Some general information:
Learning about Patagonia: German - English
Carretera Austral: English
This is THE Calafate bush - the typical plant of Patagonia - who eats its fruit is sure to come back to this beautiful region, if they want that or not.
Feb 28: Hey we're back again online!!! After some days of real challenges - no internet!!! border crossings from Chile to Argentina in pouring rain, wind, mud, thousands of potholes, gravel, gravel, gravel (there is NO such thing as "nice and friendly" gravel - all gravel is a challenge, especially in Argentina!!! personal opinion of the blog master ) - and we're here to face challenges and be proud of ourselves afterwards.
Day 19 (Mar 5): Rio Grande - Punta Arenas
"We shall not cease from exploration
and the end of all our exploring
will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time."
Our last day - back from the end of the world to the place that takes us home where we started from." It's all over now, baby blue...": the ferry takes us back from tierra del fuego:
and the blog master says "Goodbye" to all who were part of our little expedition to the "end of the world" - active tour members and the interested ones all over the world - hank you for your interest - we were happy to share this with you.
Day 18 (Mar 4): Ushuaia - Rio Grande
Well, in Germany we sing "Alles hat ein Ende nur die Wurst hat keins." - we can't igore the fact that our expedition is heading towards its end. It certainly has been a time full of experiences, beautiful nature, pictures, animals, AND encounters with the unbelievably friendly people that live both in Chile and Argentina. No matter what borders seem to be - human beings want to be and stay connected no matter what politics set up up as barriers.
And being on a motorbike seems to have an effect to open people's hearts. That's what we experience all over the world, and what we experienced here on our Adventure Patagonia Tour.
On our way back from the end of the world towards the beginning we pay a visit to the pinguins. And here they are:
Day 17 (Mar 3): Ushuaia - Fin del Mundo
This day invites to stroll around, another almost dry and sunny day, and get there in the end - to the end!
and this is what it looks like:
Day 16 (Mar 2): Cerro Sombrero - Ushuaia
Another border crossing is waiting for us after cruising through the smooth hills that look like the Little Prince's snake having swallowed an elephant...
We manage the border to Argentina with almost no complications - one of the officers on the Chilean side indulged so much in his memories of the beauty of Vienna in Austria that he forgot to put an important stamp in one of the documents - so one Austrian biker had was sent back from the Argentinian officer to get it.........
Coffe stop in the famous pastry on our way to Ushuaia:
In a corner of the pastry there is an hommage to Dr. Rene Favarolo:
This is a real competition - a youngster on the moto cross offroad track to Ushuaia:
Day 15 (Mar 1): Puerto Natales - Cerro Sombrero
Leaving Puerto Natales on Ruta 9 and staying there for a loooong time we have time to digest yesterday's beautiful pictures and impressions of Torre de Paines. We fly through calm and desertlike country - if you rate it as boring or rather appreciate its pacifying effect is your own decision
Two men discovering new insights at San Gregorio:
Tour guide having fun with an orenge helmet and a rusty ship in the abandoned village Estancia Gregorio (short video impression on youtube) on the Strait of Magellan:
Ken and Amber side by side:
The lighthouse on the ferry station:
Heading for Tierra del Fuego (on the ferry):
Surroundings of our hotel in Cerro Sombrero:
If Antoine de Saint Exupéry, author of one of the most famous books "The Little Prince", ever passed through Cerro Sombrero, I don't know. What I do know is that the landscape shows a stunning resemblance to his famous drawing in the book:
Day 14 (Feb 28): National Park Torres del Paines
This was a perfect day. Sunshine, nice gravel roads, leading us through the stunning scenery of Torres del Paine. Some impressions which our language is too poor to express (again)...
Day 13 (Feb 27): El Calafate - Puerto Natales
Day 12 (Feb 26): restday El Calafate (Perrito Moreno glacier)
Some of us decided to visit the glacier after arriving yesterday - since the weather forecast wasn't that good for today. We made it in time for the last boat trip to the icefield, put on all the clothes we had with us, and got the cameras ready:
first sight of the icefields
on of the boats coming back fom visiting this impressing scenery
you can feel the ice exhale its frosty breath
three quarters of our female team (Martina, Esperanza, Amber; Elfriede missing)
Day 11 (Feb 25): El Chaltén (Fitz Roy) --> El Calafate (Perrito Moreno)
On our way to Calafate - enjoying every bit of asphalt - flying like an eagle through desertlike country, passing from Lago Viedma to Lago Argentina, the largest lake in Argentina full of water from the icefields we'll see lateron.
Goodbye FitzRoy - one last glace back:
Coffee stop at Hostal La Leona famous for their cakes:
6 strong tour members had to hold back Peter from swallowing this cake until I was done with the picture ))
Day 10 (Feb 24): Estancia La Angostura --> El Chaltén
there is no way (in the real sense of the word!!) to follow the planned route to Tres Lagos .. this is what a group of French hikers tell us - all mud. So we decide to make more miles but on roads in a better condition.
