On the Carretera Austral
This page chronicles a cycling journey in 2006 north from Bariloche, AR to Villarica and then down the Carretera Austral in Chile via Chile Chico to Perito Moreno. The first part is a narrative and some thoughts. Below that are the cycling reports with just the facts and some pictures.
Bariloche, El Bolson, and San Martin de los Andes are towns that are made for tourists. Surrounded by beautiful mountains on the Argentinian side of the Andes, they are filled with boutique hotels that cater to the more well-off citizenry, and they’re surrounded by little shops and markets with local handicrafts. In the local area you can go mountainbiking or walk some trails in the hills. They’re nice enough towns, but they’re not for me – at least not now. I’m in the mood to ride and ride some more, so from Bariloche I head up along the Seven Lakes scenic road toward the Tromen Pass that my guidebook says is not suitable for bicycles but its the most direct route to Villarica and it passes right next to the Lanin Volcano. I ask people along the way and they seem to indicate that its not a problem with a bike. We’ll see.
After a couple of days riding, I’m on the seven lakes road which is nice enough in the early morning, but as the day goes on the heat dries the dampness while the traffic increases. Soon its not much more than breathing in a lot of dust from the cars and buses touring along, so I camp early for the day. The lakes are beautiful with the backdrop of the snow capped Andes mountains. After a small town called Hunin de los Andes, I meet a couple from New Zealand and cycle with them for a couple of days until I reach the border. Dan and Alex are a lot of fun and we chat and chat and chat some more as well as take a nice easy pace along the road. We part company just before the border and I continue onto the ripio road into Chile. I’m just one more day away from climbing the smoking volcano called Villarica.
Its a little confusing as to whether wild camping is permitted in the park or only in designated areas, so I opt for the safe choice and find a designated camping place. I’m the only camper and they can’t seem to get the hot water going for a shower, so I shower in the house/restaurant. Its a nice riverside place and apart from having to chase the sheep away from my camp, I enjoy an evening by the fire.
The next day I carry on to the very touristic town of Villarica and sleep somewhat well despite the noises of some very large pigs in a yard adjacent to the very central camping site. I’d asked the campsite owner what was next door, but I think he just told me it was a property – not a pig pen! Oh well – it comes with the territory.
After climbing Villarica and taking a couple of days off by the lake, I head down the Pan Americana highway to make up some time. Its a big wide fast boring highway with wide shoulders and it takes me to Puerto Montt, the official start of the Carretera Austral
The Southern Highway is a legendary or mecca road for cyclists in the world. Its renowned for its breathtaking beauty and relative inaccessibility. Cyclists have been here first. Soon the world will come. The signs in certain sections say the pavement will be complete by 2001, 2003, and 2005. Its 2006. Its nowhere near complete. Hardcore cyclists can skip to the bottom for the road reports.
The “Southern Highway” begins in Puerto Montt, a little cruise ship stop and the transfer point for traffic on the Pan Americana highway heading towards the island of Chiloe. I’ve ridden the PanAmericana for a couple of days as a means to an end. Its a boring fast road, but it gets me to Puerto Montt quickly. And after Puerto Montt I start to get to know Chile a little bit better. This is about the Carretera Austral, but its also about the people from Chile as well who are strangely absent from my photos unlike many other countries I’ve travelled in. Anyway – about Chile:
The world knows that Chile has elected Michelle Bachalet as their first woman president and they know that there were some pretty horrendous things that took place under Pinochet until as recently as 1990, but when travelling in the country and picking up provisions on a regular basis and when talking with people on the street you find out a few things about this country you may not know. When I bike, I’m constantly talking with people. Its one of the things about a bike. You’re different. You’re not just walking, but you’re moving slow enough to stop and your windows are rolled down ALL the time. So I stop. A lot. And talk. And talk some more. And listen. And listen some more. On the street. On the boats. In the restaurants. In the shops and in the campsites when I’m not mad at them for talking until two or three in the morning which people from Santiago on Vacation seem to think is quite normal. They do that a lot. I had to mention it somewhere. And yes I know the grammar in this section is atrocious and there’s some rough language that might set your net nanny off. Oh well. As my friend Barb might say, “Can you please just deal with it?”
