Saturday, December 25, 2010

Leaving the Island of Tierra del Fuego

Wind on the Coast
We left Rio Grande at the afternoon, after spending all morning preparing food for the way and chatting with a German girl who plans to ride all the way to Alaska. The road from Rio Grande is quite empty, and we had about ten kilometers of a very wide road where we could ride one next to the other. Despite the good conditions of the road, we had a hard time due to the terrible wind. At some points during our ride we couldn´t stay on the road for more than a few minutes because of the strong side wind blows.

In the evening of our first day, the wind got bearable for a few hours during which we searched for a nice location to spend the night. Unfortunately, the surroundings of the road were all covered with fences, so we had to sleep quite close to the road. The main disadvantage of this location was the sharp-sighted track drivers who had to honk to notify they spotted us. The next day was as windy as the first, yet we managed to get to the boarder in San Sebastian. On the way we saw a lot of sheep, that made the monotone scenary a bit more interesting.

San Sebastian
The Argentinian San Sebastian consists of a couple of houses, and the boarder control. We were offered the option to sleep in a heated room at the boarder, but refused because it was still early. We didn´t regret the decision, as the way from the Argentinian San Sebastian to the Chilean one was the most beautiful part of these past few days. It is a natural reserve with many different kinds of birds, foxes, lamas and of course sheep.

There is a hill that shelters the road from the wind, so the ride was pleasant, despite the fact that the asphalt was gone, with the sad sign ¨FIN DEL PAVIMENTO¨. The Chilean San Sebastian was not much bigger than the Argentinian one, but it had a good restaurant in a very expensive hostel we didn´t stay in. In the entrance to Chile, one is supposed to throw away all products that contain uncooked vegetables and fruit, or any animal product. Therefore we didn´t bring much food with us, and planned to renew our supplies after crossing the boarder. In reality, nobody checked our luggage on the entrance to Chile, and there was no supermarket in San Sebastian, so we were stuck with a very limited food supply.

After leaving San Sebastian we fought the wind for another day and a half, during which we saw many lamas and a few foxes.

When the wind became too strong for us to ride, and since we had little food left, we gave up. We decided to catch a ride to Porvenir, and after an hour we managed to do so. With the ride we passed 70 km of a very beautiful road on the coast. We got to Porvenir in good timing, we managed to eat, buy food, and ride the 5 km to the point where the ferry to Punta Arenas leaves (price: 5,100 CH$) .

On board we met again the German cyclist we met in Rio Grande, together with her Canadian companion. They had a similar experience, and where driven to Porvenir by a nice Italian couple.

Punta Arenas
2 hours on the boat, and we reached Punta Arenas. After asking for prices in a few hostels, we arrived to the cheapest one (The Blue House) which is, unsurprisingly, full of Israelis. We are not sure that it is a good thing, but we feel very much at home here at the hostel. Punta Arenas is a very nice town, but a little boring during Christmas. Things you should see here are: the cemetery, the promenade on the shore and all the big trees and art pieces on the main avenue from the ferry. We plan to see some penguins in the next few days.

For more photos of this post click here


                       Shoham & Amit
                     South America by Bicycle

Monday, December 20, 2010

First week on the road

Right on the entrance to Ushuaia we met an Amaya and Eric (, who were finishing their 87,000th kilometer of riding through some 80 countries. They came from the opposite direction and gave us some useful tips.
After a sunny start, we had a lot of rain, and the first wild camping was very wet and muddy (and even a bit snowy) outside, but dry and happy inside the tent.
The second day started with a long climb to Garibaldi Passo, after which the scenery changed abruptly, and the snow disappeared. Taking photos there is a must and there are two road signs ordering you to do so.

We followed the advice of the couple we met on the way, and went to Panaderia La Union (the bakery) in Tolhuin, where we slept for free in a special room for cyclists (thanks Omar). We stayed there for a whole day in which we tasted the bakery´s wonderful variety. On our second night there it became quite crowded in the room when two other couples came to sleep there, French cyclists who came from Peru, and gave us professional mechanical advise and Brasilian motorcyclists. In general Tolhuin is a pleasant village, but two days there is more than enough.

Windy days

From the moment we left R3 road (the highway, and only way from Ushuaia), to make a small detour, we experienced extremely strong winds of about 50 km/h at max.. When our water ran off, we filled it straight from the lake (Lago Yehuin), which, according to the Croatian farmer from Ea. Rivadavia, has been healthy for him for the past 40 years he lived there. He also explained why there is a deserted hotel on the shore (the owner didn´t pay the local tax).

Later we encountered an Italian farmer who had some confusing recommendations of things we must see in Chile. We ate some gourmet dishes cooked on our new Israeli stove (multi-fuel), including a delicious snow peas paste.

