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Argentina and Chile (part 8) PDF Print E-mail

Argentina and Chile (part 8)


January 5th to January 13th, 2007


Friday January 5th is our last day at the Camping El Americano in Monte Hermoso. It is a nice and clean campground. We packed our bags, separated the items which will stay in the Land Rover and which we will take with us in the plane. The weather is nice and sunny, some 26°C.


Saturday morning we went on again, firstly we sent our last web information from South America in a terribly slow internet café in Monte Hermoso. We drove north on Ruta 3, in the town of Azul we found a camp site at the Camping Municipal. The landscape at here reminds us of a Dutch polder: cows, corn, potatoes.


Sunday we did the last part of Ruta 3 to Buenos Aires. As we could find no good and secure campsite we booked a hotel in the center of the city, Suipancha Inn, in the street of the same name and Lavalle, or as it is pronounced at here, Labasje. The room cost now some USD 40 (high season as it is holiday period in South America). The Land Rover is parked in an adjacent Estacionamiento for some USD 10 per day. We walked to the San Telmo area, where we found a market, but no dancing (tango) in the street, as we were told.


Monday we handled our business at the Agéncia Marítimo for Grimaldi, Turner & Co in the Reconquista; the transport of the Land Rover to Antwerp costs us USD 1290. We reconfirmed our flights home and were informed that the Ministro Pistarini airport is the same as the Ezeiza airport and Ton had his hair trimmed for 23 pesos.


Tuesday we went to the port, Terminal Rio de la Plata, to deliver the Land Rover; according to the agency this would take one or two days in this holiday period. Bureaucracy is a plague at here: as we transport the car separately from ourselves we have to be in a different customs office than in the case that we would accompany the car on the ship. Before you are told this (and before you realize that you have to give this information!) you have talked to four offices, as nobody seems to know exactly who is handling which items. Finally we succeeded to deliver the car at Terminal 3. Then to the final customs office to stamp our Carnet de Passage. But apparently a number was lacking in the documents, sufficient reason for the customs lady to sent us back to the customs office where we started in the morning. In the end we had been given the number, but it was not copied in all documents. After we did so ourselves, we received the last stamp and we could take a taxi to the hotel.  In total we were busy from 10 to 14.30, not too bad at all. Total port fee was 600 pesos or USD 200.


Wednesday January 10th it was cloudy and raining, so we awoke late. After breakfast we drafted a part of our website.  The rest of the day we walked in the city and had dinner in restaurant El Gaucho. In the TV news it appears that the demonstrations are held in the port, so we are very glad that we had delivered the Land Rover on Tuesday already.


Thursday we did our last shopping, and we saw the Madres at the Plaza de Mayo. Our final dinner we had again in El Gaucho with a good red wine, Finca La Linda Malbec (2004) from Mendoza. And of course we said goodbye to Promotor Mercedes of El Gaucho (a promotor is somebody who tries to get customers in a restaurant or other business).


Friday morning January 12th at 11 we got into our taxi to the airport, which is situated some 45 minutes from the center of Buenos Aires. Our driver tried to improve his record and managed to do it in 25 minutes. It appeared a good thing that we were so early as the recommended 2 hours certainly would have been too short. The Alitalia plane to Milan departed half an hour late on three o’clock.


Saturday morning January 13th, 2007 we arrived at airport Malpensa near Milan after a long night at half past seven. We were glad that our bags still appeared at the belt an hour after our arrival….. After having been together for nearly a year Kees and Ton separated here: Kees went to the railway station to take the train home and Ton had to go to Terminal 2 by bus to the Easy Jet terminal to Amsterdam Airport.


Unfortunately the plan of Mary and Manna to meet us at Malpensa could not be realized, as Mary got ill. But as Manna already was in Switzerland, she traveled by train to Milan and met Ton to his big surprise at the airport. Together they traveled to Amsterdam where they were welcomed by their families and Kees and Marry Pruys. Kees was welcomed by Mary and their son Kees jr. in Spiez. At Kees’ as well as Ton’s homes warm words of welcome were attached to their houses.


In total we drove 60.850 km in North-, Central- and South America, of which 37.700 km on the Pan Americana from Prudhoe Bay/Dead Horse (Alaska) to Ushuaia (Tierra del  Fuego). After arrival in Ushuaia to the delivery of the Land Rover in the port of Buenos Aires another 4500 km. This means that we drove 18.650 km between Baltimore and Prudhoe Bay.


