I had some relaxing time after the ride to see Ushuaia. I wandered through downtown tourist areas and also took a four-hour boat tour on the Beagle Channel.
Sign giving distance back to the Bolivian border.
Part of a more elaborate Las Malvinas memorial. By now, I remember outline of the islands well.
Colony of comorants.
Small but hardy plants.
Category Archives: Argentina
Ushuaia, cycling across Tierra del Fuego
A ferry ride followed by four days of cycling brought me to Ushuaia to complete the trip with our arrival yesterday. My bicycle is already boxed and I will have two days here as a tourist before flying back.
Overall statistics for the trip:
- 27,066 kilometers (16,818 miles) with 14883.9 km in North America and 12,182.5 km in South America
- 240,252 meters climbed (788,288 ft or 149 miles)
Day One – to bush camp
After packing our bags in the truck, we started with breakfast and a rider meeting where tour directory, Emily, reviewed the days ahead. Folks were excited to be getting close to finish, though still a few longer days ahead. The big wild card would be weather: cold rain or strong headwinds would make an otherwise easy day much difficult.
A quick cycle of 5.5km to the ferry terminal where we boarded for a two hour ferry ride across the Straits of Magellan to Tierra del Fuego.
A rainbow over Punta Arenas as we boarded the ferry.
Ferries in Chile seem to have some of their signage in Greek as well as English.
After cycling from port to small village of Porvenir, we found the gravel road heading out of town. The rest of the day was expected to be on gravel. There was occasional washboard areas but overall still a good road.
Some pretty riding along the coast.
The road was sparsely traveled. In the afternoon the wind picked up. There was a brief turn into the wind, but much of the afternoon was mostly a strong tailwind. For a portion, it was strong enough that winds would carry us along without pedaling.
Twelve kilometers before our campsite, we crossed a road intersection and had pleasant surprise to find a new concrete highway. Construction signs still up (for next 45km). While the wind died down, it was still made for pleasant riding.
Overall, the ferry ride meant the ride went longer towards late afternoon, but overall not too difficult. Our camp was essentially in a shallow valley on a side road leading to an estancia (ranch). The ranchers were kind enough to allow our group of two dozen plus to camp and we even were allowed to use the outhouse.
Day Two – Rio Grande
We crossed over to Argentina today.
Cycling out of camp in the morning.
We didn’t know how long the new road might last. For a few kilometers it was a new completed concrete road. After that, the main traffic was directed onto gravel, but as cyclists we could ride on the not opened concrete sections. Finally after that came construction barriers and gravel for us as well.
A short bit later was a village of San Sebastian and then the Chilean border. The border was busy and took a while to wait in line. I took a bit longer since I waited at currency exchange to get rid of my last Chilean pesos. The exit marked final of three visits to Chile. Each entry and exit gets a stamp, so I now had six Chilean stamps and six Argentinian stamps in my passport.
Just after was no mans land and Argentian border. The lunch truck was here as the Argentinians wouldn’t allow fruits or meats into the country.
After passing the border, it was on to the more main “Ruta 3”. From here we would keep seeing signs leading to Ushuaia.
I met a cyclist, Alee, who was into his third day of cycling to Alaska. Over the next days as we neared the end, it seemed like we met at least one or two long distance cyclist in Tierra del Fuego.
The area around Rio Grande seemed to have small pumper wells as well as some gas lines.
Unfortunately also a reasonable amount of truck traffic as well as these signs with yellow stars to mark fatal accidents. As riders we were fine, but I did get the sense that truck drivers near Rio Grande are worse drivers around cyclists than elsewhere.
A large mission.
Coming into Rio Grande, a more elaborate shrine to the Falklands.
We were camped at a horse riding school. It was a bit of a blustery windy night with a little rain, but by morning the tents had dried out again.
Day Three – Lago Fagnano
Today we finished cycling along the Atlantic and also started to come to area where landscapes changed. We went from area of more arid windswept plains to one that was still windy but started to have more trees and bushes.
Rio Grande is the international capital of trout.
