Story Time: We got stuck in Argentina

As we all at the moment somehow stuck at home, let me share a story were we got stuck in Argentina on our Epic Patagonia Adventure in 2018. As we already learned in 2015 in Patagonia, there is always something that can go wrong. In 2015, we had two times car problems. The first car we had in Patagonia was a diesel and was just not good with the altitude. Every time we had to turn off the engine, we were not able to start it again. Everything was dead. Not only the motor was not able to start, the whole console was black. After 10 minutes it always came back. Only at the end a host at a hotel told us, that it has to do with the diesel engine that can not handle the thin air. There was one situation, which was really nice. We were at the border from Argentina to Chile, in the direction of the Torres National Park. At the border, a guy needed to come out of the border office in a snow storm in order to open the barrier. Same situation with the car again. With an offline Google Translate we tried to tell him, that we just need to wait. He found this so great, that he took our phone and tried to explain to us what we could do. He was so amazed about the translation function, that he forgot all about the car.

Lago Posadas
Special Hotel in Lago Posadas

In 2018, we had a better rental car, at least we did not have problem like in 2015. We also learned the best thing to do in Patagonia are use every gas station you see, have an off-road car and always have a full canister of fuel in your car. Our day started pretty nice in the small town of Lago Posadas with a nice breakfast. The night before when we came to the town we went first to the gas station and tried to fill our tank. Somehow we only got 20 liters, but we thought the reason was that it is a real small town, and they have to save petrol. The next morning we wanted to talk to the owner of the station again, but he was nowhere to be found. Also, at that point we did not think about it too much. As Lago Posadas is a tiny town, and we been the only tourist there at the time. The hotel was open only for us.

Way to El Chaltén

In the morning we drove first to the actual Lago Posadas Lake before starting our long drive to El Chalten. With a 500-kilometer drive ahead of us, we already knew we will be on the road all day and not be able to hike today. Which was fine because we planned 4 full days in El Chalten – so the idea at least. First part of the drive was not eventful. First we needed to drive 80 kilometers back on a gravel road back to Ruta 40. 20 kilometers before Gobernador Gregores we saw a small car at the side of road and one person on the road waving. The car was full of six Chinese tourist that ran out of petrol and looked for help. We stopped our car and started to talk with the group. It became clear that they did a poor job of researching travel in Argentina. They got – as it seems – the smallest car possible for 6 people and tried to travel in 4 days to all big tourist sides of Argentina. As we were more prepared we been able to help them out with our petrol. They were super happy, and we all drove together to the next petrol station in Gobernador Gregores.

At the petrol station a lot of cars were parked. This was not concerning at the beginning, as we knew lines like that from other station in Argentina. Especially in small towns, when there is no other station for 100 kilometers. Just here it was different. When entering the petrol station shop, we found out that in Buenos Aires a General Strike started at that day and it was extended to the whole country. This meant that the all Petrol Station were closed for the day, as well as banks and other Government owned facilities. This is when we realized we got stuck in Gobernador Gregores. Even that the petrol station would have been open again at 0 am, we knew from our experience in 2015 driving in South America at night is just not a good idea. On top of all that we learned that the direct street to El Chalten was blocked due to bad weather condition. That added even 250 kilometer more to our route.

Gobernador Gregores

As we were not as delusional as our Chinese friends, which wanted to drive in the dark with a non 4×4 car to El Chalten as soon as the petrol station is open again. We looked for a hotel in the town. As booking only showed up way to high prices we drove to the hotels in town and ask for prices. This was an interesting takeaway, a place in booking was 50 euros, and we paid at the end 15 euros. Which at the end was a good price, as it was a room with a window again a wall and no breakfast. The town itself had not much to offer, besides a lot of dogs. There was a small supermarket, a bank, a restaurant and 3 hotels. The rain made it not prettier. So not need to put it on the tourist land map.

El Chaltén

The next morning we started 5 am our way to El Chalten. The gas station was open, as promised, and we got a full tank and a full canister. It took us another six hours to drive to El Chalten, including a graveled road, which we been not sure how the Chinese Tourist would have handled that in the dark. As also this road was washed down by rain and had deep lines.  Even that El Chalten is small we did not meet them again.

Take away of this story, also in the light of the current events. There is always light at the end of a difficult situation. Even it might not feel that way in the situation itself. For us in Argentina it was, to see the mountain range of the Fitz Roy with no clouds at a picture perfect day. Which as we were told is happening really rarely.

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