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John and Mandi

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Fly Like an Eagle, Northern Argentina

Dec 12, 2018
by John

It might be more appropriate to liken soaring to the Andean Condor, especially considering where we are, but fly like a condor does not roll off the tongue the same. Mostly our titles are obscure trivial amusements, unnecessarily provoking the necessary for any that enjoy our distorted reduction of word play. For most, they are probably just annoying or abstractly nonsensical, exactly as they are intended. So for fun, and because we lack any ambition to write a proper segue, let us offer some playful conjecture.

Maybe this title just implies a couple Americans/US citizens traveling in Argentina, or perhaps the fierce reflection when venturing through a place unknown, could it be the covering of vast distances, or possibly the strength required to venture a little further outside one's comfort zone, simply the joy of being free, or essentially the responsibility of independence, how about state of mind, or maybe it doesn't mean anything?

What We Did

Quiaca, Bolivia to Argentina Border Crossing

Crossing into Argentina was very easy and uneventful. We went through the normal stamp out, turn in TIP, stamp in, and get new TIP process in about 30 minutes. The customs agent decided our van should be x-rayed, we had to wait an hour and a half for the operator to either show up or come back from break, before the van was scanned and we could get the final stamp making it legal for us to drive into Argentina. A faded sign at the border listed Ushuaia as only 5,xxx kilometers away!

Laguna Colorada, Jujuy

We crossed early, having plenty of time, deciding to check out Laguna Colorada. It was free and there were supposed to be pictographs in the vicinity. Unfortunately, the lake was dry and we managed to only find one rock with some questionable petroglyphs. Scrapping our initial plan to spend the night near the lake we moved on.

Laguna Colorada, Jujuy, Argentina

A better segue than ours

Laguna Colorada, Jujuy, Argentina

Where's the certificate of authenticity?

Laguna Colorada, Jujuy, Argentina

Got lake bed, no water

Laguna Colorada, Jujuy, Argentina

Obviously, the Avon lady doesn't come this far

Laguna Colorada, Jujuy, Argentina

And people said the orange stands out

Laguna Colorada, Jujuy, Argentina

A rose by any other name isn't the same

Laguna de los Pozuelos, Jujuy

Hoping to not be skunked twice, we took the Ruta 40 towards Laguna de los Pozuelos, stopping at the ranger station. The park was free and we were told we could park for the night in front of the station but not by the lake which was about 7 kilometers away. We drove to the lake and walked a little over a kilometer to reach the waters edge, trying our luck at spotting some flamingos. We think we saw all three types along with vicunas, llamas, and rheas. Returning to the ranger station parking lot we settled in for a wonderfully quiet night.

Pozuelos, Jujuy, Argentina

It's company

Pozuelos, Jujuy, Argentina

We're at the ass end of something

Pozuelos, Jujuy, Argentina

You guys march like shit

Pozuelos, Jujuy, Argentina

Alone, in the wilderness

Pozuelos, Jujuy, Argentina

Yeah, well you're knock kneed

Pozuelos, Jujuy, Argentina

Definitely a crowd

Pozuelos, Jujuy, Argentina

Ma, Christmas dinner is on the run

Serrania del Hornocal, Mountain of 14 Colors, Jujuy

After visiting Rainbow Mountain in Peru, there was no way we were going to skip Hornocal in Argentina. It is much easier to access, you park right in front of it, and cheap at 25AR per person ($1.36 for the both of us). The road up had a couple steep sections, we drove most of the final portion in 1st, and we witnessed a little car overheating and eventually turning around. We spent about 30 minutes in the viewing area then drove to Tilcara and free camped behind the tourist information center that was next door to a YPF (large gas station chain complete with convenience store). We wandered to the YPF and had a nice hot 10 minute shower for 20AR each, $1.08 for the both of us. We also had real coffees, made from an espresso machine, at the convenience store cafe. We had several more the following morning before we left, making YPF's a frequent coffee stop in Argentina.

Hornocal, Jujuy, Argentina

Dr. Scholls makes a cream for that

Hornocal, Jujuy, Argentina

We only count 13

Hornocal, Jujuy, Argentina

Well, don't you think you're something

Hornocal, Jujuy, Argentina

Dude, no one touched your corn flakes

Hornocal, Jujuy, Argentina

The driving equivalent of the hokey pokey

Hornocal, Jujuy, Argentina

There's only enough water in it for one of us to live

Yala, Jujuy

We wanted to see a smaller salt flat and detoured to Salinas Grandes, a free spot not far from the border with Chile. It was not nearly as impressive as the Salar de Uyuni but would have been good enough for us. Salt mining is still being performed and little mounds could be seen sun drying on the flats. After our visit, we drove into Jujuy to supply up then drove back north to Camping El Refugio in Yala. At 150AR per person per night, or $8.13 per night for the both of us, it was a good deal and the perfect place to spend a couple days figuring out our route. The onsite restaurant, Sabores de Yala (Calabaza), was a wonderful surprise.  We ate there twice, costing just over $21 for the two of us per visit, Mandi still talks about the Milanesa Neopalitana.

Salinas Grandes, Jujuy, Argentina

Desert snake

Salinas Grandes, Jujuy, Argentina

Snapped, crackled, and popped

Salinas Grandes, Jujuy, Argentina

Cause we all wanted a photo of your bike, asshole

Salinas Grandes, Jujuy, Argentina

Not much else

Salinas Grandes, Jujuy, Argentina

Everyone's always pissed when they get stuck behind us

Yala, Jujuy, Argentina

Meat & Potatos

Yala, Jujuy, Argentina

How do we decide to drink the wine?

Yala, Jujuy, Argentina

Dude, you're way off

Parque Nacional Calilegua, Jujuy

Another free park, entry and camping, and one we had planned to spend a couple days exploring. lt was very hot when we arrived so we wandered around the campground a little then tried to stay as cool as possible. While pretty, we weren't ready for the extreme heat so we left after 1 night.

Calilegua, Jujuy, Argentina

Not to be trifled with

Calilegua, Jujuy, Argentina

Always lurking in the shadows

Calilegua, Jujuy, Argentina

What shade is that mascara?

Calilegua, Jujuy, Argentina

Why is it still kind of brown?

Cafayate, Salta

Before reaching Cafayate we spent 2 nights in Salta at Camping Municipal Carlos Xamena for 110AR ($2.98) per night for the both of us. It was cheap but not the best of places, the best on offer. We needed the city to accomplish a couple outstanding chores, getting an oil change at the Ford Truck dealer, and filling our propane tank. It was miserably hot and everything took longer than we wanted but we managed to hang with Sandra & Thomas again before heading out.

Instead of driving directly to Cafayate from Salta we drove through Parque Nacional Los Cardones to see some more candelabra cacti, ending up at Utopia Overland Camping. We like the idea of supporting other overlanders but it really isn't suitable for vehicle camping. The dry toilet (no pee) is a hole in the ground with a small portable wooden box over it and the solar shower is just a hose wrapped and nailed to a post. Both are primitive, meaning out in the open being barely obscured by desert brush and really far from the parking area, the shower is very close to the property owner's house. Mandi was a little under the weather so we ended up staying 2 nights. At 320AR per night, $8.67, it was very expensive for a parking spot. The municipal camping in the nearby town is a much better option in our opinion.

Leaving the not so utopic Utopia Overland Camping, we took the Ruta 40 to Cafayate. We stayed at Luz y Fuerza Camping for 4 nights, for 140AR per person per night or $7.59 for the two of us per night. Our time was spent wandering the quaint little tourist town, having fancy coffees, and eating at Casa de Empanadas. We will forever dream about the empanadas and wine, having dined there 3 times for roughly $16 per visit. We never managed a wine tour, probably because we have been drinking Argentinean and Chilean wine since Mexico...having a pretty good idea of what we like. Our time was cut short after a large group of rowdy late night campers arrived, it was a Wednesday, we expect to visit again someday.

The little dog in the photo below looks a lot like a reincarnation of one of our late dogs. She wandered into Casa de Empanadas and I couldn't help but give her little pieces, eventually picking her up and placing her in my lap...like every little dog should be. What a sweetheart and a great time goofing around, while taking a trip down memory lane.

