2018-01-11 Day 252 Thu

Just before leaving camp john discovered another broken strap on water tank #2. We knew it would break, but just never finished taping the hole to attach the new piece. Put a webbing strap on it to hold it up and drove out of camp.
We continued on the yellow road south 122km’s till orange road. It is called RN 40 which is also the name of the main sealed road. The road was great in places, corrugated in others, and rocky in places. Less and less tyremarks were seen until there were non since the last rain.

Came down to the river which was just a mass of red mud with a small water channel down the middle. John walked across the “mud” with the spade to check depth. The deepest section was on the other side of the channel but only half spade depth till he hit bottom. All good. EC hardly sank; soft tyres and the mud being more sand than silt.
Interestingly on the other side were two vehicle tracks and lots of foot prints and a place they had turned.
Came across an oil field of nodding donkeys.

We filled with diesel and pumped up our tyres at the intersection with the orange road.

We were on orange for about 10km’s then turned off at laguna blanca. There were 3 conflicting signs on gate. Laguna Blanca 5km’s, attention Prohibited to pass, Private property, No hunting, fishing and chopping fire wood. And another – maintain the tranquil road. We hummed and harred then went in and camped on the edge of the road overlooking a half full lake and the mountains. A great sunset.

Although we had no Internet we wished Christopher a great birthday.

2018-01-10 Day 251 Wed

It drizzled a couple of times during the night. The stove did not start so after 3 tries took it apart and drained the excess fuel (1tblsp) and dried the combustion mat then just put it together. It worked so had my cup of tea. Moved on just after nine back to parque entrance.

Parque was open so we registered and went through. Were asked if we had animals or guns. When john asked about kayaking the ranger wanted us to leave kayak at headquarters. We ensured him we would not use it, so were allowed to leave it in the locker.
A fantastic drive in. The road followed a small river, the  gully was quite narrow at times, then as we crested the rise (3700m) the view was stunning. White mountains with the greys, reds, greens & browns of the ground. Back in Vacuna country.
The animal tracks with a  dusting of snow looked intriguing.

The lake is as advertised – blue with a conical volcano sitting on the other side. The top of which is the border with Chile.

Stove would not lite again so made a quick loaf of whole meal bread (coudn't precook the grain for wholegrain). The stove stopped straight away with glow plug problem tried twice more then pulled apart. Checked all the wiring dried the combustion mat. Put together then we (John) could cook lunch.
Sat around till about 3pm then drove over to the other side of lake where the camp ground was. Found a site up a little above the lake. Climbed up the mound of lava flow separate chunks of rock. Lots of flowers around to photograph. Another 5 star camp makes 3 in a row.

2018-01-09 Day 250 Tue

Our 5 star camp was still beautiful this morning the hills went pink then white. A beautiful sunrise. We had internet so did some work. John going well with his projects.

Had an early lunch and left. Within the first 10 minutes we had a flat we could hear the air escaping over and above the engine, rattles and road noise. A big hole in Rear left.. So there goes our neat tyre rotation…..
Drove on yellow roads and passed a lot of grape vines and wineries, peach and apple orchards. The grape vines had netting up their sides which held the leaves in tightly. Have not seen that before.

They are picking the peaches but did not find any to purchase. Most of the little towns were all closed I guess the sleepy time of the day.

We had to drive on the main red road for a way and was not enjoyable to much traffic and getting stuck behind trucks. Another yellow road this time gravel. 70km/h road for a while then dropped back to a 40km/h road. Arrived at the parqu entrance to be told the road was closed as it was raining at the diamond lagoon (45km’s). We were told we could camp there in car park but said we liked being alone, so the guard told us of a wonderful camp just 6km away. Another 5 star camp.

2018-01-08 Day 249 Mon

We didn’t get moved on so that was great. Some rain in the night and early morning. We had a little internet so did some more computer work. Not good enough to upload photos though. Left about 15:00, took some photos going back across the railway bridge. Filled with fuel and headed inland. Could see the fresh coating of snow on all the hills.

Got to the top of the pass and there was a track heading to the top of the hill so up we go and there was our 5 star camp. A beautiful sunset and lots of lightening and thunder. We stood out side in the very very still air watching the lightening to the north of us. A little cool but not cold. A lovely night.

2018-01-07 Day 248 Sun

John took some photos of the power lines and I took more cactus flowers. We left our exposed camp, surprisingly only one motorbike has passed us in the last 12 hours. So although close to the road, very quiet. The yellow road was sealed with a dirt section in the middle. We stopped on the dirt and visited some Inca ruins. Shame we could not garner more info from the Spanish signs.