Leaving today we turned more into the wind.
In addition to marking a decreased distance to Ushuaia, this sign also marked 12,000 kilometers since I had left Cartagena.
Tony and Sarah from the UK had started cycling in Alaska and were also working their way to Ushuaia.
After lunch one starts to see some bushes.
Horse riders along the way.
The last few kilometers brought us along Lake Fagnano on a rather poor gravel road. There was a strong wind wipping across the lake. Fortunately our camp had some wind breaks. I pitched my tent inside a wooden teepee that helped the wind.
Whenever we arrive at camp, there is a white board with general information such as where to pitch tents or locations of the bathrooms.
This afternoon we also had a celebratory wine and cheese. While we still had a day of riding to go, that was expected to be hectic, so we did some of the end celebrations now. The staff presented informal awards that were generally fun and in good taste. For example for the rider with most interesting food tastes, the one with the most visits to medical. I received a “Dr Doolittle” award for talking to animals. I think this came from my habits of mooing at cows, baaing at sheep as we passed.
Day Four – Ushuaia
Final day cycling and arrival into Ushuaia. Today we went through much more of a mountainous area again rather than the windswept dry plains we had further north in Tierra del Fuego.
Before breakfast we took group photos.
Here was the entire group.
These were the 10 cyclists who have done the entire trip from Colombia.
Here are the staff.
Now back to the rough gravel road along the lake. However, not much wind today which made a big difference.
We started along the lake, with a continuation of signs giving distances to Ushuaia.
A lot more trees today, also some horses.
I stopped briefly to celebrate reaching the 27,000 kilometer since Prudhoe Bay point.
Signs to describe a gas line being built across this area.
After this point we crossed over a low mountain range. Only 300m of climbing so less than before, but still enough to have some good views.
Max is one of the staff and was riding “sweep” that day.
The overall TDA route was a ride directly through town to end at the hotel. That felt a bit rushed to me, particularly since many of the riders would then be focused on taking apart and boxing their bikes as soon as possible. Instead, I wanted a chance to cycle into middle of town, take my requisite photos and otherwise sit back and reflect on the overall trip before coming to the hotel. So I asked the sweep to continue to the hotel without waiting for me.
At 95km were the entry signs welcoming us to Ushuaia.
I went off the route and via the waterfront rather than the highway to the hotel. Also shows how Ushuaia is located between the Beagle Channel and the mountains behind. Large ships have several choices of sailing in this area including: the Beagle Channel, around Cape Horn (the Drake Passage) or via the Straits of Magellan. Apparently, the blocking winds make the Beagle Channel often the best choice compared to much large waves near Cape Horn and in bays near Punta Arenas.
I discovered the some of the road was under construction, but I was able to wind my way through.
I found the classic, “fin del mundo” sign and took the requisite photos here. It was great to finally arrive and I’m glad I at least took time to get into the town.
After this I cycled off to the hotel. I boxed my bike and hence the riding was now done.
I now have two days in Ushuaia before flying back to Colorado. Nice to finally arrive and finish the trip. Felt great to finish, though I also had enough fun at the end, that I would have been happy waiting a week and then cycling north again…
In the evening we had a slide show that commemorated the trip. It was fun seeing the different sections, the last 20% where I was part of the group and also the initial 80% where I cycled through similar areas on my own. The next day, slightly over half of the riders and staff left already to get back before Christmas. Myself and some others are here for another day or two. I’ve walked around town as well as taken a boat cruise, but I’ll make a separate posting for photos from exploring Ushuaia.
18 months ago, I left SCC on the summer solstice. After approximately 13.5 million revolutions of my bicycle wheels, I have arrived in USH on the summer solstice.
It has been a wonderful trip and I am grateful I’ve been able to do it. Thanks for your support and encouragement along the way.
Over the next days I’ll update descriptions for Tierra del Fuego as well as overall summary and reflections on the trip.
Happy Solstice! Made it!
Camped on the shore of Lake Fagnano just over 100km from Ushuaia. The strongest winds died down from this afternoon. We go mostly west from here so hope winds aren’t too bad tomorrow.