Antonio, the owner of the Estancia shows us the shortest way the the asphalt road leading through his vast estate of desert country where it normally never rains (believe it or not ); at least we have some easy going miles before us
before the gravel starts again... We knew before this tour is an ADVENTURE TOUR.
Look up the definition of "adventure" if you want (mind the expression "a trial of one's chances")
muddy Herb (more pics of the situation that caused the mud all over him will follow soon):
Finally, arriving at Tres Lagos - hoping there's gas at the gas station (if we're lucky):
in the middle of nowhere: AND there's even gas for the bikes -
plus sandwiches for our bodies and coke for our souls:
At last, from then on we appreciate the solid ground (everybody is relieved and proud to be back on their bikes):
heading for the Fitz Roy region:
Hiding behind the clouds must be the famous Fitz Roy:
We're lucky - Fitz Roy presents itself in its beauty with just a little veil...
and we are glad to finally reach El Chaltén after another day full of experience:
El Chaltén - meeting point of hikers and bikers -
with an incredibly pure air that smells of snow when you care to notice it.
Calafate bush in El Chaltén
Day 9 (Feb 23): Hacienda3Lagos --> Estancia La Angostura
The first of the hardest and longest days:
facing the worst road conditions on the carretera due to heavy raining the night before - especially on Argentinian gravel - everybody had to pay full attention to riding and staying on the bike. Still, even some experienced riders went down - today and tomorrow. Imagine you have to keep up your bike on something that looks like gravel on the surface but is pure soft soap underneath... showing up after a curve... in the rain... followed by muddy waters...
Once more waiting to be let in to Argentina:
Day 8 (Feb 22): Coyhaique --> Hacienda3Lagos
We reach the Hacienda3Lagos after a long days ride, mostly on gravel.
This the day when we reach the limit of words - trying to describe the beauty of the landscape we pass - language is poor to express the impressions we get. Some picture try to pass on an idea of the beauty of nature:
coffee stop in Querancia:
Cerro Castillo (Castle mountain in English, Burgberg in German):
lunch stop at Puerto Marmol restaurant (responsible tour guide with Klaus):
The most original coffee stop for today:
Day 7 (Feb 21): Puyuhuapi - Coyhaique
This is one of our homes for one night where we start in the morning for Coyhaique:
Casa Ludwig which was built by one of the founders of Puyuhuapi, the father of Ms Ludwig who runs it as a hostal where you feel at home from the first moment.
A last Goodbye to this fjord:
and taking with us some impressions:
LETS GET BACK ON THE GRAVEL:
pass nature with all its beauties and enjoy ourselves in this beautiful world.
Our two brave and trusting Esperanza and Amber:
Coihaique: Founded in 1929, the regional capital of Coihaique was Aisén’s
first major town. It now has a population of about 40,000 and it’s
the only sizable population center of this remote region between
Puerto Montt and Punta Arenas. The most unusual feature in this
city is the pentagonal Plaza de Armas, the work of carabinero general Marchant Gonzáles, who based his confusing city plan on the
shape of the national police force’s emblem.
Day 6 (Feb 20): Esquel - Puyuhuapi
266 km/165 miles are between us and Puyuhuapi, 200 km/124 miles on gravel through rainforest and national parks with more beautiful nature. Nature. Nature: morning briefing:
"think about switching off the ABS when the gravel starts!! and keep a good distance because of the dust!":
Dusty Bert, our doc:
You have to concentrate on this kind of road, and at the same time you can have a lot of fun on it - like Gilberto with his brave wife Esperanza on the back:
whom you cannot stop as soon as they smell gravel - off they go!!
until we reach our destination for today:
If you want to read about the history of Puyuhuapi, here is a link for the German readers of this blog - its worth reading it and trust me, you can see and feel the spirit of those people who emigrated from Europe in the last century with no known destiny but full of strength and the will to make this piece of land a neat and agreeable place to live.
Day 5 (Feb 19): Bariloche - Esquel
This day takes us flying through the Argentina landscape showing its beauty in the sunlight: sweepers on great asphalt on route 40 from Bariloche to El Bolson where we head for delicious pastry and icecream in the Jauja icecream parlour.
This gives us enough energy for the next miles: we're leaving route 40 in a while changing for carretera 71 passing Cholila, changing asphalt for gravel,to see more lakes and mountains with stunning colours and shapes.
and finally finding our lunch stop in a wonderful neat location called Ruka Kitai on our way to Esquel.
our TexMex table featuring Amber, Esperanza, Gilberto (once champion in motocross competition - we would not try to catch HIM on the gravel) and Ken:
"eat my dust": that's the heading for the rest of our way to the next hotel - Hosteria Angelina and our host, Carlos...
the team discussing the next part of the adventure in a restaurant in Esquel:
thsi Carlos' speciality: the richest Patagonian breakfast you can get:
after this breakfast we are strong and in good mood to head for Puyuhuapi.