After 3 exhausting days fighting against the wind, we had 5 kilometers of back wind (20 km/h without pedalling), while entering Rio Grande.

Rio Grande
Following the advice of a local woman, we went to Hostel Argentino, where they us to camp in their garden for 30 AR$ per person per night. We took advantage of their fully equipped kitchen, and cooked some good meals and ready meals for the way. After checking a few stores we came to the conclusion that this might be a good starting point for such a trip as you can find here good bicycles (Everest Outdoors) and a lot of professional camping gear, for reasonable prices. Until this point, all the internet places we tried were terribly old and slow, so you might consider bringing your own laptop here. According to other travelers we met, Rio Grande is the last chance to change money before Chile. Next, we plan to go to San Sebastian and there cross the border to Chile, and continue with a ferry to Punta Arenas.

For more photos of this post click here


                       Shoham & Amit
                     South America by Bicycle


We landed at 21:00 in which is sunset time in Ushuaia. The airport of Ushuaia is situated right on a small peninsuala connected by only one road to the city. The view from the point the airport doors open is stunning. You can see the city and the snowy mountain tops, right on the sea edge. After more than an hour of putting our bicycles together, there was still light outside, and we then started searching for our camping site. No one in Ushuaia knows about it, but it is still the only camping site in the city. After more than an hour of going in circles, we got the phone number of the camping from two nice Italian tourists, and got there in twenty minutes of climbing.

¨La Pista del Andino¨ camping is situated next to the ski resort. From there you have a nice view of the city. The camping offers some good empenadas and cake, and useful facilities, including a partially equiped kitchen. The heart of the camping is, of course, were the food is, and a usually warm shelter from the cold and snow. In the dining room we met kind travellers including some Israelies, an Irish guy, two ¨Kiwis¨ (New Zealanders), an Uruguaian, a Canadian group, and other unidentified nationals.

Snow and Nature
There is not so much to do in Ushuaia, except seeing the glacier and the coastal natural reserve in the east, and walking up and down San Martin Av.. We walked up to the glacier, through the forests for about 3 hours, starting at the ski piste in the camping. On the glacier we found mostly Israelies having snow fights and complaining about how wet they get.

The coastal natural reserve is indeed worth the ride there, but you shouldn´t do our mistake - please hitch-hike to get there and don´t walk! There you can observe a few interesting types of birds including many different kinds of seaguls.

On our way back we got a ride back with locals, after ten seconds of hitch-hiking. They explained that they moved to Ushuaia because it is very easy to find a job there, and the salaries are good as well. When we came back, we found everything covered with snow including our tent, which couldn´t hold the weight and collapsed.

In Ushuaia we started experiencing the cooking with our small pans. It wasn´t easy for us to cook in such small quantities but the effort paid off. We made different kinds of rice, pasta and spreads. For the way, we prepared 4 kilos of food, including two spreads we, Pesto and Tapenade.

We discovered a delicious bakery not far from the camping with ridiculous prices and regional pastries.

Take Off
After a few days of terrible weather, we woke up to a sunny day with clear sky so we decided to start cycling. It took us all morning to prepare our bikes for the trip, partly because of the first flat tire of Amit´s bike. In the following days we plan to cycle to warmer places hoping to get (eventually) to Peru. 

For more photos of this post click here


                       Shoham & Amit
                     South America by Bicycle

Starting our traveling / A week in Buenos Aires

Jet Leg
The travel from Israel to Argentina lasted 24 hours, and it included train, flight with a stop in Madrid and a 2 hours bus in B-A (Amit got sick). Vegan meals in the flights (Iberia) were much better than the carnivore ones, and we recommend it to everyone. Amit experiences the full Jet Leg phenomenon, including the lack of sleep, inappropriate hunger times, headaches and getting sick.

The Bicycle Search
There are about twenty bicycle shops in B-A and we visited all of them twice. Finally we found reasonable bicycles in a reasonable price. While searching for bicycle panniers we visited the actual Halawa factory, and saw them finish making our bags.

Enjoying Buenos Aires
During our search we saw a lot of B-A and enjoyed the ridiculously cheap public transportation (about 1 AR$ for any kind of transportation). Nice places we visited: the cathedral, an old cemetery, La Boca neighborhood, the Sunday market, the natural reserve and many other nice parks.

We were hosted for three nights by Celina Rosales who was a wonderful host and a terrific guide for Argentina.

It is pretty much impossible to find vegan food in B-A, so we gave in and ate some very good meat empenadas. Eventually we did find a good and cheap vegeterian restaurant in San Telmo neighbourhood and an excellent organic gourmet restaurant in Palermo neighbourhood (Kensho). We also ate a disgusting vegan hamburger in the famous Sunday artesanal market in San Telmo, but Amit still insisted on eating another one to promote veganism. We decided at some point to cook our own food, and experienced new cooking with local products.

