San Agustin de Valle Fertil, Argentina – Problems Already??


Route Mendoza, Argentina – San Agustin de Valle Fertil, Argentina (RN40,RN141,510)
Distance 377Km
Travel Time 7 hours (some night driving)
Road Conditions Good Tarmac
Weather Warm, Sunny
Terrain Flat, Dry
Food and Petrol San Juan, San Agustin
Accommodation Las Violetes Hotel, San Agustin


San Agustin de Valle Fertil attracts us because it looks tiny and out of the way, right in a valley between two mountain ranges, one of them with a peak of nearly 7000m; also it’s about an hour’s drive to the Ischtigualazto national park, which we want to visit.. The drive there (377Km) is rather monotone and long.


There’s not much there. It’s dusty and dry. But we find accommodation at Las Violetes Hotel for 120 peso a night the double + ensuite, and it’s very clean, spacious and comfortable and the owner and his daughter are really lovely folks. Breakfast is included and their coffee is good and strong.



That night we have a reasonable dinner and a bottle of wine at a restaurant across from the petrol station and retire to bed, exhausted from a full day’s drive.


The next day we head to the national park. Lovely riding without the usual load of our worldly belongings strapped to the bike.


They charge us 100 Pesos each for the entrance fee, which we later find out on their web site should have been only 70. We drive ourselves, following the guide’s car along with a number of other visitors.


The park is a huge valley, full of interesting sand and rock formations of all different shapes and colours. This land has been eroded over aeons by water and wind and this exposed several layers of sediment from various archeological periods, going back to about 280 million years. At least this is what I think I understand because the guide speaks Spanish only.


It’s a nice day out but I wouldn’t do it again. Especially given that I have to pay for a tour that gives me no additional value – I could follow the dirt track myself and the guide’s information Spanish only helps me so much. There are much nicer areas to be found in Argentina, which, with your own transport, you could visit for free.


The highlight of the tour for me is that we meet a lovely Argentinian couple with a big 4×4, who embarked on a trans-South-America and trans-Amazonas trip last year. Unfortunaltely they had to cut it short half way because they had some issues to deal with at home, but they shared lots of useful information with us about road conditions, routes and precautions etc. They were really excited (as we were) to meet other people who were embarking on a similar adventure. Too bad we won’t be on the route at the same time! But we wish them all the best and hope they will be able to continue their journey very soon!


At night, back at the ranch, we have Argentinian braaivleis (BBQ) with beer and Argentinian wine.


Grocery shopping in San Agustin de Valle Fertil

The third night we’re joined by another Argentinian fellow from Patagonia, Fernando, who has arrived here on his Kawasaki KLR650 on a journey back from Bolivia.


He decides a BBQ sounds like a good idea and joins us, and we spend a few good hours discussing travelling, bikes and Argentina. Fernando, we hope we make it long enough to visit you in Patagonia! Gracias para la mapa de Bolivia. Hasta luego!


Unfortunately on the morning we plan to leave, I have a problem with my bike starter. It turns the engine once or twice but then seems to be out of power. The hooter and headlight work, so that should mean the battery’s ok.


I check it out and it seems to me that the small coil-like device (solenoid) connected between the battery and the starter motor might be the issue. It looks a bit rusty and no I believe water has seeped inside.


I spend a couple of hours dismantling the thing and we attempt to dry it with a hair dryer, but the effort is for nada! We push start and drive to the local bike mechanic. “No esta” – it’s midday, he’s out to siesta or something and won’t be back til 6PM, so we decide to ride on North to Villa Union, hoping that there is a mechanic there.