I am not sure anyone can be prepared for the vastness that is Argentina. It is a huge country, separated by thousand upon thousands of miles of open pampa. It feels wild, untouched and uninhabitable in many areas where we were more likely to see a herd of guanacos or rheas than a person. Sometimes a lone gaucho would gallop by surrounded by sheep dogs and sometimes large flocks of sheep. But for the most part we were alone on the Patagonian pampa with nothing but the relentless ice cold wind to keep us company. The roads seemed to disappear into the distance with no end in sight. I loved Patagonia in Argentina, even with the wind that was so strong it could rip your car door off its hinges and made being outside unbearable sometimes. If it was easy here, there would be more people, and I love the places that still feel wild.
We headed to Argentina across the small border of Paso Roballos. It was one hell of a spectacular drive. The terrain changed from the glaciers, green trees and blue lakes of Chile to the red cliffs, wet lands and open pampa of Argentina rather quickly. On this drive we saw our first herds of guanacos and were so excited (little did we know we would see thousands of them for the next few months). We decided to set up camp for the night and found a wild camp spot with views of the mountains on the Chilean side of the pass.
As we were eating lunch we heard the familiar pur of a diesel engine, it was Fritz, the Defender of our friends Michael and Simone! They also chose this remote pass and saw the XP camped up on the hill. We had not seen them for a while and it was so great that we ran into each other literally in the middle of nowhere. We set up camp together for the night and had planned to have a fire and eat outside. However the Patagonia weather thought differently. The temperature dropped drastically and it was too cold to be outside, so we huddled up in the XP and made dinner inside. The next morning we woke up to snow all over the mountains that were bare the day before, it must have been very cold during the night.
After almost a week on nothing but gravel we finally hit a paved road. While traveling on the Ruta 40 in Argentina is much faster on pavement, I think the charm and rustic feeling that goes along with a dirt road is lost. We drove faster, but I missed the dirt roads. In a few years all of this area of Patagonia will be paved. I am glad we got to drive some of it while it is still dirt, even if it was teeth rattling, truck destroying, tire popping torture. I have learned to love a good dirt road.
The good news is that the four of us did not stay on pavement too long, instead after a night camping in a small town and doing a huge grocery shopping and gas refill we headed out to Perito Moreno National Park and this was the view out our front window: