Wolfman Blog

Rider Stories from the Road, 7 of 8, Amanda Zito

18 October, 2016

We are so proud of Amanda Zito and her 3,700 mile solo ride using our Skyline Series.  We hope she inspires you too:

Amanda is an avid motorcyclist, tattoo artist and illustrator from Montana, who currently resides in Portland, OR. This summer, Amanda embarked on a 3,700 mile solo motorcycle ride around her home State of MT. The plan was to circumnavigate the state using nothing but back roads - no highways or interstates, no GPS and no hotels (or fast food stops). Along the way Amanda documented her journey with pen and picture, sharing those memories via social media and on her blog. She ended her adventure at her family's ranch in Corvallis, MT hosting the inaugural 'Rocky Mountain Roll,' a three-day motorcycle camp out set beneath Montana's beautiful Big Sky. 



She also has this awesome packing video here.

Rider Stories from the Road--6 of 8, Collection of individual customers

11 October, 2016

We are proud to showcase these four individual riders that we sponsored this year and their travels using Wolfman Luggage.  Mark Sampson's Africa Twin build, Scott Brady of Overland Journal using our Escape Pak, Wayne Nix and his Black Bear Pass video and Dave Gomez of the Big Bear Trail Riders.

Mark Sampson:  "I think you guys might be very interested in seeing how I've mounted up some of your stuff on my 2016 USA Africa Twin.  It would be very helpful for you to look at my build page and see what I have done. It's here."

Scott Brady, Chief Executive Officer of Overland International:  "Enjoying the pack Eric! Canyoneering in Utah."


Wayne Nix:  "Here's my video of Black Bear Pass and at the end my bike decked out with Wolfman :-)".  Pictured is Wayne's fellow event rider, Tracey Henshaw of Chattanooga TN-- "Love my new Wolfman duffel! Thanks Hootenanny and Wolfman!"

Dave Gomez:  "I wanted to thank you for Wolfman’s support in June for the Big Bear Run, National AMA event. The event was a great success!  Photos showing my Wolfman equipped KTM 690 on the Idaho BDR last week in Yellow Pine."

Rider Stories from the Road--5 of 8, A bunch of mountain passes, Stephen Gregory

04 October, 2016

We are proud to highlight eight incredible stories of passionate Wolfman Luggage riders and their detailed feedback to help you enjoy our premium quality, Made-in-USA products for your next adventure. Enjoy a new story each week…

...Our story #5 is from professional photographer Stephen Gregory of Irvine, California.  Lucky for us he is also a huge fan of #WolfmanLuggage:   "Here are several new photos of the Overland Duffel as well as a few of the RMII Saddlebags and Enduro Tank Bag taken in both Utah and Colorado...I absolutely love the whole set up!

The Overland Duffel is a great bag and treated me very well on my last trip... 5 days camping in Colorado, riding over a bunch of mountain passes. Webster, Cinnamon, Engineer (twice), Imogene... and a few others I can't think of right now. Great lightweight set up!  Thanks!


Rider Stories from the Road--4 of 8, Banff and Back!

27 September, 2016

Wolfman Luggage is proud to feature rider stories from the road--#4 of 8 incredible photo stories from our passionate riders for your next adventure.  Maybe Banff, Alberta like Bill did?

Bill Alspach of Woodland Park, CO is one of our Wolfman Ambassadors.   Here is his trip of 2400 miles in 12 days this summer featuring Wolfman Luggage in action to Banff, Canada.  His fellow Riders are Tim Volz of Colorado Springs, CO and Don Nickels of Eden Park, MN.  Bikes: 2ea, 2010 KTM 450 XCWs and 1 ea 2015 450 XCW  Dates: 18 Jun - 1 Jul 2016
2400 miles in 12 days
Route: (Kalispell, MT (we got there via a one way rental truck from Colorado Springs) to Banff, Alberta, back to Kalispell, MT then basically followed the Continental Divide Back to Woodland Park, CO. Key points: Kalispell, MT; Banff; Seeley Lake, MT; Lincoln , MT; Butte, MT; Dell, MT; Island Park, ID; Tetons, Pinedale, WY; Atlantic City, WY; Rawlins, WY; Steamboat, CO; Vail, CO; Leadville, CO; Woodland Park, CO.

