Skip to content

La ruta 40 y El Bolson

So, all crazy things done and dusted and, for the matter, also the cycling, I’m packed and ready to tackle a large chunk of the legendary Ruta 40 from the comfort of a bus seat.

I have people waiting for me in El Bolson, roughly 900 miles north of El Calafate for my next WorkAway stint. I have fallen out of love with the cycling this winter. I am not sure if it’s the combination of the terrain with the Brompton or the fact that I have managed to convince myself that this trip is more about learning Spanish than to cycle, but the net result is that by the end of the trip I will have completed a fraction of the milage I have completed last winter in New Zealand and Australia. Still there is more to this going round the world than cycling.

Packed and ready to go.
Another bus trip, another friend, and I seem to send them all to sleep.
150 Km of grovel on a national route.

So to the route. “La Ruta 40” is to Argentina what Route 66 is to the USA, a semi legendary track that evokes Kerouachian memories and reaching for the frontier. It runs from the top to the bottom of continental Argentine more or less all at the foot of the Andes.


While the majority of it is paved, there are chunks which are still not and one of them, a whole 100+ miles of it, is lying in my way. Luck, or better, bad luck, wants that the unpaved road is in the middle of the night part of the 23 hours journey and this means little or no sleep. On the other hand I meet a very nice Canadian girl, Claudine, who made the journey that little bit shorter with lively conversation.

I get to El Bolson in good time and make my way up an unpaved road to my new home for a month the Hostel “Vamos al Bosque”. I am going to stay here for a while helping the Di Lorenzo family setting up a camping across the road from the hostel and in the process, I hope, improve my Spanish and taste a bit of true Argentinian family life.

Second night in, and it’s welcome to more of the same 🙂
Guido at the back, Martin on the Fernet and Eva at the front.
el bols
And this is what happens when someone that knows what he’s doing takes pictures.
Team USA on washing up duty
As Carlo prepares the elderflower lemon sorbet.

Life with the Dilos is quite good fun, the work is harder than in Uruguay but I like the fact it reminds me a bit of the times I spent with my dad in Italy building and rebuilding the surroundings of the house in the mountains.

The more time I spend in this country the more I am mesmerised by their fluctuating environmental consciousness. On one hand they are great advocates of minimising the road paving to preserve nature for just those who truly care about it and preventing the flooding of “town people”. On the other there is hardly a corner of this land which is not overrun with garbage of all kinds, moreover there are cars on the roads that would make the more lax emission tests appear an impossible challenge. As part of our renovation work we have to clean up a piece of land that was formerly used as a dump site and, environmental concerns aside, this proves to be a rather interesting archeological pursuit.

This is the hole that we dug one day, and filled the following. Go figure!
Note the wilderness at the back, we cleared all that.
That is me and my philosopher friend Sergio.
Amazing things we found.

I work a few hours a day for six days a week for my keep and that means I get Sundays off. On the first Sunday therefore I elect to go for a long walk (13Km) to the local hotspots of Cabeza del Indio and Cascada Escondida.

The Rio Azul valey
With hiker
Cabeza de Indio
In detail
This is me where I should not be. Also note how there is a slight Easter Island effect looking at the rock from here.

The walk from the Cabeza to the Cascada was a treat of well signed walking and lots of delicious bramble stops.

Hiking with directions, how refreshing.
Brings back memories of hiking in the woods of the Appennini Modenesi
Mmmmmmm, ate a lot of these. Nothing better than free food. Well there are better things, but…
Splendid day and views
Cascada Escondida
Not so hidden after all.

Then there is normal life, a lot of changes around the hostel, the Dilos are leaving it and, from next year, only running the camping we are setting up. Aside from spending a Sunday catching up with Thiago, my Brasilian friend from Uruguay and Buenos Aires who is now working in another hostel here in El Bolson, I go to town a few times to sample local life, a few beers and the occasional choripan.

Life in a Provincial town in Patagonia is amazing. Amazing in the sense that it is rather different from what I am used too. The times are all different: lunch is at 15:00 or there about and often dinner is not till midnight.

I start to take pictures to remind myself that there what we consider old cars in Europe are just off the line here.

El pueblo 1
El pueblo 2
The wisdom of el pueblo
Yes that is a Fiat 127, they stopped being seen in Italy in the late 70s, only here it’s called 147
Exibit 1
Exibit 2
Exibit 3
Guerrilla poetry
Exibit 4
And of course Carlos’ love and pride.

Other than that life at the hostel proceeds well with the occasional asado to make life just that little better.

Rocco, my favourite of the three dogs.
Victor, the asador for the night
And his masterwork
It’s Santiago and Marta’s birthday
Carlos singing the praises of his beer to guests.
Watching Eros Ramazzotti, long forgotten in Italy and extraordinarily popular here, singing live in Viña del Mar, Chile.

On the third Sunday of my stay Carlos and I are off to the races, quite literally at one point we are racing our kayaks on Lago Epuyen joining the crowd of Puerto Patriada Kayak for a day on the waves.

The day is cool and as well as trying the two and the single I get to eat a splendid bbq lunch and make  a whole bunch of new friends.

Powering on
Sorting the world out in Español.
The whole expedition

On the whole it’s a lot of fun to stay in El Bolson.

1 thought on “La ruta 40 y El Bolson”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *