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Where We’ve Been: March 2017 Road Trip Driving Route in Argentina & Chile

We started the month of March 2017 in the small village of Iruya in the very northern tip of Argentina. From there we crossed into Chile where we ended the month in San Pedro de Atacama. In between, our road trip traveled 1,420 miles (2,285 km) and you can see the same spectacular scenery that we saw through the windshield of our truck via the drive-lapse video at the end of this post.

Jama Pass - Argentina Chile border

Where we’ve been in March 2017 in Argentina & Chile

From Iruya, Argentina we drove south through the Humahuaca Canyon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to Purmamarca which is a town known for its Mountain of Seven Colors (which, honestly, was not as spectacular as southern Peru’s Mountain of Seven Colors).

Purmamarca was our last stop in Argentina, for now. From there we headed west, crossing the border into Chile over the Jama Pass (pictured above). At 14,173 feet (4,320 meters), we thought the Jama Pass would be the high-point on the drive into San Pedro de Atacama, but we were wrong. Very wrong. After the Jama Pass the highway continued to climb, reaching 15,916 feet (4,851 meters) before finally dropping into San Pedro de Atacama via a spectacularly steep and straight road with many runaway truck ramps.

After a week in San Pedro de Atacama, a small town at the foot of the Andes which is the base camp for adventures in the Atacama desert, we headed to the coastal city of Antofagasta to have some work done on our truck at the Salfa Chevrolet dealership there. While in Antofagasta we made a side trip to the Paranal Observatory which offers free weekend tours of its amazing sky watching installation. We also made a stop at the Mano del Desierto sculpture (pictured below).

Mano del desierto - Atacama Desert, Chile

After our truck had been properly pampered, we returned to San Pedro de Atacama to celebrate the 10th road-a-versary of our Trans-Americas Journey in style at explora Atacama. At the end of the month we left San Pedro de Atacama and headed further north up the Pan-American Highway on the Pacific coast to the city of Iquique.

Our complete road trip driving route map for March 2017 is below.

And don’t miss the chance to see what we saw out there on the road in Argentina and Chile in March of 2017 via our drive-lapse video, below. It was, as always, shot by our Brinno camera which is attached to our dashboard.

 

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Where We’ve Been: February 2017 Road Trip Driving Route in Argentina

We started February in the northern Argentinean city of Salta and ended the month in the tiny village of Iruya, tucked deep in the Quebrada Humahuaca valley near the Bolivian border. In between we drove 1,822 miles, including a 554 mile loop through a remote section of Argentina’s Puna de Atacama region which was one of the greatest driving routes of our South American road trip so far. Let’s recap, including drive-lapse video at the end of the post which will let you see the same spectacular scenery that we saw through the windshield of our truck as we traveled (minus the bumps and dust).

Lugana Grande El Penon Argentina Puna

Where we’ve been in February 2017 in Argentina

From Salta, Argentina we returned to Cafayate and the Calchaquí Valley, including a return to the spectacular Quebrada de las Flechas near Cafayate to fly the drone. Then we continued south down Argentina’s famed Ruta 40 to Tafi del Valle, stopping at the pre-Colombian archaeological site of Quilmes along the way. Our February 2017 road trip driving route map is below.

Then we began what turned out to be the most beautiful and remote driving adventure we’ve had since we drove the Dalton Highway (Haul Road) in Alaska from Fairbanks up to the Arctic during the first few months of our Journey nearly 10 years ago.

Salar Vicuna Argentine Puna de Atacama

The loop we did through Argentina’s high-altitude Puna de Atacama was breathtaking both in terms of the scenery and in terms of actual breathing–the air is thin at a consistent altitude between 12,000 and 15,600 feet. We saw very, very few humans in this remote and largely uninhabited region, but there were thousands of vicuña (one is pictured above), thousands of flamingos, and many, many volcanoes to keep us company.

drive Salar del diablo Tolar Grande Argenina

Such beauty came at a price, however, namely hundreds of miles on rough 4×4 tracks that were, at times, a brutal combination of washboarding, ruts, and rocks. Our truck took a beating, including a large and unfixable flat courtesy of a rock we drove over while crossing one of the area’s vast salars (salt flats).

Puna de Atacama Drive

You can follow our Puna road trip driving route on the map at the top of this post–begin at the green star and head up to the red square, passing through El Peñón, Laguna Grande, the Piedra Pomez pumice fields, Antafagasto, Antafalla, Cono Arita (pictured below), and Tolar Grande before ending in San Antonio de Cobres.