Thanks, Bill for sharing your trip photos with us and for riding with Wolfman!

Rider Stories from the Road 3 of 8, Thomas Bowen and Dan Swart

20 September, 2016

Here is our third incredible rider story, part of our word-of-mouth customer feedback, voices from the road series.

Tom Bowen WERA North Central #280 and Dan "Danimal" Swart are road racers who are practicing three motorcycle disciplines--road racing, dirt riding and now ADV riding.  Here are excerpts of their AV ride reports and a review of our Wolfman Explorer Lite Tank Bags:

"Dan and I have recently discovered Adventure riding, and became obsessed after watching the Long Way Round and Down Series. We have grandiose plans to circumnavigate the globe ourselves, though perhaps when I get out of the Air Force in 10 years or so. We decided to start out small with an 8000 mile US trip, but then realized we needed to go smaller still. As such our March trip to Key West was born. Having lived in Florida, Dan and I wanted to fit SCUBA diving somewhere in our trip and the only place warm enough in March with good diving would be Key West. With that as our base, we used Furkot trip planner, along with searching for dual sport trails online to plan our route. It was to be a mixture of super highways, scenic byways and dirt, totaling 3500 miles in 10 days. However, our March trip became a balance of sticking to our original itinerary while accommodating uncertainties that came our way.

While on Hwy 1, we saw threatening thunderstorms in the distance and became weary of how our night SCUBA diving trip would go in the rough seas. Furthering our concerns were the high winds; on some of the high bridge spans we got buffeted around quite a bit. The storms had soaked everything as they passed before us, and while we avoided the rain our Klim gear and Wolfram Luggage bags kept everything dry from the spray.

We then came to our first river crossing and my heart started to beat faster. This one didn’t look too deep but having recently flooded my dirtbike in a 4ft “not so deep” pond, I was a bit cautious. Luckily, this crossing went without a hitch and we kept going. The dirt turned back to gravel which lead to larger rocks and we saw our second river crossing. This one was much more serious, and after pumping each other up, we decided to go one at a time. I was up first and the river crossing wasn’t bad, maybe only a couple feet deep and I made sure I kept up my momentum on the loose rock bed. What awaited me on the other side proved to be a massive challenge. Here with my loaded F800GS, I attempted something that would have been a bit tricky on my much more nimble KTM 250. Needless to say I didn’t make it up the rocks on my first attempt, or my second or third. I finally had to unload my luggage to lighten my bike, and had Dan help push while I power walked the bike the remaining sections. After 25 min we managed to get my bike up this 15ft impasse. Next it was Dan’s turn. He rides a BMW G650GS, which is quite a bit lighter, not to mention Dan wanted to show me up! He crossed the river without trouble and chose his line up the rocks. He ended up dropping the bike in the exact same spot as me, but insisted on trying it again by himself. The second time around he got further than I had but needed help lining up a continuing run. Together, pushing and driving up the rocks we got Dan’s bike up and over. After a short break we continued on."--March

"Dan and I just completed our adventure training course and had a blast.  I left the weekend truly impressed with what bikes of this size can do; on the trails I can pretty much throw my BMW F800 around like my KTM 250. 

We were primarily in Bald Eagle State Forest in Pennsylvania and were truly impressed with the sheer number of trails and unexplored areas.  Having gone to school in Colorado I had always assumed the Rockies would be the closest true adventure riding to Ohio, and was pleasantly surprised to find the Appalachians have a lot of hidden gems!

Dan and I both got to our campground late Friday and were up early Saturday to meet with our instructor and other students.  Our instructor, Alain, informed us the other students had a mechanical breakdown and would be unable to attend, leaving the class to just me and Dan.  We started the morning with drills in a gravel parking lot.  This is where I noticed just how much harder it is to maneuver the F800 in tight spaces than my 250, but Dan picked up on the techniques very quickly on his G650.  We stopped for lunch and went on an afternoon ride.  Most of the trails were spaced 20min apart by gravel roads, but each trail had something different to offer.  One was fairly rocky but wide, another narrow with lots of washouts.  In all cases it was truly amazing how fast these big bikes could tackle the trails we were doing and in some instances, trails that would still be challenging on my KTM 250.  The entire weekend was hot, reaching 95F in the afternoon so I was thankful when we stopped at Poe Lake for a swim to end our day.

