10 Feb 2019

Life after The Carratera Austral

A third of the way through and only our second blog! Lots of excuses, too hot too cold, daylight until 10pm no internet, etc, etc. After spending 2 weeks on the Carrtera Austral we have now crossed into Argentina.

We drove fairly quickly down through Chile (as planned) picking some nice spots to stay in on the way. Crossed the sandel line (the line after which you can no longer where sandels all day) and the start of the Carrtera Austral. Disappointingly a lot of the road we did not do last year is paved (a few years and it will all be paved) but the top section was quite wet so not so disappointing.

At one point you have to take a 5 hour ferry, which might have been pleasant, but the clouds were down so far at this point that you could see very little, there was no heating, the doors were open and the seats so high I felt like a 5 year old with my legs dangling!

Finally we arrived at our destination, the rain stopped the clouds lifted, we were on a gravel road and on the set of death race 2000 as all of the faster vehicles tried to overtake the slow ones (and on this surface we are one of the fastest!). After a while we stopped by a lake, the sun came out and Chris heated some soup for lunch, by the time we left everyone else had moved on and we had a clear road.

For the next few days it was a mix of sun and clouds but quite cool, until the clouds came down and it rained and we spent our one night so far in a rather posh Hostel, as it was likely to still be raining the following day (and pitching and packing the tent in the rain is no fun).

It was cold but sunny the day we arrived at Caro and Victors, but with a forecast of +30 for the next few days. Their cabin was now built, but the camp site not open yet as they are waiting for a solar system provided by the government (for houses they cannot provide with electricity). They have the shell of the toilet block constructed and plan to have everything ready for when they have power, later in the year. However, they are both web designers and providers of Marketing Services and are extremely busy providing these services to a lot of local people. With the paving of the Carretera Austral the Chilean Government is promoting tourism hard and gives generous grants to anyone starting a new business in tourism. Part of the grant has to be used for Marketing and Caro and Victor have worked hard to attract that business.

From Caro and Victors we spent a few days south, to visit the marble caves and back to Puerto Tranquillo in fabulous weather. After which we said our goodbyes to Caro and Victor, re traced our steps up the Carretera Austral and then headed East back into Argentina.

The plan now is to head north back to Maipu for a few more day, then on up to northern Argentina, following the famous route 40 (another gravel road that is steadily being paved, so must be done before that happens!

Just to prove we are back on the road (and not still sat in Maipu making it all up)

Camping on the beach of a Lake

Not far from an active Volcano which dominates the horizon
A fewhundred miles down and another Volcano dominates the horizon, but this one is not active.

The scene as we board the 5 hour ferry

Just after the ferry we stop near a lake

and Chris makes soup
The town of Chaiten, with another active Volcano in the background

This is the result of a land slide that wiped out half a village and closed the road for over 12 months

And this is the middle of the village, 23 people are still  unaccounted for.

As we head south we drive into rain

We stay overnight in a very cosey Hotel and by the following afternoon it is clearing up

and we get blue skies again

Caro and Victors cabin, not quite finished yet, but nice and warm inside.

This is the view from their desk (with the blinds down due to the sun), where they create their web sites

and this is the view with the blinds up

We head south and find the road closed for 4 hours, so they send us on a 27 mile detour. Literally 600m to go and we reach this bridge. We are 2.6 metres without the bike on the roof, I took the bike off (as their meaasurements are not always accurate), but we still couldnt get through, so had to go all the way back.

Having had enough for that day we drove down to a lake and wild camped, the weather now gorgeous, with no wind

On the way back to the road block we came across these rapids

and some fabulous views

including some black necked swans

Fortunatley we only had to wait 5 minutes at the road block (as it was Saturday) and we then took this road down to see the marble caves (result of another landslide)
Boat trip to the Marble Caves

the boat went right into the caves, 

and dropped us on a small marble island where we could waalk right inside

From the Marble Caves to Rio Tranquillo, where we met up with Ed and Charly, cycling the Carrtera Austral with their 2 kids Izzy (7) and Will (5), (and people think we're mad). Will rides in his charriot on the back of Dads bike

and Izzy's bike is connected to her mums

and off they go.
A few more images of the Carrtera Austral in blue skies and 30+ degrees

The Hanging Glacier, near Puyauhapy. We considerred doing the strenuous 3 hour walk up to the glacier, but decided this was close enough!

Eventually we turn off the Carratera Austral (just as it is turning back to paved road and head into Argentina on gravel

We are now in a National Park and stop for a short (steep) walk to a waterfall.just as well we didn't do the 3 hour hike!

And here we are. Forecast for today was rain, very cold and strong winds, so we decided to dig in for the day and ride it out and put the rear room on (first time for 2 years!) The forecast for tomorrow and the next 10 days is back to sunshine and 30+. We are currently having a beer in the camp site restaurant next to a roaring fire after a really bizarre day. 3 times the clouds have disapeared and the sun has been really warm (out of the wind) then black clouds roll over and its freezing. At one point we even had lumps of ice bombarding us!

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