In 2013, GIVI organised its first tour: a group of expert motorcycle travellers affiliated with the brand, coming from all over the world, journeyed to the wilds of faraway Patagonia in order to test out the then-new Trekker Outback cases.
The idea of creating a dedicated portal to share experiences, stories and tips for lovers of motorcycle adventures
was born on the way back from this trip.
Ten years on from Patagonia 2013 and the birth of GIVI Explorer, GIVI has launched an updated version
of its iconic aluminium cases… might it be time to organise a new journey to put them to the test?
For now, here’s the story of Patagonia 2013.
The following is a travel report of a unique journey: not some luxurious incentive trip to a Caribbean island, but a motorcycle tour across one of the destinations most beloved by enthusiasts of the sport… Patagonia! The trip was a dream come true for Vincenzo Visenzi (used to riding through the fields as a boy, he takes every chance to get back in the saddle), who managed to bring together an international group of people with a connection to the GIVI brand. The journey also provided an opportunity to test out the then-new Trekker Outback aluminium cases under the perfect conditions for this type of product.
Neuquén is our starting point, our first X on the map, where we’ll start our engines for the first time. The Hotel Herradura Suites is the meeting point for the group, and the car park in front of it is where we first get our hands on the motorcycles we will share this experience on. The group includes representatives of seven different nationalities, consisting of a total of 11 riders, 1 guide and 4 support personnel. The motorcycles are from the BMW brand, and the models chosen (R1200GS, F800GS, F650GS) represent the perfect compromise for the type of journey we’ve planned. After an intensive afternoon of conversation and getting to know each other, the evening sees us all succumb to the tiredness of travelling here from our respective parts of the world. In fact, our first night on Argentinian soil draws to a close immediately after dinner.
Over breakfast, the atmosphere seems to buzz with the excitement of our imminent departure. In the car park, the motorcycles are carefully inspected, made ready and fitted out with the GIVI accessories we’ve chosen as essential for the journey. Unique personal traits begin to emerge in the particular way each of us has of attaching their GPS holder to the handlebar, adjusting the height of their Airflow windscreen, or picking out what to store inside the top cases. After a quick lunch with a generous helping of questions and technical advice, we’re finally ready to go. The road slips by quickly for the first 400 km of the journey: the double yellow line down the centre of the carriageway becomes a constantly changing point of reference.
Somewhere around the halfway point, we are obliged to stop for the first time to fuel up. A line of cars and old trucks waiting for the fuel pumps keeps us queueing for thirty minutes. It doesn’t take long for us to realise that long lines at service stations are, unfortunately, a given in this part of Argentina. In the afternoon we reach the city of Bariloche, a well-known skiing destination during the winter months and a stunning holiday resort in summer. Nestled at the feet of the Andes, it is famous for its production of chocolate and as the home of many St. Bernard dogs. The sight of our group on motorcycles creates quite a stir among the people here: with a few minutes of our arrival, we find ourselves happily keeping the bikes balanced for children perched on the saddles, arms resting on the handlebars. In the late afternoon we head for Hotel Amancay, a stunning location with a view of the Puerto Pañuelo bay. We all have visions in our dreams that night of Nahuel Huapi Lake, which we admired over dinner from the hotel terrace.
In the morning, we leave the lake behind us with a pang of regret as we take a road leading uphill to a panoramic viewing point. The landscape here with its dense shrubbery deserves to be contemplated with your full attention, engines shut off and helmets removed. The first thing that grabs our attention is Llao Llao, one of Patagonia’s most idyllic resorts, before our gaze moves on to the spectacular lights and colours of the Nahuel Huapi Lakes and the snow-capped mountains in the background. The memory of this view keeps us going for the over 200 km we must travel along Ruta 40 to get to the little town of Trevelin, best known as the home of the Nant y Fall Waterfalls. We reach the falls in the late afternoon, making our way along a dirt road lacking even the most rudimentary signposting. Despite the unimpressive sight of the falls themselves, the site as a whole lives up to our expectations.
