Tuesday, December 11, 2018 | Manuel Marabese / Christian Preining | North and South America
After over 5000km today we are reaching our final destination: the town of Punta Arenas! It's not gonna be an easy walk, as today we have 430km ahead of us, plus the last border crossing and a ferry. Oh, and 75-80kmh of wind all day long!
We have to backtrack the last few hundreds km to reach our ending point of the tour. However, there is still something on the highlight menu: the Estancia Harberton with its winding dirt road, windswept trees, the marine museum and the penguins colony on Isla Martillo. All in all a great experience and a good lunch as well in this very old farm..
We reached the end of the road in direction south - or almost! There are still 20km of Ruta 3 into the Ushuaia Park, and this will be our short and relaxed ride for today...towards Fin del Mundo!
That's the day! The journey across Chile and Argentina reaches its southernmost town at the end of Ruta 40 and Ruta 3: Ushuaia. The name is mytical for many travellers and once you see its "doors" you can really feel you made it!
Our long ride south keeps going and we ride towards Tierra del Fuego today. There are not many gas stations along the way, actually only two: the first one is still in construction and the second has no gas. What a day! After some diplomatic bargaining we manage to get a few liters of precious gasoline for each bike - just enough to get us to the ferry and across the Strait of Magellan.
We wake up with some wind from the previous night but not too strong to become an hazard - which can often happen in the park Torres del Paine. Quite a long 280km loop around the park permits us to visit every corner of this beautifully pristine landscape. In one of the last tours Christian had to abort the route because the wind was so strong that they could not even ride straight. Today we can feel very lucky!
It's time to continue riding south and to cross another border. We go back to Chile today, reaching the important horbour town of Puerto Natales, from where a ferry goes all the way up to Puerto Montt connecting the rest of Chile. We will spend here two nights, allowing us to visit the park Torres del Paine.
Another rest day with something special: the ride goes towards the Perito Moreno, one of the most spectacular glacier of Patagonia. 70m thick, 5km wide and 30km long it's one of the few glaciers on end still expanding.
Short transfer day with three hours of easy ride. We reach El Calafate for lunch and spend some days walking around this gateway town for the glaciers.
The ride today is not particularly long but the 100km to leave the arid desert of Estancia La Angostura and reach the paved section of the Ruta 40 are quite tough. We had to fight with some loose gravel, deep gravel, hardpack and keep our concentration high. Everyone eventually makes it, respect! From now on the tour will be easier, the though roads are done!
Today is THE day: 428km, 270km of which is gravel. The Paso Roballos on the border Chile-Argentina is a fantastic road that sees an average only 10 vehicles a day!
First we ride through the newly created Parque Patagonia with hundreds (or thousands) of placid guanacos around. It's like riding in a safari, with a stop in a fabulous hacienda for a coffee. Later on the landscape becomes drier and the green pasture leave space to the steppa. Arriving at the border is quite an experience, and continuing along the gravel (sometimes quite difficult and deep) in the Argentinian side is a challenge.
We have covered quite a lot of road in the past days, so for today we can relax a bit and enjoy this unspoiled nature. We are in a lodge and the western end of the lake General Carrera, backed by green mountains. A few of us went for a ride towards Chile Chico - the border with Argentina - along the southern shore of the lake. Someone decided to leave the metal-run horses of the bikes in the parking and to ride a real "one horse" power natural transport. The afternoon goes on with some kayaking on the lake, with a walk in the huge area of the lodge or simply relaxing in the sun on the patio.
Tomorrow will be a long and challenging ride to Estancia La Angostura: 428km, 272 of that is gravel.
What a day! The sky is deep blue, the wind is still and the sun slowly warm us up. We have a magnificient ride ahead. The first hour is paved, with big sweapers in the northern Patagonian landscape. We need to pass the "road closure" point in Villa Cerro Castillo before 10 o'clock - they are doing road works on the Carretera Austral.
After that point the entire day is on gravel. We stop for lunch in a very laid back "village": Puerto Rio Tranquillo - and tranquil it definitely is. We are not alone though: there is another group or motorcyclists and a couple 4x4 expedition vehicles. Everyone meets again and again on the way south, there aren't many roads!
The ride starts with a scenic ride along the Puyuhuapi fjord. Here they are working hard to stabilize the mountain and to make the road accessible as much as possible. From time to time they have to close it because of landslides. Part of it is very new, perfectly paved and in great condition. Later on the asphalt leaves space to the dirt, and we continue across Paso Queulat towards Villa Maniguales, where we will try to get some lunch.
The destination for today is Puyuhuapi, a fascinating little hamlet sitting at the end of the Puyuhuapi fjord. Although the name has origin from the local native american idiom, the founders were four German colons emigrated here in 1935.
The ride today is not very long, allowing to discover the verdant Valle Mirta in the morning - a terrific mic of Norwegian landscape and rain-forest like vegetaion - and Puyuhuapi in the afternoon,
After the terrible weather we had yesterday we totally deserve this blue sky and sunny day!
Today is a though day, raining most of the time and windy. That's the reson for having mostly indoor pictures.
It's time to start this long journey, over 5000km zigzaging between Chile and Argentina. The first destination in our trip is Osorno, a very lively tourist town surrounded by gigantic snowcapped volcanos.
Kelly (USA), Markus (from Germany but living in France), Armen (from Armenia but living in Canada), Mike (Canada), Hans and Michael (Austria), Reto (Switzerland), Lasse (from Norway but living in Switzerland), Jacques (France), Rick (Canada), Ghislain (Switzerland), Frank (Germany) and Mar (from Belgium but living in France): this is our travel team for the next three weeks!
Osorno - Southern Chile - is not the easiest place on Earth to reach. At least a triple-flight with possibly an overnight in Santiago, as Osorno airport is served sporadically. Or you can choose to land in Puerto Montt and then take a couple of buses and a city taxi to reach the hotel. Otherwise you can of course catch a 110km cab ride directly from Puerto Montt airport. However, everyone happens to arrive on time for the welcome briefing. Simply amazing! Here the adventurous part starts even before jumping on the bike.
For the next 21 day Christian (Austria), Victor (Chile) and Manuel (Italy) will take care of a variegated group of brave motorcyclists coming from all over the globe, eager to reach "el fin del mundo", the end of the road in the southern hemisphere: Ushuaia.