Today we some of everything including headwind, cross wind and slight tailwind. My tires were pumped up and had a strong ride today.
We had a bit of wine & cheese celebration and handed out jerseys for the ride. While my flight back to US isn’t until Sunday, many others already leaving on Friday so anticipate it being hectic with folks boxing bikes, etc so other than evening dinner – planned some of these festivities today instead.
Informal awards were given out, e.g. the one most adventuresome eating or most visits with medical facilities. Generally in good taste and fun. Mine was a “Dr Doolittle” award for talking to animals. Guess it comes from “moo-ing” at the cows, “baa-ing” at the sheep and otherwise engaging animals as we pass…
My plan is to skip some of that rush tomorrow and instead take some time to bike through downtown Ushuaia instead and catch the iconic “fin del mundo” sign.
First a long ride tomorrow with 1500m of climb and hopefully not too severe winds. Exciting to keep getting closer now.
Today we left Chile and cycled along the Atlantic Ocean and ended near small town of Rio Grande. I have now entered and left Chile three times and entered Argentina four times and left three times. Each entry and exit gets a stamp, but fortunately still pages in the passport.
Yesterday after our ferry ride it was mostly gravel road riding on sparsely traveled road. We had a raging tailwind that at times pushed us along without pedaling. Whee!
Today after crossing the border back to Argentina, a paved but busier highway. Mostly flat, more tailwinds than headwinds and long open spaces. The highway signs now also keep listing distances to Ushuaia.
Nice to see distances count down (hooray two days to Ushuaia) but also sad (sniff, two days left). Still enough challenge with weather and road conditions that will focus there…
Seven days cycling along with a rest day at Torres del Paine have brought us to Punta Arenas. This city of 100,000+ is the largest city in this southern part of South America and sits on the straights of Magellan with the island area of Tierra del Fuego across the bay. We experienced Patagonian weather on our way here, some wind, some rain and some cold. We have a rest day here before four days cycling to Ushuaia.
Day One – La Leona
One last picture of Mount Fitzroy from a hike near El Chaltien.
Tailwinds! A day when the winds were mostly in our favor with 88km of easy riding and 21km of more difficult crosswinds. A bit of “end game fever” has crept into the group. The tour leader, Emily, mentioned the riding days would now “go into single digits after today” and one could tell, many folks had counted “11” and were quick to correct.
It was gusty winds starting out. As the canyon twisted, the wind came from different directions. Sometimes cross, sometimes tailwind, but eventually settling to mostly from behind.
Looking back, one could see a glacier up against the mountains.
Back to a land with Gauchito Gill shrines.
Jacob our staff member responsible for communications, getting ready for a photo.
A lot of long straight roads made for easy cycling.
At 88km the tailwinds came to an end as we rejoined Ruta 40 and went more across.
This brought us to La Leona roadhouse. The roadhouse was named because an early settler was killed by a puma (leona) at the point where a river crossing required boats or extra care.
The TDA group relaxing while we wait for dinner.
Day Two – El Cerrito
A ride of 136km today, but promised to have good strong tailwinds. For the most part these were manageable with only the last 35km on top of the mesa with extremely gusty winds that sometimes made it difficult to stay on the right side of the road. Fortunately, not much traffic.
We passed what looked like an observatory.
This first part went along a wide canyon.
A herd with several of these animals not far from the road. Further back were fences so they sometimes ran parallel to our direction for a while.
Looked like an emergency box.
From 84km to 102km we had a steady climb around 6% grade that brought us to top of a plateau. The climbing was occasionally helped with a boost of wind from behind.
Nice view up top but even more windy. I cycled carefully but on a few occasions found myself blown across the road and off on the left side.
Our campsite of El Cerrito was a road maintenance workshop. The wind was still gusting strongly and hence it was suggested we wait until after 7 pm to set up tents when the wind was typically less. One of the riders of a previous section had left behind some money “for a particularly grim day” and riders had used this to buy some wine and drinks in El Chalten and bring it for this day when we knew there wasn’t much more than a road maintenance camp. Thanks Fred!
