Saturday, February 28, 2015

Back into Chile
We remained in Argentina for a few more days after el Calafate and the glacier. First stop of the way north was el Chalten, a village that sits at the base of the spectacular Mt Fitzroy. The ride in was a pure delight. The road north from Chalten through Tres Lagos, Gobernador Gregores to Bajo Caracoles was on the famous (or infamous if you hate gravel) Ruta 40. Much of the old road has been realigned and sealed so has lost a lot of its mystique. It was unsealed back in 2009. The idea of getting to Bajo Caracoles was to visit Cuevas de las Manos or the cave of the hands which is a site of an ancient civilization who left hand prints on rock walls near a cave. We got kinda lost getting there and made the last tour of the day and by the time we traveled the 50km of gravel back to Caracoles we were forced to overnight there. We really plumbed the depths of bad accommodation that night - ahhh!
Next day was a big day because we wanted to get to Cochrane in Chile which included 180-odd k of gravel and a border crossing. We made it by early evening. The road from Chile Chico to Cochrane is gravel and runs for most of its length along the shores and cliff faces of Lago Carrera. A hugely picturesque ride, it's just a pity the road was so rough after a summer of traffic had turned the surface into a washboard. We are in Cochrane for 2 nights. Finally, we have  made it to the Carretera Austral, the road we failed to do in 2009 because it was closed.
Just another magic moment in Patagonia

Mt Fitzroy. Told you it was a nice ride.

The dreaded Ruta 40

Bajo Caracoles. When the intercity bus arrives the population doubles.

An example of the many hand 'paintings'

Love these Argentinians. 100 metres of perfect road to nowhere.

The road to Cochrane

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