Sunday, December 4, 2022 | Domenico Schiano Moriello | North and South America
Patagonia gave us a very "warm" welcome, rain has been pouring down for days and today it wasn't any different! So, rain gear on, ride with extra care and let's go! After we reached Pucon, our destination for today, the rain finally stopped and we could enjoy a nice walk and dinner in Town. The weather forecast for tomorrow looks much better, let's keep fingers crossed!
What a beautiful blue sky today!!! We left Pucon and headed towards the border, we had to enter Argentina today! Riding through the Villarrica National Park was simply beautiful.... a forest of Araucaria trees (the national tree of Chile) and the snow capped top of mount Lanim in the background, a huge dormant volcano! After we entered Argentina, the landscale quickly changed, not many trees and instead a sea of grass.... what a strong contrast! We reached Junin de Los Andes, the first town after the border, and had a great lunch there before finally heading to San Martin.
What a beautiful day! We left San Martin on a sunny morning and rode southwards all day long on the Ruta 40! The first stretch, between San Martin and Villa la Angostura, is also known as the "Route of the Seven Lakes", and we definitely took our time to complete it, with many photo stops! Once arrived in Villa La Angostura, we stopped there for a late coffee and/or early lunch and then continued to Bariloche, the most important town of this region, and also famous to be Argentina's chocolate capital! So it was definitely worth a tasty stop before finally heading to El Bolson. Tonight we are sleeping in a typical Hosteria!
Didn't we just enter Argentina a couple of days ago? Well it's already time to go back to Chile! We spent most of the day in Argentina, riding southwards direction Cholila where we saw Butch Cassidy's farm and then entered the magnificent "Los Alerces" National Park, a Unesco World Heritage site. Just before leaving the park, we had lunch in a nice camping and finally headed towards Chile. Tonight we are sleeping in Futalefu, in the middle of the Andes and just a few miles after the border.
Leaving Futalefu, during the morning we rode mostly downhill on unpaved roads until we reached the RN7, the famous Carretera Austral. The weather in the morning didn't help us so much, and riding on gravel in the rain was today's challenge! Once we reached the pavement on the RN7 (the famous Carretera Austral), we stopped for a "typical" cafe in in Villa Santa Lucia and then finally headed to Puyuhuapi after a nice lunch in La Junta,
A couple of words can describe today's ride: rain and cold! Well we are in Patagonia after all... After leaving Puyuhuapi, the big challenge of today was to face the Queulat Pass, a curvy and steep gravel road, under pouring rain... but after all it wasn't too bad! We reached Villa Amengual and our usual coffee place was closed, but we fortunately found a "magic bus" where we could drink a coffee and warm up a bit. A quick lunch in Villa Manihuales and then we finally reached Coyahique in time for a walk in the centre (after a well deserved hot shower!) and a tasty dinner all together! We made it!!!
After the rain of yesterday, we really deserved a great day... and so it was! Leaving Coyahique and riding through wonderful landscapes we quickly reached Villa Cierro Castillo where we stopped for a coffee... and then we continued to Puerto Tranquilo on a great long gravel road! There, on the shore of the great lake General Carrera (the biggest lake in Chile), we had lunch and then we went on a boat tour to admire the amazing marble cathedral, a rock formation sculpted by the lake water over thousands of years to create beautiful, intricate structures and caverns that continue to be shaped to this day. But the day was not over, back to the bikes we had to ride for around 50 kilometres more to reach our beautiful lodge where we are going to spend the next two nights!
The first rest day of this tour! Some of us decided to make it a real rest day and enjoy the beautiful accomodation and its surroundings... while others (Alex, Paul and Domenico) went for quite a long ride until Chile Chico, following the southern shore of lake General Carrera. What an epic ride! A lot of gravel and magnificent sceneries! After a coffee break in Chile Chico, at the border with Argentina, we slowly came back and even had time to relax a bit before having dinner again all together. Tonight we have to go to bed early... because tomorrow's ride will be one of the longest and toughest of the whole tour!
