Ruta 40 - Day 1
Perito Moreno Travel Blog› entry 36 of 71 › view all entries
(I am not sure if I have written about this yet - but for the last few days I have been struggling with deciding on the next part of my journey. Do I go to east coast of Argentina to Puerto Madryn, where I might catch the last few days of whale watching? Or do I go up to the Lakes Region and see the town of Bariloche - famous for chocolate, paragliding, trekking, rafting, etc - that I have heard so much about from other travellers? To make a long story short, I decided to go to Bariloche.
I ate breakfast at the Rancho Grande Hostel and hopped on the ChaltenTravel bus outside. The drive would take us north on Ruta 40 - a famous "highway" if you can call it that. I forget all the stats, but it´s hundreds of kilometers of unpaved road, carving it´s way through a desolate, barren, windy stretch of Patagonia.
We traveled for hours without seeing a building or any other sign of civilization.
Traffic on this highway, btw, was pretty light. In fact, in 10 hours we probably saw just a handful of cars. Maybe 10 or 20. Usually, the drivers of cars wave and/or hock at each other - especialy other bus drivers. It´s kind of cool. Oh, and we had a "crew" of 3 for our bus. Drivers Ernesto and Luis, and "guide" Monica.
Despite the light traffic, there is a HUGE project underway to pave the Ruta 40. The effort is massive - the crew can only work in the summer, and just to get to the "middle" of the project could take hours of driving! It´s a bit ironic to see so little traffic, and yet a huge construction project to improve the road. But I guess with the pavement comes more transport efficiency and traffic. You see, the other north-south route several hundred kilometers to the east is apparently several hundred kilometers longer than Ruta 40.
Anyway, we stopped a few times during the first day. At one stop, as we stretched our legs in front of the bus - taking cover from the crazy strong wind - I broke into conversation with two girls from Holland - Marieke and Dayenne. I had seen them at America del Sur hostel in El Calafate, and again at Rancho Grande hostel - we joked about who was following whom. Apparently, we were also all going to Bariloche. And so began a fun travel buddy friendship...
When we got to the town of Perito Moreno, we stopped for the evening. All the bus passengers checked into little Hotel Belgrano, and then made a mad dash for the ATM to replenish cash supplies that had been drained during our stay at the ATM-less El Chalten.
One thing we talked about was our plans for Bariloche - and more importantly - how to visit neighboring El Bolson. I had planned to get to Bariloche, and then visit El Bolson as a day trip. Marieke and Dayenne pointed out that this was sort of stupid, since our bus was going to drive right through El Bolson on the way to Bariloche. The girls were just going to hop out at El Bolson and spend a couple of days there first.
Naturally, this made way more sense than what I was going to do. So I decided to join them on the stop-over in El Bolson. More on that in tomorrow´s entry.