Paso de aguanegra (La Serena,Chile - San Juan, Arg)

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zer0nz
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Paso de aguanegra (La Serena,Chile - San Juan, Arg)

Post by zer0nz » Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:49 pm

We are looking at travelling leaving santiago 4th of March, 1 night in la serena, then head on the route over to san juan, the idea is to spend most the time in the little towns etc, im travelling with my parents who are around 60.... allthought we think they will be fine with the altitude, the whole family suffers from asthma.... not sure if this is a problem...... any recommendations?


i know the road closes in march/april, being the first week of march we are travelling, what's the chance of a freak snowstorm that closes the road early?, also is there any snow left on the mountains form last winter that is going to give us some good photos, or are we looking at 150km of dust?

also, with accommodation on the route..... should we be making bookings now? or just turn up on the day and find bed and breakfast type places?, we have no idea how fast or slow we will do the route, and we don't want to rush it to make bookings.. but we dont want to miss out on places because we dont have bookings..... recommendations?

also, Will i be alright making the trip in a jeep compass? its a baby 4x4, but i guess the Chileans do it in toyota yaris and chevy sparks right?

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Re: Paso de aguanegra (La Serena,Chile - San Juan, Arg)

Post by griffin » Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:24 pm

You shouldn't have any trouble finding lodging on those dates in/around La Serena/Elqui Valley, high season will be over by then, and this year you could find something last-minute even high season, with most of the Argentine tourists staying away.

I haven't been all the way over the pass but I have been up to La Laguna last summer. The road is unpaved but decent up there. And rather steep...take it easy or between the steepness and high altitude it's easy to overload your cooling system, and it'll still be pretty warm in March. Your car should make it fine, but be prepared to stop and let it cool down from time to time. Maybe you won't have to, but just in case...

My husband has asthma and was OK, just a little light-headed, up at the Laguna. Just make sure everybody has their medication, doesn't do much walking around, and have plenty of water with you. For you and the car! Don't have the most asthmatic person drive either.

I would consider a freak snowstorm in March highly unlikely, but have no meteorological data to back up my statement, just memories of living in Serena 5 years. Wherever you stay in the Elqui Valley, have someone there check for you before you head out to the pass. Any closures shouldn't last more than a day or two in March.

Good luck and let us know how it goes! We want to go over the pass too when the kids are a little older. Or after they pave it, which could happen in the next few years....maybe....

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Re: Paso de aguanegra (La Serena,Chile - San Juan, Arg)

Post by zer0nz » Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:47 pm

griffin wrote:You shouldn't have any trouble finding lodging on those dates in/around La Serena/Elqui Valley, high season will be over by then, and this year you could find something last-minute even high season, with most of the Argentine tourists staying away.

I haven't been all the way over the pass but I have been up to La Laguna last summer. The road is unpaved but decent up there. And rather steep...take it easy or between the steepness and high altitude it's easy to overload your cooling system, and it'll still be pretty warm in March. Your car should make it fine, but be prepared to stop and let it cool down from time to time. Maybe you won't have to, but just in case...

My husband has asthma and was OK, just a little light-headed, up at the Laguna. Just make sure everybody has their medication, doesn't do much walking around, and have plenty of water with you. For you and the car! Don't have the most asthmatic person drive either.

I would consider a freak snowstorm in March highly unlikely, but have no meteorological data to back up my statement, just memories of living in Serena 5 years. Wherever you stay in the Elqui Valley, have someone there check for you before you head out to the pass. Any closures shouldn't last more than a day or two in March.

Good luck and let us know how it goes! We want to go over the pass too when the kids are a little older. Or after they pave it, which could happen in the next few years....maybe....
thanks, sounds promising, ill be driving, the parents have never driven on this side of the road :), biggest problem i think will be mum back seat driving with the steep roads!

I cant seem to find much on the internet for accomodation on the argentina side of the route.... just names and phone numbers..... anyone have recommendation on accommodation over that side?

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Re: Paso de aguanegra (La Serena,Chile - San Juan, Arg)

Post by Groschi » Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:43 pm

we went up that road 2 weeks ago. No snow, but its without snow absolutely beautiful,
here are the pictures.
https://picasaweb.google.com/1107714322 ... rnational#

I also think that you will not have a problem finding accomodation, even now in Jan. Pisco Elqui isn't fully booked.
Keep in mind, the last bomba de bencina (and ATM and so on) is in Vicuña, from there its about 100km to the chilean border check point,
at the checkpoint there is a sign post telling you that it is another 175km to the argie aduana and next bomba de bencina,
so its not just water you will need, also a full fuel tank for your car.