Day 2 started again with drills, including obstacle clearing, as well as K-turns (stopping on a hill and turning around), but mostly the last day was all about riding trails.  We were on one of the trails for several miles away from the "main" access road when we stumbled on a hunting cabin.  Apparently you can rent cabins from the forest service and they are completely isolated, reinforcing my amazement with just what Pennsylvania could offer.  The highlight of the weekend without a doubt was our last ride.  Our instructor called it a "hero" section and it sounded like just a step above what we had done before.  He let Dan lead and fortunately for us Dan took a wrong turn that put us on a very difficult trial that had clearly been forgotten.  While that trail took several times longer to complete, and caused us to shed some sweat and tears (Dan's bike took a few tumbles), it provided a true adventure experience and gave us a first hand look at what a real ride would be like.  Some sections we had to walk, but mainly we rode... steep descents, loose rock, log crossings, low hanging branches, etc.  It was a great 3 hour ride and we were all glad to see the exit, but sad our adventure had come to an end.--June


Wolfman Explorer Lite Review (updated)

I love the versatility the Explorer Lite tank bag provides.  While I don't use maps often I like the fact that I can put them in the top pocket for easy viewing while riding.  The tank bag makes it easy to get to items that I regularly use, as well as grants access to items while riding:  I keep my 2L Camelbak bladder (I had room for an extra 1qt water bottle in addition to these other items), a rain poncho, various electronics (iPhone charger, bluetooth comm charger, Powerlet, GoPro accessories), head lamp, pocket knife, but mainly snacks to much on while riding.  When making long trips I hate stopping more often than I need to for gas, and with a 7gal tank, that can be as much as 4 hours between stops so having items close at hand is crucial to comfort.  As long as I stage my snacks appropriately I can get to them while riding.  Meat sticks are the easiest because I can shove them into my helmet and still hold on to the other end; bite sized items are quite a bit harder to manipulate with gloves.  For riders who also go off road, this bag is perfect because it doesn't get in the way at all while standing.  I'm 6'2" so shorter individuals might be impeded a bit, but the bag is soft sided so it shouldn't make much of a difference.  If the bag had any flaw it would be the lack of weatherproofing.  It can certainly hold up to a quick rain shower without concern, but a waterproof liner and zippers would be a huge improvement for serious storms.  I've never liked rain covers, and I feel they merely mask an issue that could otherwise be solved.  I may try spray on weatherproofing to see if that helps, but hopefully future versions of this bag have some level of integrated waterproofing."

Rider Stories from the Road, 2 of 8--Motoex_Jordan

13 September, 2016

We are proud to highlight eight incredible stories of passionate #WolfmanLuggage riders and their detailed feedback for you.  

Moto Expedition's Jordan review of our Enduro Tank Bag and E12s is number 2 of 8:

Wolfman Luggage: “Perfect for the smaller dual-sports”

If there’s one thing I don’t want to deal with while riding, its wearing a fully loaded backpack. The only backpack I can tolerate is my camel back, and that’s only for overnight campouts or multi day motocamp trips. Not wearing a backpack was difficult to do, seeing as how I ride a DRZ with virtually no storage capacity. Enter Wolfman tankbag, fender bag and E-12 saddle bags! I like to refer to myself as a comfortable minimalist rider. Thanks to the people at Wolfman, I have everything I need to be as self-reliant as possible on the trails yet still jump, drift, climb hills, cross streams, ride whoops, sand, mud, single track, try to wheelie and even the occasional 1000 + mile trips to southern California to ride twisties with my best bud, or Mendocino National Forest for some moto-camping with my best moto-camping bud. I ride it all, and often I ride aggressively. When I ride off-road, I’m standing most of the time. My Wolfman luggage keeps all my gear securely with me, but I can’t even tell its there!

