Ruta 40 – Part #1

So far we are in love with Argentina!

After laxing around Tilcara near the border for a few days, we packed up and headed south to Salta, the first major town. As we cut our altitude from 10,000 feet to 5,000 feet, the drive was stunning. We’ve lived over 10,000 feet for the last several months, but finally our days at altitude are over.  With all these extra red blood cells, we feel like superheroes.

Salta wasn’t much more than a stop over. All we needed was to hook up a new internet plan on the Claro USB stick so we’d have mobile internet. It always sounds so easy… until we get there.

Trust me, I’m that gringo customer everyone wants to deal with. This guys facial expression says it all.

After internet, our real mission was to head east and link up with the famous Ruta 40. The Ruta 40 is a road that stretches from the top of Argentina to the very bottom. It contains some of the roughest and most beautiful scenery in the country.

The 1st section of the Ruta 40 that we planned to drive also happens to be the Ruta Del Vino, the wine route! There are two super famous wine regions in Argentina. One is in Mendoza. The other lesser known one is here, from Salta to Cafayate via the Ruta 40. How could we miss that?!

Driving on dirt roads has become one of Sol’s favorite things to do. It’s the one time she gets to leave her car seat.

When we drive on dirt, she gets to sit on Daddy’s lap, and drive the Sprinter! Not even Mama has ever done that.  So far she has driven in Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina. Not a bad resume for when she applies for her license.

The ruta 40 certainly did not disappoint. Wow, what an amazing road.

Stevie and I have seen a LOT of wine country, so I feel fairly qualified to say that Argentina is top shelf.

On our first night we found a great camping spot right on a river next to some hot springs.  Above is a picture of a gaucho (Argentine cowboy) who rode up with his couple of dogs to speak to this local woman and her daughter with their pack of five dogs.

Soleil loves her swimming lessons. We’ve got us a water baby here. Get me a tiny surf board please. And some warm water… ummm, maybe Brazil?

Sol is also starting to get mobile. Soon we’re gonna have to figure out how to control her inside of the van. We’re not exactly “baby-proof” in there.

Like her Mama, her new most favorite thing in the world is a camp fire. She goes crazy for it!

The next day we continued down the 40 enjoying another spectacular drive.

In this section of the 40 there is really nothing out there except some mud huts, complete of course with solar powered lighting, proof that we’re now in Argentina and no longer Bolivia!

I’d say that so far this country is no joke and can hold it’s own with anywhere we’ve been.

The next night we just pulled off the road to camp. There was nobody for miles. We had the place to ourselves.

At this point Sol is really getting the hang of camping. She especially loves her camping chair.

We did have one strange occurrence.

We were out there in the middle of nowhere thinking we were totally alone, and then this guy rides up on his horse. I think he was a little bent when he road up, because he immediately started singing some crazy cowboy tunes, off key with ‘changes,’ he said.   He seemed like good entertainment, so I offered him a beer.

I asked him how long it would take to drive to the next town. He told me it was 6 hours by horse. Ohhkay. I asked him how long it would take to drive to Cafayate, our destination. He said if we left at 5am we’d arrive at 8pm– again, by horse. I pointed to the van and said, “yeah, but in the van, how long?”  He repeated, if we left at 5am we’d arrive at 8pm. Everything was in horse hours with this guy.

He cracked his beer and poured some out on the ground to give thanks to Pachamama, which can be translated as Mother Earth. As we enjoyed our beers he told us all about Pachamama and how it’s important to respect the land because without nature we would have nothing.  Stevie kept saying, Si! Si! She loves this kind of shit.  All pumped up, he took another sip and said how when he was a kid, he didn’t have a washing machine to wash his clothes. Si!!! said Stevie.  When he was a kid, everything he wore was made by his grandmother from yarn from their own llamas.  Si!!!! When he was a kid…well, you get the picture.

Then he finished his beer, said thank you, hucked the can over his shoulder, and road off.


I spent the rest of the afternoon gathering firewood. Stevie gave me a hard time, semi alluding to the fact that I might be shucking my van cleaning duties. That wasn’t the case. My plan was to impress my girls with a real fire. But once I lit it all I heard was,

“HEY, turn that fire down before you set this whole desert on fire”.

