My last day in Santiago, Chile was a hard one. It wasn’t hard due to riding, but to leave the kind family of Dato Rameez and his wife. They had treated me like their very own family. I will never ever forget their kindness to me.

I left Malaysia House with tears flowing down my cheeks, all the way until I reached Paso De Los Libertadores, a mountain pass with 30 very tight switchbacks. I needed to focus while ascending the hairpin bends, but once in a while, I did enjoy the beauty of Mount Aconcagua which can be seen from the pass.

I had to pay tolls 4 times though from Santiago to the border which is located at the peak of the pass. My ride was interrupted twice due to landslides. The border is a toll-plaza-kinda building where both countries have their booths side by side. It took me about 1hr to settle everything as there was a long line today. The funny thing was I was not given a permisso from the Argentinian side, even after I had asked for it. I was worried if I had missed something, until I met another overlander and he told me he didn’t get a permisso copy too.

Then I rode via route 7. Argentina is sooooo beautiful, blue lakes, beautiful gorges, but the highway is not as nice as in Chile. It’s quite windy at certain stretches too. After riding 385kms in 8.30hrs from Santiago, I reached Mendoza. I found a hostel and later went to the cambio to change some money.

I exit Mendoza via Ruta 40 which is the longest route in Argentina and one of the longest in the world. It stretches from the Bolivian border in the north to Rio Gallegos in the south, running parallel to the Andes mountains. The southern part of the route, a largely unpaved road through sparsely populated territory, has become a well-known adventure ride journey. My ride on the epic Ruta 40 started from Mendoza all the way down to El Calafate. It was indeed a tough journey. I had to face great challenges such as very cold weather, unbelievable strong wind, rain, storms, and off-road (thick and loose gravel which rattled my teeth and bones, and soft sands too). I passed towns such as Malargue, Chos Malal, San Martin de Los Andes, San Carlos de Bariloche, Esquel, Perito Moreno, Gobernador Gregores, and El Calafate. The total distance for my route in Ruta 40 was 3400kms which took about 10 days. Every day, I had to start early in the morning as the wind starts to blow fiercely after 9.30am and gets even stronger by midday.

ARGENTINA - Givi Explorer

Carrying extra gas is essential here as the distance between towns are huge and there are always cases of gas stations running out of gas. There were many occasions that I had to queue and wait for at least 30mins when I needed to refuel. Even though the ride on Ruta 40 was hard, the view was so breath-taking. Green pampas, beautiful gorges, green Rio Grande river, canyons, and blue Lago Nueva on the way to Chos Malal. Some pics to enjoy…

ARGENTINA - Givi Explorer

The famous ‘Seven Lakes’ via Villa La Angostura and all the way to San Carlos de Bariloche.

ARGENTINA - Givi Explorer

The pine trees and some desert like views to Esquel.

ARGENTINA - Givi Explorer

While at El Calafate, I managed to visit the Perito Moreno Glacier. This glacier is number 4 for me after Franz Josef (NZ), Khumbu Glacier (Mt Everest) and Bear Glacier (Canada-Alaska). The entrance fee was AP260, and the tour AP600. I took the tour as I had a fever at that time and I didn’t feel like riding 160kms (return) to this place. A decision which I’m so glad to have taken when seeing the wind condition that even the bus I rode on was shaking!!! This glacier is indeed the most beautiful and the biggest glacier that I had seen. I was sooo stunned at its beauty that I can’t figure out the most suitable word to describe it. The glacier changes colours according to the amount of sunlight it receives. When I was there, it was raining and shining on and off. Every now and then I heard loud ‘thunder’ sounds of the glacier cracking and falling into the lake. It was really awesome.

ARGENTINA - Givi Explorer

I exited El Calafate and made my way to Rio Gallegos and after that I headed south via Ruta 3. My first real big problem started here when I was denied exit by the Argentinian officers due to failure to show them my bike permisso copy, which I didn’t get when crossing into Argentina at Mendoza the other day. The officer accused me of taking GD into the country illegally and he threatened to confiscate my bike. I tried to explain my situation and fortunately he referred me to his chief, but I need to go to another customs building about 1km away. I met the lady and again had to explain to her. She told me to wait while she checked her computer. Later she told me that there was no information about my bike in the custom’s system. She said that this was against the law and she will take my bike away. I was panicking but I controlled my charm and cool. I knew very well how in this situation, I’m at her MERCY and she could make matters worse for me. I told her there must be some mistake, as I knew the procedures to bring my bike into a country, and I had registered at the customs. I’m not new to this, and this border is the 17th for GDR. She couldn’t decide and told me to wait while she brought the matter to the HQ. She made some calls and emails. I had no choice but to wait. I waited from mins to hours and started to get very restless. So my last solution was to beg her and of course I had to act and shed some tears to get her sympathy. Thank God it worked. Finally, after wasting 3.30hrs, she let me pass without a fine.

