DixPix Photographs

     

SOUTH CORDILLERA

 
     
  Social Aspects:  TRANSPORTATION  

 

From llama pack-trains to Llama Helicopters, a rich variety of modes of transport have been employed to overcome the obstacles of rugged terrain, altitude and energetic rivers.  Through the gumbo of southern winters and the dust of northern deserts, methods have been invented to move people and produce, in a land where most own neither cars nor horses.

 

So push-start your bus and let's be off. Click to see big picture (640x433 pixels; 90 KB)
The town of Quellon in south Chiloe Island claims to be the start of the Pan American Highway to Alaska.  But there are other possible starts and ends, and none are continuous. 
You don't see many of these any more. By the time a vehicle has been stripped to this stage, the motor is usually running a pump or pulley or some other contraption. Click to see big picture (640x417 pixels; 97 KB)
Ox carts, however, are still much in evidence in the hinterland.  In the winters of southern Chile, they are about the only thing that will take the mud.  For more on ox carts etc., see Disappearing Ways. Click to see big picture (640x435 pixels; 129 KB)
The Paramillos road above Villavicenica.  Even with a relatively important road in the relatively well served Province of Mendoza, Argentina, it takes a lot of switchbacks to tackle the Andes. Click to see big picture (625x480 pixels; 175 KB)
Many roads are definitely contrived, this on the Melado River, Chile. Click to see big picture (598x480 pixels; 125 KB)
But if you are really looking for those narrow, corroding, toe-curling roads, jerry-rigged along cliffs above mind-numbing abysses, may I recommend the mountains of Peru and Bolivia.  They specialize in them.
And then there are the flash floods, in this case coastal Peru. Click to see big picture (640x445 pixels; 125 KB)
Even an afternoon thunderstorm in the drylands can leave one temporarily stranded by a flash flood. flood
And flooded roads are especially difficult for motorcycles, a common from of transport in the back country. flood
If you are taking a car up into the Altiplano, better check the antifreeze.  Actually, on the long steep grades, engines can boil over by overheating, but this case near San Antonio de Los Cobres, Argentina, was a frozen cooling system. Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 94 KB)
And then there are your tires.  In southern Argentina, the thorns of this particularly obnoxious species of acacia are often the first thing to poke up as nature reclaims a road.  Some vehicles in this region use solid tires. Click to see big picture (396x480 pixels; 69 KB)
But who needs mother nature, check out the nails poking out of this home-make cattle guard, again in southern Argentina. Click to see big picture (640x417 pixels; 108 KB)
Another flat tire.  Bumper-jacks are great, not only for changing tires, but for getting out of mud holes.  Alas, modern vehicles seldom have bumpers strong enough to take them. Click to see big picture (640x412 pixels; 115 KB)
And some of those pot-holes may be a tad deeper that expected. Click to see big picture (640x389 pixels; 129 KB)
In a remote corner of northwestern Argentina, the Andina Mine once offered help to those travelers in trouble.  And they mean it, as the author found out when his Nissan broke down a mere two days hike away over the mountains.  Thank you Minera Andina.
Rambling road blocks such as this can take all day to get around. Click to see big picture (640x397 pixels; 93 KB)
It is better when the herd is going in the opposite direction, you can just stop and wait for the mob to pass. Click to see big picture (640x367 pixels; 84 KB)
Passing on curves seems to be national sport among truck drivers in some areas.   At least these drivers stopped to pull a hapless victim back on the road in central Peru. Click to see big picture (640x421 pixels; 145 KB)
And there are other drivers of concern out there-- this one was drunk. Click to see big picture (630x480 pixels; 154 KB)
And this driver fell asleep on the long and dull Atacama Highway. Click to see big picture (640x427 pixels; 139 KB)
Then again one can simply run out of gas, known in Chile as the 'pana de tontos'.  A siphon hose comes in handy. Click to see big picture (640x459 pixels; 91 KB)
When you run out of roads, the region is criss-crossed with horse trails, and there are many expert horsemen throughout the southern Cordillera.  Much more on this style of life under Gauchos and Huasos. Click to see big picture (640x408 pixels; 134 KB)
Personally, the writer has found a mountain bike useful for getting around on the horse and cattle trails. Click to see big picture (313x480 pixels; 66 KB)
A scene from Jaen in northern Peru, shows two transport institutions.  One is the family motorbike, and the other is the common practice of turning a motorcycle into a taxi. Click to see big picture (640x438 pixels; 83 KB)
But transport is gradually improving.  This was a lunch stop on the dirt road serving Patagonian Argentina in 1966.  It is now a paved and well-used highway. Click to see big picture (640x337 pixels; 69 KB)
Ingenuity strikes.  This is the ferry service across a river in eastern Bolivia, propelled by workers wading through the water and polling.  For more in ways of getting across Rivers. Click to see big picture (640x403 pixels; 54 KB)
And when you run out of both roads and trails, there is one last resort.  More often employed by companies or individuals with more money than time. Click to see big picture (614x480 pixels; 47 KB)