Saturday, March 7, 2015

The End of the Carretera Austral

It was our intention to make Puyuhuapi (yea I don't know how to pronounce it either) by mid afternoon. We were aware that the road closed at 1 PM south of Puyuhuapi and if we missed the cut-off we were stuck until after 5 when it reopened. Well we missed the cut-off by 13 minutes because one of our group had a puncture so spent the afternoon lounging in the sun chatting with other riders as they turned up. One was a German fellow who had been on the road for over two years and with whom we had dinner that evening. We stayed the night in a delightful character Cabana and listened to the rain pounding on the roof. Next day was overcast and threatening rain so we took the chance and managed to catch a glimpse of the Hanging Glacier - from a distance. It would have been nice to get a little closer but we were mindful of the road north of town closing at 1 PM also. We probably need not have bothered because roadworks held us up every five or so minutes, it seemed.
There is a huge amount of road reconstruction being undertaken between Coyhaique and Chaiten. It's probably in preparation for sealing but right now the road surface makes for a challenging ride in the wet.
Chaiten or at least Chaiten volcano was our nemesis back in 2009 when it erupted, wiped out the road and pretty much the town also. The town was eventually evacuated and post recovery many buildings remain abandoned or destroyed. Again we stayed at a nice place. Because there are four in our group we find it better to stay in Cabanas which are a kind of family unit with kitchen etc. We are at last able to cook for ourselves.
From here we were faced with a number of boat trips in order to progress north. The longest of these was for five hours and dumped us at our overnight stop of Hornopiren. Another rainy day and wet feet. The last day of the Carretera`Austral was also wet and the last ferry journey was so rough we had to stand by our bikes in order they did not topple over.
And so ended our journey along this great road. The northern end is by far the best in the way of scenery and we did it in overcast or rainy conditions which added to its appeal. The gravel is in a pretty sorry state and beat our bikes mercilessly. It is however a marvelous piece of surveying and construction and the Chileans should feel justly proud of their achievement.
Heavy rain has forced us to spend two nights in Puerto Varas so tomorrow we will endeavour to wash a months worth of grit off of the bikes before heading to Osorno and some sorely need bike maintenance. We have traveled 8,000 km to date.
Another day on the ripio

Getting interesting

Robin gets a puncture

Waiting, waiting - for 4 hours

The hanging glacier - at a distance

Pretty as a picture

More waiting

The sign everyone photographs

Chaiten or what's left of it

Volcan Chaiten and its aftermath

The last boat on the last day of the Carretera Austral


Roger Arnold said...

Great stuff Don

Roger Arnold said...
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