Tierra del Viento: Punta Arenas – Río Grande

Thursday 28 December

The ferry leaves at 9:00 and I planned to leave the hostel well before 8:00 to make sure I would certainly be on time. By about 7:00 I had all my bags packed and went downstairs. The manager was preparing breakfast and said it would be available at 7:30. He also said that 8:00 would give me plenty of time to catch the ferry. Thus I sat down in the common room with one of the hostel’s books to wait for breakfast. And boy am I glad I waited! This was probably the best breakfast I had in South America, with yogurt, cake, fresh fruit, bread and even an omelet. I was the first at the breakfast table and also the first to leave just before 8:00. The ride to the ferry terminal is about 6 kilometres, so no problem there. It is still a good idea to arrive early, since there was quite a long line of people waiting to buy a ticket. Cyclists only need a passenger ticket, the bike is taken on for free.

The boat is quite a lot larger than the other ferries I’ve been on, with room for several large trucks as well as a number of cars and hundreds of people. It’s also the first roll on-roll off ferry. Up to now I had only seen smaller boats onto which cars had to enter in reverse. It was a beautiful morning for a boat ride with sunshine and once we got moving there was effectively no wind on the boat, as its velocity matched that of the ship. But of course this wouldn’t be Patagonia if it stayed that way. We arrived two hours later in Porvenir with a rather different wind and rain. During the ride I felt extremely happy and a bit strange to finally be going to Tierra del Fuego, pretty much the end of the Earth and my goal for such a long time.

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The Real Line: Villa O’Higgins – El Chaltén

The Carretera Austral is sometimes called the road at the end of the road, because it starts more or less at the end of the Pan-American Highway (depending how exactly you define that one) and continues south from there. But now we’ve reached its end too and there’s no more road to continue on. So what happens next?

You take the boat at the end of the road at the end of the road of course! For cyclists and pedestrians it is possible to cross the border to El Chaltén in Argentina. Many borders are just an imaginary line on a map, but there is no imaginary component to this one, so it must be real then. Bad maths puns aside, it involves cycling, two boats and biking/pushing your bike through difficult terrain for 22 kilometers between the two lakes. Like the Carretera Austral, crossing this border is is an essential part of almost every bike tour heading this far south.

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Cyclist Central: Puyuhuapi – Coyhaique

Monday 27 November

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
02:36:05 01:32:28 21.35 13.85 37.44 237.00
hours hours km km/h km/h meters

 

On Monday I didn’t feel like spending a full day in Puyuhuapi, there’s not that much to see and do in town. So I got on my bike for the short ride to Parque Nacional Queulat. The road was good and easy, but some 10 km in it was blocked completely because of construction work. Luckily the road is next to the fjord here, so ferries were operating as a replacement service. On the ferry were also a few riders of the South American Epic, as well as a group of motorcyclists.

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