From San Martin de los Andes to Mendoza - Nov 2006

We join San Martin de Los the Andes while passing the 7 lakes district. Sun is shining and 'la vie est belle'… We decide to stay one night there and the next day we will decide if we cross the border to Chile on this level or if we still go a little more to the north before passing through another “paso”.
Catherine's cell telephone is lost… we do not have another SIM card and we will have to find a solution for the future…





We finally decided to go up more north and the aim is to cross the border to Chile at the paso Tehuelche… the idea to drive through the cordillera before joining Chile excites us. After one night spent in Chos Malal, we meet Kees and Toon, a swiss & a dutch man, who have travelled for 7 months in a Defender… They crossed North America, then the Central America and are now joining Ushuaia (www.Ruta-panamerica.com). At  the beginning of their trip, their wives were participating. Once again the meeting is very interesting. They provide us invaluable information for Bolivia (GPS points, contacts in La Paz,…). For us this is a 'golden' info.

We leave, direction the cordillera and Paso Pehuelche. The landscapes are changing quickly and become more  “volcanic”. Here also, we do not cross many vehicles in this period of the year. We see condors, eagles…from far away... We drive on a track to join Chile. The aim is  to arrive at the customs at  the evening and to pass the border the next morning.







At one time Daniel sees an eagle with a white belly at the edge of the road, who is devoring a dead hare with other raptors… When Daniel approaches with the camera, the eagle flies away on a post a little further… the animal is splendid.

At 1500 m of altitude, we discover a valley… We arrive in front of a barrier of the customs at Los Loicas but in fact there are no customs officers there … the paso is closed.

We discuss then with workmen who are repairing the roads (in the future, there will be perhaps asphalt instead of tracks… what a pity!) and we consider the various solutions by looking at the map. Several pasos in the cordillera are inaccessible, snow reaches still 2 to 3 meters height there and even the workers with their machines do not pass. They propose us to go down 400 km to the south to be able to cross the cordillera to Chile… but we do not like to go back and decide instead to continue our trip to the North and cross in the area of Mendoza. We ask the permission to spend the night at their refugio and they accept immediately… They are glad to discover a family of “nomad” travellers, they ask many questions,… These people are also “nomads” which are used to the bivouacs in the mountains. During the evening they inform us about their nice area: there are thermal bathes cloth to the refugio, also a fabulous cave... Great we will visit them. They also tell us that in the cordillera they see UFOS regularly. The last time it was 6 months ago in the valley where we were… We did not see them…


After the breakfast and an interesting discussion about politics and life in Argentina and South America, we leave our camping… Muchas gracias for your reception José, Rosa, Claudio and Eduardo.

Claudio and Eduardo leave before us with their enormous machine. They said to us that the road had not been practiced any more since last year and that they have to remake certain areas.
A little later, we find them on the way. Indeed after the winter and the 4 to 5 meters of snow which fell down, the roads are strongly damaged. They repair the impracticable places or evacuate the enormous rocks fallen from the sides of the hills… Without them it would have been impossible to arrive at the thermal baths…

They are great and their reception is exceptional…