Nearby was a small maintenance shed. Tom had found a spot to pitch his tent in the bottom of this tub (used to mix chemicals for the road, but now clean?). I set mine up in the same shed, though not in a tub.
That night the wind howled through the night and I was happy I was in a sheltered place.
Day Three – Cerro Castillo
A day to cross back over the border into Chile.
After howling all night, it was surprisingly calm for a while in the morning. This was good because we the route today would include some travel to the west and two years previously the TDA trip had this a particularly difficult day. We even had breakfast 30 minutes earlier to help riders possibly beat this wind.
The first 65km were on this gravel portion of Ruta 40. A lot of it was reasonable cycling though there was ~15km in the middle with a large “river rock boulder” section that was particularly rough.
These touring cyclists from Quebec had stayed at our camp as well last night. It is interesting to see when these solo cyclists meet with a group like ours, they are often happy or even eager to talk with other cyclists.
Some more touring cyclists coming the other direction on the gravel road.
Guardagando is the new Spanish word of the day for cattle guard”
At 65km was end of the gravel road as well as lunch. From here the road was paved until 104km but also more into the wind. I decided to take the bus from here as it had been good riding and the riding through open areas with a headwind didn’t seem particularly enjoyable. As the bus went along, we picked up more riders and by the time we reached the (gravel) turnoff to the Argentina/Chile border, five riders were all on the bus. I learned later that a number of other riders were also picked up in this area after strong rain storms came through.
Heading into the Argentian border station.
Our bus driver told us he had passengers with bicycles and when it came out that we had bicycled into Argentina, the guard insisted that we also bicycle out of the country.
Dean getting ready to ride his bike.
The first 2km were gravel and after that 6.5km of pavement in Chile. Also right as we started riding, the clouds let loose with a lot of rain. This made the Chile border post welcome because it was inside and out of the rain.
Cycled the last bits to the nearby village of Cerro Castillo where we stayed in “Martha’s backyard”. Not sure how Martha got into this business but she charged groups like TDA to camp in her backyard and then also opened up her house with bathroom and shower. There were also bathrooms next door at the bus station.
Day Four – Torres del Paine
Beautiful clear day cycling to Torres del Paine park. From Cerro Castillo, we went north to the park for a rest day.
We anticipated ~62km of gravel road and were pleasantly surprised when all but about 20km was paved. It did start with some tough winds and a short steep hill or two.
Sign warning us of strong lateral winds crossing a wide open valley.
At 30km we rounded a corner and wow! the mountain and towers (to the right) were now visible.
For those not paying attention, a photographic zone was coming up in a kilometer.
It was a great view with lake and mountains.
Zooming in a bit on the towers.
Over the next 30km I kept finding new places to take another photo. I found the views stunning to keep rounding bends and hills with mountains in front.
These guys were right by the road and not particularly scared or bicycle traffic.
Another view from closer up.
We reached the main trekking area. The park was expensive both for camping/lodging and for things to buy. TDA did a kind thing by cooking dinner one evening (and negotiating the second one from the park). Appreciate this particularly since it also meant an extra run to Puerto Natales to buy groceries.
There was also a mixup where the park thought we still had hostel reservations after the cancellation deadline and hence was going to charge for these spots whether used or not. This meant that riders were given a choice of a hostel bed in larger shared room or a camp site with five campsites available. I was one of the five who picked camping. That worked well, though the second night had considerable rain and wind.
Day Five – Rest Day in Torres Del Paine
Some riders had taken bus previous day and done a hike and hence we had reports of the 18km round trip hike to the view area. I was happy to have cycled the previous day even it today we had more stormy weather coming through. It was a nice hike with the last 2km close to the towers tougher scambling.
we first went up a ridge and then down into this valley.
There was a refugio here where one could stay or buy snacks like these.
There are ~630 Chilean pesos per dollar, so prices include $7.50 USD for that can of pringles and $4.50 USD for a snickers bar. A can of coke was ~$5.00 USD as well.