It’s vacation season here in Chile and of the 18 million people in the country, the 5 million from Santiago are all out exploring their country. There are a lot of businessmen with their families in tow, students hanging out with their friends, and people just out for an adventure in their own country. If you were out riding a bike through this country, you might bump into the logger I met hauling trees with his oxen in a way that has been done for decades and you might find out that he’s a Mapuche indigenous person who is just now receiving electricity in his region of this so called modern country. You might meet some engineering students who’ve learned their english from the internet and bands like Nirvana, so they know phrases like “I wanna” “just do it”. You will meet people who when they think about Canada cross their arms and shiver saying “Oh Canada!” “Mucho Frio!”(Very cold). With the animated movements its quite funny to see over and over again.
You might meet people who think that all the people in Thailand eat maggots and bugs. You could also meet some that think that Pinochet saved the country from the communists or that Argentines are more arrogant than them, and you might meet some people who are quite friendly in certain situations. You might be stopped at the side of the road and have someone bring you a cup of cola as has happened to me and a few other cyclists I’ve met. That’s kind of a nice thing to have happen. They sometimes don’t even say hello, just send the kid over with a cup of cola.
Amidst all this incredibly beautiful scenery at first I didn’t think Chileans were very friendly. I thought they drove badly and were rude. They’re not easy people to meet. They’re not “warm” and fuzzy – not willing usually to take the first step to say hello a lot of the time. Many – even in the countryside (which worldwide is a more friendly place) – ignore you or go about their business with a somewhat hostile glance in your direction. But the hostility is a bit of a front – an etch-a-sketch that once given a shake evaporates. It takes a good shake sometimes mind you. Its not always easy to erase that face.
Lots of people come up and talk to me too. They talk to me as if they know me – you see they’ve passed me in their car and tooted their horn and waved and I waved back – so now – we’re friends.
“I saw you in Chaiten! Remember? Good to see you. How are you? and where are you from?”
Its confusing sometimes. Sometimes I think I’m losing it and can’t remember anyone. But you get used to it.
When you do talk with Chileans, you find out more things that you wouldn’t necessarily know. When you walk into the shops and general stores where you have to ask for almost everything as its behind the counter like in the 1800’s of American movies, you might strike up a conversation and discover that the candidate opposing the socialist president elect was worth two billion dollars and owned not only the national airline and half of the large resort island of Chiloe, but owned a lot more than that too including a few newspapers.
An ex airforce pilot explained to me that much to his chagrin, everytime there was a problem with the military it was page one news. The problem on the day I spoke with him was that there were three deaths of a diving unit in Antartica and there was a suspicion that it was murder from within the ranks.
Chileans are curious to know “How you heard about Chile”, almost as if they weren´t the longest country in the world and an economic engine of South America, but a tiny obscure place on the edges of the earth. They have a strong dislike of the Argentinians amd a certain smugness that the tables have turned with the devaluation of the Argentine Peso a few years ago. Now the Chileans are the rich ones with the big incomes, new SUV’s and higher prices.
Chileans do ride their bicycles and are tourists mostly in their own country. Even though a large elite group of them have money, its still expensive to go anywhere by air so they will take the odd trip to Disneyland in Florida or dash across the border with Argentina, but they don’t seem to be going many other places. They might visit relatives in America and in a way they live a very American style of life. I think the hot dog is a national dis here as its available everywhere – in fact sometimes its the only thing available.
But don’t get me wrong – the Chileans aren’t American – at least not North American – they’re Latin. They live life a bit late. Noone seems to be up before nine a.m. Sure, that’s when businesses are supposed to open in many cases – they just don’t – they open more or less around nine – or ten. They close at 12 or 1 and open again sometime between 3:30 and 5 p.m. closing for the night at 7 or 10 – more or less. Restaurants wouldn’t dream of serving you dinner before 8:30 or 9, in fact a lot of kitchens won’t even open until 9 p.m. My brother and his wife would like that – or at least they would have before they had a baby. Forget about anything being done on time. It will be done “mass o menus” (more or less) at the time its said to be done. That could be within a couple of hours or it could be right on time. You never know. So right now for instance, I’m going to ride my bike down to the Guarapargue office and see if the freshly baked bread they said would be ready in an hour and a half is ready. And you know I don’t really care if its ready yet or not. Its fresh baked bread from the park office. Where else do you get that? I’ll wait if need be because I’m a bit of a slut for fresh baked bread among other things.
