Ride The Flavour (en)

From Buenos Aires to Salta, 1800km towards the Andes! (part I)

Nov. 10th | 0 comments

Friday, October 4, 2013 . After more than 2 weeks of a settled life, we finally leave Buenos Aires. 2 weeks in Buenos Aires? Why is that ?! We were waiting for the batteries of our bikes. They cannot be carried in commercial airliners (they are supposedly “dangerous”… yes, sure, we ride and live in the fear of an explosion!), so we used a private post office, TNT, to send them from Madrid to Buenos Aires… But the batteries never left Madrid (largely due to the incompetence of TNT). That’s why we decided to send them back in France to our sponsor (more experienced in international sendings), which would then send them to our next destination.

And what’s our next destination? SALTA. It is in this city that we will receive (if God and the Argentinian customs allows it) the batteries of our bikes. 1800km are ahead of us, let’s ride!

Ah, what a pleasure to have our hands back on the handlebar, our feet back on the pedals, alone on the road, our hair blowing in the wind…


What a mess to go out of Buenos Aires! Que quilombo! We take the Panamericana, the only way to join the road 8. Ten lanes are not even enough to decongest the traffic. It is a real chaos. We roll on the emergency lane… that we share with buses and other hotheads. In short, we are far from being alone on the road, and our hair is not blowing in the wind but rather flattened under our helmets.

Be reassured, this is only the beginning. Later, we really rode alone on the road, the hair blowing (too much) in the (howling) wind. Argentina offered us more than one contrast. Just read what follows to be convinced: here is the summary of 3 weeks on the roads from Buenos Aires to Salta!

Whew, we are out of Buenos Aires and its very very large conurbation and are heading North-West on the road 8. But over the kilometers, another evil grows… The road is absolutely straight. No relief. Quickly, boredom overwhelms us. We cycle only to do our daily 100km.

Pergamino. Venado Tuero. Rio Cuarto. These 600 km have offered us only corn and soy fields. Huge monocultures of intensive farming. Advertising billboards confirm it: GMO super-seeds, unstoppable pesticides, brand new tractors, and even advertisings for aerial spraying. The region is strongly agricultural. We could easily drive 30km without finding any inhabited building. To the other cyclists: “If you can go from Buenos Aires to Córdoba in train (excessively cheap, from 60 pesos, less than 8 euros, but book it well in advance), do not hesitate!”

600 km shortened in 1 picture

le monde agricole

But on our side, how to regret? Once again, meetings filled us! The Argentines are really friendly and welcoming. They easily start the conversation and we have been more than once offered a space in the garden or even a bed before we even ask for it.

Our first host, Emilio. When we got out of the tent, he was here, a maté (THE Argentinian drink) and a thermos of hot water in his hand. The perfect awakening.

Behind that spontaneity, there is very often a touch of curiosity … When one of us goes shopping, the other (who stays outside with the bikes) can be sure that, meanwhile, an Argentine (at least!) will come to him. When we ask our way to 1 person, we say goodbye to 10 before going back on the road. The catch phrase: “Hola, ¿de donde viene?We are talking about our adventure daily (Yes, it is a little painful in the long run!), but it is also through these fortuitous encounters that we have come to know the Argentina.

Gustavo, our police buddy, with whom we shared a maté then ate a good piece of meat for dinner. 
A meeting made in Argentina.

On the way from Río Cuarto to Córdoba (road 36), some hills finally emerge from the plain. Some events also come spicing up these 200 km. An interview for tje local radio of Embalse (we still don’t know how they knew we were there), a gold nugget that you can listen to here. And a bath of German culture at the Oktoberfest of Villa General Belgrano. Perfect timing.

In Cordoba, we are hosted by Willy and his family (his parents Juan and Chochi and his brother Mauri). We contacted him by Warmshowers… and it would seem that Hardi and Lena, a German couple, have had the same idea at the same time. They left Germany a year ago, and since then they have been riding to raise funds for the NGO World Bicycle Relief. Their project: Velosophics. They just came from Bolivia and Peru and gave us valuable advices. It was the first time we met travelers currently traveling, and we hope that it won’t be the last… If only for the pleasure of talking without language barrier! Because, yes, we are still better at English than Spanish 😉

Muchos gracias a tu, Willy, y a toda tu familia por vuestra hospitalidad!

Córdoba. Jesús María. Sarmiento. Dean Funes. Road 9 then 60. It seems that the scenery is fixed. Miles after miles, we see the same flat landscape, painted with the same colors. We’re bored. But the 600 miles of fields between Buenos Aires and Rio Cuarto have already destroyed our resistance to monotony… We can’t stand this anymore and decide to hitch-hike. Why not? Here, pickups are commonplace and can smoothly carry 2 guys, 2 bikes and 8 bags!

And it worked!

The idea was brilliant, and so were the events following. 400km in 2 days (300 in pickups). Our first driver drived to Recreo. As we were meandering in the village, the local football club of the village called out to us. Beers, asado (barbecue), cumbia (“hot” music of Argentina), other beers, dances… A truly good night! Our second driver, Hernando, invited us to have lunch with friends of his, a family so poor but so generous and smiling. 12 h after our last asado, we ate in a second! So much meat, it’s not healthy, but what a delight! We then got back in Hernando’s pick-up, who drove us until Juan Bautista Alberti. This is the end of our (entirely) motorised epic, we avoided 300 uninteresting miles and, as a bonus, we had the unexpected luck to encounter really nice people.

Invité a un BBQ en famille / Invited at a family BBQ

We then get back to our usual speed of 20 km/h. The landscape passes slower and that’s good: this is a brand-new Argentina that we discover. From arid (there were even a few deserts of salt between Dean Funes and San Antonio), the landscape became green. There is also a much higher human concentration. The villages almost adjoin each other. The change is huge compared to what we’ve seen of Argentina until then.

But, most of all, it is the mountains that captivate us . They appeared suddenly. We look on the map… Ah well, one of these peaks is 5489 m altitude. Aguilares. Concepción. Monteros. Acheral. Mountains are more and more impressive as we get closer. They are there, only a few kilometers ahead of us, like stairs for giants challenging us…

To be continued…

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