The Ruta Nacional 3 (RN3) goes from Buenos Aires to Tierra del Fuego. We have been on RN3 now for many, many of our cycling kilometers. The quality of the road is good to very good, even perfect, views and variety besides the road have been ok to insatisfactory. From the wet Pampa into the dry Pampa, tremendous cattle fields, plains, heathland and every few hundred kilometers a small “Sierra” (small mountain range, or rather an accumulation of hills).
To get away from this during recent weeks, we started off to two excursions on other roads and regions: Into the mountains around Sierra de la Ventana and along the Atlantic coast behind Viedma.
The mountain range of Sierra de la Ventana is situated about 100km away from Bahía Blanca. It got its name (ventana = window) from a small rock window shortly below the main summit. Despite a very rainy arrival day, we really appreciated to see landscape that had some features in the vertical direction.
Window in the mountain - search and find!
We spent the time in the area on a very nice campsite (“basecamp”) close to the entrance of the local national park. Although the campsite officially was closed, the owner allowed us to stay afer we told him greetings from a loose contact we made in the previous city. As usual, we were alone on the campsite, that is for the first night. On the second day, our quiet loneliness was slightly distracted by a school class on a vacation trip. We also had planned to go hiking around the mountains. Unfortunately, the clouds were more on the altitude level of the pampa and there was no visibility at peak level. Hence we slept a lot, read our books and drank a lot of hot tea. After two days, we returned to Bahía Blanca (see also Replacement parts). In the town, we also had more luck with our accommodation, and stayed in a very cosy hostel.
A short intermezzo of cycling on RN3 (about 300 km) brought us to Viedma. Some details are listed at the track posts. In Viedma, we could leave RN3 again, using Ruta Provincial 1 towards and along the atlantic coast. The first day on this road we rode on paved road. Nevertheless, it was not simple - with 60 km/h wind from up front it takes 3 hours to make 30 km. In exchange, we got to see a lot. Patagonian Maras and many beautiful Loros at the day’s destination El Condor. There is a colony of parrots which is apparently the largest worldwide.
Parrot nests in the cliff
In El Condor, we had a day of rest. Afterwards, the road went directly along the coast. The first 30 km have been paved, than followed “camino de tierra”, gravel road. From now on we fought sand and stones, and had very nice views. Shortly after the transition to gravel road, we visited a protection area for many hundreds of Southamerican sea lions.
Colony of South American sea lions “La Loberia”
Following Ruta Provincial 1, we had very often amazing and breathtaking views at the atlantic from above a sandy cliff. No traffic, no villages, very quiet.
View from cliff line
Every now and than there were small access roads to the ocean and the beach. At the “Bajada Echandi” Moritz discovered a very nices Cabaña for Martha.
Cabaña and tent pitched as alternative sleeping option
Although it featured to bed frames, a Parilla, 3 walls and half a roof, Martha didn’t want to sleep inside. As the spot was nice, we instead put up the tent. On the next day again many nice views in exchange for times where we had to push the bike (“Arena sobre la calzada”).
“Sand on the road surface” - sometimes rather the whole dune
For lunch we stopped in the small village of Bahia Creek. The owner of a supermarket let us shower in his flat that was connected to the store. After that, some kilometers directly along the beach followed. On the left there was water, on the right dunes. When the street made a turn away from the water, the feeling to be in the Sahara set in. The following night we camped on the beach of the bay “Caleta de los Loros”. On the next morning, we decided against a shortcut to the main road and stayed on the dirt - a very good decision for many reasons.
The gravel was close to be perfect for cycling, and the landscape changed from dunes to Patagonian dry Pampa. We encountered the first Guanaco and could see some funny birds that preferred running to flying (they could fly!).
Nice landscape continues
The best, however, were the last kilometers. Shortly before the end of the gravel road a Pick-Up stopped and offerd us a ride until Las Grutas. The city was the destination not only for that but even for the next day. So we got spared more gravel and gained a warm shower. We also traded another day of RN3 for a relaxing day in bed. Super - it should go on like this.
Martha after a pleasant stage - Pick-Up instead of cycling