We had a 455 km ride for today back to Rio Gallegos with only one gas station between there and El Chalten at Esperanza at 315 km we got in line and gassed up before we left. We really needed the wind with us and we were lucky. It was however a cool 5 degrees. We did have a few bouts of rain too, but not much.
Arriving near Rio Gallegos we saw the sign for Ushuaia at 597 km to go.
We walked along the waterfront and to the nice central park. We noted here that unlike most places the park is almost all trees, which are to break the wind.
Eating in this country can be a bit of a challenge. They don’t have “street” food and restaurants are open for lunch till 2 then open for dinner at 8-9 pm! In general they don’t have the same sense of customer service we are used to. The custom here of a cover charge in most restaurants is also something we as non-Europeans are not used to.
A big day today we are headed to Tierra del Fuego finally! Starting out from Rio Gallegos there was a fair wind blowing on our way to Rio Grande 365 km away. There are 2 border crossings and 100 km of gravel to get thru as well. Credit to Wei for the map!
We decided for the first time in the trip to fill our folding gas container “ just in case”.
First we went down the 3 to the Chile border crossing at Austral. On the way you will pass by the entry to Argentina buildings.
We saw several of the resident foxes here at the crossing.
It says Pare or stop here, but just continue on about 2 km to the next set of buildings.
This is a 2 in 1 border control where you just go from one counter to the next in order to complete all the steps to exit yourself and your bike from Argentina and into Chile. They are very efficient despite a fairly long line.
Now to get to TDF our first ferry ride in a long time.
There was a huge line, but of course we went to the front and got on the boat that arrived about 15 minutes later for the 20- minute crossing.
They have to unload all the bus passengers because otherwise the bus couldn’t clear the deck on loading.
Our first glimpse of TDF!
Next we continued south and east to Cerro Sombrero on Wei’s advice. The gravel road this way to the San Sebastian border is much cleaner and there is and 20 km paved section in the middle. Get gas at Cerro Sombrero and have Chilean pesos if you can. Of note the pumps are off from 12-1 and 3-330 everyday. We arrived luckily at 5 to 1. The road is pretty hard pack with little gravel except in a few short sections.
Stop at the Chile exit control to get a passport exit stamp and hand in your temporary permit at the aduana.
Then drive another 10 km on the gravel to the Argentina border control buildings. Again they are very efficient and you just go from windows 1-3 and give them the papers they ask for. We were again asked for our reciprocity fee receipt, but no one asked us for proof of the mandatory insurance.
Now for a further paved 80 km to Rio Grande with strong, but not gusting winds. We had our worst wind the first day on the Ruta 40 when the bikes blew over and it has been pretty ok since then.
We got up in the morning both expecting the bike covers to be ripped to shreds by the wind, but all was ok. The wind prediction for today is 25 km/h with gusts to 50. We are still dawdling a bit because our hard to get reservation at the “best hostel” in Ushuaia is on the 26 th. So it’s a scant 107 km to Tolhuin on the lake recommended by both Gino & Fiona and Clive.
That said the worst of it was the first 5 km after that it just got nicer and the scenery finally improved too. The wind was almost still when we got to the famous bakery in Tolhuin.
Just around the lake from there we found a great spot with a great view (thank’s Clive).
The day has finally come after just over 14 months on the road and just shy of 70,000 we have 120 km (75 as the crow flies) to the end of the highway 3 and the famous sign in Tierra del Fuego national park.
Setting out from Tolhuin it was a nice day, but we could see the rain coming. Luckily it was just light and for only part of the way.
The drive into Ushuaia is very scenic, with snow capped mountains, lakes, and fjords.
Passing thru the city gates we saw the Pacific Ocean again in Ushuaia bay and then the town itself.
The national park gate where you pay your 11$ to get in is 12 km west of the city on a good dirt/sand road. The “end of the road” is a further 10 km down this road.
The end of the road!
We arrived just after 5 busses unloaded and were mobbed by people wanting photos of us.
It was quite a feat to try to get the bikes in front of the sign and get a photo before the warden kicked us out.
This is me hugging the sign!
We met this couple from Paraguay who arrived just as we did!
Then we went for the short walk to see the view of Lapataia Bay.
Leaving the park we saw 5 bikes and one had a huge Canadian flag on it so we had to stop and meet our fellow Canadians and Motogringos Peter, Anne, Kevin, Dieter, and Bill!!