Friday, 27 December 2013


By Mark

We awaited Shandy Man's arrival in La Plata before riding south. We had decided back in Buenos Aires that we should ride together until we got to Peninsula Valdes. Our plan was to keep heading south from there while Shandy would head west. The days were long and the scenery was quite dull which made for boring riding.

There was nothing particularly interesting to see in the area so we all decided we would just to push on and make kilometres each day. We found a good routine each day and found that we travelled well together, except for Shandy Man's habit of lighting a smoke every time we stopped. Each evening would usually be spent hassling poor Shandy, Sanne was having a great time giving him stick and for a change I wasn't the one copping her flack. Sorry Shandy!

Heading south there was nothing really noteworthy over the 4 days of riding to Puerto Madryn. The dull landscape would be interrupted once in a while by signs declaring The Falkland Islands to be Argentinas. They are very adamant on this subject. We were talking to an elderly woman in one of the towns we passed through about our trip and almost mid-sentence she bursts out: "Las Malvinas son Argentinas!" Jeez...where the hell did that come from?!

We did head through the mid level mountain ranges of Sierra De La Ventanna which made for a nice change in the long flat dry landscape. Shandy's little bike was not liking the long days however and was showing signs of its dislike by leaking plenty of oil over the engine; when we inspected more closely we also noticed oil in the airbox which is also not good. The piston and rings are likely needing to be replaced also along with a few other bits and pieces I would suspect to slow the oil flow out onto the engine. When we arrived in Puerto Madryn we did give the bikes a service and this is when I noticed that our tyres were on their way out and were not going to last as long as I had hoped. We got great mileage out of the last tyres we had on the bikes and I had expected the same again but the endless kilometres on the straight roads in Brazil and Argentina have taken its toll on the tyres that are squaring off.

We spent a night in the campground in Puerto Madryn, a big town on the mainland of Peninsula Valdes. Here there were quite a few other overlanders in cars, one Austrian guy in his Land Rover was just in the beginning of his 10 year quest around the world! The next day, after doing some grocery shopping, we set out for the peninsula and the little settlement of Puerto Piramides where we camped in the municipal campground which was free because they were doing some maintenance work on it. Peninsula Valdes is a 3,600 km2 nature reserve and a UNESCO world heritage site. Most of the peninsula is barren land with a few salt lakes, one of them being 40 m below sea level, one of the lowest salt lakes in the world. It's when you get to the coast line that the real action happens. Here you'll find marine mammals such as sea lions, elephant seals, fur seals, penguins, southern right whales and orcas. The orcas here are famous for sometimes beaching themselves on shore to catch sea lions and elephant seals, although you have to be very lucky to see this and it only happens around February.

It is about 250 kms of gravel road to go around the peninsula so we set off in the morning so we would have time to explore all the hotspots. Our first stop was to see the sea lions which were all pretty chilled out enjoying the morning sunshine. The other big attraction was the little penguins just a few kilometres up the road. The is only a small population of these little guys there but they were all up on the banks also enjoying the sunshine, one couple were even enjoying a little morning nookie!
We were surprised with the very small amounts of traffic specially after meeting so many travellers back in Puerto Madryn the day earlier. We were happy with this, not just to have good close encounters with the wildlife without the hordes of tourists, but it also meant that we did not have to deal with large amounts of dust while riding. It is very dry and barren and with very little rainfall in this part of the country the dust can be a pain. The country side was stunning, even when there is nothing around for miles on the endless dry plains. The contrast from the land to the sea to the wildlife was stunning and it was so great to be away from the highly populated cities further north.

We did get to see many various wildlife but we missed two very big draw cards to this area. Southern right whales who come here between May and December. By the time we had arrived sadly these guys had moved on. We also missed the Orcas. We did hear some people had seen them a few days prior but the chances seeing them are slim. You really need to be around to see them on high tides only and because of the tide times, we were not around at the right time to take advantage of this. So feeling a little bummed not being able to see them we hit the road for the final leg for the ride back to the campsite. At least we did get to see more wildlife with many Guanacos (a type of lama) in the fields. Very timid though and we struggled to even get a photo of them. Every time we stopped they would just take off in the opposite direction with all the family in tow, sometimes with numbers into the high twenties.

Back at camp we sat back with a cold beer to take in the day. We all agreed that it was a great decision to come here and for Sanne and I we could not wait to see more of what Patagonia had to offer. As for Shandy, well we said our goodbyes the following day and with the hope to see each other somewhere over on the western side of Argentina in the future.
For now Patagonia was already looking at being a great place to travel.

No, this is not a gypsy lady we ran into on the road, it's simply Shandy Man wearing his signature look

Sierra de La Ventana

That's a big onion!

Entering Patagonia

These signs are everywhere in Argentina

And in case you need a reminder...

Free camp by the river in Carmen de Patagones

Where are we going again?

Roller blades, the must have accessory when travelling by motorbike

 Peninsula Valdes

Patagonia has some stunning sunsets

Lots of seals and sea lions!

They may not look it but they are alive, just recharging their batteries in the sun

Two male sea lions settling a little disagreement

Sea lion resting on a rock

And then diving in for a dip

Emotions are running high, fights between male sea lions were breaking out left, right and centre

A little lizard in the sand dunes

A Magellanic penguin enjoying a bit of afternoon sunshine

These two were enjoying something else...

And here's some penguin porn for the ones who are that way inclined...

Very much the gentleman giving his partner a little soft touch after their love making session

La Chica en La Moto

Armadillos were running around all over the place

1 comment:

  1. Great stuff - love that yellow lizard and also the porn clip.