For some things I’m really easy – so easy that’s its no longer a joke. I can be seduced so easily by a turquoise river set against a backdrop of snowcapped mountains with glaciers hanging high up on their sides. A babbling brook will be going on about who-knows-what or a shimmering stream that burbles along in the heat of the day will invite me to come in and play and I’m naked(or almost) without a moment’s hesitation. A crystal clear lake with a surface as smooth as glass says break me gently and I might – or I might just dive in if its hot enough – well most often I will.
And then there’s the sound of the ocean stopping me in my tracks changing whatever plans there were. Suddenly its all about the water Now there’s nothing else – just me and the sea. Being a loose tramp means my schedule has gone all to hell. Its happened again and again. Here on the Carretera Austral, rivers, streams, oceans, lakes and mountains are non-stop in abundance.
“Its only a thousand more kilometers” goes the argument in my head. And its true. Its only a thousand more kilometers. Problem is there is a plane to catch eventually and dread it as I might – the final final end of this journey is coming soon. So I’m savouring every minute, drinking in every sunset and latching onto each new vista like someone who falls in lust in a second. Another problem is that its so f**king amazingly beautiful here on the Carretera Austral that you HAVE to just stop and breathe it all in.
At first my route is lined with tiger lillies and fuschias. Then they are joined by an endless parade of gunnera with leaves bigger than two meters in diameter and in the distance ancient Alerce trees 400 years old. After awhile the gunnera become more rare replaced by spanish broom, blue cornflowers, clover, daisies and the last of lupines going to seed. Eventually it will become forest and high alpine, then regress a bit, and finally evolve to the dry prickly grasslands with giant canyon-like rock formations jutting up on the edges of the Patagonian steppe.
Then there’s the road. Its a bit slippery slidey sometimes and that causes other problems. on a 24% grade I’m going to be pushing. On the downhill, I’m braking becauwe I’m also slipping and sliding oin the sandy and rocky surface. I’m hoping I don’t get a pinch flat where the air goes out of the tires in two seconds flat because I’m bounced a little too hard in a pothole or section of washboard. I’m not intersted in roadrash – not at all. I’m interested in the journey and where it takes me next.
On the road one morning, I reminisce about Tibet. Its because the road is bump, bump, bump and slow slow slow. There’s a difference though. I know there’s some pavement coming up, so there’s mantra runing through my head: “the ripio will end. The ripio will end.”
After an hour and with no fanfare – no warning at all – it’s over. Days of grinding through the sand and rock – eating the dust of trucks that don’t slow down – its all finished. At least for now. It’s 7:30 in the morning but I feel like Champagne. Instead I make a cup of coffe and have a smoke sine my campsite the previous evening was swarming with mosquitoes making that simple pleasure impossible to enjoy.
The mosquitoes as of late have only added to the mounting toll of casulaties in the world of things with wings and antennae. I’m responsible. For weeks, I’ve been swatting at flies and other bugs that have been quite frankly driving me crazy at times. You might think I’m exagerrating if I said I’ve accomplished at least two thousand kills. You might be right, but that’s how I feel. One day I counted 28 in just over an hour. I’ve become so used to slapping myself that I think I’m starting to enjoy it. Its like an indian tabla massage that I think I could do even without the bugs around.
At times I’ve felt like a cartoon. Here I am riding along and they begin to circle me – the sound of the buzzing coming and going like a jet from one side and from the front to the back of me. They’re circling and looking for a place to attack. Sometimes I see their shadows on the road and I lie in wait. Soon they’re on my head and I’m smacking at them. Sometime I capture and torture them by plucking off a wing and flinging them to the ground. I’m not mad – I’m just getting even. I know its cruel, but I feel tortured by the endless onslaught of these species. Its endless sometimes. All of this is usually going on while I cycle onwards although there are times when I just stop and kill them. There’s no other way. They do not go away.
This now paved road of death leads to Cohaique and the people at Figon Bicycle shop work some miracles with my crank – something which has been plaguing me since crossing into Chile. It seems to finally be fixed and I head to the most scenic of the entire Carretera Austral – the south!
“Hola!” I wave back.
The horse rears and does a bit of a dance as the two dogs scuttle forward and circle my bicycle. Here in the south, the traditional rural Chile lives on. Each day I pass a few men on horseback dressed in a warm blue jacket and beret. They are almost always accompanied by two or three dogs eager to corral and heard. Once every few days there will be a group of them herding some animals from one place to another, but most times they are alone with their dogs going down the road perhaps to share some mate with a friend or simply check up on how things are in their world.
This part of Chile is also incredibly quiet when the winds ends for the day. I sit on a hillside and half a kilometer away, the tinkling of a bell on a horse sounds like it is behind me. Its so quiet I feel I would wake everyone up for miles around if I so much as sneeze. For a land so full of constant noise from the wind, this calm silence is almost unnatural. I’ve passed the extremely gothic Cerro Castillo, slept by smooth warm lakes where I could hear a waterfall on the other side, washed in freezing glacial rivers, but here its so calm that I’m in awe again. It really is quiet – a quiet that is still so rare in this world. There’s no talking with Chileans here – just a wave to the Gaucho who rides by and checks to see who’s up on the hill cooking dinner.
The southern shore of Lago General Carrera is awesome – a cliffhanging road that is sometimes gruelling, but never disappointing in its viewpoints. It eventually leads to the border and I’m thankfull to be back in Argentina with its immediately warm and friendly people, tasty fracturas(croissants or danish style breakfast pastries), and cheaper prices. The road is soon to end.
And here then are the Cycling Reports;
Overall I would have to say that the wind was not my friend – not a great enemy, but no great tailwinds. Apparently if the wind is from the north it means rain, so you can have good weather, but not the winds on your back. And then when I did go east it was a strange couple of days with the wind blowing strongly from the east.
Sun. Jan. 22 – High 28 Low 13 Sunny, Winds NNW
From: Bariloche to camping 45km into park
Total kms: 69
Avg. 14.8 Max 41.8
Ridetime: 4 h 37 m
Climbing 635 m
Sleeping at: Pay campsite (9 pesos plus 2 for shower) Small shop. Tentsite on beach.
Comments: Good map from tourist office in Bariloche. Nice scenic ride on paved road with expected headwinds. Gentle up and down road busy with traffic. Lots of cyclists coming south.
North of Bariloche
Mon. Jan. 23 High 28 Low 14 Pt. Cloudy Winds W
From: 16 kms SW of Angostura to Lago Espejo Chico(little mirror)
Total kms: 45
Avg. 13.4 Max 43.1
Ridetime: 3 h 17 m
Climbing: 671 m
Sleeping at Campsite (5 pesos plus 3 for shower) horrid washrooms
Comments: Paved road to and just beyond Angostura, then dusty, sandy ripio with lots of traffic and steep hills. Cut the ride short to make an early start before traffic the next day. Tighetened some bolts. Internet to Shaw not working well.
Tues. Jan. 24 High 28 Low 9 Sunny
From: Lago Espejo Chico to Lago Falkner
Total kms: 43
Avg. 12.1 Max 46.5
Ridetime: 3 h 31 m
Climbing: 715 m
Sleeping at: Libre Camping on shore of L. Falkner
Comments: Mostly climbing(500m) on ripio for first 20 kms, then downhill for next 8 k to near Pichi Traful. Hotel is evangelical christian. Cup of coffeee was exhausting with all the preaching various individuals kept coming up to me to do and managed to get away without the several copies of the new testament being thrust into my hand. Not much traffic before 10 a.m., then busy and dusty. Made a short day and after a dip in the lake, just relaxed in the sun.
Wed. Jan. 25 High 28 Low 2 Patches of low cloud in the morning, then sunny
From: Lago Falkner to Hunin de los Andes
Total kms: 99
Avg. 16.3 Max 47.6
Ridetime: 6 h 3 m
Climbing: 921 m
Sleeping at Municipal Camping 7 pesos
Comments: Climb out of Falkner on pavement. Up and down easy riding with little traffic early. Mirador de Pil Pil is 1240 m and then a beautiful nonstop downhill to San Martin de los Andes. Spent too much time there. Boneheads at the tourist office – good info at the National Park office. 3 campsites at Hunin (1 just before town), 2 are on a little island in the middle of the river.
With Dan and Alex from New Zealand at the gate to Parque Lanin
Thurs. Jan. 26 High 38 Low 14 Sunny Light Winds W
From: Hunin de los Andes to 25 from Border
Total kms: 51
Avg. 13.4 Max 48.9
Ridetime: 3 h 48 m
Climbing: 402 m
Sleeping at: Creekside 1. 5km after turnoff to Maipul
Comments: Very doddling day of riding with Dan and Alex from New Zealand. Stopped at Rodeo Exhibition. Some gentle climbing nothing tough on pavement. Very cool riding through Monkey Tree Forest
Fri. Jan. 27 High 39 Low 14 Sunny
From: 25 from Border to Puesco
Total kms: 52
Avg. 11.7 Max 40.5
Ridetime: 4 h 26 m
Climbing: 526 m
Sleeping at: authorized Campsite 1500 pesos ($5)
Comments: Ripio all day – sidetrip to Lago Tromen. Cruisey day with Dan and Alex. Argentine side soon to be completely paved. On Chilean side – bumpy bumpy ripio with steep windy downhill for at least 8 km after border. WOULD NOT Want to come the other way on this route.
Volcan Lanin at Dawn
Sat. Jan. 28 High 35 Low 14 Sunny
From: Puesco to Pucon
Total kms: 64
Avg. 16.3 Max 36.9
Ridetime: 3 h 53 m
Climbing: 330 m
Sleeping at: Sitios de Camping 1500/night
Comments: Ripio ride mostlt flat with some gentle up and down first 18 km then pavement the rest of the way with some headwinds. Some nice spots for photos. Booked climb and snowboard trip with Anden Sport. Dreamworld/Dreamscape Music Fest on, but have already paid camping.
Sun. Jan. 29 Climbing Villarica Volcano
Villarica Volcano and its smoking open crater
Mon. Jan. 30 High 38 Low 13
From: Pucon to Villarica
Total kms: 33
Avg. 13.9 Max
Ridetime: 2 h 22 m
Climbing: 254 m
Sleeping at: Last Camping of three on lakeside in town
Comments: Easy Cruisey Day along the lake. Have a touch of a cold.
Tues. Jan. 31 Day off in Villarica
Wed. Feb. 1 High 39 Low 18 Sunny
From: Villarica to Rio Bianaco(sp?)
Total kms: 84
Avg. 17.1 Max 48.5
Ridetime: 4 h 52 m
Climbing: 407 m
Sleeping at: Riverside rough camp
Comments: Late start. All pavement. Easy riding into the wind. Number 5 panamericana busy and boring riding, but wide shoulder.
Thurs. Feb. 2 High 28 Low 14 Cloudy then sunny
From: Rio Bianaco to Orsorno Norte
Total kms: 134
Avg. 16.6 Max 37.8
Ridetime: 7 h 58 m
Climbing: 766 m
Sleeping at: Hospedaje Pilauco (8000 pesos)
Comments: Headwinds moderately strong all day. Pavement on busy highway 5. glimpses of Peuyehue volcano late in day. Crank needs looking at.
Fri. Feb. 3 High 35 Low 14 Sunny
From: Osorno to Puerto Varas
Total kms: 101
Avg. 17.5 Max 45.3
Ridetime: 5 h 45 m
Climbing: 518 m
Sleeping at: Hospedaje Sanata Rosda (double 13000)
Comments: 2:30 p.m. start – crank fine for first 25 k then back to the problem. Not much wind. Views of Peuyehue volcano all the way. iPod for the last hour to meet up with Allyson from England. . Varas tourist town, but a great bar is the Garage.
A Dolphin near Caleta Gonzalo
Sat. Feb. 4 High 26 Low 12 Light Rain
From: Puerto Varas to Lenca
Total kms: 53
Avg. 16.3 Max 51.7
Ridetime: 3 h 14 m
Climbing: 424 m
Sleeping at: Las Pampitas Camping km 25.7 on Ruta 7 5000 pesos
Comments: Pavement with Tailwind. Raining on and off. Nice ride. Some some dolphins near Puerto Montt
Highway 7 in Pumalin Park
Sun. Feb. 5 High 24 Low 14 Some rain, Cloudy
From: Las Pampitas Camping, Lenca to Rio Negro/Hornopiren
Total kms: 76
Avg. 12.1 Max 42.3
Ridetime: 6 h 12 m
Climbing: 1051 m
Sleeping at: Camping at Rio Negro 3000 pesos
Comments: First Packdown of the tent in the rain at Las Pampitas. Met one Canadfian and seven Chilean cyclists on the ripio road. Hilly and sandy gravel, but not much traffic. Nice ocean views and many river crossings with bridges. Almost camped wild – but someone shat in the spot very near the river. Helped a guy fix his bike chain. Boat stopped at sea lion colony. Batt to Caleta Gonzolo is at 3 p.m. tomorrow.
A lumberjack on the highway just inside the border of Chile
Mon. Feb. 6 High 21 Low 14 Partly Sunny
From: Hornopiren to Caleta Gonzolo Boat only
Tues. Feb. 7 High 21 Low 14 Partly Sunny
From: Caleta Gonzolo to Camping Volcan in Parque Pumalin
Total kms: 35
Avg. 11.1 Max 39.1
Ridetime: 3 h 3 m
Climbing: 630 m
Sleeping at: Camping Volcan 1500 pesos
Comments: Climbing ou of Caleta Gonzolofor first 10 k then some downhill to Lago Begro, climb and down again to Lago Blanco, then up and down again to Camping Volcan. Good unpaved(ripio) road. Late start, easy riding day – nice scenery. Camping spot with views of glaciers, Volcan Michimahuida plus Mozzies at dusk – lots of them!!!
Wed. Feb. 8 High 24 Low 4 Sunny
From: Camping Volcan to Thermas El Amarillo
Total kms: 65
Avg. 14 Max 41.2
Ridetime: 4 h 39 m
Climbing: 719 m
Sleeping at: Thermas El Amarillo Camping 5000 pesos
Comments: Saw some dolphins again today near Los Arrayones Camping 5 km north of Chaiten and lots of Eagles. Talked with Pablo and Castillo from Chile – didn’t see Chris from Calgary today. Up and down on Ripio first 35 km, then next 25 on mostly ashphalt. Climbing again on ripio to Thermas. Shitty camping in El Amarillo – better at Thermas.
Gunnera leaves are huge!
Thurs. Feb. 9 High 35 Low 12 Sunny
From: Thermas Amarillo to Rio Yelcho
Total kms: 26
Avg. 14.8 Max 40.2
Ridetime: 1 h 44 m
Climbing: 167 m
Sleeping at: Rio Yelcho Camping 1500 pesos
Comments: Mostly downhill and flat on sandy gravel road – slippery at times. Beautiful mountain scenery. Thermas(hot springs) this mmorning were wonderful, but still didn’t pay due to one price for all camping of 5000. Camping at Rio Yelcho all right, but should have carried on.
Fri. Feb. 10 High 35 Low 10 Sunny
From: Rio Yelcho to Ventisquero Yelcho Camping
Total kms: 15
Avg. 12.5 Max 34.6
Ridetime: 1 h 12 m
Climbing: 187 m
Sleeping at: Ventisquero Yelcho Camping
Comments: Hiked up and down to the glacier – pretty but no crashing – maybe too early in the day. Good cafe sandwiches from crazt Hector and Allyson. Didn’t feel like a 15 km climb in 35 degree heat so stayed the night at 2000 pesos.
Muerto Burque or the Dead Forest
Sat. Feb. 11 High 35 Low 15 Sunny
From: Ventisquero Yelcho to Rio Aura rough camp
Total kms: 67
Avg. 12.5 Max 47.4
Ridetime: 5 h 17 m
Climbing: 1059 m
Sleeping at: Rio Aura rough camp
Comments: Climbing 460 m over 9 km heading south from Ventisquero Yelcho, then descending 350 m over 6 km, but don’t let go of the brakes. Lots of sandy spots and big potholes along with gravel beds that span the road. After village junction with shops, road is up and down with some short steep hills. Great scenery. Lots oif places to rough camp. All ripio. Broka and replaced fastener for front rack.
View from my tent at Quelat National Park rough camp
Sun. Feb. 12 High 39 Low 14 Sunny
From: Rio Aura to Quelat National Park
Total kms: 60
Avg. 12.5 Max 43.5
Ridetime: 4 h 45 m
Climbing: 814 m
Sleeping at: Lago Rosparon rough camp
Comments: Great camping site at km 230!!!! Easy day on ripio – some washboard. Met Brady and Jill from California cycling with trailer and another from Germany. Shopped in La Junta for supplies.
