Part 2: Across Uruguay and then Argentina

Before heading to the Canadian Arctic and the Cross Canada Expedition, Ben and Natalia cycled 3,600km from São Paulo to Santiago as part of the Daylong Challenge. The journey through Uruguay and then Argentina to Mendoza at the edge of the Andes took around 15 days in total and included one of the toughest days of the entire journey…

South through Uruguay and then to Mendoza

One of the hardest but most rewarding days was in Uruguay, however. We needed to get to Colonia del Sacramento in order to get the ferry to Buenos Aireas by a specific day due to an event organised by our sponsors. On the preceding day we had only managed to make it as far as a place called Durazno as spokes on my rear wheel had broken and were very hard to change, because of the gear hub. We tried stopping in a small village where a couple of elderly gentlemen tried to help us even though we didn’t have the tools or the experience in taking the hub off to change the spoke… needless to say, matters were made worse, and we just about limped to Durazno by the end of the day…

Durazno was more than 200km away from Colonia… but we had to do it! So off we left, 4am, around 0C; the terrain changed from previous flats to very hilly, and the temperatures reached up to 35C during the midday hours. But we made it – exhausted – just in time to get the last boat over. It was difficult to stop smiling as we got on the boat.

As we went directly west through Argentina after a couple of days in Buenos Aires, the terrain was flat and pretty monotonous. Ruta 7, the main route from BA to Mendoza was long and straight, with just the occasional set of curves as it went past the different towns. We were a little lucky – while we did have a couple of bad weather days, areas that we had cycled through only a one or two days beforehand experienced flooding because of the rain. We were fortunate to miss this for sure, though it was sad thinking about spectacular towns like Lujan that we had been through getting flooded.

It stayed flat for a good 700km or so until we started to approach Mendoza, but from there we could see the Andes gradually fading into view – it wasn’t like they slowly appeared above the horizon; rather, they just faded through the haze in the distance and we could gradually see the outlines of the mountains becoming stronger and stronger, and the snow-capped peaks gradually started to shine as we saw the final boundary between us and Chile.

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