the truckers a number of times. The YPF national chain in Argentina generally maintains clean washrooms, serves good coffee, and the staff is friendly. So we would like to have more than a night or two of autonomy to use campgrounds less, but our vehicle is small and there isn’t much space inside for more equipment than what we already have.
We realized that we don’t like cities, because they are difficult to navigate even with GPS. The roads and streets are poorly designed, with almost no signs to guide the visitor in and out, parking is always an issue, and then once parked we are on foot and cannot use the truck to cook. So we like small towns, villages, and nature!
Stay tuned as I will start posting more detailed articles soon with photos …