Justin, on the road for three years packs up again
Mon. Feb. 13 High 38 Low 18 Sunny
From: Lago Rosparon rough camp to Pass
Total kms: 63
Avg. 12.5 Max 40.6
Ridetime: 5 h 2 m
Climbing: 1099 m
Sleeping at: Rough Camp opposite very high cascading waterfalls almost right at th top of the pass
Comments: 500m climb starts about 30 kms from Puyuhuapi and goes steadily up for about 10 km on good ripio. Pretty good day cycling with Justin from Eangland (on the road for 3.5 years) One pinch flat.
A nice flat section of ripio alongside the ocean near Puyuhuapi
Tues. Feb. 14 High 39 Low 16
From: Pass to Riverside Rough camp km 110
Total kms: 69
Avg. 12.5 Max 40.6
Ridetime: 5 h 29 m
Climbing: 872 m
Sleeping at: Rough Camping riverside at km 110
Comments: 400 m descent over 8 km from pass then gradual climb of 400 m over 30 k to just past Villa Angostura. After that flattens out “more or less” for next 20 k then begins descent. All on “pretty rough” ripio. Some excellent views. Camping and great home made bread is available about 30 k after pass or 8 k o Villa. Supplies from two shops in Villa. Let Justin go on ahead.
A typical general store in Chile
Wed. Feb. 15 High 24 Low 15 Some Rain and Wind
From: Riverside Rough Camp to Cohaique
Total kms: 128
Avg. 15.6 Max 56.5
Ridetime: 8 h 12 m (includes shopping)
Climbing: 1306 m
Sleeping at: Alborado Camping 2 kms before town of Cohaique 2000 p.p.
Comments: First 8 km on ripio(rough), then 22 km to Manihuales on pavement . After Manihuales – ALL Pavement! A slight descent, but more or less even to junction for Puerto Aisen/Cohaique. Gradual ascent for next 28 km, then climbing 350m over 5 km after tunnel before final descent(sort of) to Cohaique. Weather of the day was a complete mixed bag. nothing in the early morning, then tailwinds, then headwinds for 40 k with sunshowers and rainbows, then heavy rain at the junction follwed by steady rain and tailwinds to Cohaique.
Thurs. Feb. 16 Day off for repairs in Cohaique
Fri. Feb. 17 High 21 Low 9 Mostly Cloudy then rain
From: Cohaique to Reserva National Cerro Castillo Camping (4500)
Total kms: 65 Avg. 13.4 Max 59.6
Ridetime: 4 h 48 m
Climbing: 1386 m
Sleeping at: Reserva National Cerro Castillo Camping (4500)
Comments: Climbing out of Cohaique on pavement (all day) to Rio Blanco 648 m over 35 k, then 100 m descent before climbing out of Rio Blanco. Undulating to turn off for Blameceda – then big drop in traffic and begin climbing 400 m to campsite. Had a late start and by the time I was appraoching camping a full on storm with winds coming from every direction accompanied by heavy rain and some hail made for a bit of a damper- but there was lotsa of wood at the campsite, so I made a huge fire and all was good.
Paved section just north of Cerro Castillo
Sat. Feb. 18 High 21 Low 14 Sunny
From: Reserva Cero Castillo to El Manso
Total kms: 60 (first 38 paved)
Avg. 12.1 Max 44.6
Ridetime: 4 h 58 m
Climbing: 756 m
Sleeping at: El Manso Picnic Area rough camp 22 k from Villa Cerro Castillo
Comments: Descent pedalling into strong headwinds for 8 k then climbing to 1050m (sign said 1120) for next 12 k
Rough Camping possible at km 69 and near top of the pass. Descent to Villa Cerro Castilo into wind. The moderately rough ripio climbing 250 m over 10 k before more or less descent to El Manso River. There was a paid site 13k after Villa C.C. called Camping Fogon. The mountain Cerro Castillo is truly Gothic!!! Nice ride even with the winds. Lago Verde pretty. Rear bolt for rack stripped – now riding without back brake…again.
Sun. Feb. 19 High 23 Low 12 Overcast with drizzle a.m. sunny p.m
From: El Manso to Rough Camp near turn to Puerto Murto (Riverside!)
