2017-09-16T04:57:59+00:00March 17th, 2016|2015-16 Ride|

The further south we travel in Argentina the more civilised things become and it is almost a relief to start “trusting” the roads and know they won’t just “run out” when we hit a town!! The smallest things are giving us pleasure – like being able to order “real” food and to have some variety on the menu – and it’s just so wonderful to reach red wine country!! The bikes have “95” back in their tanks – and we have the “sting” back in our tails!!


This road was like the Byron Bay hinterland at times – except for the goats!!

From Jujuy to Salta we go through thick sub-tropical forest on a windy back road – full of hundreds of butterflies and a glorious chorus of cicadas, beautiful moss-covered trees and lots of animals. We seem to have left the feral dogs back in Peru and Bolivia – sometimes they travelled in “packs” in all shapes, sizes and breeds! In Argentina, we see herds of goats on the road instead!


The pretty “tourist” town of Cafayate – in the heart of “wine” country in the Calchaqui Valley.

We take the Ruta de Vino through Cafayete and the Calchaqui Valley – bursting with vineyards, tobacco and maize crops – and flanked by mountains on both sides. The riding is just awesome with a huge, very scenic “red” gorge, magic surface and more corners than you poke a stick at!!



We leave Tafi del Valle and the road starts a descent following a river – hairpin after amazing hairpin – made even more tantalising with the thick cloud cover and dense forest.


We spend several days on very remote roads as we head to the border of Chile – with a huge variance in quality and evidence of the “wet” – some of the roads would be very “dodgy” and quite scary if it wasn’t dry!!


The first snowfall for the season overnight on the Andes – makes for a cloudless day!


The pavement turns to easy gravel and goes for 40km.

Fifteen kilometres from the border with Chile is the highest mountain outside of Asia – called Mt. Aconcagua (just below 7,000m – and just under 23,000 feet)! It’s hard to appreciate the size with the view we have from the “pass”.


Mt. Aconcagua as we ride past.


And here we are in Chile – Country No. 40!

The road down the Andes in to Chile is quite a spectacular series of hairpins that just go on and on!


That’s a wave from me!


Holy cow! It’s a long way down!!

We hit the Pacific Coast at Vina del Mar – we haven’t seen much of Chile – so maybe we could just poke our nose down in to Patagonia….


We just need to get our bikes across that ocean and we’re home!

We find a hostel right on the top of the hill in Valparaiso – a city which attracts many artists and cultural entrepreneurs who have set up shop in the historic hillside districts. It was once a major stop-over port for ships travelling between the Atlantic and the Pacific after they crossed the Straits of Magellan –  but when the Panama Canal opened, the reduction in traffic was crippling. Fifteen years on and thousands of tourists come to see the cobbled alleys and colourful buildings with lots of cruise ships visiting during the South American summer. We head south and spend a night in San Antonio, another port town, where we meet some Phillipino crew at our hotel – their rosters are nine months on/three months off!! The ships are just huge rectangle boxes which ply the waters between Mexico, Peru and Chile – delivering cars manufactured in Mexico! They are basically giant “car parks” – and it’s a “drive-on/drive-off” system.

Best Food

When you are on the “road” you really get a feel for the food in each country – and it’s quite different to what’s available in “tourist” towns. We are eager to try some new flavours – in fact anything but pollo and papas frites would be good (chicken and chips)!! Argentina has consistently “good” food from the moment we set foot in the place – the meat is done over a fire and has a smokey flavour that is unique and to die for – and they always do some sort of sauce which just sets the digestive senses in motion!! We are in Vina del Mar having new tyres put on the bikes and on a wander along the road from the moto shop we find this little “gem”! Patrick is a Chilean who lived in Hastings and Tauranga for a year and fell head over heels in love – with the N.Z. fish and chips!! He came home to Chile and decided to have a go emulating it and sharing his love with the locals – we can vouch that it was the best we’ve had in a long, long time! The battered fish just melted in your mouth and the chips were hand-cut with the skins on – just delicious!!


Patrick outside his newly-opened second store – serving it up to Chileans!

Story of the Week

After several unsuccessful attempts at locating new tyres in Vina del Mar, Chile, we are sent to Lorca Motos – where it turns out they sell all sorts of spare parts for “big bikes” – and are a Pirelli stockist!!


Tyres purchased – let’s find a “fitter”!

Overseeing business is Jose Lorca himself and he is very interested in our story. Likewise we are just as interested in his story as it appears he was quite the “racer” in the fifties.


Jose Lorca with his story-board!

As it turns out, Lorca Motos only “supply” the tyres – they do not fit them – so we follow a customer to another workshop…fitting is done and we are set to go!


The boys at Cano Motos in Vina del Mar!