Now there is only one more thing to be done and that is to pick up our Land Rover Defender in the port of Antwerp, as that will be the real end of our trip.


As author of the Dutch and English version of the web text I am using this opportunity to thank you all. In the first place our wives Manna and Mary, who gave us the freedom to realize our dream. They got a lot of extra things to do last year! Also Rob, Ton’s son, who managed the web site and who made our contributions appear really fast on the site.  And of course my brother-in-law Kees. We had a wonderful time together, without any problems. And the fellow travelers on the road and at campsites we have met. With many of them we had a good contact, some of which led to friendship. And finally everyone who visited our website and sympathized with us.


Hasta Luego y Abrazo


Ton de Snoo, Zevenhuizen - Oud Verlaat – The Netherlands


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Argentina and Chile (part 7) PDF Print E-mail

Argentina and Chile (part 7)


December 26th, 2006 to January 5th, 2007


Tuesday December 26th we left Rio Grande and headed for the border crossing between Argentina and Chile at San Sebastián. In Chile we crossed the Estrecho de Magallanes by ferry and said goodbye to Tierra del Fuego. Then we went over our last frontier crossing between Chile and Argentina at Monte Aymond, close to Rio Gallegos. In all we crossed the border between Argentina and Chile 9 times. Just before Rio Gallegos we found a campsite at Chacra Daniel. Still strong winds, but mostly sunny, some 15°C.


Wednesday December 27th we changed our Chilean pesos in Rio Gallegos, had coffee with wifi and put more air in our tires as we will have mostly paved roads from now on. After a day of pampas driving on Ruta Nacional 3 we found a campsite in Puerto San Julián. Here the fleet of Magallan landed on March 31st, 1520, on Palm Sunday April 1st the first mass on Argentinean territory was celebrated and a mutiny started. Also Darwin anchored the Beagle in 1834 in this port.


The next day we drove on the pampas to Camarones, another port. The whole day we saw two towns, the countryside is totally empty. We have only seen guanacos and sheep, a few ñandus and parakeets. The more northerly we get, the warmer it gets too, today 28°C, although still strong winds prevail.


Friday morning it is much cooler, some 14°C, but still windy. We drove north to Punta Tombo on the unpaved coastal road. Here is the largest breeding colony of Magellan Penguins, 175.000 couples. On a picture you don’t notice the smell of rotten fish! From here we proceed to Puerto Madryn, where we camp on the ACA camping.


Saturday we visit Península Valdés, a peninsula with the state of a National Park. Entrance fee is 35 pesos per person.  There is only one campground, the Camping Municipal de Puerto Pirámides, which is large and crowded. The cold which Ton picked up in Ushuaia has extended to a sinusitis. Therefore he did a nap in the afternoon and started a treatment with antibiotics.


Sunday night the campsite appears to be noisy, due to drunken people and roaring quads. On the beaches of the peninsula one can observe Magellan penguins, sea lions, sea elephants with calves, orca’s and whales. The latter we failed to see as they had just left for cooler waters. Inland we saw ñandus (kind of emu), pichis (kind of armadillo), guanacos and sheep. Also vultures, terns and lots of gulls. The coast is beautiful, the weather is sunny, 30°C and the wind is less strong than yesterday.


New Year’s Eve we stayed at the campsite, which has become even more jammed. You can see here lots of ’vintage cars’ (in particular Ford  Falcon, Renault 12 and 18, Peugeot 504, Sunbeam), old Mercedes busses or trucks converted to motor homes or campers and old trailers, the newest ones are apparently some 30 years old. After the fire works we went to bed. The next morning we left quickly, nearly all toilets have broken down, so a big mess. We do what we want to do in the luxurious visitors center. Today on New Year’s  Day we drove to Viedma through a lonely landscape of pampas, with a gas station, an internet café and a few nightclubs. All day we saw blue skies up above, 30°C and a strong wind on Ruta 3. In Viedma we camped at the camping municipal.


Tuesday we continued to Bahia Blanca. Just after this town we found a campsite in Pehuenco on the campground Bosque Encantado. In this region water is available, so you can see corn and sunflower fields, besides the raising of cattle.