Cordones, Salta, Argentina

So many are just regular candles

Cordones, Salta, Argentina

Sand sale, get it while it's hot

Cordones, Salta, Argentina

A flock of p-gulls

Cafayate, Salta, Argentina

You light up my life

Cafayate, Salta, Argentina

The lone wolf?

Cafayate, Salta, Argentina

If you keep pounding there will be nothing left

Cafayate, Salta, Argentina

Looks like those two scoutmasters were here

Cafayate, Salta, Argentina

It points the way out

Cafayate, Salta, Argentina

Cute as a button, dry as old mutton

Cafayate, Salta, Argentina

Some of the best things on earth

Cafayate, Salta, Argentina

No face was harmed in this filming

Cafayate, Salta, Argentina

Is it going to smack dat ass?

Cafayate, Salta, Argentina

Vino verde

Ruta 68, Salta

During one of our days in Cafayate, we took a drive up Ruta 68 to see some of the famous formations in the desert. There were a lot of tourist buses but the pavement was perfect, as was the day. We stopped at Los Castillos, Las Ventanas, El Obelisco, Quebrada de las Conchas, El Sapo, El Anfiteatro, Garganta del Diablo...all free. In retrospect, we think the scenic beauty along Ruta 68 was better then the section of the Ruta 40 we originally traversed to Cafayate.

Ruta 68, Salta, Argentina

Very Frank Lloyd Wright

Ruta 68, Salta, Argentina

Where there once was water

Ruta 68, Salta, Argentina

It's deceivingly far away

Ruta 68, Salta, Argentina

Not the castle rock you are familiar with

Ruta 68, Salta, Argentina

You see a van, we see a mobile water storage system

Ruta 68, Salta, Argentina

Look at how the green makes the picture so pretty

Ruta 68, Salta, Argentina

Why don't children make sand pies?

Ruta 68, Salta, Argentina

Tree of life

Ruta 68, Salta, Argentina

Some windows are just windows

Parque Provincial de los Menhires, Tucuman

We had heard about some monoliths and decided to take a detour to visit them, staying in the town of Tafi del Valle at Municipal Camping Los Sauzales, 110AR per person per night ($5.96 for the two of us). Again, a group of school aged students arrived and stayed up to about 4 in the morning clapping, singing, and such. It was Thursday, the day after our sleepless night in Cafayate. Drowsily we wandered the free site of Los Menhires the following morning, deciding the site wasn't worth the side trip. Since we were really tired, and Mandi was still under the weather, we made the risky decision to stay in the campground again for Friday Night. We had been warned, numerous times by almost every northbound overlander, to never stay in a campground in Argentina during a weekend. It was a perfectly peaceful night.

Menhires, Tucuman, Argentina

Inscription: Drink milk, grow big

Menhires, Tucuman, Argentina

You have to use your imagination

Menhires, Tucuman, Argentina

A favorite amongst all the ladies

Menhires, Tucuman, Argentina

louder, we're having trouble hearing you

Menhires, Tucuman, Argentina

The pillar of modern society

Leaving Tafi del Valle, we stopped at the Eric Bowman museum in Santa Maria. The small collection of artifacts was worth the stop and the museum is free. After a lengthy explanation of everything else that can be seen in the nearby area by the museum caretaker, I succumbed to his request for a donation. The 100AR we gave him, $2.71, was a fair price for the quaint little exhibit.

Eric Bowman, Tucuman, Argentina

Someone's feeling a bit punchy

Eric Bowman, Tucuman, Argentina

Three were robbed...

Eric Bowman, Tucuman, Argentina

Ha, angry pots was totally ripped off

Eric Bowman, Tucuman, Argentina

He seems pretty into it

Eric Bowman, Tucuman, Argentina

See, everyone keeps what their children make

Eric Bowman, Tucuman, Argentina

This place is full of pot heads

Ruta del Adobe, Catamarca

The desert had started wearing on us, precipitating the decision to make a hard run south to the Lakes District. Before committing to such a rash alteration in course, we thought we should make our way to the hot springs in Fiambala to soak it over. On our way we spent a free night in the desert near Cerro Negro, toured a few free adobe churches (Ruta del Adobe), stopped in the town of Fiambala to have some great coffee at Cafe Somos Tierra, grab a delicious big lunch at Patricia's ($9.35 for the two of us), eventually completing the drive to Fiambala Termas. At 400AR to enter, $10.84 for the two of us, and another 500AR for us to camp onsite ($13.55 - includes entry to the thermal baths the following day) we thought it was very expensive. After our first soak it was money well spent. We really enjoy hot springs, especially ones that have pools that are hotter than what we can endure...even in a desert landscape.

