And then God came. In terms of introductions, that's my favourite.
After a day of superlatives in Patagonia, this time negative ones at the roads that were a jumble of pot-holed and corrugated gravel, we were due some goodness. Puerto Tranquilo delivered. We were bouncing up and down in a speedboat on the Lake General Carratera at 9am amidst the rain and mist to view the marble caves, tinged with mica and manganese that over thousands of years had formed beautiful weathered formations in the lake, yet it was once again the climate in this part of the world that took centre stage. The sun bursting through the mist, calving a path through the mountains to give an ethereal light that sets fire to souls. If there is a God, they like Patagonia very much. Yes, as a proud Kiwi friend was keen to point out, it is similar to New Zealand. Two astonishingly beautiful countries, where you almost bore yourself with the constant exclaiming of ‘wow’. (Images above are from my phone, will be doing the drone and DSLR at some point when I get time! Included is a lovely guy I met, Vladimir, with a Troopy all the way from Russia!).
Cruising in the Landy
In that last 4 days, we hit hundreds of kilometres of rubbish machine-breaking roads, built to rattle ancestors let alone ourselves. This reduced our speed of course, meaning at several points we were hitting an average of 40km, which isn’t too bad, but when a 300km stretch takes you 9 hours and several nurofen, you know you’re in for a tough time. The Carretera Austral is like one long Oodanata, my nemesis in the motorcycle world. However, this time I’m equipped with a Landcruiser Troopcarrier who I love more and more every day. Just an absolute beast of a wonder-horse.
Our route so far has taken us from Santiago, west to Valparaiso, and then began our journey south. Picking up the car in San Antonio, we took in the wine regions of Cochagua, coastal towns of Tome and Concepcion, Temuco and the Lakes District region of Pucon and the Villarrica National Park. Further south, we took in the pretty German town of Puerto Varas and the Osorno Volcano, south to Puerto Montt and skirted along the coast to Hualaihue. Running out of land, it was time some consecutive ferries, skirting the coast where we could and taking in some drone time, and sticking to the famed Route 7 through Chile. The small towns started to blend all the way to Coyhaique, this one large town puncturing the others by having an ATM, supermarket and Bunnings, equivalent. Now that’s living! A few hundred kilometres later we got to our beloved, yet bloody wet, Puerto Tranquilo.
Patagonia should be a name derived from the terrific clouds which deliver rainclouds, delicate white whisps and broad paintbrush strokes across a myriad of deep blue and grey skies. Instead it’s because the Patagonians were patagons i.e. larger than average height for humans that Magellan had seen up to that point in the 1500’s. We had little incline of what awaited us in Patagonia, and thus have been pleasantly surprised by its sheer beauty and capricious weather. Melbourne has a reputation for being a four-seasons in one day type city, yet here that can happen in an hour. The cloudscapes providing breaks, rains or hail are simply astounding, I've never seen anything like it. Opting for the lesser known border crossing east into Argentina from Cochrane (the most famous English Naval Admiral you’ve probably never heard of and a real hero in Chile), we headed into the Patagonia National Park, Valle Chacabuco. Containing llamas, condors, pumas, cougars, snoring Uncles and Welshman, this wonderful park also has slow going roads (which roads don’t in this part of this world?!). The border-crossing on both the Chilean and Argentinian side were simply two men at outpost wooden-huts. It’s an assignment into solitary, effectively. But the scenery was just . . . wow.
The blog will be a record of everything - from idea conception to old age in making this adventure happen
You can find the excellent 2006 Antipodean Adventure blog by Dwyer Rooney here