Argentine Patagonia—overlander's heaven

Ruta 40 in Argentina's Patagonia is full of long, long views across seemingly endless pampas to the stunning Andes, dotted with gem-turquoise lakes and sparkling rivers. It is an overlander's paradise, with a generous dose of Argentine hospitality. Camping is easy, and when we pulled off late one evening to enquire at an estancia (ranch) if we could camp, the owner said they had a bunkhouse we could use. Turned out to be a beautiful 150-year-old stone house on a river, with comfortable beds and deep, deep black skies full of stars. We saw the Southern Cross for the first time. Nearby was Cueva de los Manos, filled with paintings of hands dating back about 9000 years. En route we met Shannon and Joshua in their Colorado-plated Tundra (first gen.) and 12-year-old Four Wheel Camper. They have been on the road 15 months and are en route to Ushuaia. From here we head to the swank tourist town of Bariloche, then cross to Chile.