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  1. Kerry McGreevy March 28, 2016 at 9:10 am

    Lee and Paul, Congratulations on an amazing journey. 12 months and 40 countries is an achievement. We can’t wait for a chance to split a nice bottle of red and hear some stories. All the best. Beryl and Kerry

    • Lee March 28, 2016 at 5:25 pm

      Reckon we might need several bottles of red!!! See you soon xxxx

  2. Gloria McLaran March 20, 2016 at 7:03 am

    Thank you for this wonderful journey Lee – you have broadened my education no end and I have loved every minute of it – even though my heart was in my mouth for you at times. Safe trip home you special people. I want a copy of the book too!
    Love, Gloria xx

    • Lee March 20, 2016 at 7:39 pm

      Pleasure Gloria – would love a catch-up some time – and I will personally “sign” the book too!! xxxxx

  3. Scott March 19, 2016 at 2:35 am

    Can’t wait to see you guys a gain Shazza and I looking forward to your return xxx

    • Lee March 19, 2016 at 11:07 am

      Likewise Scotty! Big hugs and lotsa beers!! xxxxx

  4. Beverley March 18, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    Nearly there! Must be all that Italian influence in Argentina. Glad to hear you found good old fish and chips.
    Take care, which will be your last city?

    • Lee March 18, 2016 at 9:01 pm

      We will leave from Santiago Bev! Going to put the bikes on a plane and then try for a stop-over in Auckland to see Kev and Les – all going well! I can still taste that fish and chips – very memorable!! xxxxx

  5. Gerry Sokolik March 18, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    When do you two plan to set foot on “Native” soil? Any plans for a welcome home affair? Travel safely, and as we flyers say keep the blue side up!


    • Lee March 18, 2016 at 8:58 pm

      Hey Gerry! Looking at the second week of April at this stage – nothing set in stone yet! Will definitely have to think about a “party” but lots to do first! You thinking of coming?!

  6. Gail dickason March 18, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    40 countries – just amazing. Just seems like yesterday you were up the top of Bourke st😀 Glad I wasn’t peddling up those hairpins. Nothing like damn good fish and chips especially when you least expect it. Ride on safety you twoxx

    • Lee March 18, 2016 at 8:57 pm

      Says you who did the Stelvio Pass!! That was definitely more of a challenge than this one – for you and for me!! Feeling quite emotional now as it starts to feel like the end – but looking forward to “home” and seeing everyone xxxxx

  7. Sandy March 18, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    Holy cow! It’s along way down!! Can’t believe the slope and the terrain – well done you!!
    Stay safe and enjoy!!

    • Lee March 18, 2016 at 8:55 pm

      Reckon those BMW’s would have enjoyed that stretch of road! Have the most wonderful time in En Zed and don’t forget to try the fish and chips!! xxxxx

  8. Aunty March 18, 2016 at 10:44 am

    Must be getting close to home when you are eating NZ style fish chips 😀😀. What an adventure you are having as you travel from country to country! Being at home is going to be very strange. Going for a days ride with no borders to cross!
    Love to you both xxxxx

    • Lee March 18, 2016 at 8:54 pm

      It will be awesome to travel with no land borders to cross!! We have just arrived back in Argentina – so have one more to go back in to Chile!! Having a little look at some of Patagonia and then a quick run up to Santiago. We’re hoping to do a stop-over in Auckland so we can catch up with Paul’s parents – I’ll keep you informed!! Love you xxxxxx

  9. Mary Batty March 18, 2016 at 7:36 am

    Wow, Ken is in awe of those hairpins, did you enjoy them Lee ??? Whilst I know you’ve been on the way home for a while, now you’re so far south, it really does feel like you’re heading home, no doubt you’ll have a mixture of emotions. You’ve had the most amazing journey and I want a signed copy of your book Lee 🌏🏍📖

    Enjoy the remainder, always a bed here in the mountains for you guys, can’t wait to catch up again xx

    • Lee March 18, 2016 at 8:51 pm

      Hey Mary, I will personally deliver a copy of the book!! The last few thousand kilometres are in hand and bookings are being made for our trans-Pacific crossing – mixed emotions are definitely running high! Love and hugs to you both xxxxx

  10. Sue Hird March 18, 2016 at 6:43 am

    Those hairpin bends going down the mountain are something!! Bet you enjoyed driving them.
    Glad you’re finding some food to enjoy – love the fish n chip story.
    40 countries: how impressive is that!?
    You must be close to the finish line so expect the call of the kookaburra is getting louder.
    Love to you both.

    • Lee March 18, 2016 at 8:48 pm

      Call of the kookaburra, the smell of real coffee (Paul), find at least one of my kids to wrap my arms around – all of that!! Hoping to do a stop-over in Auckland – will let you know the dates xxxx

  11. Annie March 18, 2016 at 3:59 am

    Ohhh! so excited you’ll be home soon

    • Lee March 18, 2016 at 8:47 pm

      Making plans as we speak!! Angling for the second week in April xxxxx

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