Stopped and chatted to a couple of bikies on the roadside. One a german/kiwi guy was a bit miffed as they also tried to cross at paso Aqua Negro but supposedly a foreigner is not allowed to take an Argentinian registered vehicle out even in the company of the bikes owner!!
Back onto an Orange road and traffic everywhere. Not nice at all. Finally turned off crossed the river on an old railway bridge to be confronted with a no fires and no acampar sign. However we drove to the end of the road along the river and noticed a couple of tents on the way. We asked on of them if they were camping the night and he said yes all good. On the way back out we found a secluded spot on an old section of road, with a little internet. A big thunder storm was raging and looked like snow falling on the Andes.

2018-01-06 Day 247 Sat

A couple of cattle strolled past. Later a horseman and his two dogs. No one in Argentina seems to be interested or care we are camped in their area. In other places we used to have the locals come up to chat and find out what we were up to. Not here, no interaction much at all. Not even an acknowledgement.

We drove back past the parque entrance along the road thru the parque - fenced on both sides. Odd that we were disallowed from stopping on the road-side. No signage to this effect.
It was a neat drive with great hills to look at and a few tunnels. Certainly worth the drive. Drove up a gorge with lots of color; the first color we have seen in the hills in Argentina. Stopped for lunch at the lookout. A quick stop and walk down to a river to see the gorge on Rio Jachal.

Decided to go up Paso Agua del Negra. We had tried form the Chile side, traveled 100km’s up the valley only to be turned back 80km’s short for road closure/road works. We did no want to pass over into Chile this time, but just drive up and back down. The pass is at 4750m alt so we planned to spend the night at some springs at 3600m. We thought we could cope with the altitude. However when we got to the emigration station at 5pm we were told that we could not travel at night and to come back tomorrow. Well we gave up and continued south; stopped 90km short.
More dirt roads, no trees and no camp in site. Rock walls were bulldozed up about 10 meters from road to encourage the flood waters to run into the creeks. So getting off was more difficult. We finally found a navigable creek bed and drove up that and parked among the cactus.

2018-01-05 Day 246 Fri

The cool change finally came through and we woke to 25 degrees. The air was very hazy, looked like smoke and we wondered if it was dust from all the wind. 197km's to Parque provinvial Ischigualasto - Valle de Luna. We traveled along the boundary of Parque natural Provincal Valle Fertil at about 800m altitude.
We arrived at the valle de Luna at about 15:50. There was a convoy tour leaving at 5 so we bought tickets (AU$20 each) and headed to look at the museum. I had asked the guy if we could camp here and he pointed out a dusty parking area with lights and no view :-(.
 Dinosaurs… This park has the oldest (in at least Argentina) but they are smaller than the “younger” ones found in Patagonian.

The landscape was interesting. Lots of erosion which makes nice shapes. A lot of the “soil” is volcanic ashes. Supposedly this very wet area dried up when the Andes rose, causing the dinosaurs to starve. There are many dinosaurs here. Some have been excavated and others are just marked with poles. The highest pole number we saw was 38, they were numbered out from the entrance and we only saw a fraction of the parque.

Some neat colors, grey - volanic ash, red - iron oxide, and black – carbon. After the explanation in Spanish at the first stop I asked for it in English, we got a short spiel and no more English at any of the other stops. Disappointing! At the museum where we got to see 3 dinosaurs partly uncovered in there natural state there was still no English. The video was in Spanish with no subtitles.

The day was still very hazy and the light flat so photography was difficult, and visibility poor.

We got back to the gate at 20:30 half hour late. We drove ½ way out the entrance and camped 20m off the road and started omelette for dinner.
The ticket sales guy drove past saw us went back to the headquarters and picked up the police man.
No camping anywhere in parque, I had already been told? Not even on road side. They waited while we packed up and headed off. 35km to be out of park.
We started that way then realised we’d miss the view in the dark so turned around and head east. Outside the parque boundary we found a very old road and parked 20m from the road. Started dinner and john had the idea to check google to see if we were outside parque - NO - google had a different boundary than our OSM map. Packed up yet again… and headed further east.

Outside the boundary this time (we hope) we drove on a track about 200m off the road and camped. Third go at dinner and into bed at midnight, still had a little internet.

2018-01-04 Day 245 Thu

Finally off to the museum Rocsen. Wow and what a museum. This has grown out of one mans collections. The front wall has 40 statues ranging chronologically from homo-sapien to Martin Luther King.

