DAY 794 - THE ARGENTINEAN PAMPA
Day 794 - Gobernador Gregores, Argentina - 18975 km
After my wet adventure crossing the border towards Argentina I’m facing an opposite spectrum: The dry pampas of Argentina. The windswept plains of South America are a vast and open space, occupied by swerving herds of guanacos and rheas, and not much else.
The pampas are notorious for its howling winds. In winter however these are a lot more subtle and I’m lucky with the weather this time. Most of the days the sun shines bright and I pedal away the long distances listening to audio books. The guanacos run for the hills even when I’m far away. It’s a sad thing to see the clumsy animals sometimes getting stuck in the barbwire fences that run along the entire carretera. The adults can easily jump over but the little ones have to run along the fences for kilometres to find a gap in the fence. I watch the herds as the unchanging landscapes glide along in shade of yellow and brown. It’s the only thing that happens during my cycling days.
The nights turn ever longer and colder as I head south. I don’t have a thermometer, but the coldest moments should be around -10ºC, perhaps a bit colder on the ground. The Sea to Summit Spark IV sleeping bags comfort rate is -8ºC, which is their warmest lightweight bag. But I wouldn’t stay warm if I hadn’t a few other essentials. On the ground I have a foam pad with a reflective aluminium layer. On top of that an insulated inflatable mattress and inside the sleeping bag a fleece liner. The inner tent fabric is solid (no mesh) which also keeps more warmth inside. I’m warm, but far from comfortable because the bag is a little too small for me and the tent fabric just above my head turns into a little glacier at night which drips on my head. Once I’m zipped up under the hoodie of the bag it’s a bit claustrophobic, because I’m also wearing my sweater and down jacket. I guess I need to create more body fat to stay warm, but how do you do that when you cycle the entire day? I can’t possibly eat more chorizos and dulce de leche.
There are three destinations where I want to do some hikes, but all of them are very far off route. I hitch hike to avoid adding hundreds of kilometres to my journey. There are simply no shorter routes here (see map below). Next up are the iconic peaks of El Chaltén, the glaciar of Perito Moreno and Torres del Paine National Park.