I hurriedly left and registered my bike on the Chilean side which took only 20mins. Then, I sped to the ferry terminal and crossed to Tierra del Fuego. Not long after that, I had to ride on off-road for 110kms. It was a bone rattling ride, but this time, I couldn’t pamper GD anymore as the sun was going down. I had to go as fast as my off-road riding skill allowed me. After that, I did the 2nd border crossing. The Chilean side first, then 12kms on no-man’s-land, then the Argentina side. Luckily I got a tail wind after that and I arrived in Rio Grande after riding approx 400kms. I had to spend some time to find a room which suited my budget and only got to check in at 9.30pm. I was dead tired.

On 18th February, I reached Ushuaia, Fin Del Mundo…

158 days…
Approx 32000kms…
2 continents…
15 countries…
Countless sleepless nights due to worries…
Countless wonderful memories…
All the crazy & wild wind along the way…
All the hunger, thirst, exhaustion, pain, heat, cold, frozen fingers & lips…
I am finally here…
The end of the road…
At the end of the world…
1 solo rider
1 woman
1 huge dream
*IMPOSSIBLE IS NOTHING*

ARGENTINA - Givi Explorer

After the first big objective that was to reach the end of the world had been accomplished, my next target was to ride to Buenos Aires, some 3100kms away via Ruta 3 to prepare my bike for shipping to London. I rode the same 230kms back to Rio Grande. The road was wet due to melting frost. The wind was strong…among the strongest I had felt so far. I had to fight head and side winds for the last 100kms. To make matters worse, the wind forecast said that the wind gusts were going to reach 101kmh for the next days. It was true. The wind was insane. The sound of the howling wind was like a ghost trying to swallow everything which it passed through. It was too dangerous for me to ride. I was stranded in Rio Grande for 3 nights.

Finally, the wind lessened a bit and I hurriedly left the town. It was a brrrrrr ride, braving the chill since there was no sunshine but a thick cloud hovering above my head. It was so cold and all my fingers froze. That being said, most people think it’s easy to ride a small bike which doesn’t have a heated grip for this kind of ride? I rode on the same 110kms gravel. It was tougher this time due to the wind and because there was fresh soil being put on the road under construction. I made it to Rio Gallegos after riding 400kms in 10 hours, with 2 border crossings.

ARGENTINA - Givi Explorer

The next days weren’t easy for me either. As at Ruta 40, the wind at the southern part of Ruta 3 was very strong. It rained very heavily when I reached Puerto San Julian. The road to my host’s house was very muddy and slippery. The wind was very strong and the rain continued to pour for the whole night. I had only a very little sleep and when I woke up in the morning, the rain had stopped but GD was lying on the ground. The wind must have pushed it over and the surroundings had turned into a paddy field. I prayed very hard for the sun to come out and for the earth to suck the water up. The sun only came out at 12pm and miraculously the water drained very quickly.

Then, I raced towards Comodoro Rivadavia. It was a very cold ride as it rained on and off and the wind was still strong. I had to ride on off-road, ascend a pretty steep dirt hill and descended a slope with thick gravel for about 5kms to reach my host’s house.

The next days were to reach Buenos Aires as soon as I could. I made a stop at Puerto Madryn, Viedma, Bahia Blanca and Azul via Ruta 3. In Azul, I stayed at a cool place, La Posta, which is dedicated for bikers. Finally, on 2nd March 2016, I arrived in Buenos Aires and rode straight to the Malaysian Embassy. The Ambassador, Dato Ashri Muda and all the staff gave me a very warm welcome. The media was there too. Dato even invited me to stay at Malaysia House until the day I departed for London. I met Datin Rohayahti at the residence and she treated me like her very own sister. I stayed 8 days at their place and they took me sightseeing in Buenos Aires. I also managed to sort out my bike to be flown to London, using the service of Dakar Motos. I had to pay US$1850 for the fees. All the while, Dato helped me a lot by letting his staff assist me. Till the final day, Dato and Datin sent me to the airport.

 

END OF MY RIDE IN THE AMERICAS

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