The museum was full to the brim - stuff of the walls and ceilings everywhere. Something to cover anybodies interest. Steam engines of all sizes and one that caught our eye was a small one that ran a tiny workshop, lathe, grinder wheel, bench saw, drill press, maybe for a clock maker or other very small mechanisms. There was a 2 headed calf, a huge bull 1600kg and taller than us, human skulls, gemstones, lights, film projectors, xray machines, ancient ceramics, a fantastic bug and butterfly collection, a world wide coin collection, etc etc. We spent 3 hours looking and both our feet and backs were tired and sore. When we arrived there were 3 cars when we left about 50 with a parking attendant. Well worth driving half way across the continent to see.
We drove out on a dirt road and past the two small pointed hills that give the town its name Nono (breasts). We continued on a dirt back road for the first 70km’s - it was very straight. And turned off on a sealed road to go down an escarpment in a Reserva Natural Chancani. Neat place and nice to be on windy roads again. However the out look to the west was just flat plains stretching to the horizon with shrubs covering it. We would be driving this soon. Another 180km of pretty straight flat road. The first 80km was on a dirt road which in most cases was a 70kph road. This then turned to sealed when we joined with another road. The only feature was a “wet” area that was mostly dry with its salt residue left to sparkle in the sun.
Turning north we travelled another 10km and found a camp just off the side of the road under the power lines, still in view of the traffic but there is only scrub here. Quite a long day but there was not much to see, it was 38 ۫ C outside and very windy we just kept driving. We got to bed about 10:30 and it was still 35 degrees, but the wind was blowing so we weren't feeling too hot. The wind did stop in the night and I had to revert to putting on a wet T shirt to keep cool.

2018-01-03 Day 244 Wed

We spent some time using the Internet this morning. A bit slow maybe we need a different provider other than moviestar.
Just above our camp, on the road there was a dump truck and front end loader working and a bit further on a grader was doing what he could with the bony road. Not much dirt to work with….

We popped out on the main road for 200 meters and turned back into the same yellow road but this time it had a gate and rules no shooting, no camping, no fishing. We went through the gate and drove along a track which was not well used at all.

A beautiful flatish area at about 2000m alt with green small plains. The road was fenced in and the plains were farmed. After the road met with a track to a village it became more road like. We stopped for lunch on a flat expanse of rock with a view. Quite warm, about 35۫ C.

We dropped down into Villa Cura Brochero and did a little supermarket shopping. Lots of people around, holidays have started. We crossed a bridge and noticed lots of beaches so turned towards it. As we got to the beach there were guys collecting money for parking and hundres of cars, we turned tail.

Next river, car parking attendants asking us to park but we kept driving. While crossing the ford we had to miss children and dogs. People everywhere at least 4-500. We certainly were not stopping. Our chance of a quiet camp was looking grim. But john pulled one out of his hat, along past the museum was a rough track which we followed to a small quiet creek. A few houses but I think unoccupied. We sat in the shallow water and allowed the fish to nibble our feet. It is still 35۫ C but cooling by the river. Tomorrow will be hotter.

2018-01-02 Day 243 Tue


Awake at 5, still dark, by fishermen. Yes 2km of fore shore and they park 50m away. Apart from that a lovely quite night. We spent some time as usual on our computers then left to visit Alicia and Mario. 
We spent a couple of hours with them. John tried to identify the vines he had for wine then ended up at the neighboring house doing the same. Alberto invited john for a drink but Mario said we were his guests so Aberto and hit partner came and joined us. Just before we left we swapped contact details. I showed Alicia how to use google translate and copy the message to whatsApp and send to me.

On our way to the museo Rocsen again… We thought we may have been there on the 1st but it is still 2 days away.
As usual we tried to stay away from traffic, but the first while we had to share with all the holiday traffic. Quite well behaved but still not a nice feeling having a coach close to you wanting to pass on a windy road so we often pulled off to the side to let the traffic pass.
Of the 2 roads that cross the northern edge of the parque nacional Quebrada del Condorito we chose the windy one. Our map shows both roads of an equal quality.
The windy road was obviously the original road and, although maintained, was rather slow. It was nice to be in the hills and on an interesting road again.

We found a lovely camp spot near the top looking down over where we had come from. A five star camp with internet…..

2018-01-01 Day 242 Mon

 A new Year and decisions to make. We are still struggling with the “What next?” question. These last 3 weeks we have been traveling slowly. Sometimes even staying in the one area for 3 days. That was easy in Uruguay as Internet was great everywhere. Our short term plan is to try and drive only 2-3 hrs per day to give John time with his project. The lack of Internet is making this difficult.

We drove out and along the dirt road. In patches it was very slushy and slippery on top but with traction below. From white to a sealed yellow to a gravel yellow and back to seal. We filled with fuel in Embalse and stopped for lunch on a dirt track just above the road with a wonderful outlook of this man made lake. It is very touristy here around the lake but traffic soon thinned out. Drove on the west side of the Los Molines Dam. Just past San Clemente at the San Jose river a new bridge was being built and the ford was flooded from the recent rains. About turn. We came back to the Los Molines Dam where a few people were sitting on the beach or fishing. The Dam is down some what so the fore shore is a couple of hundred meters away. We camped within 7m of the water. We marked the waters edge with a stick as we were concerned it may still be rising. Sure enough it was but only 300mm (horizontally) in 4 hours.
There are people water skiing, wind surfing, jet skiing and mucking around in boats. A small speed boat was launched be side us. We watched at 9 people went aboard 5 put life jackets on. Then they puttered out and maybe over to the other side. They came back just before dark.
A elderly couple stopped to chat. John took Mario outside and explained things to him and I took Alicia inside to show her our small home. Neither have English so really tested my Spanish. Alicia asked how John and I got on together and coped being together in such a small place. I tried to explain that in Australia we also would spend a lot of time together. Alicia is very vivacious and quite ready to correct my Spanish. She also speaks slowly and when I do not understand she will demonstrate, or grab a calendar, she seems to know how to get her message across. One of the first we have found that knows how to “speak” without a common language.

They are a lovely couple and have a holiday house here just on the first corner of the road on the way out. They live in Cordoba the closest city. They asked us to drop by tomorrow on our way out.

Some guys had been fishing for a few hours so went and chatted to them. They have tiny hooks (I think the smallest I have seen) thread a worm onto it then catch a fish about 3-4 inches long. The fish are then kept in a 4lt bottle. They had caught about 40 and will fry them up.

The full moon rose large and bright behind the fishermen.

2017-12-31 Day 241 Sun

New Years Eve. We had only driven for 10 mins and we were into the rain. Back through Victoria and across the 59.4km’s of wetlands/floodplains. A number of bridges (total length 12.2km’s) joining islands across the wetlands. Visibility was poor with the rain but at least today is cooler than yesterday. We thought we may try to stay close to town to enjoy fireworks but was not to be.
We found a lovely area on the river to the west of Villa Maria but we just could not close our eyes to the amount of rubbish everywhere. Tried a little closer to town and settled in for a late lunch (4pm) Had some snags frying with some spuds when a cyclist stopped by. John chatted to him. Although this track was safe enough in day time for cycling and running seemingly at night it becomes a drug sellers haven. So after a quicker than wanted lunch, we moved on.

Saw a ute stuck on a freshly dressed road and stopped to help, he had just slid and was dropping his tyre pressure, he continued on leaving trenches in the nicely dressed road.......

Out of town on yellow then turned onto a muddy road for 14km’s to river. Road was not too bad under a couple of inches of slush was a firm base. However we did see the mess made by a vehicle which had ended up in the drain.
John found us a lovely well frequented spot by the river. It was a little slippery getting up the bank to it!! We tucked in under the trees and tried hard to ignore the rubbish, including used condoms! I guess the rubbish is better here than in the river!!

We watched the milk tanker drive past, which is the reason that these roads are well made, the milk has to get out!
We had nibbles sitting on the bed with our wine just to be different.

Watched the last of Les Miserables and crashed before the year was out. 400km’s

2017-12-30 Day 240 Sat

Wheel change day. We have been meaning to do this for about 4000km’s but just hasn’t happened for one reason or another. Didn’t take long. The spare on the right went on the right rear, and the rear went on the front and the front on the spare. Same with the left side. Took a little over an hour. But was very hot in the sun. Due to be 37۫ C today with a cool wet change tomorrow.
With Internet in mind it is easy to see we have left Uruguay. Pretty much wherever we went in Uruguay we had great signal, now not so.

We drove on up to Victoria, a very mundane drive, sealed road and very straight. Some small ups and downs. We couldn’t find a park in town next to the river so headed out NW on a white road to a lake. We pulled off the road in high weeds under a tree. We sat outside in the shade which was so much cooler than inside EC. It had certainly reached its forecast temp of 37۫ C.
We watched the first half of Les Miserables, then went to sleep about 11:30. At midnight there was a bang and call at the side of the vehicle “Police”. We could see the vehicle with flashing lights on the road and the cop out the front of the vehicle. John yelled back and got some clothes on and exited. I got dressed and listened. John and the cop talked at the front of the vehicle. Our passports were required so John took out our photocopies to the vehicle and was questioned by the older cop. The first cop answered the questions for John. A ute arrived which had the fellow who “called” us in, he would not look at John. The cops didn’t seem to concerned didn’t want original passport or Aduana and soon all left. Back to bed.

2017-12-29 Day 239 Fri

Border crossing today. We drove into Fray Bentos and spent our last Uruguayan cash on wine and meat. A little thought went through my mind about keeping some money for road tolls but dismissed it. A mistake….. Yes a road toll just before border. Yes we could pay with US$ so backed out of the pay booth, found some US$ then an English speaking worker came over to us and explained how many US$ or Argentinians we’d need. The Argentinean money was in my hand…….  Oh well paid the A$4 got the change in Argentinian money then headed to customs.

A different system here. We parked the car and entered the office to be told immigration is done in the drive through booth. Good, so we got that all done well we got stamped into Argentina with a 90 day visa, but not out of Uruguay. At the next booth we needed to exit car and go inside to do Aduana for EC. Handed over the Uruguayan paperwork then waited at the counter for the Argentinean counterpart. He came in from outside and was the guy that directed us inside. All good he had some English. EC was no problem got a 90 day Aduana and the info that we needed to leave the country to renew the visa. In some of the other countries we could just apply. Also it is OK to exit the country leaving EC here provided she is still within her 90 day visa.
Across the mighty Rio Uraguay and back into Argentina.The border here is in the middle of the river.

Drove to Gualeguaychu and camped in the parque municipal. A lovely place well attended. Camped on the grass in the sun just near Rio Gualeguaychu. It was very hot but we sat in the shade of the vehicle until the awning came into play. We did not swim as we could see lots of wire at the waters edge. Seemed to be more vehicles driving around during the night… 116km’s

2017-12-28 Day 238 Thu

We went for different walks along the beach. I was out for a bit of exercise as skipping is aggravating my right knee (too many squats!) John went for a long walk away from the built up area.

We continued towards our border crossing at Fray Bentos knowing we would not make the distance today.
We looked into the parque at Dolores and although it was neat and tidy just didn't suit us
Traveled 26km's north and after driving down a track for a few km's ended up tucked up in the shade beside a tree on a tributary to the Rio Uruguay.

One has to remember that these tributaries are nearly the size of the Murray.

It has been in the high 30’s the last few days. We sat outside under the awning until the bities drove us inside. 195kms today

We are seeing what we had expected. Lots of farming, flat land and straight roads. One has to look to see something interesting. This is also showing up in that we are only taking a few photos every day and have to work hard to find something to photograph.
Hence the new photo folder of "Signs"

2017-12-27 Day 237 Wed

 Mike and Alison wanted to take us to lunch at the mercado de Puerto. We got there a bit late as we were looking for it in the wrong place finally found it and a park for EC. The Mercado is the old port markets building that now house a number of restaurants. A great atmosphere. The building was originally shipped out from England. After a huge feed of lamb, beef pork and fish we said our good byes and headed west.

We are camped on the “river” which is about 65km’s wide and were quite surprised to find it fresh. We had a cooling off swim just before the sun set. It was like being at the beach - with no visible horizon.

2017-12-26 Day 236 Tue

After a lunch of leftovers Mike took us to the Blainey museum that we had thought was up by the lake. We liked Belainey's paintings. Two were huge - over 3m X 5m. The scene of the war horses was very detailed with lots of depth, could almost hear them.
On the porch there were these wonderful figures created from shells.

Next stop, shopping center we bought a fair bit to restock EC then the struggle to get it all packed away as I was doing this the guests arrived so I went in to shower and join the group.

An interesting mix of people, Australians, Uruguayan, Germans, Bolivian & English - a real mix of nationalities. Made for an interesting night.

2017-12-25 Day 235 Mon

Christmas day. Fruit platter and pancakes for brunch oh and a bottle of sparkling, (Chandon made in Uruguay.) Mike took us for a drive around the city and up to the fort. The fort had a museum of rifles and pistols, quite interesting. I wouldn’t like to have a blunderbuss pointed at me….

It is interesting that Mike insists that the ocean as we see it is actually still river and is named a river out to a line between two headland, punta del Este and San Clemente del Tuyu about 223kms apart and 100km’s seaward of Monteviedeo.

We drove around parliament house and past the presidents home which was neighbored by other grand old houses

Had an afternoon nap then lovely roast lamb for dinner. Haven't had lamb since we were back in Aus.