Sunday, 22 March 2015

Villa O´Higgins to Coyhaique

We left Villa O´Higgins in reasonably fine weather and marvelled at the lack of wind in our faces.  We cycled for 5 hours, two of which in the rain.  We finally came across the refugio other cyclists had told us about. We were happy to find 4 other cyclist already there - The Aussie stoking the fire and greeted us with ´Howz it goin´
We had a great evening swapping stories around the fire.

Back on the road the next morning with Tortel in our sites.  Once again, another very rainy day.
We went over 3 passes but didn´t really see a lot due to the shocking weather.

It was still raining the next morning, but we walked around the town known for its Cyprus paths around the town.  There are no cars or roads, just wooden trails.

As we left Tortel, we were joined by two enthusiastic Dogs.  They ran with us for 33km!  Stopped and rested if we stopped to adjust something, yelped if we road too fast on the downhills.  They were very cute.  The rain finally stopped after 50km.  We saw beautiful waterfalls, lakes and great riding.  We couldn´t believe our luck when we stopped to ask a lady for directions at the end of the day and she invited us into her house to stay the night.  She gave us fresh bread and home made jam.... and coffee.  They were so lovely and we enjoyed talking with our dictionaries and laughing.

The next morning as we rolled into Cochrane, we saw there was a festival on. It was a cool atmosphere and we ended up staying 2 hours!

We couldn´t resist camping beside the beautiful Rio Baker.  We pulled over about 4pm so got to enjoy some sun and even had a bit of a wash in the river.  We had a real fire and enjoyed the stunning evening.

We had lunch at a deserted house - also told to us by a fellow cyclist. Then continued onto Puerto Rio Tranquil.... unfortunately the day and the town disappointed and we spent the afternoon battling rain, headwinds and rutted roads before rolling into a pretty grotty non-tranquil town

Most people visiting Rio Traquil visit the famous Marble Caves.  We were glad we did too

After the cave tour, we were back on the road and at 6pm when the heavens opened we came across another deserted house.  It was incredible luck.  We pitched our tent in the house as some windows were missing and had a great sleep out of the howling winds and pouring rain.

Ah, silence in the morning - no wind or rain.  We had a great day cycling amongst rocky cliffs, contors and plenty of downhill!  We stopped in Cerro Castello for a huge Chicken Avo and Tomato sandwich before tackling our biggest pass yet.  The seal started again here.

We found a nice little spot to camp but woke to a very very thick frost.  our bikes and tent were covered in frost... brrrrr

but what a day it turned out to be.  The scenery changed as we approached Coyhaique.  farmland and cars.

And here we are.... in Coyhaique.
Washing done
Shopping done
Happy campers.

The Caraterra Austral Villa O´Higgins-Coyhaique (the full story)

We finally left El Chalten around 3 pm after finding an amazing coffee shop, a map, and a supermarket with veges.
Oh, to be on a gravel road.  We cycled up alongside a river and had to tell eachother to stop taking photos or we would never arrive.  It was stunning the whole road to Lake Desertio.  The Captain of the ferry we planned to take the following morning at 10 stopped us on the road and told us he´d be leaving at 9.  This is the way of South America.... be patient and take it as it comes.

We had a smooth trip to the other end of the lake but the rain set in and we decided to spend the afternoon eating, relaxing and chatting to other cyclists and trekkers heading in the same direction

We woke up to a beautiful cold but clear morning and set off on the long anticipated track over the Pass to Villa O´Higgins.  The pictures say it all!

We had fresh snow falling and the hills were covered in new snow from the night before.  It was simply beautiful.
We enjoyed a hard boiled free range egg - best either of us had ever eaten.

We had our first incident of a dry bag catching in the spokes and Emma going flying over the handlebars.  Luckily no major damage done to bike or body... and all snickers bars were quickly picked up again!

At Immigration, we were rushed down to the Lake where a Cattle Barge was about to leave.  Instead of having to wait for 2 days for the Tourist´s boat to leave (another Chilean reschedule).  
We couldn´t believe our luck - and what an experience.  It was just us, our Surly bikes and the Cattle, Horses and crew.  We were even served up a hot lunch!

We got off the Barge 5 hours later.  Shook the crew´s hands and cycled the 6km into Villa O´Higgins.  Not a vege to be seen, we cooked up a nice meal of pasta and pitched our tent at El Moscow Hostel.