14 Days by Motorcycle Through South America
After years of work, I understood that it was the right moment to undertake something different from the conventional, for example, a long motorcycle trip. Chatting to a friend that also likes adventures, the plans started to be traced out. First we considered to go to the Brazilian Northeast where there are very beautiful beaches. Then, we got the idea of knowing Chile, it was motivated mainly by the crossing of the Andes and also the Lakes and volcanoes in the South of that Country. Set the route, we minimized the planning to the necessary like appropriate clothes, equipment, motorcycles checking, places to be visited etc.
1st Day - 04/03/98 (Wednesday)
We left of Florianópolis-SC at 10:00 o'clock, Me, Cícero dos Santos Paes, riding a Kawasaki Vulcan/750 and my friend João Henrique Schwarzer with a Suzuki Marauder/800 whose odometer marked 1.152 km exactly. From Florianópolis we went direct to Santo Angelo-RS (Brazil), arriving in that city about the 21:00h for the first overnight stop.
2nd Day - 05/03/98 (Thursday)
We left Santo Angelo at 09:00 o'clock, not without visiting the Ruins of São Miguel one of the " 7 People of the Missions". So, we had the first little problem: the cable that marks the speed of my motorcycle broke, assuming the obligation to just control the speed by the tachometer, what is not so hard. Replace the cable in the area would be impossible. We rode some dozens of kilometers and, when we stopped in a gas station, I realize that one of my backpacks had one open pocket, exactly the one that kept loader of battery of my video camera. What happened is this: in a stop at the edge of the highway I forgot to close correctly the zipper of the backpack pocket. Good-bye loader! Where to buy other? I thought: " when the battery finishes, well,... it is in the hands of God!" We passed by São Borja, land of Getulio Vargas, presidente of Brazil died in l953, crossing the new International bridge that links Brazil to Argentina.Brasil/Argentina border
We began our international itinerary in a fairly good road with strong lateral winds and rain. When we arrived in Paso de Los Libres, we tried to buy another loader, but we didn't obtain success. Leaving the city, in a gas station, my friend João Henrique forgot to use the side stand and his motorcycle almost fell on the ground. We rode some kilometers and the Argentinean Police signalized to stop. As we are not used to stop on the road, we pulled off without noticing that the edge was a 15 cm of depth soft muddy land. At the end, the policemen felt in obligation to help us to get out from there forgetting to check our motorcycles and documents. At 21:00 o'clock we arrived at a place called Villa Federal where we made our first international connection home.
3rd Day - 06/03/98 (Friday)
We woke up early, made some stretching exercises, after all we needed to be fit. When we arrived the in city of Paraná, 230 km ahead, in the low parts of the road the water running as a river, what demanded a lot of attention. We crossed the tunnel under Paraná River that links the homonymous city to Santa Fé (a beautiful city).Another loader's fruitless search. After Santa Fé the highway was excellent and the landscape very beautiful, leaving the impression of a prosperous area. At 21:00 o'clock we arrived at Villa Maria, where in a gas station, happened another funny fact : we decided to take a picture of our motorcycles beside one of those " motorcycles " of low cc capacity that belonged to a girl of the snack bar. My friend João Henrique again forgot the side stand and...crash! The machine went really to the ground, however nothing serious happened (we took the picture). The odometer marked: 1.923 km from home.
4th Day - 07/03/98 (Saturday)
We only left Villa Maria at 09:30h, because the owner of the hotel forgot to wake us up at 06:00 o'clock. We proceeded in direction to Rio Cuarto, area seemingly prosperous with intense traffic of trucks. An itinerary of straight highways very well kept. After San Luís city, the area resembles the "savannah " of our middle-West of Brazil, we could see many vineyard, especially near Mendoza. We arrived in Mendoza at 19:00 o'clock, a beautiful and perfected city, located next of the Cordillera of the Andes. in the evening we went to know the downtown, observing the great movement of people in the well kept squares.
5th Day - 08/03/98 (Sunday)
We liked so much Mendoza that in the morning we decided to give one more turn in the downtown. We paid attention to the water that came from the Andes to maintain the exuberant trees in spite of practically not rain in the city. We went until a hill denominated "Cerro de La Glória", a magnificent monument is placed therein honor to the "Army of the Andes". About the 09:30h we left Mendoza in direction to the Cordillera. A landscape started to be more and more interesting. The highway followed Rio Mendoza. After about 100 km appeared magnificent in the horizon the first snow-covered pick.First view of Andes Near to Aconcagua Peak
We have waited anxiously for this view is the time to take out our cameras and begin to film and to take pictures (until there the battery of the camera continued resisting heroically). The snow-covered picks started to get closer and more and more magnificent.