Wednesday January 3rd, 2007 we found the campground El Americano in Monte Hermoso which was recommended in the South American Handbook, but was listed under Pehuenco. We had our laundry done for the last time, dedusted the Land Rover and prepared for the return trip.


Thursday we worked on the text for the latest edition of our web site from South America. Finally now we will leave, we started to understand the Patagonian (Argentinean?) Castilian. The pronunciation is quite different from the one in other Latin American countries. E.g. ’yo, me gusto un pollo amarillo’ is pronounced as ’sjo, me guto un posjo amarisjo’ (I like yellow chicken).

Ushuaia (Argentina part 6) PDF Print E-mail

Ushuaia (Argentina part 6)


December 10th to December 25th, 2006


Sunday December 10th we drove the last part of the road from Rio Grande to Ushuaia. First, we went to Ton’s friend Aad and his 4 year old son Thomas, then we installed ourselves at Camping La Pista del Andino, very close to Aad’s house. At the camping Fernando Vargas is the boss, a nice, helpful guy. As he says: he makes no problems but he has got solutions. Dankmar, our German, oh no, Bayerische fellow traveler on BMW, we meet here again.


Monday we discover that we have wifi in Aad’s house from some neighbor, so his house is internet café from now on. Tuesday we went to the vista point over Ushuaia near the Glacier Martial. Up we went by chair lift, in which we got wet by pouring rain. We warmed ourselves  with a cup of soup in the refúgio.


Wednesday and Thursday we did some shopping. Friday we visited Estáncia Harberton on the shore of the Beagle channel with Aad and Thomas. The estáncia, founded in the end of the 19th century by Europeans, is nowadays a highlight for tourists. The first road was initiated in 1978, before that the place was only accesible by boat over the Beaglechannel. They have a very interesting museum on large marine animals, such as whales, orcas, penguins, sea lions, porpoises, etc. An enthusiastic biologist showed us the place. At night we had an asado on a fire at our campsite  It was a marvelous day, interesting and good weather, some 20°C, which is extraordinary at here.


Saturday we went to the Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego. Here Ruta Nacional 3 ends at 3063 km from Buenos Aires and at a distance of 17.848 km from Alaska. We made twice the number of kilometers from Alaska, by driving around the Panamericana to see interesting things. We were glad we made it without major problems, but on the other hands it also means that we are on our way back and the trip is nearly finished. As it was raining we returned to Ushuaia, where we realized we forgot the bottle of champagne, we had specially bought for our arrival at this location. In the fast-growing town, now some 60.000 inhabitants we visited the museum, located in the historical prison. Here the maritime museum is also located, where one can see how Dutch seamen, such as Schouten and Le Maire, discovered new routes around the tip of South America in the 16e and 17e century. They were drawing new maps of the region; also in the museum was a map of the historic city of Hoorn, after which Cape Horn was named.


Sunday and Monday we stayed at the campsite, we selected things from the roof boxes to take home by plane and put them in new bags (the old ones we threw away in the beginning of our trip). Tuesday December 18 we returned for a photo session to Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego with Aad and Thomas. This time the champagne was not forgotten. The weather was nice, so we decided to make an asado on our campfire. Meat is very cheap out here, some USD 3,10 for a kg of entrecote. Wine also is nearly free, some USD 0,80 for a liter and the taste is well.


Wednesday we went to the NP again and made a hike along the shores of Lago Roca to the frontier wth Chile. Thursday and Friday rainy weather and cold , 7 – 9 C. we visited a sledge dog trainer. As the weather did not improve we went to Aad’s house instead of hiking to Lago Esmeraldo. On arrival at our campsite a German camper with a small green motorhome, license plate TUT VT 100, was peeing against our back door. He seemingly thought this to be normal behavior.


Friday we managed to fill our diesel tank for normal prices, not paying the levy for cars with a foreign license plate. We lunched in town and went back to our Land Rover in order to work on our website.  The weather is rainy again. As we know so many people, fellow travelers, there is much and long  small talk at the site. Nice, but the days are flying without doing anything.


