Argentina: The longest road – Ruta 40

Ruta 40 is also known as RN40 or National Route 40. It is a route in western Argentina, stretching from the south in Punta Loyola in the Santa Cruz Province to La Quiaca in the Jujuy Province in the north. The route runs in parallel to the Andes mountains and gives away amazing views on its way. We drove only a small part of it in the southern between Bariloche and El Calafate.

The southern part of the route is largely paved and compared to the Carretera Austral really easy to drive. Even that it was nice for the back to have a paved road for a while the scenery on the RN 40 is not always as stunning as on the smaller roads. For example when driving from San Carlos de Bariloche to Futaleufú the nicest part was the drive on the 259 which was an unpaved road.

The RN40 is the longest route in Argentina and one of the longest in the world. It is more than 5,000 kilometers long and the highest point is 5,000 m in Abra del Acay in the Salta Province. The route crosses 20 national parks, 18 major rivers, and 27 passes in the Andes.

For the Ruta 40 the same applies as for driving in Chile, always have a full gasoline canister in the car and drive to every gas station that present itself. In our case this meant we could save some Chinese tourist that got stuck on the road because of an empty tank. Also do not underestimate that even this street can be blocked due to bad weather condition. For us this meant that we had to take the 27 and 288 from Gobernador Gregores to El Chaltén, which are back roads that are only recommenced with a 4×4 wheel drive.

When thinking about the Ruta 40 do not mix up too much the known pictures, like of El Chaltén and El Calafate, this are back roads. The RN40 is the main street in Argentina, going to the tourist places means to get off the RN40. This will add extra kilometer to the route trip. I would highly recommend getting of the Ruta 40 once in a while because the back roads are really beautiful and lead to amazing places in Patagonia. Even that the Ruta 40 is a paved road, the back roads are mostly unpaved. Be aware of that when booking a rental car for your trip.

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