Facts and Figures
Jan 28th - Feb 2nd 2010
Start Mileage - 24632
Miles - 113
Los Antiguos, (Camping Municipal(Argentina)) - Puerto Tranquilo, (Area de Camping, Pudo(Chile))
Moving out of Argentina today and heading back into Chile via the Chile Chico border crossing to pick up the Carretera Austral, the name given to Chile's Route 7. The highway runs about 1,240 kilometers (770 miles) from Puerto Montt to Villa O'Higgins through rural Patagonia, although we wonít be riding the whole length. Hopefully, we will also leave this bloody wind behind.
A slow start but on the road by 12:30 for the short ride to the border post to exit Argentina. The wind is not letting us go just yet and is whipping at us all the way round to the Chile entry where it starts blowing proper again. Iíve probably mentioned it before, but, as much as we have liked Patagonia we cannot wait to be shot of this F****** wind.
The S.A.G. (Servicio Agricola Ganadero, agricultural and livestock agency), were a pain in the arse. Obviously bored, they made us strip down the panniers to search for any meat or fruit, not a major problem but we could have done without it.
Back on the gravel, this time really good gravel, wide and smooth for the most part and a really nice ride, with very little wind, niiiiice! The road was that good that we could get a decent lick of speed going, when we passed a load of bikes coming the opposite way Lorraine wasn't quick enough with the camera!! Enjoying the ride and the scenery we got taken by surprise once again. Rounding an uphill left hander we got hit by a massive gust of wind which took the bike across the road and into a pile of loose stuff. Just managing to keep the bike upright, Lorraine slid off and we struggled to wheel the bike back down the hill around the bend and into some shelter to wait for the wind to die down again. Not long and we are on our way again with no further incidents. A very picturesque ride alongside the lake and through the Andes with lots photo stops along the way left us riding quite late in the afternoon and now we are seeing rain clouds ahead.
Stopping at a restaurant near El Maiten for a coffee we checked if there was any camping nearby, we were told of a house that would allow us to camp on their grounds, but when we headed off again we couldn't find it so carried on towards Puerto Tranquilo. The rain started coming down heavier and we were getting drenched with no sign of any campsites along the way. Just short of Tranquilo (the rain has stopped now we are drenched), we found a nice site for a reasonable price just off the road and right on the lake front. The entrance was down a narrow and steep dirt track so Lorraine wandered off to check the access out before I took the bike down, turned out not to bad, a bit muddy but do-able. Then, as soon as we started to put up the tent the rain started again, and carried on through the night. Not going out in this to hunt down food so packet soup and rice will do!
Start Mileage - 24745
Miles - 140
Puerto Tranquilo, (Area de Camping Pudo) - Coyhaique (Hospedaje Normi)
Day 1 on the Carretera Austral proper.
Again, another slow start waiting for the rain to die off and the tent to dry out. After coffeeís and a hot shower we get going around 12:00 and had another great ride with magnificent roads and scenery. A little bit of a wobble riding through some roadworks but no other incidents. A couple of hours into the ride we stopped at Cerro Castillo for a coffee, pulling off the road into a cafť we ordered our coffeeís only to be told there was no hot water so no coffee. Helmets back on and a quick glance up the road to see if we could spot another cafť (itís only a small village), nothing in sight so we decide to carry on. Pulling out back onto the main road I notice that the two busses we saw as we came into town werenít parked up but were a roadside cafť so off we trot to try again for coffee. No luck here either but we now know why, the whole village has no water, bummer no coffee but we stop for lunch anyway.
Lunch consumed and a quick check of the map says another 100KMís to Coyhaique, our planned stop, 50KMís of ripio and the rest tarmac. The main road through Cerro Castillo was paved as they are in a lot of the villages but it usually runs out at the edge of town, this time tho it seems to be going on for quite a distance after leaving town, not that Iím complaining, nice new pavement with some good twisties to enjoy. We rode all the way to Coyhaique on pavement.
As we climbed up through the mountains the temperature started to drop rapidly, then 30KMís from Coyhaique it started pissing down again. Riding through the clouds, soaked and freezing cold, we decided we weren't going to camp and started looking for a cheap hostel in town with no luck! As we were looking for the tourist info we checked out one more hostel that we saw which also had camping. Definitely not camping but the room price is way to expensive, but as we turn to leave the lady of the house drops her price from her original CLP6000 each to CLP6000 for the two of us, sold!
