Arriving in Ushuaia under heavy rain and storm

Our last leg was another long drive: We were driving from El Calafate to Rio Gallegos under bad weather. From there we entered Chile. After we had finished the migration, we continued to the ferry which took us to Tierra del Fuego. Fortunately you don’t need a reservation for the ferry, you just have to wait in the line and half an hour later you are on your way. Fifteen minutes later we finally reached Tierra del Fuego!

But the weather was not getting any better. Under rain and wind we continued to Ushuaia. Unfortunately we had to ride on 80 miles of dirt road. The road was one of the worst we had so far. We had to cross numerous pot holes, puddles and pieces of wash board roads.

Soaking wet and freezing we arrived at the border to Argentina in San Sebastian. We could cross the border rather quickly, but anyway it was already quite late and raining heavily. The expected city of San Sebastian unfortunately was not more than a border station, a gas station and a hotel. Since the next real city – Rio Grande – was still 50 miles away, we decided to stay for the night in the quite expensive hotel. Some other travelers, whom we met earlier, also staid in the same hotel. So we spent a nice evening with them in the hotel restaurant.

During the night the weather got much better and we started our last leg to Ushuaia under nice sunshine. About 50 miles before arriving in Ushuaia, a motorcyclist with swiss license plate passed us and was waving. It was Georg, whom we met while crossing the Darien Gap on Stahlratte. After a heartily welcome, we drove the last miles together to our goal, Ushuaia.

Unfortunately the weather was getting worse again and we were quite cold. So we went to a little, nice Cafe in Ushuaia first. After warming up, we rode to the end of Ruta 3 in the Tierra del Fuego national park. After 6.5 months and more than 30.000 miles we finally arrived at our goal!

Tierra del Fuego

On our way back into the city, we met two other bikers, whom Carmen got to know via Facebook and whom we now met for the first time in real life. Claudia and Werner are traveling with their BMWs across South America and plan to join the Stahlratte tour across the caribbean in April. We decided to drive to the visitor’s center for a cup of coffee and talked about our experiences.

At late afternoon we finally drove to the camping place Rio Ripo, on which many motorbike travelers meet during Christmas and New Year’s eve. Here we staid for a few days and had a great New Year’s eve party with many other travelers.

Arriving in Ushuaia

Posted by: michasifi and carmen.on.the.road

South America: We are coming!

Since 90 km of road are missing between Panama and Columbia, the so-called Darien Gap, one has to find other ways to cross the gap to South America. We chose the ‘Stahlratte’, a more than 100 year old, german sail ship which is crossing the gap regularly and also ships motorbikes.

The preparations for our crossing of the Darien Gap started on October, 31st. We drove with 12 other bikers from Panama City to the bay of San Blas. From there the bikes should be loaded onto the Stahlratte. The ride was breathtaking. The road was going up and down like a roller coaster and sometimes the tarmac was completely missing and we had to drive on mud and rocks. Unfortunately Carmen’s rear brake broke on this very day. Therefore she had to drive the sharp curves very slowly. ( Nevertheless Michael had some problems to catch up with her on the straight parts 😉 ). Later we found out that the rear fender was broken and parts of it got into the break.

Ludwig, the captain of the Stahlratte was already waiting for us at the pier. We took all our luggage from our bikes which then was loaded onto the Stahlratte’s dingy and brought to the ship. The bikes themselves were loaded onto the Stahlratte via a crane.

We all spent the evening in a small indian village and slept in little bamboo huts right in the middle of the huts of the indians. Unfortunately our hut was not 100% water proof and a little bit of water dripped down when it was raining.

On the next day our sailing adventure started. First we were sailing to a couple of small caribbean islands. Although there were also some other boats, we still had some private islands for ourselves. During the day Carmen celebrated Halloween together with Aron and Serafina (the Hungry Riders) and in the evening we had a nice barbecue with all the other bikes on a little island until late at night.

We stayed the next day in the middle of these marvelous islands as well and spent some time with snorkeling, swimming or just relaxing. While Carmen really enjoyed snorkeling, Michael once more realized that water simply is not his favorite element. Later we went to a very tiny island, which consisted of nothing but sand, two palm trees and a beautiful riff – a real paradise for snorkeling. The highlight of the evening was a dinner with fish and lobster.

At 6am on the next morning the captain started the engine and we were heading to Cartagena. Although the sea was pretty calm, the ship was moving heavily. Some took pills against seasickness and for others even that did not help anymore.

26 hours later we arrived in Cartagena and were brought to the shore. The bikes had to stay on board, since we arrived on a Sunday. Unfortunately the Monday was a public holiday and therefore we had to wait until Tuesday to import our motorcycles. We spent the time with sightseeing and nice chats with the other riders.

Finally on Tuesday we could bring our bikes back to the land. However this time the Stahlratte had to stay far from the shore and therefore each bike had to be loaded into the dingy and from there the crew lifted it onto the pier with nothing but their muscles. Fortunately everything went pretty well. Just the right mirror of Roy’s BMW, a rider from Norway, broke during the procedure.

The actual importing of the bikes was not supposed to take longer than a few hours, but due to a kind of mini-strike and some computer issues at the insurance company, it took the whole day to import the bikes. Therefore we had to postpone the continuation of our voyage and stay one more day in Cartagena.

Posted by: michasifi and carmen.on.the.road

Video conference with ‘Kasibar’ in Germany

Almost every Monday our friends in Germany meet in Thomas’ private bar, the ‘Kasibar’, to have some cocktails. After now almost two months we are starting to miss the weekly Kasibar visits and therefore we decided to join this week’s Kasibar via Skype. So we built ourselves a small kind of bar using the Motel 6 chairs and our motorcycle panniers and bought some coffee and wine. Exactly at 11 am ( 8 pm in Germany ) we joined the video conference just to find out that not much was transferred except still pictures and breaking up sound. We had no other choice than leaving the wine in our hotel room and go to a Starbucks nearby to use the wifi there. The connection was much better there and so we could join the ingenious and classy talks in Kasibar after two months of absence. We really enjoyed to meet our friends again this way.

Posted by: michasifi and carmen.on.the.road