Back on our motorcycles, it is with a growing sense of fatigue that we ride on towards our destination. Luckily, the town of Esquel is only 30 or so kilometres away. We reach Hosteria Angelina in the evening, where we are welcomed by its proprietor, an Argentinian of Italian origins who wastes no time in sharing his story with us. We’ve booked a table for dinner at a restaurant known for its use of “parrilla”, a way of grilling meat with a special technique.
An excellent meal shared between travel companions helps us to finally feel like a real team.
Breakfast at Hosteria Angelina has a certain something Italian about it, while the neomelodic music in the background and the home-made pastries bring a sincere patriotism to our goodbyes with the proprietor. Today’s itinerary isn’t a particularly long one, but contains several stretches across dirt roads which will require extra care and concentration while riding. At the beginning, the road unfurls in a series of curves, perfectly tarmacked and offering interesting trajectories. We’re able to ride with a clean style, really letting the motorcycles run around curves that offer some pretty intense leans: hands holding steadily onto the gas throttle, eyes flickering back and forth, faster and faster, between the road and the landscape. A wave of the left hand, a gentle touch of the horn or a brief flash of the headlight become our ways of communicating with those on the other side of the road, intent on their own destinations.
The entrance to the Los Alerces National Park appears before us almost without warning. We make our way across the park along dirt roads and, after a brief pause on the shores of Futalaufquen Lake, find ourselves at our pre-arranged lunch stop. A rustic wooden building with a veranda, it soon turns out to be everything you could wish for a short afternoon break. From comfortable cloth hammocks, we look back at our dust-covered motorcycles with a feeling of respect. Though we might be a little too relaxed by the time we get back in the saddle, the stones that form an integral part of the road here soon remind us to focus on our riding. The road is particularly uneven in parts, obliging us to keep our balance by standing up on the footpegs and pressing our legs against the sides of the tank to hold on. A technique from the world of off-road biking, of course, but which allows us to ride with much more confidence under these circumstances too. In fact, it’s possible to keep the skidding of the rear wheel under control using leg power only, without subjecting your whole body to every single twist and jerk of the motorcycle. The increasingly dusty and dilapidated road takes us all the way to the suspended bridge across the Rio Arrayanes. We make the crossing on foot, taking the opportunity to take pictures of a particularly lively moment of our journey. We reach the village of El Bolsón in the late afternoon, parking the motorcycles underneath a large canopy as a precaution: the reports we’ve seen forecast the arrival of bad weather in the near future. El Bolsón, located in the centre of a valley, has a long-standing hippie tradition; in fact, on the evening we arrive, a surprise party has been organised in the main square.
The grey morning sky is not a comforting sight, and all it takes is a glance out the windows of the hotel to realise that rain, cold and wind will all play major parts in the rest of our day. Undaunted, we prepare to tackle anything the weather can throw at us by putting on our rain gear and all the other waterproof components we’ve got. A few kilometres out, we need to stop at a service station and await our turn in the pouring rain to pump up our tyres, having lowered the pressure yesterday DIY-style in order to increase the stability of the motorcycles across the dirt trails.
We get back on the road beneath the ceaseless rainfall. Travelling down long, straight roads, we come to realise that the rain and the cold can be managed, but the wind blowing sideways against us and throwing the motorcycles off-balance might just be the most dangerous of the elements. We continue at reduced speed, attempting to counteract the strength of the wind by shifting the weight of our bodies on the motorcycles. As the kilometres roll past, even this unusual way of riding motorcycles at an incline comes to seem almost natural.
Lunchtime creeps up on us before we know it, close to the well-known Villa La Angostura resort town in the vicinity of Nahuel Huapi Lake. We opt for typical local dishes: “bife del lomo” (tenderloin) and “trucha” (trout). With full stomachs and warm bodies, we have to admit that it takes considerable willpower to get back onto our motorcycles and put ourselves at the mercy of the elements once again.
