Chile and Argentina
Ended 13th February 2000
day 29 the 6 hour flight from Panama City to Santiago which took us over
the equator proved to be the first logistical challenge which the
airline and tour organiser were unable to meet. Either the plane (a
Lockheed L1011) was not big enough, or we had too many bicycles/luggage.
It was only after a 5 hour wait in the airport departure lounge
that we eventually took off for Chile with 79 bikes (including mine)
plus some of the support luggage left on the runway in Panama.
from this our itinerary in Santiago was extended from 1 to 3 nights to
allow the missing bikes and luggage to catch up with us. Fortunately
Santiago is a very large and bustling City of over 5 million population
so there was plenty for us to see and do in the area. This extension was
welcome in one respect but something we would have to pay for later.
on day 33 (and 2 days behind schedule) we were reunited with our missing
bikes and luggage and
we were now due to head south out of Santiago. However getting
out of Santiago during the morning rush hour had all the hallmarks of a
cyclists nightmare in spite of the detailed instructions on our route
sheet for that day. It was thanks to our Chilean born traveling Doctor
Raphael that we were honored with a motorcycle police escort out of the
City Of Santiago
was one occasion when it was in every riders interest to ensure that we
set off at the same time, it was in fact a memorable scene with
many hundreds of cheering commuters (plus local TV cameras) lining the
streets as 240 cyclists filed out of the hotel in the centre of Santiago
with traffic held up in both directions. Together with our police escort
we moved out of town and going through traffic lights on red with
traffic held up at each junction we were safely escorted to the city
to the extra 2 days in Santiago we were now faced with 12 days of riding
without a break in order to catch up with the itinerary for this stage.
It was just as well that our route for the next few days took us through
a fairly flat plateau with snow capped mountains on either side.
Overnight stops during this section included San Fernando, Talca,
Cauquenes, and Concepcion where we arrived back on the Pacific coast to
a much colder climate and periodic rain.
was around this period that yours truly (or my digestive system) decided
to have a violent disagreement with something I ate or drank ? with the
result that I ate very little for 2 days and became too weak to cycle.
This was where I was pleased to say that I was grateful for the comfort
of the sag wagon, a facility I had previously declared was for whimps
and invalids. It was also getting colder as we progressed south.
SUMMIT OF THE ANDES
last 2 days (41 & 42) in Chile proved, as expected to be one of the
toughest for this stage. This included climbing over the Andes
to an elevation of 1308 metres, with the weather fluctuating
between warm sunshine and prolonged showers which got colder as we got
nearer to the summit. The reward for our efforts was some spectacular
scenery and around mid-afternoon on day 43 (12th Feb) I
crossed the border into Argentina to be welcomed by warm sunshine.
CHILE INTO ARGENTINA
were still 50 kilometres to our first overnight stop in Argentina at
Villa La Angostura, and whilst the sunshine plus a descent was welcome
we now had to contend with over 30 Kilometres of gravel road.
second day in Argentina and our last day of riding in South America was
a mere 89 Kilometres to the beautiful lakeside and mountain resort of
San Carlos Bariloche. Most of our route that day took us along the edge
of the beautiful lago Nahuel Haupi with snow capped mountains in the
distance and all around. It was a spot that one could comfortably spend
a few days but within 24 hours we were due to fly to Johannesburg and
the start of the next stage.
our flight to South Africa took off in a Boeing 747 from San Carlos de
Bariloche at 17.25 last evening. This was the largest aircraft in recent
years to take off from this airport we then touched down for refuelling
at Buenos Aries at 19.00 and the remainder of the flight is expected to
take around 9 hours when we will be 2 hours ahead of GMT.
is now 21.20 local time in Johannesburg and I am pleased to confirm that
we touched down safely at around 12 noon today.
Weather here overcast and wet under foot from heavy rain.
Unfortunately yours truly had a delay of over 3 hours at the
airport and will have another in the morning it appears that I have left
my pedals in Argentina (So donít cry for me Argentina).
Hopefully I will pick up a pair in the morning and will keep you
of stage 3 next report on South Africa