More hiking along the trail, mostly following the river valley.
It was misty and cloudy at the small lake at base of the towers.
Obligatory shot with myself and the towers.
After this a hike back down. The strong weather system came in in the afternoon and so nice to visit the lodge for a bit. In the evening period of strong winds as well as rain.
However, as a whole, I was happy we had visited Torres del Paine and got a chance to see the park, both from cycling to the central area and also from hiking to the base of the towers.
Day Six – Puerto Natales
Weather forecasts were turning to more rain. I had already cycled to the park, so decided I would take the bus to lunch and then cycle the new section south to Puerto Natales.
Snow just a few hundred meters up the peaks.
As I started riding there was a brief, cold rain shower but then it improved as I cycled through this valley. Also had more tailwinds than headwinds.
Many fields with sheep along the way. I could “baa baa” at then and often get some to “baa” in return.
The highway is marked as “fin del mundo” going to the end of the world.
Puerto Natales in the distance. A small town with touristy areas.
We had rain showers off and on through the day and overnight and were happy that the accommodation was in cabanas this evening.
Day Seven – Villa Villa Tehuelches
One of the coldest days cycling yet, particularly 75km of riding in the rain at temperatures of ~2C (35F).
Five riders had already seen the weather forecasts, the tourist attractions in Punta Arenas and decided to skip ahead on the bus to take some extra days in Punta Arenas. I decided to cycle the 148km day and see how it turned out (it turned out cold).
A fun sculpture in downtown Puerto Natales.
Memorial with a lot of donated water.
We passed an area with many of these estancias. Sometimes they would have small bus shelters.
Also areas with sheep.
Crossing the province boundary. Also last picture I took today before going into “heads down” mode in the cold and rain.
While it was cold, my core body kept warm with only three layers. My hands and feet were cold but otherwise, as long as I concentrated on riding I could keep warm enough. Just one of those afternoons to grind out some distance.
On arrival in camp, I put on an extra rain pants and two layers of clothing up top. Somehow felt a bunch colder and shivering for a bit. Went to a cafe inside, ate a good hearty TDA dinner and retired early to my tent. We were also fortunate that our tent camping was underneath an cover at the rodeo grounds.
Day Eight – Punta Arenas
Sunshine on the tent in the morning! Hooray!
A cool morning starting out, but the sun gave a big boost.
This Swiss cyclist (with journal in German). Was also in town last night.
Interesting on two accounts: he is in his mid-seventies and started bicycle touring after he retired. Also, his tent and some gear was stolen in northern Chile so he continued without a tent and somehow had been able to find places to stay.
Along the way was a monument to the wind.
Mike and Nola cycle past the monument, several strange shaped metal contraptions on poles.
At 50km was a road junction. Traffic was already busy but after this point became even busier. What also made things more difficult was a strong cross-wind and a road that was narrow.
Lunch was here along the road.
I saw signs for those penguins that others might have gone to visit.
Coming into town, signs of a harbor town.
Have only walked around a little but nice to be in a larger town again. A good chance to rest here and get ready for our riding to Ushuaia. Punta Arenas is on the Straights of Magellan where one can sail around south America. On other side of this bay is a large island area of Tierra del Fiego. The largest island (Island Grande) is where we will ride across for four days to reach the Beagle Channel and town of Ushuaia on south side of the channel.
First a rest day.
Five days on the Carretera Austral and one day crossing into Argentina have brought us to El Chalten, Argentina. Some tough riding with one of these days mostly on pavement and the other five entirely on gravel.
Day One – Cerro Castillo
Refreshed and energized from a rest day, we brought our bags out, had breakfast and then set off from Coyhaique. The first half of the day had fewer trees and second half we crossed over some hills and down into Cerro Castillo. The last 12km was on a tough enough dirt road to give us a taste of what was to come.
A few more of these shrines along the road. I’ve seen “San Sebastian” similar to Argentina. This one is entirely red, but not sure if it is Gauchito Gill or just a red shrine.
