El Chalten to Perito Moreno

A beautiful rainbow across the mountain greets us as we leave Hotel Lunajuim and its very helpful and enthusiastic staff – they were all quite emotional when we left and wished us safe travels.

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This was a fairly long day with nearly 600 km to cover most of which we remembered from the trip south.  This time we took the long way around through Gobernador Gregores to miss the gravel section we had taken to get to the Estancia and from then on it was all sealed.  The government is progressively sealing the entire length of Route 40 presumably to attract more tourists but in these southern sections there are still long periods where we see no other cars.  There are long, long straight sections, up to 20 km or so which become mesmerising after a while.  We were just reflecting on the risk of nodding off and drifting off the road onto the rough gravel verges when we saw a Fiat pick-up well off the road with windows and roof smashed – new skid marks and a body lying beside the car didn’t look good.  The woman driver was in shock and wanted us to help the guy who we assume was her son and appeared to have been thrown out.  Luckily he only appeared to have a cut on his head and grazes but no breaks.  The next to arrive were German tourists, one of whom was a doctor who confirmed the diagnosis.  We found a bag of clothing in the Fiat and made sure he was warm and shielded from the wind and left him with the doctor and the woman.  No mobile signal for miles around and the next town with police and a hospital nearly 300 km away so the best we could do was take her note to the nearest stop off with phone service – fortunately we found a local guy who had also seen the accident so we were able to leave him to sort it out.  Very sobering and we had a good discussion at our evening briefing to remind everyone of the need to rest or change drivers if they felt tired.

A surprise awaited us at our Perito Moreno hotel – another Australian traveller, Giles Cooper, was there to greet us.  Giles is a friend of Ross and Shez and on his way south through Chile so he popped across the border to catch up and share experiences of his trip from Alaska through the US and Central America.  This time he is driving a Land Cruiser but his previous trip north to Alaska was in a Lotus Elise.  He wanted to be the first to drive a Lotus to Alaska but after the trip took it straight back to Australia afterwards to buy something more practical.  Lots of good advice from Giles about crossing borders without having to pay bribes and minimising risks of accidents with the crazy tgruck drivers in Central America. Sounds just like parts of Africa…

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