Stevie is from LA. She still doesn’t understand that it’s not a proper fire until it sports a 10 foot flame. She’ll learn.

I’m really stoked my girls love camping. I could live outside. Every day. Every night. Matter of fact, we might just start doing that.




  1. “Trust me, I’m that gringo customer everyone wants to deal with.” Funny. I thought I was that guy, and Ali was that girl. We’ve seen that look so many times. 🙂

    • hey, we should get together and go in together. I’ll play the really angry crazy gringo who wants service and you can be the calm headed one who is translating for me. Half way through you can throw your arms in the air and we’ll both start screaming. We’ll need video.

  2. Great Aunt Debby and Great Uncle Barry says:

    What a beautiful area. The water looks so blue and Tree and Sol are quite the team. Sol will have to have a swimming lesson from her cousin, Nica, when she comes to visit. I remember Nica helping other kids learn to swim at Angela’s pool when she was about 3 or 4.

  3. Freida Whiddon Cox says:

    How awesome..she is holding her head up..almost like floating

  4. Cathy Fanandakis Alexander says:

    I think little Soleil is advanced for her age!!!!! So wonderful she looks like she is enjoying swimming!!!!!

  5. Auntie Alex says:

    He poured some out for his “hommies”. Sol is making so serious Stevie faces! She’s so cute!! Can’t wait to see you guys! Feel free to bring back as many wines to the states as possible. I
    Have a washing machine, you don’t need to back too many clothes. 🙂

  6. Eric Holthaus says:

    Awesome post guys! Love the pictures, and the Pachamama story haha. Soleil looks so happy to be on the road, it’s awesome! Thanks for continuing to inspire all of us, keep living the dream!

  7. Gorgeous drive!

  8. mamatuyas says:

    Love you guys. Can hardly wait.

  9. Thank you for sharing the beer can story. I don’t know how many times I have seen the same thing happen, so it is good to know it is not just me. Things look too peaceful in Argentina. By now you must be missing the blockades and food poisoning you enjoyed in Bolivia. Take care and I can’t wait to see pictures of the climbing areas you discover.

    • Hey Eric, you’re not going to believe this, but we hit probably the only blockade in Argentina the other day (coming in the next post). Just my luck!

  10. Anonymous says:

    nice!! you will see that the north is the most “indigenous ” part of argentina.. as you go south, it becomes more “europeanized..”

    enjoy.. also, its a diversion, but the tompkin’s millions acre estancias are over on the brazillian border, not far from iguazu.. not sure if you are going that way before or after you head south, but if you do, they are there in winter, and down in chile in the “summer” let me know if and i will make the proper intros..

    i loved cache and all..when we were there the vino was in its youth.. we ALMOST bought some vineyard land.. but didn’t..

    love the camping.. love you guys


  11. We miss Argentina’s wide open camp spaces. I guess you’ve discovered by now that your internet stick doesn’t work. We got one too. Didn’t even work in downtown Mendoza. I tried some Thai wine the other day, barfed in my mouth. Have one on my behalf. No, make that two. Enjoy and take care – I heard babies were dangerous drivers 😉

  12. We loved Argentina too, unfortunately we were only there for a short time. I am looking forward to more pictures from Route 40. We didn’t take Route 40 but we did take Route 68 from Salta to Cafayate. My wife just did a photo essay on her blog check it out.
    We found that you have to try the empanadas in the north, wonderful snack. As well if you are in Cafayate on the weekend you must locate the chicken BBQ restaurant in the south end of town the bbq is on the sidewalk and the restaurant is only open on the weekends. It is a block or two south of the main square on your way out of town.

  13. Those water pictures are legit. You need to lock those away, and back them up like 4 times. Very cool.
    I remember those days.

We want to hear from you! You may comment as 'Anonymous' to hide your identity if you don't want to leave your name. We look forward to hearing from you.

Speak Your Mind

Your comments make us happy.

Leave a comment, get a kitten!