This next roadtrip was going to be the most spectacular one of my Patagonian journey and one of the top 5 roadtrips ever. After having prepared yesterday in El Calafate, by buying some on-the-road food, it was now important to prepare for a longer journey into the wild. This also meant, having enough of gasoline for a roadtrip into lands without cities, many villages and … gasoline stations.
Therefore a 1st tip for driving through the Southern Patagonian desert and subsequently through the Andes Mountain Range. In El Calafate there are gasoline stations, but subsequently there are only 2 locations on the map that show a gasoline station, both in the middle of the Patagonian Desert, of which one does not always have gasoline stock. The other one luckily does have a thrustworthy supply of gasoline. From then onwards, the nearest gasoline station is at Puerto Natales in Chile.
Let me explain a bit more precisely:
The shortest route from El Calafate to the Chilean border is not necesarily the best one.
Esperanza means “Hope”, which is definitely what you’ll be needing when driving through or worse when living here.
Esperanza or La Esperanza is an Argentine town in the Güer Aike department of the Province of Santa Cruz. It is located at the junction of Provincial Route 5 with Provincial Routes 2 and RN 40, former route of RP 7a on the banks of the northern arm of the Coig River and halfway between El Calafate and Río Gallegos.
It has 135 inhabitants (of which 51 are registered, because most are seasonal/temporary workers) and has a hotel, a health post and a gas station.
The ranch and the town were founded by Guillermo Ness at the beginning of the 20th century. It came to be called Pueblo Ness or Esperanza Ness. In 2015, the Sociedad del Estado Public Services facilities opened a tender for the supply of natural gas for the La Esperanza area. During the census national 2010 was considered as a dispersed rural population.
The town is part of the future interconnection between Pico Truncado, Río Turbio and Río Gallegos of the National Interconnected System.
At the verge of the settlement is a small concrete commemoration stone…
Provincial Route 7 is a highway in Argentine Patagonia, in the province of Santa Cruz. Its total route is 79 km completely of gravel. Its southern end is the National Route 40 junction and to the north again RN 40; This route previously reached the hamlet of Esperanza but was changed to RN 40 because it was paved.
Leaving Esperanza shows how small and marooned this place must be, specially during the harsh Patagonian winter…
Next The Wandelgek drove towards the Argentine/Chilean borderpost, from where he would cross into Chile. A wind tortured tree next to the borderpost did forecast what was to come…
It was late 2022 and there were still lots of Covid19 rules to obey when travelling and crossing borders. For crossing the Chilean border it was still necessary to have an international Covid19 vaccination declaration, a travel insurance that covered Covid19 hospitalization and or possible Covid19 quarantine and a letter of the insurance company stating (in English) that they covered all extra costs caused by these Covid19 measures. So quite some work before travelling.
Next it was necessary to have an access ticket to the Torres del Paine national Park, before entering (so online). The Wandelgek had obtained one before starting his travels, which was a a good thing, because during his travels, a long strike of the Park Rangers, which ended just a couple of days before entering the park, meant that no tickets could be ordered online. Phew.
At the border, was a long line of cars and trucks that wanted to cross. This meant that there was a long time needed to cross the border and the early departure from El Calafate proved to be a good decission too.
While killing time, The Wandelgek spotted some gauchos on horseback, crossing the road ahead in Chile.
Cowboys of the Patagonian Desert.
Then The Wandelgek drove on into Chile…