Panamericana roadtrip memories 3

| Sapa Pana Travel

The Panamericana road trip started in December 2011. A car trip through South America with 83 classic Volvo's. In 35 days and 16,000 kilometres, these Volvo enthusiasts drove from Buenos Aires in Argentina, via the south to Cartagena de Indias in Colombia. On our blog we will share memories of this memorable journey in the near future.

Day 13: An unpaved day

Team 61
About 700 km today and most of it over cobble stones. There was no petrol station on the way so Sapa Pana Travel arranged that there was a large tank of petrol waiting for all of us after 300 km. We didn’t need it because we have a big tank, and we also have two 20 litre tanks in the car and our car can go 10 km on 1 litre. But everyone had to take 15 litres so we waited in the middle of nowhere with a lot of other Volvo’s for an hour. There were a lot of breakdowns today. We now have a second crack in our windshield thanks to a passing car. A lot of punctures, broken rubbers and broken brake pipes.
About 130 km before arriving in Perito Moreno I wanted to visit La Cueva del Manos (Cave of the hands: UNESCO world heritage). I felt like my mum, having fun and making a detour. It wasn’t even really a road; it was more like a trail. Leendert was already fed up with it... After 15 km it all of a sudden became a passable clay road and the area was breathtaking. We saw red mountains and suddenly a green river running through it. We also saw a lot of animals, such as guanacos and emus. We were just in time for the tour. It’s beautiful to see those hands on the rocks.
Once we were in the village we went to the football field. We camped in the car. It rained; definitely not a 5 star field but a dusty place without changing rooms or anything else. We fled to a hotel for coffee (all the hotels were booked out). At 8 we finally mustered the courage to go back when all of a sudden the film crew came in. It turned out they had 5 rooms booked to their name without even knowing it! You can guess it: we are now in one of those rooms. VERY GRATEFUL! Sleeping in the car is fun, but not when there’s no toilet or shower around. Besides, we have to drive 800 km tomorrow.

'Petrol in thirty kilometres'

Day 14: Perito Moreno - San Carlos de Bariloche

Team 68
We had to drive 795 km and I already saw some pale faces when we assembled at the cars. Fortunately it was only 50 km of gravel roads, but they were of the highest category. Paralysed with fear I heard the stones hit the bottom of the tank. Mel stayed relatively impassive. “They’re shooting at us Gijsje”, he beamed at me. After a few hours something changed. Trees appeared in the landscape and we only had a few hundred kms left. Imagine a North Italian lake. Trade the Bougainvillea for Broom and Lupine and then imagine it to be dozens of kilometres of dense forest. We drove through fresh green forests and saw lakes on our left and right. I sprung up like an old tulip that had been watered. What a joy. And all this time the snow-capped foothills of the Andes travelled along with us.

Day 9: On our way to Temuco

Team 41
We’ve been hearing a quacking sound in our car all day. As if there’s a little duck in there: quack, quack, quack... Egbert has heard this sound before and all of a sudden he remembers: the hubcaps! Because of all the shaking on the gravel roads they’ve come loose a little. Hubcaps need to be checked on old cars every now and again anyway. Besides, we have travelled 6500 km by now. We stop and yes: especially the front hubcaps are too loose.
We’re driving straight towards the Andes. We’re driving to the Chilean border over wooden bridges and winding roads. This place is stunning. In the meantime, we’ve arrived in Chile, even though it wasn’t that easy. When we left Chile a few days ago we crossed the border somewhere different from the group. There was no one in the Chilean cabin so we drove on. We missed an exit stamp because of that. That is why they can’t give us an entry stamp now. In short, a mess. We could picture ourselves in a cell with bread and water. In the end it was solved with formalities and more stamps.
We’ve been seeing the Andes for days, but we’re really getting closer now. It’s as if you’re driving in Norway. The Andes is just different. We haven’t used out spare wheel yet: they’re breaking left and right and the Duett, Catback and Amazon (165/80 R15) tire sizes are rare and hard to come by.

Book Panamericana roadtrip

As a reminder of this memorable journey, the book 'Panamericana Roadtrip' has been published. The story is told with the stunning photographs from travel photographer Thijs Heslenfeld, supported by a selection of some of the many stories written by the heroes of this journey. For everyone that did not participate in this journey, it is a wonderful book to dream away with. The proceeds of this book go to the special projects of the HoPe Foundation. This organisation - founded by Walter Meekes - is involved in developing education in the remote mountain villages around the Peruvian city of Cuzco. 

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