Carretera Austral / Patagonia
The Carretera Austral is a 1,200 km road that runs to the end of mainland Chile. Starting in Puerto Montt, My day started fairly well. After leaving Puerto >, I Started my adventure down the Carretera Austral. The first section is not much to mention. You get you first ferry there.
30 minutes later, I was on the next bit. Just as the ferry was coming to harbor, the rain started to come down. Construction met me on the other side. Mud, deep ruts from the trucks for the next 20 kms. For me this was actually kind of fun, having good knobby tires and a practical motorcycle, I danced around on the muddy road, having fun, kicking out the back tire and tracking ruts from the trucks. My fun came to an end when I the road ahead was closed due to a mudslide. The rain was coming down harder now, and there was nowhere to go. So, I waited it out, making friends with the local construction guy.
After the three hour delay, I reached the next town, where I would take the next ferry. Finding a small hostel, I arrived soaked on the outside, but dry underneath. Experienced taught me that rain liners that come with motorcycle jackets are dumb. They make for a great warmth liner, but are not so good for actual rain. The lovely hostel owner sat me down and stuck a bowl of clam chowder if front of me, and within a few minutes, I was warm and cosy.
After the rain stopped and I was feeling warm again, I walked around the small town. It reminded me of a small tourist town in Alaska.
The next day, I took the next ferry. About a 4 hour ride, the ferry drops you off at a point where you have about 30 kms of well groomed gravel. I was able to cruise at 90 kms before reaching pavement again. I would end the day at a campground on the edge of a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains.
The next day is where the C.A. really starts to get awesome. The pavement gives way to gravel, and twisty mountain passes before dumping you into a massive valley and then into lowland forest. There was a bit of construction here and there, but for the most part it was epic views with awesome gravel roads that take you through the forest of Chile.
I would end my day at Lake Gran Carrera. There is a tour you can take to see these marble caves, but by the time I got there, I was tired and didn’t feel like doing anything else except relaxing.
From here the Carretera Austral goes more south, but I was meeting my friends in Fitz Roy, Argentina, so I headed east along the south side of the lake to Argentina.
The road along the Lake Gran Carrera is another spectacular display of twisty gravel roads, and spectacular scenery.
This day would be day would be a stretch for me. I was trying to meet my friends, and would punch in over 600 kms.
Back in to Argentine, and more stamps in the passport, I headed south, back on Route 40 with more stretches of looong straight road. There was only one interesting section just before reaching El Chalten, the small town at the base of Fitz Roy.
I had some friends who had been through this section the day after a rain, and they said there was lots of bike bikes abandoned on the road stuck in the mud. I know that if I had experienced the rain, my WR with proper tires would have been no problem for this.
El Chalten is a small town that has tripled in size since the 90’s. Tourist come here to hike the area and for those mountaineers, to climb Fitz Roy.
Reaching El Chalten, I finally met up with my friends.
I hadn’t seen my friends Paul and Aida since Guatemala. They have been traveling from NYC on DR650’s.
And we gave Aida the Double Goat.
The last part of the trail is a 300 meter climb up a steep and rocky trail. The sign suggested for the average person it will take one hour. Seeing I am not average, i did it it in 32 minutes!
Tourist are such funny creatures. I often laugh at some of the ridiculousness that they display. Here at Fitzroy, there were all these hikers in $400 jackets, $200 sunglasses, titanium trekking poles, looking like they were climbing the K2, and Tres Lagos is less than 1200 MLS. And here I am passing them in a t-shirt and my worn out trainers. It’s funny to see the look on their faces, like I am the ridiculous one.
45 minutes later, my friends arrived.
I would spend the next few days relaxing and enjoying El Chalten before heading to El Calafate.
Would You Like Some Ice With That?
El Calafate is another tourist town because of the famous Perito Moreno Glacier. One of the few glaciers that is still actually growing. At 250 square kms it’s almost the size of Buenos Aires.
Just one hour outside the town, I spent the day enjoying the mammoth beast.
End of the Road, Ushuaia
Leaving El Calafate, I spent the next few days riding through some small towns. With the notorious winds of Patagonia to my back, I made good time finally arriving to Ushuaia.
There we took a tour to see some penguins on Isla Tierra del Fuego.