Travel report No. 37 - Chile and Argentina - 26.11.2009 bis 15.02.2010

Rain - Wind - around the world (40'076.6 km) - end of the world 

Cycling in Chiles lake district is enchanting with its lakes and snow capped vulcanoes. Middle of December and we meet Andreas in Puerto Montt. He accompanies us for the next 2500 cycling kilometres. 

By ferry we reach the town of Chalten, which was burried by the eruption of a vulcano in February 2009. This is the start in Patagonia, and the famous Carretera Austral wants to be cycled. 

Rain is the topic No 1 along the Pacific coast. On Christmas day we are very lucky. The sky is clearing up and we are fortunate to see a fascinating hanging glacier. Shortly later we put up the tent near a river with a great view to some waterfalls, just in time before the next rainfall. In the evening, the rain stops for a couple of hours and Andreas lights a warming Christmas fire. At midnight, heavy rainfall starts and for all next day we do not get out of the tent. Only in the evening, for a short period, the rain stops and we are able to dry the wet sleeping mats. The following day is not much nicer. It is not much fun to pack up a wet tent and then cycle in the rain for hours, especially because of the low temperatures. Therefore we stay several times in Hostals. So we are able to warm up and get ourselfes and the clothes dry. But if the sun is out, it is like a dream. The landscape is fantastic with the rainforest, the giant Nalca leaves, ice capped mountains, crystal clear streams and lakes and the thunderous waterfalls. After nearly 1000 kilometres on gravel road we reach the end of the street in Villa o'Higgins in Chile. 

From here by boat and then on an exhausting track, we push, pull, carry the bikes and the luggage across a mountain to El Chalten in Argentina. The trekking to the base of the fantastic Torre and Fitzroy mountain showed us, that not all our muscles are trained. 

Tailwind blows us towards the south. Together with the wonderful cyclists Christine and Wayne which we met several times before (the two found each other with cycling and are going to marry soon in Australia) we visited the Perito Moreno Glacier, which is 30 km long, 5 km wide and has a depth of 60 m - an impressive sight. 

Was rain the topic in chile, on the Argentina side it is the wind. Well, wind - storms.The gusts drifted us across the street like feathers in the wind. Or at one stage it was so strong, we had to push the bike on a flat, tarred road. Push against the gusty winds, fighting for 2 hours just to be able to do 7 km, and often we hardly were able to hold the bikes. Hard to imagine if you have not experienced it yourself. 

Visiting the National Parc Torres del Paine brought more rain and snow down to 300 m. So one day hike was enough for our taste, even so it is a very beautiful nature. 

Then crossing the Magellan straits to Tierra del Fuego by ferry in calm weather, camping on a small lake with many waterbirds like Flamingos and Nandus (a kind of ostrich), grazing Guanacos while watching a spectacular sunset. But the temperatures show, that we get closer to the southpole. At night its around 1-3 degrees, during the day seldom more than 12. 

After 7 days of cycling in Tierra del Fuego we reached the 40'076.6 km, the length of the equator,  pedalled by our own muscular strength. In the evening reaching the end of the world or better, end of the road. Two reasons for celebrating at the end of that day.

Now we will go back to Puerto Montt by ferry, then cycle to Bariloche and across the Pampa to Buenos Aires, where we plan to stay for some time.


Nalca Leaves  

what a pain

Cerro Torres

thats the right wind!

Perito Moreno galcier

Torres del Paine

Carretera Austral