Last Day in Buenos Aires
We bought flight tickets to Ushuaia with Aerolineas Argentina, and spend the last day there in Parque de la Ciudad. This is a non functioning amusement park that hosts different kinds of birds you cannot see anywhere else in the city.

For more photos of this post click here

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Medical Preparations

After long searches for all the required data, we have summarized our understanding of the suggested medical preparation. Don't consider the superficial details given bellow as any medical advice, as we are not qualified to give medical advices. You should get more certified information on this most important aspect of preparation for any trip, and you must consult a physician (medical doctor) who is a specialist for infectious diseases, to get a professional opinion on your specific medical needs for this kind of trip.

You must plan at least 1 month for the vaccination period. The minimal list of vaccines for a long trip throughout S-A is the following:
   * Yellow Fever - lasts for life, 1 shot, mandatory for entrance to some countries in the continent
   * Rabies - lasts for life but a booster dose is highly recommended before a long trip and if bitten by an animal you must anyway get a series of active vaccines within a week period, 3 shots: the 2nd after 1 week, and the 3rd 2 weeks after the 2nd,
   * Hepatitis A - lasts for life, 2 shots, the 2nd after between 6 and 12 months (you can do it after you return from your trip)
   * Hepatitis B - lasts for life, 3 shots, the 2nd after 1 month and the 3rd between 6 and 12 months after (you can do it after returning from your trip)
   * Typhoid Fever - lasts for 3 years, 1 shot
   * Tetanus - the series lasts for life but for it to work well a booster dose must be given every 10 years

International Certificate of Vaccinations

Don´t forget to take this important document with you, because you must present it in the entrance to some countries.

Pharmacy Kit
Malaria is endemic to the central northern part of S-A, and in general in every densely populated area below the altitude of 2,000 m. You should search specific areas you plan to visit in the detailed map here, and if necessarily buy the expensive pills needed for treatment, as this is a deadly disease. Our usual medicine kit, for any long trip where pharmacies are not available, contains the following:
   * Medical Pills - malaria (prevention and treatment), antibiotics (2 different types), diarrhea, stomach ache, allergy, painkiller
   * Medical Ointments and Creams - antibiotics for eyes (also used externally for the entire body), antibiotics + analgesic for gums, skin fungus infections, rash/butt cream, analgesic heat rub for muscles, solar lipstick, regular lipstick, sunscreen, aloe-vera
   * Nutritional Supplements - for vegans like us the following are a must: vitamin B12, iron, folic-acid, calcium + vitamin D

First Aid Kit
This is a different kit that is physically separated from the other pharmaceuticals. This is because in a real emergency situation you would have to take it out and find life saving utilities in a matter of seconds. The basic First Aid Kit we take for any trip contains the following:
   * Bandaging - sterile gauzes, paper scotch tape, strong plastic or fabric scotch tape, cotton wool, medical iodine
   * Emergency Devices - whistles, stick light

and the the two kits looks like this:

Medical Care

Bath Kit
The bath kit can be very heavy so you should buy most of it in the actual destination of your trip. Some things you should anyway prepare ahead because it can be difficult/expensive/impossible to find them where you plan to travel. The following is our bath kit for this trip:
   * From Home: a few rolls of toilette paper, tooth brushes, sewing string and a needle, razors, ear plugs, eye covers, small sealing bottles for soap and for shampoo.
   * Supplement for Woman: tampons/hygienic-bandages, pregnancy prevention
   * Supplement for Man: shaving cream

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Plan

This blog was created with an intention of not communicating directly with all our friends in the modern world while traveling, but rather share our experiences and insights from this trip in a broader scale. Anyone may comment on every post in this blog, and please feel free to contact us for any further information or request, as we cannot reply "No" (just try).

The general plan
We will fly to Buenos Aires on Nov. 29th and there we will buy bicycles and all other biking gear. About a week later we fly to Ushuaia in Patagonia, which is the most southern city in the world. from there we plan to begin cycling towards north following the border between Argentina and Chile, which is said to be the nicest region in all S-A. From there we plan to continue to Peru, Bolivia, Acuador, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Guyana (not necessarily in that order) and to any other friendly country we might find on the way.

Specific places we want to visit
Tierra del Fuego, Puerto Natales, El Calafate (lakes and glaciers), Perito Moreno, Bariloche, Santiago, Cordoba, Salta, La Paz, Machu Picchu, Huascaran Park, Manta.

If you would like to follow our trip, please click this button and choose any account you've already have (If you don't have one we recommend that you register to Gmail). New post will be published here irregularly, and replies to your comments can take several month, but we promise to answer all your questions. This blog is also published on SHOHAMIT website, but registering there would update you on other matters and not of this trip publications.

Enjoy !