As the Andes winds it’s way south from Bolivia it takes on a somewhat slimmer figure and, rather than being faced with multiple ranges and an expansive altiplano, crossing it becomes a simple ‘up and over’ affair. Forming a natural frontier between chile and Argentina, those of us with a penchant for riding in the mountains subsequently find ourselves crossing from one country to the other pretty often, with the tail end of my passport becoming quite the collection of scribblings and stamps from obscure Andean border outposts. This post details my fourth crossing, since followed up with a fifth (there’s a bit of a backlog!), with at least four more in the pipeline….
Each with their own quirks and distinct personalities, this constant hopscotching between the two countries certainly keeps things interesting. Argentina brings to the table it’s impressive old banger collection (more Renault 12’s than you can shake a stick at), rather absurd 11pm dinner times, curious mate addiction, currency crisis (packing US dollars makes you 50% better off…) and general laid back steak loving friendliness. Whereas over on the other side, things are somewhat more orderly, with Chile often feeling more North American than Latino. It’s cosmopolitan cities and obvious wealth came as quite a shock at first, not quite ‘Crocodile Dundee in New York’, but I’ll admit I felt strangely out of place with my hole strewn merino and battered belongings. Suddenly the daily budget doesn’t get you very far and, for the first time since the US, I feel poor again. That said, they’re a nice bunch who make a great empanada. As with Argentina though, for us it’s really all about exploring the vast swathes of incredible natural beauty on offer, camping wild and riding some epic dirt routes.
Our Paso Copahue crossing from Argentina back into Chile is great example. Credit to Sam for unearthing this little gem, a result of much time spent staring at disconnected lines on maps and wondering what’s in-between. In this case a brilliant little bikepacking foray. Veering off Argentina’s classic, but ultimately quite dull, ruta 40, just past Chos Malal, it was back to dirt and onto this great little route over the Andes. Photos of late are limited due the bizarre theft of my camera charger, but here’s a little taster…
Chos Malal – El Cholar – El Huecu – Copahue – Trapa Trapa – Ralco
Sam will put the nitty gritty up at some stage here