Cono Arita Salar de Arizaro Tolar Grande ArgentinaAfter wrapping up our Puna adventure we returned to Salta and then headed to the very northern tip of Argentina to visit the Quebrada de Huamahuaca canyon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where we ended the month in the tiny village of Iruya.

See what we saw out there on the road in Argentina in February 2017 vai our drive-lapse video, below. It was, as always, shot by our Brinno camera which is attached to our dashboard.

 

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Where We’ve Been: January 2017 Road Trip Driving Route in Argentina

We spent much of January 2017 house-sitting in Salta, Argentina, however, we still managed to get in some miles. About 320 of them, to be precise, and they were all epic. If you like stunning landscapes you won’t want to miss our South American road trip driving route for January 2017, including drive-lapse video at the end of the post which lets you see what we saw through the windshield of our truck as we traveled.

Quebrada de las Conchas - Salta, Argentina

Where we’ve been in January 2017 in Argentina

We left Salta and did a little loop through the Andes to the wine region of Cafayate, up Argentina’s famous Route 40 (one of the longest national highways on earth) and back to Salta. See our complete short but sweet road trip driving route on the map below.

From Salta we drove to the wine region of Cafayate through the red rock landscapes of the Quebrada de las Conchas. After consuming a fair amount of delicious wine and visiting the wineries of El Esteco Winery and Vineyards and Piattelli Vineyards we continued north on Argentina’s famous RN-40 through the Calchaquí Valley.

A few hours north of Cafayate we were sidelined for three hours while we waited for a dangerously swollen river to subside enough to cross. We then drove through the spectacular Quebrada de Las Flechas to the town of Molinos. From there we got even more remote to reach the Bodega Colomé Winery

Next, we continued to the town of Cachi (where we finally saw pavement again) and crossed Cardones National Park nd its forests of cactus, eventually dropping down to Salta and the Valle de Lerma via the Cuesta del Obispo.

Quebrada de las Flechas - Salta, Argentina

See what we saw out there on the road in our drive-lapse video, below, which was shot by our Brinno camera attached to our dashboard.

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Where We’ve Been: 2016 Recap & December 2016 Road Trip Driving Route in Brazil, Bolivia & Argentina

2016 was a big year on our little road trip through the Americas with a total of 15,200 miles (24,462 km) on the road. While that pales in comparison to the miles we were putting on annually when we were in North America nearly a decade ago, it’s double the mileage of most recent years.

All those miles really got us around and in 2016 we visited or revisited seven countries: Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Brazil, Bolivia, and Argentina. Our previous record was five countries in one year back in 2011 when we were in Central America. We also had a record eight border crossings in 2016, bringing our total border crossings for the Journey so far to 56. For more amazing road trip stats, visit our freshly updated Facts & Figures page.

Brazil-Bolivia and Bolivia-Argentina border crossing

We’ve now reached the most southerly point on the Journey so far after crossing the Tropic of Capricorn just north of Salta, Argentina. This took us out of the tropics where we’ve been since 2009 when we crossed the Tropic of Cancer south of Durango, Mexico. However, in typical Trans-Americas Journey fashion, we’re not quite done with tropical latitudes yet. We’ll be crossing back over the Tropic of Capricorn and heading north to return to Peru in a few months.

Check out our South American road trip driving route for all of 2016 in our map, below.

December 2016 Road Trip Driving Route – Brazil, Bolivia & Argentina

December 2016 was a big month too with 1,877 miles (3,021 km) of driving in Brazil, Bolivia, and Argentina.

We started December 2016 in Bonito, Brazil and from there we headed up to the Southern Pantanal where we saw more jaguars before driving to the border town of Corumbá where we crossed into Bolivia for the first (but not the last) time.

San Ignacio de Velasco Mission Bolivia

The mission church in San Igancio de Velasco on the missions circuit in Bolivia.

We only spent eight days in Boliva, focusing on the Jesuit Missions of Chiquitos. These architecturally unique churches, one of them a UNESCO World Heritage Site, were built in the early 1700s. They eventually fell into disrepair but were passionately rescued and brought back to their original glory.

After a few days on the missions circuit we headed to Santa Cruz, one of Bolivia’s two principal cities. Then it was time to make a beeline to the Argentinean border to settle into a housesitting opportunity in Salta. 

Come along on our road trip in Brazil, Bolivia, and Argentina in December 2016 and see what we saw through the windshield of our truck in our drive-lapse video, made with our dash-mounted Brinno time-lapse camera, below.

And check out our road trip driving route for December 2016, below.

