Since our last post we have crossed the border into Argentina and back into Chile again. What have we noticed in terms of differences?
- Argentine roads are sealed but have narrow shoulders
- Argentinian’s know how to bake bread and pastries! We have been consuming a dozen chouettes a day.
- The pampas in Argentina is very pretty but dry and windy!
- Everything is more expensive in Argentina.
On boxing day we left our hostal (el mosco – best hostal in town) at 6am to cycle to the wharf where we took a boat ride across Lago O’Higgins along with 6 other cyclists. The weather was fair ensuring a smooth boat ride. We cycled 1 km along a 4×4 track to reach the border control for Chile. This is a pretty nice place to wait for your passport to get stamped. There were a few horses hanging about, a makeshift soccer pitch out front and stellar views of lake and mountains. We were able to cycle right up to the front door, lean our bikes on the fence and walk in, get stamped and jump back on our bikes and continue along the 4×4 track. This track lead up a significant hill on loose gravel and rutted trails to the border with Argentina. From here the track became a single track which was overgrown and sodden after recent rains. Crossing creeks and wadding through shin deep mud, walking the bike through many sections of complex tree roots and steps. At 5pm we finally and muddily entered Argentine Border control. A simple singular roomed building painted entirely in a sunny yellow colour with only one chair and table with a journal on it. Seated on the chair was a member of the national guard who wrote our details down in his book and stamped our passports. Behind him through the only window in the room you could see Lake Deiserto and the FitzRoy mountain range. We camped here for the night and slept in after a long day. Taking the ferry at 11am to cross the lake and pedal 37km on ripio to El Chalten. The landscape had changed dramatically. Gone were the lush forests and waterfalls, they had been replaced by wide open valleys with low grasses and shrubs. The wind was pushing us to town and up the hills.
In El Chlaten we had wet and cloudy weather. We attempted to hike up to the various lookouts but cloud prevailed. We turned back and decided to return with our hiking packs after Torres Del Paine. Hopefully with a better weather window!
We cycled from El Chalten to El Calafate. We experienced the windy pampas. We flew down and up hills barely pedalling at times. We took a 90 degree turn to experience the same winds blowing us across the road into traffic. We took another 90 degree turn to cycle into this wind. It is possible, even with a fully loaded touring bike with well inflated tyres to go down a moderate hill and HAVE to pedal a LOT. We tried to have a rest and coast down the hill slowly. This is not possible. The bikes came to a stand still. We slowly ( pedalling 1 km in 14 minutes) pedalled into El Calafate and promptly feasted on pastries.
We visited the Perito Moreno glacier by bus. It was amazing! Listening to the glacier carve into the lake. We then ‘cheated’ aka bused to Puerto Natales thereby re-entering Chile.
We immediately went to the bus office to pick up our hiking gear that we sent in November. It was still there! We ate great pizza and hung out with the Famille de Bru ( a french family we have bumped into since La Junta in Chile many weeks ago).
Next? Off to Puenta Arenas to see some penguins and visit the Torres Del Paine National Park.
Photos to be uploaded when we get decent internet