. . . . . back again, since we last spoke a lot has happened. Valdes Peninsula was always going to be a resting point for us. Living in the lap of Argentine luxury, we enjoyed the coastal town of Puerto Pyramides and its natural wonders both on land and in the sea for 3 days.
The whales are the main event and a big tourist attraction, with an indigenous population of only a few hundred, the promise of whale watching causes the campsite alone to swell to several thousand in high season. The (medium sized) Southern Right Whale live in abundance and perform on cue when the guided tour begins. A mother and her calf entertained us for the duration of our boat trip, and then well into the night as we viewed them from our cabin to the sound of the waves gently lapping against the beach.
With Sam wide eyed and overwhelmed by the whole experience, we returned to the shore and kitted up with our riding gear to investigate what the rural side to the island had to offer.
Lost amongst the sand dunes we were free to cruise the coast, disturbed only be the regular sounds of the whales drifting by the shore. Through the calm, peace and everlasting serenity, the 650cc BMW of Evil ‘Chloe’ Kinevel roared as Mrs G (Kinevel) polished her off-road skills.
Not to miss an opportunity to fall off, Chris stepped up to the mark & got stuck in amongst the action in his typical overly excitable way!
Minus half of Chloe’s clutch lever we made for the open road just as the park warden closed in.
The gravel roads (Ripio) took a lot of getting used to. When well compacted the road are like tarmac but it only takes a gust of wind to throw you into the loose gravel, and the road (and bike) mix like oil in water. When every ounce of adrenalin is screaming for you to slow down the best and only solution is to (say a prayer) speed up and ride through it, (eyes open of course!).
Topped off with a picnic and a snooze in the sun, the 100km of gravel homebound got us back just in time for dinner.
A lap round the island is 250km of gravel, passing penguins, sea lions and armadillos. The lesser known wood pigeon remains elusive!
After 4 days of gravel roads and an overdose of nature, we made for the ‘valleys’ of Trelew and Gaiman. Named, along with Trevellin in the west, by the Welsh settlers of the late 19th century.
The history of the Welsh settlers is clearly illustrated in many of the original buildings of the town. In the old railway station is a small museum manned by a Welsh, (and English), speaking Argentine who eloquently describes how the Williams and Jones’s came to establish farming and built traditional-style stone and brick buildings in the Argentina we know today. The welsh tea rooms are a highlight, if not excessively over-priced, as are the many chapels which line road.
With camp set up, we lit the asado – when in Rome! Once the 10m high flames settled and the burning tree was extinguished the unleaded fuel was returned to the camping stove and the celebratory photos were taken – we should have brought an adult!
Morning after the night before; warmed by blue skies and kitted up, we headed west via Dique A……, (a dam), and then south and back to the coast via the most scenic riding yet.
On the coast we found penguins, heaps of them!
Some of them funnier than others
Some with larger shadows than others
Staying on the coast roads we avoided the tarmac and the tourists – well, most of them – and for 150km we made sure we closed the gates behind us.
Before arriving in Comodoro Rivadavia, we were enjoying a pee in the bushes when, what looked like a Harley Davidson pulled up alongside. In broken Spanish and very little English we jumped back on the bikes, and followed our new friend to his house who had promised, (once we rebuilt his bike), to take us to the local Motorbike club for a drink, food and to meet his fellow Hell’s Angels.
The club is run by the Grande Jefe (big boss Marcelino) who welcomed us, fed us, watered us and arranged a cabin for us for a couple of nights.
Invited back to the club for a second night, an asado was arranged in our honour and the gang rallied for carne (much meat!) table football, beer and map reading. We left at 3am as people were still arriving. In Argentina the party only gets going at 2am, even on a school night.
We were entertained and blessed with yet again more Argentine generosity – we made some great friends and were given contacts further south should we run into any trouble. We are thankful to Marcelino, Jose-Luis (& Diego for speaking English) who everything they organised and for making us feel so welcome. We signed the guest book (our own concrete block on the wall) and were back on the road again in search of more penguins.
It didn’t take long, with Ricardo at the helm, we were steered out towards ‘bird island’ and another sea lion colony on the river estuary at Puerto Deseado.
. . . returning to life on shore and our first Argentine petrol panic, after which Chef G. cooked up a storm.
Finishing with a few photos of our new German friends Uli & Uri, (who we hope to see more of soon), giant trees made of stone and cheese and biscuits. Tomorrow, we head for the border!
Whales seen – ….20, 30, 40….? Check!
Penquins – Still counting
Brake pedals repaired – Chloe 1 v 0 Chris
Clutch lever snapped (now repaired) – Chloe 1 v 0 Chris
Nearly blown off the road – Chloe 4 v 4 Chris
Ran out of petrol – Chloe 0 v 1 Chris
(Ran out of petrol 20miles away from the service station…. 60mph @ 4,000rpm = 250miles, whereas 70mph @ 5,000rpm = 200miles. Not good! Hitch hiked to a police check point, police gave us 5 litres so we could limp to the service station! Great fun!
Adios Chicos x