The longest and toughest ride of the tour has finally arrived. around 220 km on unpaved roads over the "Paso Roballos" to enter Argentina, and then 240 kilometres on paved road with potholes and strong wind! We came to the hotel very late but we made it!!! P.S. Pictures don't do justice to the wonderful landscapes!!!
Yesterday's ride was tiring, but no time to rest, today it was another long and tiring rain, mostly paved (except for a 70 km stretch) but the strong wind didn't give us rest! We reached Tres Lagos where we had a quick lunch in the only possible place (the gas station!) and then continued to El Calafate, at the shade of mount Fitz Roy, but it wasn't possible to admire this imposing mountain... let's hope for tomorrow!
Fortunately the clouds disappeared and this morning we could admire mount Fitz Roy, the paradise of climbers and hikers! After the first photo stop just outside of El Chalten, we proceeded to La Leona, where we had coffee and finally reached El Calafate quite early, in time for lunch. So today we had some time to finally rest!
One of the biggest highlights of the tour was awaiting us today, the incredible Perito Moreno glacier! What a magnificent site, where one feels so small looking at the power of nature! We first reached the main wiewpoint by motorcycle and then went to the pier where we joined a cruise and hike tour... to come very close to this world wonder! On the way back we also stopped at the glacier museum, where we could learn more about the whole Patagonian ice field. Time to rest now!
Time to go, after two nights spent in El Calafate! Today the wind didn't bother too much and we reached the border with Argentina around 1pm, so we had lunch before crossing it and then quickly reached Puerto Natales, our basecamp for the exploration of the Torres del Paine National Park!
What a beautiful day!!! After the strong winds of the previous days, this was the perfect reward! We spent the whole day riding around the wonderful Torres del Paine National Park, had lunch right under the peaks and then, after coming back to town, we went out for a delicious pizza in the southernmost original Neapolitan pizzeria in the world! Pictures don't do justice to the wonderful landscapes, but you can still have an idea!
Time to go "home"!
Let's continue riding southwards, today we reached Tierra del Fuego across the strait of Magellan! The landscape has definitely changed, and a long straight road took us from Puerto Natales to Villa Tehuelches where we stopped for a coffee break before reaching the strait of Magellan. The clouds were quite thretening but fortunately the wind wasn't too strong. Our destination for today is Cerro Sombrero, a little village in the north of the Tierra del Fuego, founded in 1958 as a residential and services centre for the national Petroleum Company.
Today we finally reached the southermost city in the World! And of course also the southernmost place of our trip! Tierra del Fuego is famous for the strong winds, and today we got a proof of it! We stopped for a coffee break just before the border with Argentina, and then continued to Rio Grande where we had lunch. Another stop in Tolhuin at the most famous bakery of the island and then finally reached Ushuaia! We made it!!!
Today we went for a short ride in the National Park of the Tierra del Fuego, and we reached the end of the Ruta 3 so, as the locals say, the end of the world! After we came back, time for a rest and then we went for a walk in town, to buy souvenirs and have dinner there. Argentina was playing in the World Cup today, and they won, so after the match we could enjoy watching incredible celebrations on the streets!
Despite the weather forecast, this morning it wasn't raining so we went for a ride on gravel to the coast in front of Puerto William, Chile, and then continued to Tolhuin for a quick lunch before finally heading to Rio Grande. Tonight dinner out!
The coast at Puerto Almanza, on the Beagle Canal
Last riding day, we made it! What an epic ride today, strong winds and sometimes rain (so not much time for pictures!), but we also managed to see the penguins at the Pinguino Rey reserve and made it to the mainland just before the port operations stopped for a while for strong wind! We reached Punta Arenas, left our bikes at the garage and then went for our last dinner together. Goodbye everybody, and thank you for 3 unforgettable weeks together!