The Wolfman Fender bag does exactly what it claims. It holds my extra tube, tire irons and tube patch kit. On the DRZ-400, it doesn’t block the headlight at all. My Enduro tank bag holds most of my EDC(every day carry) stuff: Wallet, keys, cell phone, tools, fire-starter, Life-straw, headlamp, emergency fishing kit, paper funnels, latex gloves, lighter, whistle, earplugs, registration and insurance, small air pump, microfiber towel, compass, hand warmers, soft-loop tie-down straps, extra hardware, charging cables for my phone and GoPro batteries, bluetooth speaker, more tools, snacks, and a beanie or hat…depending on the weather!

The E-12’s still surprise me with how much can fit in there. I’ve had my entire sleep system in them (hammock, tarp, thermal air mattress, 30degree lightweight military sleeping bag) along with my MSR pocket stove and fuel, Glock, survival knife, sierra saw, para-cord, medical kit, siphon hose, zip-ties and some food. I can’t tell you how happy I am that I don’t have to wear a loaded backpack when I ride anymore. I prefer the machine to do all the carrying.

The bags are all easy to access, mount very easily and they simply just don’t budge. Even on the harshest terrain or after some pretty nasty “dirt naps!” They are small and compact, yet carry so much more than you would think. The adjustment straps easily adapt to different load sizes to keep everything tight. They also keep the load low and out of the way. They are super durable as well. I’ve had the tank bag for over 11,000 miles now, and the only sign of wear and tear is on the zipper pulls. When I clean them, they still look new! They have reflective material striping for added safety. They can be moved from bike to bike in only a few minutes. They have never gotten in the way, even during the most aggressive riding. They offer a competitive warranty period, and to top everything off: They are 100% made in the U.S.A.. Enough said! Oh, and did I mention that they can double as a beer cooler? That’s Awesome.

The only con I can come up with is they are not waterproof. However, the bags I use don’t claim to be, and Wolfman does offer dry saddle bags. I sprayed all my gear with silicone spray and it does a pretty good job of keeping my things dry while riding in light rains and splashing through streams and puddles. I have been caught in a few epic downpours and even a couple of blizzards during my time in Reno/Tahoe, and the zippers did let some moisture in. As an adventure rider, I do get caught in thunderstorms from time to time. To deal with this, I carry a couple 10L dry stuff sacks to put the E-12 contents into. On multi day trips I bring a dry bag and all my gear that really shouldn’t get wet goes in there.

We all know the saying “you get what you pay for.” When it comes to Wolfman, you are getting the best. They are dependable, durable and among the most versatile soft luggage I have seen. Wolfman Motorcycle Luggage literally took the load off my back. For that I am very grateful. motoex_jordan tested and approved!

Rider Stories from the Road, 1 of 8--Mike Reid

06 September, 2016

Wolfman believes in word-of-mouth advertising and for years it was the only advertising we did. "Naturally occurring" sharing is the original connecting instead of collecting social media fans--a way to create experiences worthy of being passed from person-to-person or in our case, rider-to-rider.

We are proud to highlight eight incredible stories of passionate Wolfman Luggage riders and their detailed feedback to help you enjoy our premium quality, Made-in-USA products for your next adventure.

Mike Reid is the first of eight rider voices from the road.  His journeys have included his completed Miles for Peace ride and his newest is his Guinness World record attempt for "longest journey on a pocket bike" 1500 miles across 9 states in a Honda CRF-50.  

See his website blog and photos here:  http://globalmikereid.com https://www.facebook.com/GlobalMikeReid/videos/1733283360269897/

We proudly support Mike and his adventures and thought you might like his stop motion video on packing our Rocky Mountain Saddle Bags:


Times-Call Newspaper features Wolfman Luggage

04 January, 2016

Longmont's Wolfman Luggage focuses on the adventure motorcycle community

By Vince Winkel, Staff Writer

Daniel Hernandez sews straps for hydration packs at Wolfman Luggage. (Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer)

When Eric Hougen launched his motorcycle luggage company in the spare bedroom of his Nederland home in 1992, he didn't imagine that one day his line of products would be sold all over the world.