The road, which is marked as “under construction” on the roadmap, soon turns out to be unpaved and full of puddles. We are forced to adapt our riding style to these new conditions, proceeding at a high, steady speed in order to prevent the front wheel of the motorcycles from sinking into an unexpectedly deep mud pit. Though we take a break at the Pichi Traful waterfalls, it’s for a few minutes only: teeth chattering inside our helmets, we are all counting down the remaining kilometres to San Martin de Los Andes.
The sun’s rays bounce off our helmets from on high, and even the latest never-ending queue for the service station becomes a chance to exchange pleasantries with other motorcyclists travelling across Patagonia.
We set out again as a group, hands firmly grasping accelerators, to make good time in reaching the bridge over Rio Malleo. This distinctive bridge with its wooden base is nothing short of spectacular to cross by motorcycle. The road that opens up before our eyes is a vibrant burst of colour: the reddish earth, looking almost like the surface of the moon, clashes with the light blue of the river flowing to one side, sketching out a series of clear curves. It’s easy to get distracted by such a spectacular road, which can lead to mistakes in riding. At lunch in the town of Alumine, we have a chance to try the famous dish of “pasta patagonica”. Before we set off again, we learn something about the area’s unique characteristics thanks to a motorcycle mechanic in the town, who speaks with words rich in dignity.
We reach the shores of Pulmari Lake in the early afternoon, with our collective jaws dropping as we arrive at what is to be one of the most idyllic locations on our journey: Hosteria Piedra Pintada. A recent construction of wood and stone, it sits on a lonely shore of the lake with its rooms offering a far-reaching view of the surrounding landscape. The hotel is extremely isolated, as demonstrated by the fact that its power comes almost exclusively from solar energy and from a secondary generator which is fired up only in the late afternoon. Dinner is served in a wooden structure separate from the hotel, giving us the chance to try the famous “cordero patagonico”, an intensely flavourful flame-cooked local lamb dish.
The memories of that evening, and the conversation flowing around that table, remain clear in all of our minds: travellers’ tales, tips and tricks for riding, past stories and experiences. By now, our little group is really starting to feel like a united team sharing in a unique experience. We all understand that we are here for a reason, and each of us believes so strongly in the spirit of the brand we represent that we feel almost like an integral part of it.
We leave the shore of Pulmari Lake in the morning without a backwards glance, riding along what will be the final stretch of dirt road on our journey. Our tyres are forced to tackle a new type of terrain: sandier than usual, with deep, pronounced furrows. A road that might have raised apprehension in some of us on earlier days is now second nature to us, standing up on the footpegs of our motorcycles to ride. A stop at the beach by Alumine Lake gives us one last chance to have fun together, before we undertake the final kilometres of our trip to reach the village of Villa Pehuenia, our last stop before the city of Zapala. The road has a final series of surprises in store for us, with a parade of unlikely passers-by: a flock of sheep crossing unexpectedly, a number of farmers on horseback who hold their reins up in greeting, and a procession of ox-drawn carts.
The straight road connecting Zapala to Neuquén is almost two hundred kilometres long. We set a steady pace, slowing promptly only when we come to the numerous checkpoints set up by the police, signalled by a series of yellow stripes perpendicular to the road.
Our arrival in Neuquén means it’s time to say a final, rather emotional farewell to the motorcycles. Each of us has their own personal, internal way of giving thanks to the vehicle, a blend of spirit and mechanics, that brought them safely to the final day of the journey. Our connection to the San Martin de Los Andes airport, where our return flight to Buenos Aires leaves from, is the final stretch of the journey we will all take together as a group. As we each return to our own countries, every motorcycle we see on the roads — covered in dust, top cases in place — will remind us of this faraway land and the sense of freedom that nothing but a motorcycle tour can bring.
WATCH THE GALLERY
WATCH THE VIDEO
For those who treat riding like an adventure, GIVI offers a wide range of accessories dedicated to the most extreme situations: