Colonia, Uruguay and on to the Argentine Pampas

After we dropped off our camper at Sandra’s near Colonia in Uruguay in March 2016 we flew home for a break. The plan was to return after a few months to drive south to Ushuaia. The standard route for most overlanders. Due to some medical issues we had to stay home much longer and our camper would have overstayed his welcome in Uruguay. So with Sandra’s help we applied for an extension from Aduana in Uruguay which allowed us to keep it stored until the fall of 2017. When we returned to Uruguay a few weeks ago we found out that some overlanders were in trouble for leaving their vehicles in the country and flying home. So after we picked up our camper and said goodbye to Sandra (who – together with husband Enrique –  took great care of the camper and helped us with all issues) we headed for Argentina. When we approached the border we were a little apprehensive, but we breezed right through, got our piece of paper and then we were back in Argentina. The truck had been sitting for  1 1/2 years and we were not surprised when it had some issues, it barely made it up the hill at one point.  We stopped at a gas station and after removing a rat’s nest from inside the air filter and adding some booster to the “old” diesel it ran like a charm again.

So we are off, headed south and getting used to camper life and close quarters. The wet pampas flew by the car window, lush greenery, beautiful birds and cattle as far as you could see. In Sierra de la Ventana we took a break, got our bikes out, dropped the laundry off and stayed for 4 days. Exploring the area on a bicycle or horse is the way to go, we ended up riding for 50 + km one day, through fields and past Estancias, their houses shaded by large trees. Beautiful horses everywhere and of course the beef cattle.

We never saw a car and at one point did not know exactly where we were, having left all electronic devices back at the camper. So we talked to some friendly gauchos who showed us the way.

It is a nice place to hang out in the off-season, a favorite vacation spot for Argentinians,  probably a zoo in summer. We were camped beside the indoor pool and close to the creek in town, on the other side of the creek in the high bank, the burrowing parrots were nesting in caves. I loved sitting in front of the camper watching the parrots working on their nests and carrying on, noisy neighbors they are.




Buenos Aires seen from Colonia. Unadulterated photo.



visitor in the camp ground


El faro in Colonia


Green parrots in the palms in Colonia.

Argentina, the Pampas


Roseat Spoonbill


Wood Storks




Asking directions after we were not sure anymore about the way home. One of our favorite photos.


50 km, more than we had planned.


all alone somewhere in the wet pampas



“My home is my burrow”

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Taking a break

We are skipping winter in Patagonia and will continue our travels in October 2017. So long.

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Las Leñas and Valle Hermoso

February 2016

Driving through the irrigated vineyards of Mendoza we marveled at the fancy wineries, it felt like we were in California’s Napa Valley.



You can tour the different plush wineries, taste the Malbec and buy a case. After an overnight stop in Manzana Historica and more wineries in the Valle de Uco we had seen enough famous grapes, tasted some good wines, so we headed up to the ski resort Las Leñas. Both of us are skiers and grew up on skis, so names like Las Leñas and Portillo ring a bell. As kids we watched world cup ski races held here on TV.


Las Leñas in summer is like many ski resorts without snow, not very exciting.


Las Lenas

We drove on and worked out way up a pass and back down the other side. Valle Hermoso, a pretty valley ringed by mountains and with a small lake was on the other side. At the end of the road there is a steep trail and one can continue over to Chile with mules and horses only. We spent a few nights by a creek, hiked in the valley and enjoyed the solitude in the mountains. Some farmers and some fly fishermen came by, all waved and kept going.


Valle Hermoso


Our camping spot by the creek in the Valle Hermoso


Almost the end of the road



Rhodophiala (in the Amaryllis family) grow high in the Andes

Life along the creek, we went for long walks every day, watching wildlife and finding flowers.


Andean goose



Plant life in the creek


Andean ibises (black faced)


He came by every day, rounding up sheep, goats and horses.

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Northern Argentina , south along the Andes

End of January 2016

The eastern slope of the Argentinian Andes is drier than we had expected. However, sophisticated watering systems, some dating back to the indigenous people, allow for irrigating and agriculture.

Slowly we worked our way south. We wanted to visit Aconcagua, the highest mountain in South America at 6,961 metres (22,838 ft), and the highest point in the Western Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere.

In Cafayate we stocked up one more time, coffee had been hard to come by and we love our two cups every morning. Time and again we bought beans or ground coffee that did not make us happy. It tasted weird, we couldn’t figure out why, maybe they were just cheap beans (robusta) usually roasted with sugar. The cup of coffee in the coffee shops tasted great though. Still, mate is what many people drink and coffee is not that important.


Finally, some decent coffee beans.



Molinos, south of Cachi.


The countryside on the way to Cafayate is amazing.



Red pepper tree near Molinos


Torrontés is a white Argentine wine grape variety, producing fresh, aromatic wines.

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After a long drive from Cafayate we headed up into the mountains and settled down at Los Nascimentos Hot Springs.




The road ends at the hot springs. We were alone there for three days.



Bye bye Nascimentos, it was great.

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Not a bad view from this camp site at La Cienaga.


Here comes the sun na na na

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Heave rain fall in the mountains made for some crazy “baden” crossings.

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Uspallata Pass, 4000 m (13 000 ft)


“Christ the Redeemer” The 7m-high bronze statue was commissioned from sculptor Mateo Alonso of Buenos Aires and erected here in 1904. There are two plaques at its base. One reads “He is our peace who hath made us one.” The other, placed there in 1937, declares: “Sooner shall these mountains crumble into dust than Argentines and Chileans break the peace sworn at the feet of Christ the Redeemer.”


Wildflowers at the base of the mountains near Aconcagua




Aconcagua again


Uspallata Pass, border to Chile.

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Hot sulphur springs at the Inca Bridge. There was a hotel-spa here years ago, now all you see are the remnants.

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Leoncito National Park has several observatories.

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The only living thing we saw in the pampa were horses.

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Tocota pampa, not a good place to cross after rain storms in the mountains.


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CHRISTO DE TOCOTA: This Jesus statue stood there all by itself in the middle of nowhere, we camped at the base and felt protected.

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Books we liked: Nicaragua

“The Jaguar Smile”  by Salman Rushdie

“The country under my skin”  by Gioconda Belli

“Blood of brothers”  by Stephen Kinzer

Posted in Nicaragua | 2 Comments

Books we liked: Ecuador

“Measuring the World” by Daniel Kehlmann (German: “Die Vermessung der Welt”)

“The Queen of Water” Laura Resau

“The Mapmakers Wife” by Robert Whitaker (German: “Die Frau des Kartographen”)


“My Fathers Island” by Johanna Angermeyer

“Floreana” Margret Wittmer (German: “Postlagernd Floreana”)

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Books we liked: Colombia

“The sound of things falling”  (Juan Gabriel Vasquez) tags: Cocaine, Peace Corps, Love

La otra raya del tigre ,  Pedro Gómez Valderrama,  tags: Geo von Lengerke

(Spanish only)

and of course the books by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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