Total kms: 82
Avg. 12.5 Max 38.3
Ridetime: 6 h 32 m
Climbing: 787 m
Sleeping at:Rough Camp 1 km past turn to Puerto Muerta
Comments: First 20 k flat through valley, then climbing over 3 k, then flat for 10 k, then climbing for 5 k to signpost saying 600m. For some reason, climb some more before descending for 7 k to bridge. Afte3rwards – undulating on good ripio to Puerto Muerta. Should have been a faster day for me but the back tire shredded/blew apart in three places and IÂ´m surviving on electrical tape for now. Nice sunset. Great scenery today. Good possible rough camp riverside at km 170 – but mozzies about
Gaucho on the road
Mon. Feb. 20 High 22 Low 9 Partly Sunny
From: Rio Muerta Rough Camp to Rio Trapial Rough Camp
Total kms: 39
Avg. 9.3 Max30.2
Ridetime: 4 h 11 m
Climbing: 699 m
Sleeping at: Rio Trapial Rough Camp 14 k after Rio Tranquilo
Comments:Tough Start today with all the washboard and blown out tire. “MIRACLE in Rio Tranquilo!” An expat Mexican cyclist just finishing his summer vacation sold me his spare for $10, so I was back on the road again with Chris Ferguson from Calgary. NEVER Again Disc Brakes! They are the source of all of the problems! Excellent wild campsite 1 km west/north of Rio Tranquilo. Its a nice sheltered quiet flat are where the ferry used to come in a long long time ago.
Chris Ferguson from Calgary takes a picture near Lago General Carrera
Tues. Feb. 21 High 18 Low 9 Cloudy
From: Rough Camp at Rio Trapial to Rough Camp Rio El Maiten
Total kms: 76
Avg. 11.1 Max 42.1
Ridetime: 6 h 48 m
Climbing: 1229 m
Sleeping at: El Maiten Rough Camp 25 km E of Puerto Guadal or 5K W of Mallin Grande. Can take track down either side of the river for excellent campsites.
Comments: Cycled with Chris for first part of the day to Cruce El Maiten. Lots of Washboard and headwinds for me after the turn. Met a young american Daniel cycling with his Chilean girlfriend Isabelle. Lots of Headwinds but great scenery.
Wed. Feb. 22 High 21 Low 12 Cloudy
From: Rio El Maiten to 2k past turn to Rio Fachinal
Total kms: 52 including 8 k detour to nowehereÂ´sÂ´ville Rio Fachinal
Avg. 9.3 Max 41
Ridetime: 5 h 30 m
Climbing: 1070 m
Sleeping at: Roadside Camp – quiet with great views 2 k past turnoff to Rio Fachinal
Comments: Steep. Hilly. Strong Cold Winds. Washboard. SPECTACULAR!!!!!, even with the clouds hiding some of the snow capped peaks. There is a supermarket in Mallin Grande and a shop but there is Nothing, Nada, Ninguna, f$$$-all in Rio Fachinal – no Zona de Camping, no tienda, no town. Its simplay a place to grab some water from the river (which isn’t even called Rio Fachinal). There are a couple of streams past this point and then a river 30 k down the road, so its not the absolute last water before Chile Chico as I had been advised. See the next days notes for more info on the road.
A cut in the road
Thurs. Feb. 23 High 25 Low 12 Ptly. Sunny
From: Near Rio Fachinal to Los Antiguos
Total kms: 63
Avg. 11.8 Max 43.4
Ridetime: 5 h 21 m
Climbing: 912 m
Sleeping at: Los Antigos Municipal Camping
Comments: Road continues hilly for the first 20 k, then after the mine more or less flattens out (and smoothens out). After the turnoff to Bahia Jara – a nice smooth downhill to the town of Chili Chico. After border crossing is rough ripio, but should change for the next year (really!!!). Nosybody Uruguayan at campsite.
Lago Argentina at Dawn near Los Antigos
Fri. Feb. 24 High 33 Low 14
From: Los Antigos to Perito Moreno
Total kms: 64
Avg. 17.8 Max 49.6
Ridetime: 3 h 34 m (including shopping)
Climbing: 452 m
Sleeping at:Municipal Camping (10.5 for 2 nights)
Comments: Easy 3 hour ride on Pavement. Some tailwinds later. Great to be back in Argentina. Nosybody Uruguayan at my campsite again. Dreary town – dreary campsite. Probably better to stay with the loco Raul. Going on Excursion to Cuevos de las Manos tomorrow.
Scenery near Los Antigos
A sign of the windy times in Patagonia