Carretera Austral - the wild route through Patagonia

After a while I finally manage to write another blog update from our adventures in South America. We are back in Puerto Montt now where pretty exactly 2 month’s ago our Patagonia adventure started. We just finished the famous Carretera Austral – or the No.7 as it is called as well. The Carretera Austral is a true gem of road in this part of the world. From mountain passes to tracks through rain forrest – the Carretera Austral has it all. But let me start at the beginning: We crossed from Argentina into Chile Chico and decided to push on towards to Puerto Rio Tranquillo. On the map it is just 160 km and we thought that shouldn’t be a big problem. “Only” 160 km turned out to be gravel and some of it rather challenging with a heavy loaded bike and 2 people. The landscape is changing dramatically as soon as we crossed into Chile. The flatness of Argentina made way to mountains and deep valleys – stunning and specatacular would be the words that come to mind. We managed to get about 70 km into the Carretera Austral when our journey came to a quick and unpleasant stop. While our trusty Yamaha battled up one of the small passes, through deep and loose gravel and against wind gusts of 140km/h, the chain decided to give up on us (never save money on a chain!!!!). Now a broken chain alone would have been bad enough but the chain got so badly jammed that it blocked the back wheel. Instead of getting the power I expected to get through that passage the back wheel blocked totally. And as this happened in a slight turn as well there was no way to keep the bike upright. Before we knew what happened we were lying in the dirt and the bike on top of us! The ankles (both Siri’s and my left ankle) started to hurt instantly as the tendons got violently over stretched. Luckily the boxes on the bike and the engine guard took most of the fall and we got away with “just” 2 sprained ankles. What happend afterwards though is a true sign of the amazing kind and helpful people here in South America. 2 cars stopped right away, helping us to get the luggages of the bike and getting it out of the track. There was obviously not a chance to keep on riding the bike. The 2 families that stopped to help us, quickly loaded the luggage into their cars and offered us a lift back to Chile Chico. While we were securing the bike on the side of the road (to get it the next day or so) another pick up truck stopped, before we knew it the bike was loaded on the back of a brand new Volkswagen Amarok truck and we drove back to Chile Chico – including the bike! We spent a week in Chile Chico in a fantastic little hostel called Patagonia Basecamp or Nandu Camp (http://www.nanducamp.com). The owners, Juan and Kathy were super helpful in organising stuff for us to fix the bike. Over several evening’s with Siri’s delicious Thai food, Juan’s bbq and red wine we became good friends and we can’t wait to visit them again soon. About a week after the accident we felt confident enough to ride the bike. In the meantime we did some improvements with our luggage arrangments and so we took off towards Puerto Rio Tranquillo. It took a couple of days to get the full confidence again – but I guess that is normal.

 impressions from the road and the marble caves

impressions from the road and the marble caves

In Puerto Rio Tranquillo we took a boat ride to the Marble caves – the colours of the limestone is like an artwork and certainly a must see when in this area. Over more gravel road we reached the capital of the region – Coyhaique. The gravel gave way to perfect asphalt and for about 100km we enjoyed the curves. The joy was short though, for the rest of the “7” it was mainly back to gravel road. The landscape however is worth it. Every corner suprised us with new “Wow” moments. Further north we got into the Patagonian rain forest. We camped for a couple of nights in perfectly calm weather and even got blessed with a solar eclipse – of which we had no idea it would occur. At the end of the Carretera Austral we needed to take 3 ferries between the fjords – a calm and peaceful way to end to our adventure in this part of Chile. Next we are off to Bariloche in Argentina – stay tuned for more adventures from our South America trip....

 the ferries and our "surprise" solar eclipse

the ferries and our "surprise" solar eclipse