Ruta del Adobe, Catamarca, Argentina

Excuse me, cleanliness is next to godliness

Ruta del Adobe, Catamarca, Argentina

He won her over when he said she had a nice hole

Ruta del Adobe, Catamarca, Argentina

Must be in the top ten of the sand castle finals

Ruta del Adobe, Catamarca, Argentina

Tacky-full

Parque Provincial Ischigualasto, San Juan

After soaking for most of the morning in the thermal baths at Fiambala and drinking more great coffee at Cafe Somos Tierra, we pushed to Talampaya National Park for a night, 200AR or $5.42 for the two of us. Visiting the park requires paying for an expensive tour, we instead drank our morning coffee while watching the wildlife from our van before leaving to visit the provincial park of Ischigualasto. The onsite museum was free, the driving tour was 700AR or $19.16 for the two of us and payable by Visa. It was really fun to convoy through the park, stopping at the designated places of interest, getting the geological explanations of the regions significance from the park ranger. The tour lasted a little over three hours, the perfect amount of time.

Ischigualasto, San Juan, Argentina

They do exist!

Ischigualasto, San Juan, Argentina

Some of the softest fur in the world

Ischigualasto, San Juan, Argentina

When does John Hammond arrive?

Ischigualasto, San Juan, Argentina

Loversaurus

Ischigualasto, San Juan, Argentina

OK, stop yelling

Ischigualasto, San Juan, Argentina

Never trust the little ones

Ischigualasto, San Juan, Argentina

What colorful sandy mounds you have

Ischigualasto, San Juan, Argentina

One side is always a little bigger than the other

Ischigualasto, San Juan, Argentina

We can scratch Egypt from the list

Ischigualasto, San Juan, Argentina

Yes, we can go soon

Ischigualasto, San Juan, Argentina

Are they crabs?

Ischigualasto, San Juan, Argentina

Whoa, early man wore shoes

Ischigualasto, San Juan, Argentina

So, we can balance things on our heads

Our desert cup was overflowing, we started our run further south, spending a free night at a YPF before deciding to camp at Rosengarten in Villa San Carlos. To our surprise, Doug & Fran were parked in the main camping area. Over the last 3 years we had hop scotched each other, never getting the chance to meet. We spent a wonderful evening getting to chat about our travels and converting our online acquaintanceship into an actual friendship. Doug & Fran headed out the following morning, we ended up spending 3 nights at Rosengarten, getting to have another cocktail hour with Doug & Fran when they returned the day before we all set off in different directions. The pricing for our stay was kind of convoluted, 500AR for the first night (150AR per person + 200AR for the van) or $13.55. The subsequent nights were 150AR per person or $8.13 for the two of us (nothing additional for the van). At an average of $9.94 per night, it was OK.

As unexpected as our decision to run hard to the lakes district, while having great coffees at a YPF, we changed our plans again. Instead of just pushing south, we'd head west and cross into Chile first. We just happened to be sipping our favorite nectar at the exact intersection we needed to do just that. Our last night during our first visit to Argentina was spent in a mostly closed free campground on the Argentinian side of Paso Pehuenche, cooking as many vegetables as we could due to the strict entry requirements of Chile. We spent 23 days driving 2,113 miles, removing the 9 days we stayed put, we averaged 150.9 miles per day. While that doesn't seem like much, it's light speed for us. Reminiscent of the early days of our trip, we were in need of big green forests and vast bodies of water.

Paso Pehuenche, Argentina

Still mostly dirt and rocks


Navigating by 'Argentina' tag - Navigate by Date
You be at the beginning!You be all caught up!
Say what? (2)
George Penick
Dec 12, 2018 at 03:05 PM
My boy will love the pics.....he lives in Tempe.
Dec 13, 2018 at 02:28 PM
Hey George,

If he likes these he may also like northern Chile ; )
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