Tag Archives: campervan

How we are filtering water while camping through Argentina

We are a two pop-top camper, 4 person, 1 dog family traveling through South America. Before we received our campers and had less control over our water in Colombia and Buenos Aires Provincia. We all had the runs at least once. We were told to just expect this while traveling. But, since getting the campers and having more control over our water, no one has been sick. Here is what we are doing.

We are currently in Argentina where people are confident that the water is safe to drink. It may be true that drinking from the tap won’t make you sick here but we found that water we pump to store in a tank probably needs to be filtered first: as evidenced by the wriggling water insects we shook from our pre-filter the other day from an established campground.

The kids filling the pre-filter bucket during fill at Lago Guttiérez, Argentina (no insects).

The insects from the hose was in a camp where the camp host told us the water was good to drink: potable. We filtered it anyway and so glad we did. I’m glad we don’t have bugs in the tank and here’s hoping whatever the bugs are eating was filtered out as well. Here is our system:

Pumping from buckets brought from lake to the filter, hose running to our 25 gallon tank in the Northstar

We have two tanks for water to use for drinking, cooking, and washing. Both of our vehicles hold 25 gallons each. We are able to fill them straight from a lake or a spigot or a hose run through our water pump and filter. When a source spigot is not compatible with our pump nozzle, we continuously fill a bucket and pump from the bucket through the filter into our tank. We also use the bucket method if the fresh water lake shore won’t allow us to get our trucks close enough to pump directly from the lake.

Close up of the Guzzle H2O in action as kids fill the pre-filter bucket

Water sources: we are able to draw from any water source we decide can be filtered like fresh water lake or river, camp supplied water or municipal source. No matter the source, we run the water through our Guzzle H2O carbon filtration filter. We saw a campervan filling it’s tank directly from a YPF water hose (large gas station chain) at San Martin de Los Andes. No doubt, this is possible but, with 2 rigs and our general impatience with manuvering in congested parking lots, we haven’t done this. So, obviously some of the water is safe, some of the time. But not all of the water is safe all of the time. We just are not going to chance it

In some of the established mom and pop campgrounds, the water source is right next to the bathrooms because that’s where the plumbing is. In those places, we don’t fill. The insect water was from plumbing next to a wood heated shower house in our camp at Lake Piagum. We just filled from Lago Guttiérez yesterday outside San Carlos de Bariloche, no insects.

How long to fill? It takes us about 1 hour to fill both of our tanks through the filter. 1.5 hours if the filters are filling with insects… We usually time our fills for a travel day after using both tanks down to near empty in camp. This has averaged every 5-7 days.

Problem solving: air in the pump, slow high pressure pumping, carbon filter full, electricity supply to charge pump battery to get complete fills for 50 gallons. We learned that air in the filter can be solved by turning the pump upsidedown, on its side and upright several times while pumping, just like our old backpack filter. We removed and replaced our first carbon filter when the pump started running super slow and seemingly under high pressure. The 2nd carbon filter ran much better but, we are not convinced the old filter is full so we are carrying it with us to dry and try again. The battery charge on the Guzzle H2O lasts us about 30 gallons of pumping so, we charge it for the rest of the fill off our solar charged battery to get our full 50 gallons.

How do we store and cook food on the road for a year?

Our two vehicles at a trailhead near Junin de Los Andes, Argentina making solar power for the solar battery stored in the back of the Chevy Colorado (left).

We are traveling for a year in our pickup campers through South America with our dog and two teenage kids. Most people we meet in South America camp traveling are using converted vans, buses or bike packing with tents. Our set up is a little different and I’d like to share what we are doing. Like most overland travellers we are on a budget but our set up is where we splurged.

Prepping Arepas, so easy

Food is what makes or breaks our mood some days. Our daily budget while in Argentina is $33USD for food for 4, fuel and any camp fees. We break the budget often by some dollars but, it’s good to have goals. As we travel, availability of food ingredients varies and our camp environment too so, we have to be flexible.