Saturday 23rd. It is getting monotonous, cold and windy and rainy weather. Therefore we walked to Ushuaia and visited the museum on a group of indigenous people, the Yamani. On arrival of the European settlers the Salesian order also came to Tierra del Fuego and give the people clothing, as they did not use clothes. They warmed and dried themselves at a fire they always had nearby (hence the name Land of Fire). As their clothing took a long time to dry, they got ill and died. Moreover they had no natural resistance against measles and other common European diseases.  We also visited the museum Fin del Mundo with a.o. information on the local fauna and the shipwrecking. At night Kees made Vino caliente or hot wine at the campground and Fernando invited all guests to have a free glass. It was a big success and will be a tradition at the campground. Sunday it was dry so we went with Aad and Thomas for the hike to the glacier lake Laguna Esmeralda. A nice hike, partly through a moor, so rather wet. It even snowed for a while, so we were already thinking over a white Christmas. At the campground on 8.30 at night we had the long anticipated Christmas Eve dinner with asado of lamb. It was busy with 70 people. Aad and Thomas also participated. It was great fun to have so many nationalities united! At midnight there was champagne to bring out a toast for the Christmas day. Hereafter Ton went to bed as he had caught the flue.


Monday we decided to go for warmer places. After having said goodbye to all our friends and fellow travelers we went to Rio Grande. In Tolhuin we bought sweets and bread at the famous Panaderia El Unión. In Rio Grande we went to the same campsite as on our way to Ushuaia, Camping El Refúgio of Club Naútico.

Argentina and Chile (part 5) PDF Print E-mail

Argentina and Chile (part 5)


November 30th  to December 9th, 2006


Thursday November 30th we arrived at El Calafate (meaning berberis, the plant is growing everywhere at here) and installed ourselves at the AMSA campground for police personnel. At night we had a superb dinner of parillada of lamb in restaurant Mi Viejo.


Friday December 1st we sent the website information via a wifi connection and on the street we once more met Dankmar, the German biker we earlier met in San Martin de los Andes. Via Ruta 40 we drove to the frontier with Chile, in Cancho Carrera. We crossed the border without problems and did some shopping in Cerro Castillo. Then we went north and entered Parque Nacionál Torres del Paine (entrance fee, be it for a year (!), is USD 30). We were camping at the bank of Laguna Azul, USD 24, but free firewood.


Saturday December 2nd a grey fox passed our breakfast table. We hiked to Laguna Cebolla and made lots of pictures of flowers. This day is a bit cloudy, some 20 degrees C and at this time of the year darkness only starts at 10.30.


Sunday morning we walked to a vista nearby, where in a tree a nest with two young cara cara were sitting. But unfortunately they did not stick on the photo. But we’ve got a picture of a grey fox. From this campground we moved to Camping Las Torres, in the park too. Ton has a dental problem again, an inflammation of a root. We happened to have dinner with two meds and Ton decided to take antibiotics.


Monday we hiked to Base Camp Las Torres and had a wonderful view from the moraines of the glacier and the glacier lake. It is a hike of 2*4 hours and on the way back it started to drizzle. How wonderful a draught beer tastes after such an effort! We sat until one o’clock at night at the campfire with two Chileans, the Dutch girl friend of one of them and two Austrian girls.


Tuesday we did another hike in the park, now to the giant glacier Grey, from which icebergs fall into to lake. We stayed at camping Lago Pehué, on the bank of the lake with the same name, for USD 15. Firewood USD 6, which is more than we paid in the USA!


Wednesday we left this beautiful, but expensive National Park and drove to Puerto Natales, mainly on dirt roads. Along the road we saw grey and brown foxes, flamingos, swans with black heads and necks, ñandus, ducks, geese and lots of guanacos. But no people or houses, the land is very empty at here. At Pto. Natales the phone works again, ATM’s and internet cafés are available. We stayed at camping Josmar 2 for 5000 pesos (nearly USD 10); at  night we ate a nice piece of salmon for 2500 pesos pp.. In town we met a Swiss couple from Heimberg (near Thun), with some German couples, traveling in motor homes.


Thursday December 7th we first had our propane cylinder filled, had coffee and continued to Punta Arenas. We  camped at Hostal Independéncia for 3000 pesos. The owner is very friendly and helpful. Here we meet again a German family with 2 kids from Ratzenburg near Hamburg, traveling as backpackers and which we met three times earlier in P.N. Torres del Paine.


