Chile Travel Reporting slider — 04 January 2014

by
Burgman Chile TV

Editors Note: Join us as we take you along for a motorcycle journey into the high Andes, traveling from the Chilean side.  When the rider gets to the border, he plants a bottle of Coca-Cola into a snow bank to cool it off.  The snow and ice break free, threatening to crush him and his passenger under its heavy weight.  He caught that moment on video.

My wife and I waited impatiently for the holidays, as we had wanted to make a medium-distance motorcycle trip for some time. We readied our gear, mainly clothes and equipment for summer weather, with a few extra layers just in case the dangerous Andes had something prepared for us.

We decided to travel South from Santiago de Chile to Talca and then turn East to the Argentinian border.  Why there? Ten years ago we traveled the same route with my brother, but by bicycle, yes, bicycle, and carrying about 22 pounds of equipment.  Then we took on as a challenge the section called Cuesta de los Condores (The Condor Slope, named after the giant bird that soars in the mountains here). At that time it was a very narrow and dangerous route, considered among South America’s most dangerous according to dangerousroads.org.

As part of Chile’s plan to build a commercial route from the Pacific to the Atlantic (a plan still not entirely realized) the government decided to fix the Cuesta de los Condores by paving it and taking out the tunnels.  It is called route CH-115 now, which people also refer to as the Paso Pehuenche, because this ancient route was first used by the indigenous Pehuenches people, who still live in the area.  At its highest point the route is 2,553 meters (8,376 feet) above sea level.   This road connects the regional capital of Talca, Chile with San Rafael, Argentina.  This same route was used in the 70’s by many people fleeing Pinochet’s dictatorship; many died of hypothermia or starvation.

The Chilean side is fully paved but the Argentine side is not.  There is an agreement that the route would have been finished by 2013, but Argentina has not finished the last 31 miles.  That makes navigation easier: when the pavement runs out, you know you are in Argentina.

 

Take a look at the YouTube video we shot of our 260 mile trip.   View Larger Map

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