Today his Wolfman Motorcycle Luggage Company is based on the first floor of the former Longmont Times-Call building at 350 Terry St. Besides being available at more than 150 motorcycle dealers across the U.S., his gear is sold in Australia, Europe, across Asia, Canada, Mexico, Chile and through the Wolfman website.

"We've come a long way from that little room up in Nederland," Hougen said from his office.

Earlier this year Wolfman moved from a space on the east edge of Longmont to its downtown location.

Hougen and his crew make a variety of bags - soft luggage for motorcycle riders. The showroom on Terry Street is lined with black and yellow panniers, wet bags, dry bags, tank bags, saddlebags, tool bags, large duffels and small map pockets. They are designed for every style of motorcyclist: street bikes, cruisers, commuting, weekend rides or full-scale adventures.

Most of his sales are in the adventure market. Those are the riders who go off-road, into the back country; the type of rider that will ride north to Alaska or deep into Mexico for weeks if not months.

The adventure market is the fastest growing segment of the motorcycle industry, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council .

"The offerings from the motorcycle companies have changed, and they have given the industry direction. There are a lot more dual-sport and off road motorcycles available to the consumer today," said Hougen, who began riding dirt bikes when he was 10.

"I think people always wanted to go off road, but years ago if you wanted to go off road you were on a dirt bike, a bike that wasn't street legal. Today that isn't the case."

"Today's adventure bikes and dual sport bikes are street legal, but ready for going off road," he said.

When he started his company in Nederland, Hougen was essentially a one-man crew. He did the designing, the sewing, the selling and the shipping. Eventually he moved his small outfit to Boulder and then to Longmont.

Everything is made in the U.S., and the Colorado State University graduate wouldn't have it any other way.

"As the industry has grown, and the adventure segment, we began being seen as a premium brand. Now the competition has grown, but we've been able to keep up," Hougen said.

"It's difficult manufacturing in the U.S. and being price competitive," he added. "So my designs are more functional than fashionable. Because we have to look at where we put our manufacturing dollars. Do we want all sorts of zippers and add pockets and so on, or do you really want a sturdy bag. I'd rather have a sturdy bag that is simple, with less to go wrong."

That simplicity is known and respected within the industry.

"It's built to a much higher standard," said adventure rider Ian Schmeisser of Atlanta, who writes for Cycle News and Rider Magazine. "Wolfman Luggage is known far and wide in the adventure riding community for its durability and quality design. The gear is clearly the result of many a tough mile of testing, refinement, more testing and talking with customers."

"The practicality of soft luggage over hard bags is great, too. It's lighter, compressible and more flexible for packing odd size items," said Ariel Krawczyk of Anchorage, who leads adventure rides in Alaska.

"It's good looking, waterproof, and sturdy. It's perfect for the Alaska climate."

Today Wolfman has nine full-time staff, and does some production at its headquarters but also uses outside seamstresses and production workers. In January they are bringing their fulfillment services back into the fold.

Wolfman Luggage founder Eric Hougen bought his first sewing machine with money given to him by an aunt. (Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer)

"My job here as a designer, an innovator, and creator is to change. I'm always changing something. I make the bags more efficient. I change the way we manufacture the gear because we do it all in the U.S., and labor costs are not cheap," he said over the buzzing noise of a sewing machine.

"Our competition goes overseas, to places like Vietnam and China, where people in production are paid a buck or two an hour. So our margins are narrow."

As for the company name, some of the credit goes to his friends at CSU in the 1980s.

"I had hair that was quite long, a big mane of hair. When I was in college people called me Wolfman," he said with a laugh.

"When I trademarked it I spoke with a trademark attorney who was doing the search, and he said 'what does this have to do with Wolfman Jack?' and I said hey, I just make bags. I'm not a radio personality."

The 49-year-old, who still does all the design and pattern work, said he is still learning something every day.

"It's been quite an education. An education I get from customers, industry peers, our employees. I have learned a lot from them."