In a place denominated " Los Penitentes " we observed a cable car that arises from the margins of the highway up to 2.800 meters. There we went. Due to the high and in spite of the cold wind, the view is spectacular. When we were in the cable car, arrived the hour of the heroic battery contain its activities. Since then we would just take pictures. We crossed magnificent tunnels and arrived at the border of Argentina to Chile. Rigorous controls at the custom, including a search in our belongings. When it was accommodating my things on the motorcycle, after the search, and perhaps suffering from the influence of my friend's João Henrique I also forgot the side stand and my motorcycle went to the ground!. I took advantage of swearing in Portuguese at the policemen that made the search, not very loudly they could understand.
We began the descent of the Cordillera on the Chile side, that, unlike the ascent on the Argentina side it is a abrupt slope. We remembered to take care with the norms of traffic in Chile, once we had been informed how they are rigorous.
6th Day - 09/03/98 (Monday)
We got up early and we went to seek an appropriate place for the maintenance routine of the motorcycles, after all the time had arrived to pay attention to the machines and also acquire another loader for the camera.
Called our attention the City of Santiago (big, apparently organized traffic, streets well signaled, magnificent buildings, etc.). About the 16:30h we left in direction of Valparaíso and Viña Del Mar, cities located on the pacific coast. We appreciated the magnificent sunset for the first time. My friend João Henrique didn't resist and dived in the cold waters of Pacific because he intended to register that since that moment he was a man of 2 seas. We came back to Santiago about 23:30h for a overnight stop. At this moment: 3.424 km from home.
7th Day - 10/03/98 (Tuesday)
Before leaving in direction to the South of Chile, we made some pictures in the government's palace (La Moneda), coincidentally in that same day Pinochet "retired". We passed direct by Rancagua and Talca, important cities after Santiago because our objective was Temuco where starts the Area of the Lakes.
We proceeded towards Chillan, other good city going southwards, always observing the beautiful landscape and the characteristics of the area, which seemed to us very rich: reforestation, a lot of infra structures for camping, great vineyard, etc. At 22:00 o'clock, we arrived in Temuco as we intended.
8th Day - 11/03/98 (Wednesday)
A week of highway riding. We woke up early, as always. Going to the downtown we could observe better the city and also look for an exchange house. We sent post cards to the family and friends and we carried on in direction of Villarica where we would know the first lake. In the middle of the trip appeared in the horizon the homonymous volcano, with its snow-covered pick, showing all its impressiveness. It was another exuberant view, similar to that of the beginning of the crossing of the Cordillera. I arrived to Villarica practically without fuel, in one of the first imprudence of that trip. The close view to the crystalline lake with the volcano to the bottom is indescribable, a postcard view. We proceeded later to Pucon, always with the lake to the left and the volcano to the right, observing the magnificent structures made to the tourism, as huts, areas for camping, restaurants and a magnificent casino in the downtown. From Pucon we proceeded to another smaller lake, denominated Lincarey However beautiful it is not as exuberant as the previous. From that place we proceeded in direction of Panguipulli through a highway not paved about40 km). That demanded a lot of attention, once our motorcycles were not appropriate for that highway type. From these points, that are in the East side of the Cordillera, we proceeded in direction to the West Pacific) heading for Valdívia and, further on, Los Molinos, where we had dinner in a restaurant with a magnificent view of the Pacific sunset. Enjoying that we came back to Valdívia for overnight.
Em Valdívia, enquanto eu negociava a estadia num hotel, meu amigo João Henrique, que ficou cuidando das motos, facilitou com um dos curiosos que sempre estavam admirando as máquinas e, "pluft", sumiu suas luvas de estimação, adquiridas em Temuco para enfrentar o frio.
9th Day - 12/03/98 (Thursday)
We proceeded heading to Osorno, other important city of the south area of Chile. For the first time we faced some fog and, this way, we passed direct by the city in direction of Puerto Varas, exuberant place of German colonization. luckily the weather getting better. We proceeded in direction to the famous volcano Osorno, distant 40 km. Again postcard landscapes and a lot of infra structures along the road. After the end of the paved highway, quite close to the volcano, we came back to Puerto Varas, continuing until Puerto Montt, our most extreme point in the South of Chile. The mark: 4.570 km traveled from home.