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Re: Paso de aguanegra (La Serena,Chile - San Juan, Arg)

Post by zer0nz » Mon Jan 30, 2012 4:09 pm

patagoniax wrote:
Groschi wrote: and next bomba de bencina,
so its not just water you will need, also a full fuel tank for your car.
I have never been pestered by the Argies for carrying a bidón or two for fuel. The Chilean Aduanas, yes, since importing fuel in bidones is a tax issue to them. The experiences of others may differ but these days with uncertain fuel supplies in Argentina, carrying 20 litres or so in bidones has become common over there.

The chilean-made bidones that you often find in this country, such as those sold at Copec stations, even though they are approved by the SEC, are mostly dangerous junk, and even if they survive the trip the fuel seems to attack the plastic and makes the container brittle after a season or two. The failure rate I have for the chilean-made bidones is about 50 percent failure within two years -- failure being significant fuel leakage.

If you can find the Blitz or Scepter brand bidones, they tend to be more durable and reliable, and more resistant to damage as well as embrittlement due to contact with gasoline over time. The pre- or - non-CARB versions work better and tend to waste less fuel (thank California for buggering the world supply of decently performing fuel cans). I have started to use Argentine-made bidones (as well as the Blitz ones) and so far the Argie product has stood up well despite rough handling.

Your kit might include the following: a reliable bidon, a good long-neck spout or embudo (funnel) with properly sized orifices, and a mechanism to hold open the anti-splash device used in some vehicle fueling ports. For the latter a large-calibre wire may work, providing that you are clever enough not to let it slip into the tank. Oh, and somebody holding the fire extinguisher nearby.... yes, carrying bidones is dangerous....

Image

i were considering carrying the extra tank of gas, but like you say its dangerous... and i have never found a tank that doesnt make the whole car smell!,

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Re: Paso de aguanegra (La Serena,Chile - San Juan, Arg)

Post by zer0nz » Mon Jan 30, 2012 5:12 pm

patagoniax wrote:
zer0nz wrote: i were considering carrying the extra tank of gas, but like you say its dangerous... and i have never found a tank that doesnt make the whole car smell!,

while we are on the subject of gas, what's the recommendation on switching to a higher octane for driving at altitude.... i mean from 95 to 97... is it a waste of time? or a good change to make.... i know modern cars take 2 days of general driving for the computer to retune it self. or you can hit the reset switch for it to happen faster... but is it worth it?
Driving at higher altitude actually reduces the octane requirement for most gasoline vehicles/engines since the compression of the mixture results in lower combustion chamber pressure at altitude -- so I would not waste the money, unless you detect pinging, which is possible on the steep approaches, particularly at lower rpm and when there is an overweight suegra in the back seat.

For most vehicles with electronic fuel injection and some degree of AI in the main computer, the learning is much more rapid than the two days you mention. Many of the functions are nearly continuous, and most take not more than a couple of minutes. Depends on the vehicle.
yeah, i did some googling, other way around, no increase the octane but to lower it.... in that case i think i just might leave it on the 95 and there is no advantage.....

i have my shopping list, Fuel Tank, Water Tank, Fire Extinguisher! i already have some good quality tow ropes, but dont expect to hit mud, ooo and jumper leads, i have a automatic!

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Re: Paso de aguanegra (La Serena,Chile - San Juan, Arg)

Post by jehturner » Tue Jan 31, 2012 1:11 am

I've only done this once so far, several years ago (hoping to go again now I have a much more reliable truck). Not sure about the asthma. I did have a headache in the back seat last time, which is unusal for me (on half a dozen occasions I've worked all night and run around at 14k feet with few problems where most other people have difficulty). I think the road gets up to around 16k. I don't think there's much snow up there now -- at least there hasn't been any visible from the valley for months; maybe the odd shaded mini-glacier.

We stayed at Termas Pismanta, literally just past the Argentine border control, which was quite nice. It was a bit of an antiquated baths like one might expect in Victorian Britain but in quite a pleasant setting (I seem to remember the restaurant looked OK too). We camped in the grounds but it's also a hotel. We did take an extra bidon of fuel with us with no comments when they looked over the car on the way out. BTW, I gather you need special "Mercosur" insurance these days to enter Argentina, which I assume you know?

I should imagine the Jeep will be fine, but I had a friend who blew 2 tyres on his way over (also in a Jeep), leaving him stranded (not really sure how he managed that), so you want to come prepared. A 2 vehicle convoy would be ideal; otherwise just have plenty of water, blankets etc.

Last time we got to the offical border, there were several Argentinian cyclists who had biked up there. I've done a steep mile uphill in the foothills of the cordillera but that's getting silly!

James.

PS. 1000th post! I almost replied to Rune's dung first but thought better of it...

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Re: Paso de aguanegra (La Serena,Chile - San Juan, Arg)

Post by jehturner » Tue Jan 31, 2012 11:59 am

patagoniax wrote:You don't need "Mercosur" insurance for Argentina, just the policy to cover Argentina.
Thanks, I was trying to figure out how this works after hearing in the past year or two that something specific is required. My insurer for Chile left me with the clear impression that one does need something specific -- not just an extension of my existing insurance so it's valid abroad. In fact I was told this time that there's "no such thing" as a policy for Chile that is valid in other countries (contrary to my understanding from a previous occasion that I could have coverage for Argentina added temporarily). So maybe the insurance for Argentina is a more restricted version of the same specific policy as "Mercosur"? Or maybe it's just all chamullo, which is starting to seem likely (makes me worry about a different aspect of my policy).

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Re: Paso de aguanegra (La Serena,Chile - San Juan, Arg)

Post by zer0nz » Sun Feb 05, 2012 5:51 pm

Busted,

all chiles position on google is too damn good.... mother put paso de aguanegra into google and this thread popped up!, she didnt like the comment about her by me :) Hi Mom!!!!!

she put two and two together...

anyway,
Shopping trip to sodimac yesterday, have aerosol of that tyre stuff for instant fix, a electric tyre pump, fire extignuisher, lots of sun screen, first aid kit, jumper leads!!!

just missing the water tank and petrol tank i couldnt find there!

have booked 2 nights in mendoza at http://www.bohemiahotelboutique.com/ trip advisor says its good.... price was good... any one know anything about it?

still need to book our first night in la serena, anyone know of a place close to the beach, reasonable price and facilities, doesnt need to be too flash!, just good enough for 1 night! and close to the beach so i can swim in the morning!

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Re: Paso de aguanegra (La Serena,Chile - San Juan, Arg)

Post by FrankPintor » Sun Feb 05, 2012 8:20 pm

zer0nz wrote:still need to book our first night in la serena, anyone know of a place close to the beach, reasonable price and facilities, doesnt need to be too flash!, just good enough for 1 night! and close to the beach so i can swim in the morning!
I stayed in Las Tacas a few years back, not sure if it's what you're looking for, but it's certainly not possible to get closer to the beach. I think they have 2 and 3 bedroom apartments (breakfast served in the apartment). It's approximately 35 km south of La Serena, and the exit is just before the airfield. I was told Don Francisco has a big stake in the resort and uses the airfield to come and go. I thought the hotel had its own website but what I can see right now are http://www.semanasvacacionales.cl/las_tacas.html and http://www.lastacasdiveresort.com/las-tacas-resort.html
Caracas es Caracas. Lo demás es monte y culebra!

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Re: Paso de aguanegra (La Serena,Chile - San Juan, Arg)

Post by zer0nz » Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:04 pm

patagoniax wrote:
zer0nz wrote: fire extignuisher,
You had one in the car already. Can't legally operate in CL without one.

Ley de transito, Artículo 79.- Los vehículos motorizados según tipo y clase estarán provistos, además, de los siguientes elementos:

[...] 6.- Extintor de incendio;
My last car didnt have one...... passed a revision technica without it....

this one might have one, i only had a quick look!, well, i now have 2, 2 is better than 1 :)

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Re: Paso de aguanegra (La Serena,Chile - San Juan, Arg)

Post by zer0nz » Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:04 pm

FrankPintor wrote:
zer0nz wrote:still need to book our first night in la serena, anyone know of a place close to the beach, reasonable price and facilities, doesnt need to be too flash!, just good enough for 1 night! and close to the beach so i can swim in the morning!
I stayed in Las Tacas a few years back, not sure if it's what you're looking for, but it's certainly not possible to get closer to the beach. I think they have 2 and 3 bedroom apartments (breakfast served in the apartment). It's approximately 35 km south of La Serena, and the exit is just before the airfield. I was told Don Francisco has a big stake in the resort and uses the airfield to come and go. I thought the hotel had its own website but what I can see right now are http://www.semanasvacacionales.cl/las_tacas.html and http://www.lastacasdiveresort.com/las-tacas-resort.html

looks good, for a week maybe, might consider it another time, but something closer to the city and more like a hotel for the night would be better!

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