Currently our favorite meals are: Arepas with dulce de leche and peanut butter, chorizos, tartillas de verduras, oatmeal, asado, eggs, ham sandwiches, salads, beans and rice with leftovers, pan fried Scottish bread, fruit smoothies and alfajores with dulce de leche for desert.

Grilling on the Parrilla in camp
Outdoor dishes are better than indoor dishes.

We have outfitted our vehicles with 3 food storage options: cold, cool and room temperature storage.

Cold storage: A small camper fridge with tiny freezer in our Northstar camper can store meat, leftovers and some durable vegetables (inadvertently freezes veggies when weather is hot or fridge is near empty). It can be powered by battery, propane or electric power from a plug in at a camp (not compatible in South America) or our Ecoflow solar charged battery in the other truck.

Cool Storage: A Yeti cooler that we use when we travel through hot days higher than 80°F or just to keep tender foods from getting crushed. It’s stored in the cab of the Dodge pick up. We shade it with a blanket and sun visors to maximize the cool. We exchange freezer packs from the fridge’s freezer daily. This keeps the Yeti cool enough for vegetables and eggs that have been washed.

Room temperature storage: the Northstar has cabinets for food storage. We keep rice, coffee, flour, mate and arepa flour in the deep cabinet. We haven’t needed to buy and store canned goods but as we go south, we may run lower on fresh fruits and veggie. Pots and pans, Vitamix and Instapot, oils and vinegar go under the sink. Lots of bottled spices in a slide out tray in another cabinet. In cooler temperatures we keep our unwashed eggs, fruits and tomatoes in a cardboard box in the camper instead of the Yeti, for convenience.

Cooking Options: we use propane to fuel the two burner stove in the Northstar: hot water, eggs, Arepas, stir fry, warm leftovers. We can also power the Northstar with enough electric from the solar battery to run the Vitamix or Instapot or set either of these appliances outside on the other truck’s tailgate: smoothies, stews, rice, beans etc. Without the solar battery we run the risk of draining the Dodge’s batteries and needing a jump. To cook with fire, we cook on a collapsible grill (parrilla) over wood or carbón or in a cast iron pan over our tiny Solo stove instead of the propane stove any chance we get. When BBQing we use embers from a mature fire in the Solo stove poured into a fire pit to light charcoal briquettes. Most established campgrounds provide grills, but we have been using wild campsites so we bought a foldable parrilla from a Ferriteria near San Martin de Los Andes, Argentina.

Fuels used: propane, solar electric, wood, and carbon. We use propane for cooking and heating. We have two US bought 7.9 kg propane tanks which can be filled at sites we identify through ioverlander app. In Argentina, Buenos Aires Provincia is the only place we have had trouble filling our US bought propane tanks because of not having a tank certification, all fill stations have had adapters to our tank fittings.

Solar electric is used to cook with appliances, charge devices while in camp, and run the digital thermometer and fan of the propane heater in the Chevy Colorado. Wood is used for camp cooking and caveman TV. Carbon for BBQing longer cook meats and veggies.

Old container from the US that now has original Avena (oatmeal cut for quick cooking). Mike’s oats are topped with bananas and dulce de leche.
Fridge power usage settings can be switched from inside the camper.
When the Northstar is plugged into power, we can run appliances.
Two burner stove in the Northstar, propane.
Fridge with tiny freezer at the top which we fill with freezer packs. We also fill water bottles and store them in the fridge to stabilize the temperature when fridge isn’t full.

Graffiti Art, San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, Butte Family Abroad

“the fire that we have built”. Graffiti at the site of an abandoned hostel in the San Carlos de Bariloche area of Siete Lagos, Argentina
We wandered around the site taking photos and wondered about the history of the place. The tile, room layout and fireplaces are remnants of a beautiful and loved building.
Some artists spent hours painting, others come and tag.
So that we do not know of we know each other
And a Border Collie