Friday December 8th we left for Tierra del Fuego. On Ruta 257 we crossed the Primera Angostura in de Strait of Magellan by ferry. We continued to Porvenir where there is no action nor wifi and continued in the direction of the Argentine border. At the bank of the Bahia Inutil we camped under some cedar trees (against the wind).


Saturday December 9th we crossed the frontier routinely at San Sebastian. Finally it appears that after having changed some  settings that our cell phone also functions in Argentina. In Rio Grande we did try to contact internet to get our mail, but the internet system in town was down. We stayed in the Club Nautica on the bank of the Grande (at here only Grande at low tide).
Argentina and Chile (part 4) PDF Print E-mail

Argentinia and Chile (part 4)



November 22nd to November 30th, 2006



In the previous part we crossed the border between Chile and Argentina in Los Antiguos on November 22nd without any problems. The Argentine customs officer was curious and wanted to inspect our roof boxes which we bought as excess material from the Swiss army, very good and water and dust proof. In town we could fill our diesel tank with cheap fuel and in the village of Perito Moreno we went south on Ruta 40. Half an hour later we saw Estància Telken. Here Petty and Coco Nauta’s parents started in 1915 a sheep farm and they welcome campers and guests for their hotel rooms. Here on the pampas a sheep needs 2 hectares and the family has some 10.000 sheep…. At night we had dinner together with Coco and Petty Nauta and the other guests, amongst whom some mining prospectors, working in the area, and Mike and Rene from Missouri traveling with their own designed Unimog to Ushuaia.


Thursday November 23rd we headed for the Cueva de las Manos (‘the cave with the hands’), Unesco World Heritage, situated in the Canyon of the Rio de las Pinturas. Here one can see nearly 1000 hands, nearly all right hands, sprayed on the rock with paint from the mouth between 10.000 and 5000 years ago. The meaning is unknown. Also painted are guanacos and the hunt of these animals, related to the lama. This day we see guanacos ourselves for the first time. It is the last one of a series of four in South America: lama, alpaca, guanaco. Today we are successful in the observation of wild life: condor, emu (or nandu?), guanaco and armadillos. As there are no campgrounds and it is storming again, we sleep in Hotel Bajo Caracoles. The hotel also sells fuels so we fill our diesel tank before leaving.


On Friday November 24th we continue to Tres Lagos via the Ruta Cuarenta. At there is nothing, no campsite, no hotel, so we continue the next 150 km to El Chaltén. There are several campgrounds and we set ourselves up at camping El Refúgio, where after our arrival the boss, his wife and the guests (according to Kees only Ton) are in need of a dentist. At night it appears that at the campsite we even have a wifi connection. (during the day the satellite connection has insufficient capacity). In this village with so much gringos there is no ATM!


Saturday November 25th we hiked to the glacier at Lago El Torre near the Mount Fitz Roy and the Cerro El Torre, one of the world’s most challenging mountains to climb. We are very lucky that it is a cloudless day, which only occasionally happens over here. The hike takes 6 hours, meaning that Ton has a problem the next day….Tonight we will camp, also in El Chaltén, on the free campground Campamenta Confluéncia adjacent to the Visitor Center of Parque Nacionàl Los Glaciares. Here we meet Mike and Rene again with their Unimog and three Germans with two Mercedes motor homes. How small is our Land Rover! But the other cars are not able to follow the route we did in Bolivia.


Sunday we had a quiet day, worked on the website and fixed the roof of our car. And a bit of small talk with our neighbors. Monday the weather gets less nice with a strong wind. We  are hiking to Lago Capri in the direction of the Fitz Roy. The main part of the day, some 5 hours, we spent on sending our website information. Tuesday we left El Chaltén to El Calafate on Lago Argentino. At last we find an ATM over here. We continued to Lago Roca and set on our camp on the campground of the same name. A very good and clean campground with nice managers.


Wednesday we visited the glacier Perito Moreno. Really impressive! This glacier divides a lake in two parts and in March 2004 the glacier gave way after 16 years and the level in the closed part dropped some 15 meters! Thursday November 30th we left Lago Roca and went to El Calafate. In vain we tried to have a gas cylinder filled. We shopped and received e-mails. We succeeded to fill our diesel tank for the normal rate by making an appointment with the fore front guy at a time the shop manager would be gone and in such a way we avoided the penalty for cars with a foreign license plate.
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