Friday, 27 January 2012

Carretera Austral #5: La Junta - Puerto Varas

We arrived in Puerto Varas, which is 20 km north of Puerto Montt and the end of our trip. We now have 2 days to try to sell the bikes, eat lots of nice food and enjoy the sunshine before flying home to snow and ice in Tromso. Puerto Varas is a bit of a culture shock after 2 months in Patagonia, it is a real tourist town and much wealthier than anywhere else we have been on this trip. 

Below are some photos and comments from the last leg of the trip.

 The road between La Junta and Chaiten.

 A bike repair shop just when we needed it (well, after ca 100 km), to replace a broken axle.

Chaiten got evacuated in 2008 when the volcano Chaiten (still steaming in the background) suddenly erupted, swamping the town with ash and mudflows. Some services have returned, but most of the town is still abandoned.

 Also part of national park Pumalin got covered in ash, killing some of the forest.

 Enormous Alerce trees in national park Pumalin.

 Our ferry from Caleta Gonzalo never came, a replacement ferry arrived after 8 hours waiting. This meant we arrived in Hornopiren at 3 am. The harbour master let us sleep on the deck outside the harbour office with 3 other stranded cyclists and 2 hikers.

Cochamo valley. We had some days left and cycled around the Reloncavi Fjord via Cochamo and Ensenada to Puerto Varas.


 Along the road to Ensenada we caught our first view of the volcano Osorno. The mountain is very faint because there was a lot of ash in the air that day from the volcano Puyehue further north.

We had cycled 1500 km just when we reached this cafe so we celebrated with real coffee and German apple strudel.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Carretera Austral #4: Coyhaique - La Junta

After a day in Coyhaique the weather improved again and we continued our ride northwards. The first 10 km out of Coyhaique were along a very busy and narrow asphalt road, so we were happy to turn off back on a quieter gravel road towards Villa Ortega. After 53 km along a good gravel road through a beautiful valley we got back on a good and now much quieter asphalt road to Villa Mañihuales and Villa Amengual. Northwest of Villa Amengual we entered the beautiful national park Queulat with glaciers, temperate rainforest and fjords, reminding us of New Zealand. The road has now turned back to dirt again, mostly very good, but at times very rough. We camped and spent one day hiking in the national park before cycling on to Puyuhuapi and La Junta, where we arrived tonight. 

We expect to get to Chaiten in about 3 days, stopping at some hot springs on the way. The weather forecast says it will stay warm and sunny for at least the next week.

North of Villa Amengual 

 National park Queulat

 Colourful sunset

 Hiking in the rain forest: sendero Padre Garcia in Queulat

 Ventisquero Colgante (hanging glacier) in Queulat

German style houses in Puyuhuapi

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Carretera Austral #3: Rio Tranquillo-Coyhaique

We arrived in Coyhaique yesterday after 2 days cycling from Cerro Castillo in rain, snow and strong headwinds; we finally experienced what we expected of Patagonian weather. For the last 5 weeks, up to Cerro Castillo, it was dry and hot, 25-30 C.

From Rio Tranquillo we cycled to Villa Cerro Castillo in 2 days. The first 25 km north of Rio Tranquillo were some of the worst road conditions we have had with lots of loose gravel, corrugations and busy traffic, which slowed us down a lot. Also, both Tony´s front and back racks broke, so we spent a few hours along the road side repairing the racks with wire (which you can find anywhere along the road). In Villa Cerro Castillo we took a day off cycling and went for a day walk into the national park. The weather had changed with strong winds and rain so we didn´t quite complete the walk we had in mind, but it was still very scenic.

The weather has now improved again and tomorrow we continue further north towards National Park Queulat.

Road between Rio Tranquillo and Cerro Castillo

20 km west of Villa Cerro Castillo, looking towards the national park Cerro Castillo

Villa Cerro Castillo and the start of the asphalt road to Coyhaique

Rock paintings, hand prints, near Villa Cerro Castillo

White mountain tops after 3 days with rain/snow. View from our accommodation in Coyhaique.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Carretera Austral #2: Cochrane-Rio Tranquillo

From Cochrane we cycled to Valle Chacabuco, where we spent a day hiking in the mountains. Lots of guanacos here, even in the campsite. We then cycled on to Rio Tranquillo in 2 days, with an overnight stop in the small village Puerto Bertrand on the Rio Baker. Today we took a boat trip to the marble caves and stocked up on supplies. It is still sunny and very warm. Heading back up into the mountains tomorrow towards Villa Cerro Castillo.

Guanacos in the campsite in Valle Chacabuco 

Walking around Chacabuco 

Approaching the big lakes 

Marble caves