Day 4 (Feb 18): Bariloche
San Carlos de Bariloche:
a city with a view:
a city with a beach:
streets full of live and performances of all kind:
Chocolate all over the place - the whole town is full of the flavour of chocolate:
and trees with handmade clothes for the winter (no kidding!!):
well, we're still in the mood for a ride:
Bob, Horst, Peter and Friedhelm ready for new challenges
- then let's go for our exploration route in the mountain area around Bariloche. One highlight certainly being the panorama view over Lake Nahuel Huapi:
and after that visit the Swiss Colony longing for a cup of coffee and a piece of "Apfelstrudel mit Sahne" , that's what we are looking for now! But when we finally reach the Colony, it seem totally empty - no human being to be seen, just a lonely dog lazily lying in the front of a restaurant - "Closed" it says. It's midday and this seems like ghost town. What had happened?
They had had a party going on for the whole weekend! It was the First Fiesta Nacional del Curanto, and 10.000 people helped them celebrate: for more read the article (Spanish) in the local press.
[aside: Curanto: a special meal specially cooked - for more look it up in Wikipedia. This is how they cook it: (???)
Now, after eating the remnants of the Fiesta, we keep on going, some hours later we're back in the hotel - happy and looking for a cup of hot chocolate downtown.
Crusing the Andes, it is also interesting to read about the Mapuche. Read about their history and culture on http://www.mapuche-nation.org/english/html/m_nation/main/m_nation.htm!
Day 3 (Feb 17): Pucon - Bariloche
As soon as I have found my speech again more stories will be told - stories of a beautiful day full of adventure: with sunshine (yes!!), border crossings, asphalt roads, gravel roads, curves in stunning scenery, and an arrival at this wonderful location in the Cordillera de los Andes: Bariloche (see Day 4 above).
this is where we stayed in Pucon: Hotel Malalhue - a very neat place with a brewery in the backyard
After making friends with Nguinechen, the Mapuche God, he makes the sun shine from now on (he promised).
bags in the sun ready for take off
Happy bags and happy buddies: Horst and Ruedi in Pucon:
Herbert I from the Pfalz in Germany looking for what's about to come:
the volcano Lanin
you can see it while crossing the border from Chile to Argentina. With its 3779 m it's covered with snow all over the year (plenty of time we had to admire this beauty :-o)
we are in the Lake District in Argentina
two men and the sea
lakes with beautiful colours surrounded by mountain with stunning formations - this is what we have in this part of the Andes. It will accompany us and please our eyes for quite a while.
mini gauchitos in Junín
Something was going on in Junín de los Andes where we had planned to stay for lunch: gauchos in their local folklore on beautifully decorated horses and spectators crowded the street celebrating the 130th anniversary of the foundation of the city.
After lunch in San Martín de los Andes, a holiday ressort that calls memories of the Alps in Europe to those who have been there, we continue South: The weather god is still our friend so we can choose the nice weather route: ruta 234 and 63 take us to a magically different world from what we have seen till now: in the Reserva Zoológica Parque Diana we encounter gravel roads in all variations leading our way through rock formations of sometimes even magical character - this is pure art done by nature (pics to follow).
heading for Confluencia
ruta 63 to Confluencia
There had been a shortcut of gasoline in Junín as well as in San Martín!! Although the scenery makes us forget this for most of the time, the control lights on our bikes make some of us a little nervous.
But with Victor, our best friend, behind us in a car with some gas cans we decide to enjoy each mile.
All's well that ens well: after being back on route 40, there is a gas station WITH gas!
Day 2 (Feb 16):
NO - it's NOT rainwater you see on the bags!!!
The decision of the chilenian weathergod gave us a good opportunity to test our waterproof clothing - with various results: Bob's rubber gloves won the gloves competition (picture will follow). For the rest of our test results - we were happy about the perfect heating facilities in our hotel in Pucon on lake Villarica.
Before approving of the heating, we enjoyed lunch on the lake of Lican Ray, confident of the sun wanting to be our companion for the rest of the tour.
which happened indeed from lunch to reaching the hotel!!
and we are confident sunshine will continue for as long we want it!
Wait and see...
Since the world hasn't ended on December 21, a group of 15 brave and strong adventurers start out to survive also the geographic "end of the world" on February 16.
It is an international team of undaunted individuals that meets in Osorno, Chile, in their basecamp - a 5 star hotel to strengthen themselves for a tour full of unpredictabilities. We are Gilberto and Esperanza from Mexico, Ken and Amber from Texas knowing every curve in Texas by name , Robert not on his bicycle this time, Ruedi and Klaus from Switzerland specializing in elaborate preparation of logistics and technical assistance, Peter the real one from Austria (Edelweiss' home location), and the German division consisting of Herbert and Herbert and Elfriede, Horst, Friedhelm, and Victor from Chile who is the expert for everything that can be called a vehicle; Florian and Martina (both of them responsible for everything thats not covered by anybody else) are cosmopolitans that cannot be located to a specific country.
This sky over Osorno looks undecided in the evening before we start our expedition. If you ask people of what the weather will be like the next day, they put a smile on their face that makes you feel like an idiot - YOU JUST CAN'T TELL!!!