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The White Continent or Bust – Antrctica

This post is part 1 of 3 in the series Antarctica

We know it’s been a few weeks since we’ve put up any new blog posts but we’ve got a good reason: we were in Antarctica!

No, we didn’t drive there. LAN Airlines got us to Ushuaia (the southernmost city in the world) and back and from there we sailed along the Antarctic peninsula for 11 days on the MV Antarctic Dream. Our thanks to both companies.

Our home for 11 days: the M/V Antarctic Dream

 

Followers of our Journey know that we’ve been anticipating our Antarctic adventure since August and the planet’s most remote continent totally lived up the hype and our expectations.

And that’s not even a BIG iceberg by Antarctic standards.

 

For one thing, penguins are even cuter than you think and we saw thousands of them–mainly gentoo and chinstraps.

Gentoo penguins near Port Lockroy, one of the shore excursions during an Antarctic adventure.


Gentoo penguins near Port Lockroy, one of the shore excursions during an Antarctic adventure.


Gentoo penguins near Port Lockroy, one of the shore excursions during an Antarctic adventure.


Gentoo penguins near Port Lockroy, one of the shore excursions during an Antarctic adventure.

 

We also got a rare and exciting sighting of a lone emperor penguin (the four foot tall stars of March of the Penguins) on an iceberg far, far from its usual home.

A lost and lonely emperor penguin adrift on an iceberg.

 

The icebergs themselves (which can reach more than 10 miles in length) were stars of the trip as well. They came in intricate wind-swept shapes, impossible blue colors and the ice is ultra-clear–like glass. We know because Karen braved the frigid water and reached in to retrieve a small chunk to enjoy in our on-board cocktails that evening.

Literally the tip of the iceberg in Antarctica.


Icebergs as art in Antarctica.

 

We did NOT put our hands in the water during a zodiac excursion during which our inflatable boat was surrounded by a pod of seven killer whales. We also sighted minke whales on a couple of occasions and crabeater seals and Weddell seals also made appearances.

Our zodiacs were surrounded by pod of killer whales during one shore excursion in Antarctica.


Our zodiacs were surrounded by pod of killer whales during one shore excursion in Antarctica.


That killer whale dorsal fin is at least three feet tall and its heading straight for our shipmates.

 

There were also many human highlights on the ship including “Ernie Shack, Adventure Addict”, the captain’s wife, the crazy defense attorney from New York who brought along her Snoopy Snowcone maker, el capitan guapo, The Glen (who went skinny dipping one day and performed a necessarily brief yet impressive re-enactment of the loping way penguins swim), our fearless leader Pablo and, of course, Maxi. Oh, and Jacques Cousteau’s granddaughter Céline Cousteau was on the ship with a film crew working on a series of TV show about the waters around Chile.

Our shipmate The Glen (who has a tattoo of the Antarctic continent on his back) went skinny dipping in the frigid Antarctic waters off Deception Island just like…


…the penguins.

To learn more about travel to Antarctica, check out the feature we did for the Dallas Morning News including tips for making the most of your trip to Antarctica and our feature for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune about all of the onboard adventures you’ll have.

GLAD WE HAD

All travelers to Antarctica are required to have a medical evacuation insurance policy just in case something awful happens out there in the middle of nowhere. On Call International has covered us on our Trans-Americas Journey for more than a year now so we didn’t have to worry about arranging coverage (or dealing with a catastrophe). Because we were already covered we could focus on just being excited about this trip of a lifetime.

We weren’t taking any chances with the notoriously rough waters of the Drake Passage where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans crash up against each other so we went the prescription route and used a Scopolamine patch. But we also armed ourselves with homeopathic remedies including a pair of Sea Bands. These simple, cheap, reusable devices–picture an old-school wrist sweatband like McEnroe used to wear with a plastic ball embedded in one side–stave off nausea caused by motion sickness (or morning sickness) by applying pressure to a specific point in your wrist. The combo worked and we made it through the passage without getting seasick.

We’re pretty sure nothing could stave off seasickness among the passengers on a different ship, the Clelia II, which sailed just a few weeks after our Antarctic trip. However, the Clelia II broke down in the Drake Passage and got tossed around by 40′ waves for a day or two. The ship is back in port now and everyone on board is fine but this report and dramatic video shows how rough it was for passengers and crew on the stranded ship.

 

Our route from Ushuaia, Argentina at the bottom of South America, across the Drake Passage and on to the Antarctic Peninsula.

 

Check out our follow-up Antarctica post to see many more photos.

 

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