Ruta Nacional 40 - Route 40
This is an amazing highway that runs parallel to the Andes all the way from Cape Virgenes in Santa Cruz province, Patagonia up to La Quiaca, on the border with Bolivia in Jujuy province.
It is over 5,000 km long (3,100 mi.), it climbs from sea level up to heights of nearly 5,000 m (16,390 ft.). Crossing eleven provinces Santa Cruz, Chubut, Rio Negro and Neuquén in Patagonia and Mendoza, San Juan, La Rioja, Catamarca, Tucumán, Salta and Jujuy in the central and northern part of Argentina.
My wife and I have traveled along it in different trips that we have taken (the map shows -blue line- the sectors that I have driven of Route 40). I am still missing its northernmost and southernmost parts as well as the Neuquén-Mendoza sector.
It is not all paved; there are many stretches of of rough gravel, especially in Patagonia and in the north. It also has steep climbs beside sheer cliffs where it narrows down to barely one lane (at Cuesta de Miranda or in the Valles Calchaquís. Yet the scenery is breath taking. It passes close to many National Parks (Alerces, Los Glaciares, Perito Moreno, Nahuel Huapi, Laguna Blanca, Lanín, Cerro León in Patagonia), and more in the north (Los Cardones, Talampaya, etc.).
Nevertheless, it is a fantastic experience. Its sign posts indicate the province that you are travelling through. Below some photos of these signs, at San Juan, Chubut and Catamarca.
Read more about it at the Argentine Government Tourism Agency (in English).
See my next post, with photographs of Route 40 Here.
More information: TravelRoute40.blogspot.com. An online resource with all you need to know about this wonderful highway.
Copyright 2009 by Austin Whittall ©