We hate backtracking, especially when it means going up a mountain pass we just came down.
The reason we HAD to come to San Pedro was because there is no Chilean border station at the Bolivia-Chile border at the end of the Lagunas Route. So we went 30 miles out of the way and over 6,000 feet DOWN to San Pedro just to get our passports stamped.
From where we exited Bolivia to Chile, there is only 70 miles to Argentina. We wanted to go directly to Argentina (thus avoiding climbing the 6,000+ feet back UP from San Pedro). However, technically this is illegal and the border agents could deny us entrance into Argentina because we would be leaving Chile without having been officially stamped in.¹
Wanting to avoid any potential problems at the Chile-Argentina border, we went to San Pedro for the Chilean entrance stamp. A Chilean border post is currently under construction at the Bolivia border so this will not be an issue in the future for cyclists coming south on the Lagunas Route.
Because we had already ridden this road just four days ago, we decided to hitch a ride to where we made the turn to come to San Pedro, then we’d ride the rest of the way to Paso Jama.
Easier said than done. The one time we were hoping for truck traffic, there was none. We were 3 hours into the climb and most of the way there before we got a ride.
¹We have since heard from two traveling cyclists that they exited through the Lagunas Route to Chile, passed directly to Paso Jama, Argentina without the Chilean entrance stamp, and did not have a problem. For what that’s worth…