At least we can dry out the wet gear.
Coyhaique (Hospedaje Normi)
A day wandering around town. A nice little place, but touristy and expensive.
Everything has dried out and the weather looks better, probably move on tomorrow.
Start Mileage - 24885
Miles - 138
Coyhaique (Hospedaje Normi) - Puyuhuapi ( Camping La Sirena)
Day 2 Carretera Austral.
10KMís of pavement before the turn off out of Coyhaique back onto the Carretera and more good ripio all the way to Manihuales where we stopped for lunch at Cafť Lucy, the best Empanadas we have had yet, huge and tasty. After Manihuales we are riding a mix of pavement and ripio until we get to the junction for Puerto Cisnes and Puyuhuapi then it is narrow dirt track through the Queulat Park and over the pass. About 60KMís before we reach the park the weather is on the turn again with some really black looking clouds gathering ahead of us, a wise decision to pull over and don the wet weather gear as it soon started to heave it down. We reached the park in a torrential downpour but a good ride all the same, the dirt track over the pass was taking the water well and wasn't overly slippy or muddy but a few tricky sections, uphill and downhill corners which were a bit rocky and needed full concentration. Not a lot of pictures taken as it was so wet and Lorraine said she was cold and couldn't operate the camera!!!
The rain stopped and we pulled into Puyuhuapi Lodge which is about 14KMís from Puyuhuapi itself for a break and a smoke and to check out camping in the area. One of the staff from the lodge who spoke good English pointed us in the direction of a bus driver who was waiting for day trippers to return and who also happened to run a camp site in Puyuhuapi. Directions in hand we headed off. Lucky we had stopped when we did as Camping La Sirena wouldn't have been the first site we came across and all the others we saw were not a patch on it. We pulled in and were greeted by the family and put in front of a warm fire to thaw out a bit. The site is one of the best we have stayed at, tents are put up inside wooden barns or individual shelters for smaller tents, all with their own fires and with free wood. While we are putting the tent up, the Senora brings us a kettle of boiling water and she lights the fire for us, then feeds us with fruit from her garden. Tent up, coffee on the go and everything hanging up to dry out then a walk into town for food and alcohol.
The rain didn't let up again through the night, not that we were bothered, the tent stayed dry in itís garage!
Puyuhuapi (Camping La Sirena)
Still raining so we decide to stay another day, not everything is completely dry so the extra day will solve that.
We received some news that we had sort of been expecting but hoping we wouldn't get. The people staying at our house in France had moved out last July and they say that the house is in a state and uninhabitable.
Now we have to make a decision, carry on with the trip and leave the house then try and find time and money to repair it when we return, or, go home and use the rest of the trip money to carry out repairs if needed, sell and then carry on the trip. That, and a few other issues that have come up lately that we cannot sort out on the road mean we will have to arrange to fly home and get this shit sorted out. Itís all been grinding away at us for a couple of months now and taken away some of the enjoyment of the trip, now itís come to a head and Iím a bit pissed off!
Blew off a bit of steam!
Start Mileage - 25023
Miles - 120
Puyuhuapi (Camping La Sirena) - Futaleufu (Camping Espajero)
Day 3 Carratera Austral.
When we get up the fire is already lit so itís nice and warm and there is a pot of boiling water on the stove, I like this place, itís a shame the Senora canít do anything about the weather, itís still raining. Unfortunately we canít stay here forever so have to make a move. Not a lot of pictures again but a nice ride to Futaleufu where we will stay before going back into Argentina. We stopped at a cafť on the side of the road for a warm up and a coffee, all the signs said it was open, it wasn't!! So back into the wet stuff. We reached Futaleufu around 17:00 and found the tourist info where we got a list of hostels and campsites. We chose one at the end of town, it has stopped raining now and the sun is out so we opt for camping, the site has a nice big room to sit in and space to hang all the wet gear up to dry again! We are soaked again, even with the wet weather gear on the rain always finds a way in, still I guess we are drier than we would be if we had just been in the Hein Gericke gear, my hands are black from the dye leeching from my gloves. The owners light a big fire for us and leave us to it. Just as we finish getting ourselves organised and plan to go into town guess what, it starts bloody raining again, soup and pasta it is then.