Whales and Wales – Day 401 (31,262 miles)

Juanita made a friend!  She enjoyed the company of a rugged Canadian called Butch.

While we enjoyed the company of Bel and James.  Bel and I had been in touch by email a while ago  swapping info regarding RHD vehicle issues in Central America.  We’d had no more contact until they spotted Juanita while we were in Ushuaia (although didn’t know who was driving her) and we managed to meet up a few 100km’s further north.  We were both heading to Peninsula Valdes on the Atlantic coast so spent a fun few days travelling together.

We stopped at the Bosques Petrificados National Monument.  Amazing huge chunks of petrified wood that were formed when the forest was buried by volcanic eruptions about 100 million years ago.  It was so tempting to just bring a teeny weeny piece away.  Very wrong even to think it I know, besides the one ranger who was ticket office, museum guide and security all rolled into one checked all our pockets before we left!

Juanita and Butch enjoying the sunset with a life size model of the largest dinasour ever to be discovered.  From the bones found in the town of Trelew (I know, sounds Welsh but is definitely in Argentina) it is estimated the Titanosauras which was a herbivore would have been 22 metres tall.  The model certainly makes an impressive sight on the side of the otherwise quite boring Ruta 3.

We headed on to Peninsula Valdes hoping to see elephant seals and southern right whales.  Our first day was mainly spent seeing very little due to lashing rain and wind.  At one spot we were up on a cliff above a beach and John did see a few elephant seals through the binoculars.  It was so wet I couldn’t be bothered to stand outside and thought I would wait for tomorrow and hopefully better weather.  My risky strategy didn’t pay off!  By the next morning the track leading to the viewing point was so muddy it had been closed off so no chance to see the elephant seals.  We were luckier with the whales and spent a couple of hours watching them in the bay around the time of the afternoon high tide.

We left the peninsula and after a last evening together in Puerto Madryn Butch, Bel and James headed west to Chile. Ciao amigos, until next time.

The only pic we got of a whole whale.

John and I spent a couple more days in Puerto Madryn, taking some nice long walks along the coast, eating some tasty seafood and deciding where to go next.

We were on the east coast, it was warmer than the more mountainous westside of the country.  Sure that’s a bonus after the last few weeks of cold weather but, nothing we’d read about the stretch of coastline from here to Buenos Aires excited us and the middle region was fairly featureless as well.  Oh well, back west to the mountains it is then!


We stopped for some sustenance in the small town of Trevelin, yes another name more Welsh than Argentian.  In 1885 50 Welsh families arrived in the region so there are still many locals with Welsh heritage and customs and the Welsh language is still spoken.

A proper afternoon tea, what a treat!  The number of cakes supplied for one tea defeated us so we ate the squidgy ones and took the apple pie and fruit cake for breakfast the next day.

Our next stop was El Bolson to collect an extension to our vehicle insurance which we had arranged through a German couple based here.  Klaus and Claudia live permantly in Argentina and run a small farm in addition to arranging vehicle insurance for Overlanders.

We camped with them overnight and they arranged for us to borrow a tool that John needed to change the upper ball joints.  We already had the ball joints but previously when we’d enquired about a tool to extract the old ones we had been met by a puzzled look and advised you just bash them off with a hammer.  Not John’s preferred method at all!  In fact when Klaus had rung his mechanic friend to arrange the loan he had been told that yes he had a tool but he had not used it for years as it was easier to bash them off with a hammer!  Unfortunately it wasn’t until the wheel was off that John found out the borrowed tool was actually broken, oh well he had a good look at the ball joints and the chances are they will be fine until we get home.

We only spent a couple of hours chatting with Klaus and Claudia but their story is really interesting, they set off on a 10 month motorbike trip in the early 1980’s and eventually went home 16 years later.  They documented it in a book, Abgefahren by Klaus Schubert and Claudia Metz.  Unfortunately for us it was never translated into English but for any of you who read German we would suggest it’s worth a look.

Back on the road we headed back towards the mountains and lakes and stopped in Bariloche.  It is the start of ski season and a big dump of snow was expected any day, we were staying in the car park of a hostel that that was packed with young skiers many of who just follow the snow between the North and South American ski resorts and pick up work where they can.

There was mucho partying by those young folk when the 30cm of snow fell!

The view from Cerro Catedral mountain.

The big snow fall had resulted in a 30 hour power cut throughout the local area, luckily where we were eating were cooking with gas.  For light we improvised a slightly more modern version of candlelight, mobile phone light diffused by a paper napkin.

We continued north west and planned to take the windy roads around Lagos Siete, we managed around half before reaching a point where the road was closed, the snow had been so heavy that there were trees down in many places.  We never really got to the bottom of it but think this is why we were turned back.

This is the rather spectacular 2624m high Volcan Lanin, had we been able to continue on our planned route we would have got closer so probably better views. Oh well, we were just glad we got to see it at all.

We stopped in El Chocon to see these dinosaur footprints, hard to tell from this photo but we think they were about a metre long.

We’re far enough north now that cooking and eating outside is back on the agenda and it doesn’t get dark until around 7 30pm. Yippee!

Beautifully clear sky and view of the Milky Way that night.

We visited the Ernesto Bachmann Museo which has the skeleton of Giganotosaurus Carolinii, at 13 metres long it’s the biggest carnivorous dinosaur skeleton ever found, even bigger than T Rex.  Yep, Argentina can claim to have all the big ones!

Bye for nowxxx

6 thoughts on “Whales and Wales – Day 401 (31,262 miles)”

  1. More photo’s. Regarding replacing the ball joint – I assume you mean the track rod ends. If you haven’t got an expander you can use a hammer but actually you need two. You hold one against the lower part of the joint – where the spigot goes into the steering arm, and hit the opposite side with the other hammer. The ball joint should then drop off. It’s what most garages do actually. There is a video on Youtube – The Easy Best Way to Separate a Ball Joint Tie Rod End How to. This guy does use a hammer at the back – which is bad practice really. If it will get you home I’d leave it though.



    1. It’s the upper ball joints that are going south Dave. But the only replacements we were able to get are from a Hyundai H100 and are slightly different. So I was looking to remove the originals without destroying them to compare. That didn’t work so the originals will have to get us home..!!

  2. If you ball joints are so knackered that a hammer is no good then best leave alone. If you did do them did John also request a laser jig for resetting you tracking and increasing tyre life? So much to keep the big man awake at night…..

    1. You and Dave make a good points and give good advice. The only replacement parts we were able to get were from a Hyundai H100 and not exactly the same. So the plan was to remove and compare them without destroying the originals. Well, the H100’s will fit with some modification. But we will wait until we really have to do it!
      I have to say though, what a bloody great vehicle for the trip. It just does everything you ask of it and more.

  3. Does the green car have BC, Canada plates? We might have seen it (with a previous owner from Quebec) in Panama City in Dec. 2016….

    1. Hi Christa, great to hear from you, we hope you and Stefan are both well. We had a great time in Patagonia, yes the cold made it harder at times but it was so quiet that it was worth putting on extra clothes! I think you may have come across the green Delica before, it is owned by James and Bel but they are from UK and Australia not Quebec. They did travel via Panama. We are much warmer now as in the Misiones region of Argentina and heading to Igauzu for a few days (will definitely be much busier than Patagonia!) After that we head into Uruguay and expect to be on our way home by mid September. We won’t see anything of Paraguay, Brazil or the other countries on the eastern side of SA. Still who knows, maybe we will get to return at some point. Bye for now Love Jane and Johnxx

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