Vince Winkel: 303-684-5291, winkelv@times-call.com or twitter.com/vincewinkel

Coping with Oncoming Traffic Around Precarious Bends

23 December, 2015

Roads of Argentina Series: 3 of 3 by Sarah Tesla, lostnotfound.in, @lostnotfoundin

Argentina is huge and you need at least few months to to explore its full diversity. But don’t let that dissuade you. If all you’ve got is a couple of weeks, there are plenty of day trips where you’ll find yourself happily in the middle of nowhere, or at least happily far far away from the tourist types. This series will focus on not-be-missed roads and the special places they will take you.

Ruta 83 Calilegua National Park

After spending time exploring the painted beauty of the Quebrada de Humahuaca, it’s time for an abrupt change of scenery. A lesser known, and therefore lesser explored area of Jujuy is on the eastern slope on Ruta 83, home of the lush Jungas of Calilegua National Park.

An easy and not particularly scenic drive, you’ll head south on Ruta 9, skirting the main city of San Salvador de Jujuy and connect with Ruta 34 north. You’ll pass through mostly rural landscapes and the occasional scrappy little industrial town, before you reach the entrance to the park after about 2.5hrs (181km). This is where the fun really begins!

Look for a clearly marked turnoff into Calilegua, it’s hard to miss because you’ll notice the Rio San Lorenzo, where you’ll find local families cooling off in the water and enjoying an asado along the roadway. It’s a good place to stop, stretch your legs and also assess your supplies. Because where you’re going, the amenities are very few indeed. From experience, snacks and petrol are the keys to success. If you’re in good shape then onward for the next leg of your journey onto the gravel of Ruta 83 and deep into the Jungas!

Ruta 83 is a single lane gravel road which runs deep into Calilegua connecting the world with several small villages. To reach our destination, the village of San Francisco, it’s a modest 39km, but you’ll be driving much slower, along medium to poor gravel with potholes and baby heads, switchbacks and coping with oncoming traffic around precarious bends. So speed is not an option here. Slow and steady, to keep safe, but also enjoy several views along the way. Honking as you approach blind corners is good etiquette.

Two hours would be a good approximation of time to reach San Francisco. When you finally make it you’ll certainly be ready for a beer and food, but suppress the urge and instead sort our your accommodations before dark. It will be extremely hard to find a place to sleep while wandering around with a head-lamp. There are a few families in this tiny village who let out rooms and offer meals in a bed and breakfast style. The local hostel might catch your eye first, as there are two on the main road as you enter town, but we recommend seeking out more familial accoms.

A local sent us in the direction of the Sabastien family who had a small, but clean and comfy building on their property with rooms and private baths and a garden. They were more than happy to include us in their dinner and breakfast planning for the time were were there. The cost was 200 pesos, which is approx $25 Cdn. They also had secure parking, but I’m not so sure that would be needed here. Worth noting that they don’t speak English, but basic Spanish and sign language goes a long way.

Once settled you now have as much time as you like to explore the area. The village itself has a lot of character as developing features such a power generator rather awkwardly sit in plain view, mixed with the serene beauty of the jungle and local farms butting up against the scattered homes. Horses roam freely all over town, as do dogs, chickens and of course the local kids playing football. As aforementioned, there are not many amenities. We found the local “restaurant” which doubles as a community gathering space among other things to have beers and snacks. There is also a TV with satellite for watching football matches, the news and daytime dramas.

On our second day we hired a local guide to take us for hike into the Jungas to a popular waterfall. It was not a strenuous hike, but very pleasant with views of the valley below. If you’re more athletically inclined there are many more adventures hikes in the area that take you to see some dramatic features, such as watering holes and more spectacular waterfalls. If you’re feeling lo-key like we were, there are also lots of nice walks into the rural outskirts. It doesn’t take long to adapt to the easy-going pace of village life and all those horses milling around.

One thing to mention, is while village life has a sleepy quality to it, the nightlife is VERY active. So bring earplugs if you want to get a wink of sleep, because the cacophony of dogs, cows, horses and insects go from dusk till dawn.

For active news about the area visit Parque Nacional Calilegua Facebook page or National Parks Argentina

Nothing Except Vast Skies and Wild Donkeys

19 October, 2015

Roads of Argentina Series:  2 of 3

by Sarah Tesla, lostnotfound.in, @lostnotfoundin

Argentina is huge and you need at least few months to to explore its full diversity. But don’t let that dissuade you. If all you’ve got is a couple of weeks, there are plenty of day trips where you’ll find yourself happily in the middle of nowhere, or at least happily far far away from the tourist types. This series will focus on not-to-be-missed roads and the special places they will take you.