We started the return going to the city of Osorno. From there we went eastwards in direction of San Carlos of Bariloche Argentina, in other words,for a change, our return would be made by a different road. After Osorno, it appeared magnificent the Puyehue lake, also with a lot of infra structures to the tourism. After the lake, we penetrated to the homonymous national park in search of one overnight stop. We thought that had arrived the hour to use a small hut type tent we brought. But the cold in that place (quite high) was not inviting for that accommodation type. The money was also short. Always we left a country, we took care not to take spare coins with us, they were not always well accepted in convenience shops of other countries. At night we finished in a snack bar integrated with other people that had dinner at that place: 2 Argentinean couples and 1 Italian. We slept in Park workers' house.
10th Day - 13/03/98 (Friday)
We left the park very early, facing perhaps the coldest itinerary until then. Starting from the border of Chile with Argentina, we began in a well kept but unpaved highway.
On the Argentinean side appeared incredible lakes as beautiful as those of Chile. We expected more of the city of Bariloche, however we believed that frustration was due to the lack of snow. Anyway it is an interesting city. After Bariloche the landscape is quite different, with the highway bordering a torrential river to the right and a land with desert aspect and many sharp rocks to the left. We finished the day in a place called Arroyto, close to Neuquen, important city of the area.Center of Bariloche city
Após Bariloche a paisagem é bastante diferente, com a rodovia margeando um rio caudaloso à direita e um solo com aspecto de deserto e de muitas rochas pontiagudas à esquerda. Fomos terminar o dia numa localidade denominada Arroyto, já próximo a Neuquen, importante cidade da região.
A fact that called our attention, in Argentina and in Chile, were the vehicles that flashed their lights or honked to greeting us. Everywhere when we stopped there was a lot of curiosity in relation to the motorcycles and the route made. Also curiosities about famous Brazilian subjects like carnival, samba, soccer, Pelé, Romário, Ronaldinho, etc.
11th Day - 14/03/98 (Saturday)
We left, once again very early, passing straight for Neuquen and Rio Negro, the last city known by the production of apples. We observed that until then we were lucky not to be bothered by the policemen, as they usually, mainly in Argentina, always try to find a reason to fine tourists. We observed, also, that in Chile the policemen are very polite. From Chlloe Chlloe's city to Rio Colorado, about 140 km, the highway is incredibly flat and straight. We passed direct by Bahia Blanca,a port city located in the Southwest of Argentina. We stayed overnight in Benito Juarez, about 400 km before Buenos Aires.
12th Day - 15/03/98 (Sunday)
We arrived in Buenos Aires around 14:00 o'clock, we photographed and filmed tourist points like the Casa Rosada, July 9, May 31 and Corrientes Streets, besides the Congress. The city with its wide avenues impressed us. We sought information on how could we go to Colony in Uruguay through a Ferry-Boat, and luckily there was one of those embarcation leaving at that moment. There we were over the " Prata Estuary",whose extension is 45 km, leaving Buenos Aires behind us. The crossing impressed us not only for the beauty but also for the high price, about of U $140 for the two motorcycles, but as we didn't have another option... From the Port of Colony we left direct to Montevideo, distant only 180 km. Montevideo is a beautiful city, with intense night life, characteristic of most of the cities we passed, as well as for many contrasts between modern and old buildings, the last ones carefully kept.
13th Day - 16/03/98 (Monday)
Leaving Montevideo in direction of Punta Del Leste, the highway follows the "Mar Del Plata", offering a very beautiful view of the Uruguayan Capital. At 16:30h we were in the border of Uruguay with Brazil, in Chuí, our extreme point in the South of Brazil. We sought a border mark for the usual pictures, unfortunately we didn't find it. We proceeded ahead to stay overnight close to the City of Pelotas, already with that sensation of being near home but, still distant about 700 km.
14th Day - 17/03/98 (Tuesday)
We left again early, passing direct by the city of Porto Alegre, just stopping to take a picture at the bridge of the Guaíba River. As we were already missing some rain, we faced it in the last day of trip but this time in a sporadic way, different from the one we faced on the way to Argentina. About 18:30h we were crossing the bridge Colombo Sales in Florianópolis, our home, taking the last pictures.
After exact 8.137 km traveled in 14 days through Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, an average daily rate of 581 km, we considered the adventure a success, which overcame in everything our expectation.