Chris' 1994  R100GS/PDChris' new bike, a 1996 F650ULTIMATE JOURNEY Erin's 1997  F650
Living a Dream . . . 2 Live-N-Ride

January 11, 2002 -- Day 967

Credit to - El Calafate and the Perito Moreno Glacier

-- Story by Erin --

Saturday, Jan. 5, 2002 - It would be a 300+km journey from Puerto Natales to El Calafate, starting at 5pm.  The ride was scenic and on a nice gravel road up to the Chilean border town of Cerro Castillo, and up to the Argentine side where there was a tiny border shack. When we entered the Argentine side, the road quickly deteriorated to a very hard, rocky ride. About 200 kilometers later, (60km before Calafate) the road became paved, hurray!, except you have to run a slalom course of huge potholes on both sides of the road for the rest of the way in. We arrived in town just after 8pm and gassed up our bikes, downed hamburquesas (hamburgers) and cokes, and rode through town towards to the Perito Moreno glacier.  We wanted to surprise Frank and Rosa by turning up late at night, rather then noon the next day.

It was after 9pm, and sunset was 45 minutes away -- Chris assured me we would make it.  There were no signs in town pointing the way to the glacier. On a gravel side street we noticed a sign which gave the distance to the glacier as 72km so we took it. It turned out to be a long secondary route, in bad condition (though very scenic), out to the glacier! We had to ride slow as the road was bad, hard to see, and very twisty. The sky was turning dark with clouds and the night closed in on us and, as we neared the glacier (more than an hour later), it began to rain. We could hardly see when we finally came to the camping area just 7 kilometers from the glacier. It's a National Park campground which has organized "plots", toilet, and cold water showers (but the nearest food is 72km back in town).  To our surprise, Frank and Rosa were not there----probably decided to take the opportunity for a nice hotel room in town with a good bed for the night, we thought. We quickly put up our tent in the drizzle, and then went to sleep.

Jan. 6, 2002 - Sunday morning we went to the glacier to check it out. The weather had cleared a bit so the sun was shining on the huge glacier. Perito Moreno is an interesting glacier because one can get so close to it, and also because it is constantly breaking apart, making a huge sound and dramatic splash in the water.  It's a the biggest glacier either of us has ever seen, and the prettiest! One could stay there all day (and many people do) and just watch the action of the glacier. It's a definite "must see" attraction! 

Around noon we returned to the campground in the hopes that Frank and Rosa had arrived.   When we found no sign of them, Chris took off into to town to look for them.  Not 30 minutes later they showed up in the campground (they had been up the road at the glacier). Luckily the guards at the park entrance told Chris they had already entered the park so he returned to the campground.

Indeed they had stayed the night in town in a nice guesthouse, since they hadnīt expected us to arrive the day before. We relaxed around the campground, enjoying the scenery of the lake and the snow capped mountains around us. A group of local Argentines were out for the day making a big asado (BBQ lamb) meal and having fun with their friends. They had fished out a couple of big pieces of glacier ice out of the lake to put in their drinks, which they shared with us. Its an interesting feeling drinking something that you know is a few thousand years old! No surprise---it tastes just like water!

Monday, Jan. 7, 2002 - We returned to El Calafate while Frank and Rosa ran around to the local travel agents to organize the next several days of their trip and to organize shipping the bike back to BA. They decided to fly to BA tomorrow (Tuesday) and then take the ferry to Uruguay and Punte del Este (the St. Tropez of South America), to get some fun in the sun before they returned home to winter in New York. After 10 days together we couldnīt believe our time with them was over. We spent so much time planning and anticipating their arrival, and then time flew by when we were together. Hopefully they can come for another trip and see us again in Central America!

All during the time we were together with those guys I had a bad cold and it was just getting worse.  Same with Chris. We ended up staying another 4 days in El Calafate trying to get over our colds and attempting to figure out a new problem with Chris' bike. While we were out at the glacier, his bike didnīt want to start (again!) when it was cold, but bump starting worked this time to get it to run. We had to get that problem fixed because the next leg of the trip was going to be over 800 kilometers over very difficult gravel roads and where there were literally no towns and no help in sight. After checking the fuel line, the carburetors, the spark plugs, etc. we finally found a motorbike mechanic in town who diagnosed the problem, the valves needed adjusting -- they had settled after the work on the engine. This is not an easy thing with our bikes since it means changing the shims (big motorcycle talk for me!). However since the valves were too tight we simply needed a bit of metal shaved off the existing shims. This all took about 24 hours and the mechanic had it all fixed in no time.

Chris here: Mono the mechanic worked from 8pm to 4am grinding down the shims with sand-paper by hand.  He had also cleaned the carbs for me the day before.  Total bill was US$20!


Jose Luis Garriga (a.k.a.  Mono -- for monkey)
ph:  (02902) 491 232  or  491 479

While we were waiting to get the bike fixed, Jason showed up with the two "Swiss lads", Marcel and Peter who we were camping with in Ushuaia! Marcel made a great dinner over the fire around 11:30 under the stars.  Marcel said the secret to being a good cook is to make sure everyone's starving!  There was a nice reunion and we agreed it would be fun to make the next leg of the trip together, safety in numbers and all that.


Frank & Rosa near the campground with the Perito Moreno Glacier in the background

W O W   !

It's about 50 meters high, and stretches back about 14km to the base of the mountain.

Some of the guys from the local rugby team showed up for a weekend Asado

Frank & Rosa heading out to the airport -- Rosa is talking of meeting again in Central America, which would be a blast!!
Thanks for coming out guys!

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