Ruta 51, 40 and 52: Salta & Jujuy Province

Welcome to the north! Salta is a place of colonial beauty and it’s surrounding area is a juxtaposition of lush greenery and rocky red soil. As you venture further north into Jujuy you are greeted by colourful mountain landscapes painted in purples, pinks, greens and orange minerals. This region is an explorer's paradise, well worth spending at least a week getting to know. In the interest of time we’re going to take you through one long day filled with cactus forests, lonely plains, high altitudes, and an ocean of salt flats and purple mountains. Ready?

Departing from Salta City you will make your way West along Ruta 51. This quiet stretch of road will eventually, and abruptly turn to gravel and bring you alongside a river bed in a deep valley. Looks like this area of the river bed is used as a gravel pit, but the further along you go the more interesting things become. Soon you’re surrounded by a sea of 10ft tall cacti that dot the hills casting their shadows. They seem to grow on every precipice and is the only green contrasted against this rocky terrain.

This stretch eventually turns back into tarmac and you can get a sense of some of the local communities along the way. We liked the colourfully decorated cemeteries, and if your eyes are sharp you might spot one that has become overgrown by vegetation. The road gradually starts to gain altitude, with you eventually reaching 4080m at Abra Blanca. As you begin to descend the road turns back to gravel, and if you’re depending on Google maps, be prepared for some confusion as Ruta 51 and 40 start to blend together.

The town of San Antonio de los Cobres is your jumping off point to a lesser used, poorly marked leg of Ruta 40. The town has a strong frontier vibe to it, with very basic amenities. We arrived with a flat tire, but considering how common flats are on these dirt roads, we found a Gomeria quickly. Once we got patched up, we spent a bit of time circling around looking for our entry way to Ruta 40 and thanks to helpful tips from the locals soon found our way.

This stretch of road has nothing except vast skies and wild donkeys, which we thought was pretty cool. This road will take you to the famed Salinas Grandes and also across the border from Salta Province to Jujuy Province. Take time to get out and walk around the salt flats. There is an incredible spaciousness to this alien surface. If you’re out there on a sunny day cover up, because you’ll burn to a crisp in just a few moments!

Once you’ve got your fill of salt and sun, get ready to enjoy some epic curves! Following Ruta 52 East you’re going to start to ascend to your next vantage point at 4170m. It’s a bit of a tourist stop, so be prepared to wait in a cue to get a photo with the sign if you wish. Then from here it’s down, down, down along what feels like a spiral staircase into the valley that leads to Pumamarca.

As you enter the valley you’re greeted by purple and orange hues as the mountains along side you transform. Pumamarca is a key jumping off point for buses and popular with backpackers. We weren’t too keen to battle our way through traffic and vendors. Instead, we had our sights set on reaching our final destination of the day.

The 52 intersects with Ruta 9, which runs North to the famous hills of Humahuaca (stunning!) and South to the capital, Jujuy City. We headed south into a beautiful valley just outside the village of Volcan. If our day wasn’t already an adventure, the dirt road and cattle gates added to the rugged landscape as dusk fell with us finally arriving at our destination.

Rumiyoc is a beautiful country estate and active farm that has been lovingly restored and turned into a B&B. The stone turret and cozy valley transport you back in time nearly one hundred years. Our host Joaquin, and the estate's caretaker Rodrigo were incredible hosts. This would serve as our HQ for the next few days, while we went out exploring the natural beauty of the area before heading out on the next leg of our adventure!

Road Notes:

Salta to San Antonio de los Cobres approx 174km
Gravel road begins just outside Campo Quijano
Limited services
San Antonio de los Cobres to Salinas Grandes 101km
Old Ruta 40 is gravel, travel with a spare tire and lots of water
No services
Salinas Grandes to Pumamarca approx 65km
Petrol, food and accomodations
Rumiyoc bookings: https://www.airbnb.ca/rooms/2493745


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