A photo of some of the more open areas. We had a stiff wind that made things colder, but fortunately mostly a tailwind in the morning and mixed in the afternoon.
After 50km we turned more towards some lower hills and climbed through valleys to the other side of these mountains.
We crossed into a national park with signs warning us to be careful with “huemel”. Ahead in the photo were two other loaded touring cyclists, we saw more of them in this section of the Carretera Austral.
Lunch van nicely situated near the 75km mark along the river. A welcome sight.
Another low pass to climb over.
Snowfields and water falls along the way.
A descent of several hundred meters on the other side including this winding road.
Getting closer to Cerro Castillo.
Small village of Cerro Castillo. Stopped for a coke here and then onto the gravel road.
Camp at last.
Here I met Linda and Mike Stuart. They have a well-written blog (Gone 4 a Ride) about their journey through South America and elsewhere. They were a month or two ahead of me in Bolivia and hence I found their blog notes very useful to learn stopping points and road conditions.
Day Two – Puerto Tranquillo
Today was our first full day on gravel. I decided to pace myself and ride to lunch and take the bus into camp. The first 20km were particularly tough as there was just enough road construction to dump loose rocks on the road. However, as photo above shows, also beautiful cycling.
26 kilometers and start of some climbing over these hills.
This touring cyclist was from Greece.
This guy had started walking in Puerto Arenas in southern Chile. He said he was going “north”. I asked “Alaska” and he laughed and said probably not quite that far, though he was clearly setting up for a long run/walk. You can also see the hint of dust clouds as we had these raised up each time vehicles came past. There were considerably more vehicles on this part up to Cochrane.
Another great spot for lunch. I decided to take the bus from lunch.
We camped just past this small town of Puerto Tranquillo.
Nice lakeside camp area.
Day Three – Cochrane
Today and tomorrow were advertised as some of the toughest days on the ride. So I planned out to ride half days on these days. The bus was full leaving to lunch so I wasn’t the only one, though I decided to cycle the first half and get a ride into lunch.
Great winding little road along the lake.
Lupines along the river.
Lots of snowcapped peaks.
Road works were starting here. One of the first steps is to erect the sign telling people construction will occur over the next 1440 days (five years), so it will be a while before this is improved and in meantime, likely to be a bit tougher with more loose extra gravel.
Photo of the two lakes.
Road works will be starting.
Raising some dust.
Beautiful lunch spot again.
Missed second half of the ride, but it went along a beautiful section of the Rio Baker.
Day Four – Puerto Yungay
Another advertised tough day with 131km on gravel and nearly 2000m of climbing. After lunch today, the lunch bus would start driving around to Argentina, so today I opted to ride to lunch instead of from it (so I wouldn’t keep them waiting for their departure). It meant a shorter ride of only 53km but still pretty cycling.
Starting one of the climbs.
One of the homesteads along the way.
A lot of waterfalls here.
Long views along the road.
A section with particularly tough cycling on the rocks after this.
Please use tire chains.
Puerto Yungay wasn’t big and a big portion seems to have burned down.
We camped on the beach next to where our ferry would depart the next morning.
Cyclists chilling at end of a day ride.
Day Five – Villa O’Higgins
Today turned out to be a late day of cycling, mostly because we didn’t get on the ferry until 10am and on the other side just before 11am. I cycled the full distance and ended up being the last cyclist into camp (getting an ovation, but feeling slightly embarrassed).
Photo above is our ferry ready to load. The morning started out with sun on the tent but in the morning it turned to a light drizzle.
On the other side and ready to ride. There were many fewer cars here since only four ferries per day (during high season) and some of these didn’t even have cars on them. We did have twenty-some cyclists and two support vehicles with one already departed evening before.
At 16km I fell and scraped my knee. It was relatively flat with a slight banked curve. The gravel thickened and before I knew it my front tire slid out and I was on the ground. Fortunately, only a scraped knee, sore elbow and palm (and fine the next day). After checking everything out, back on the bike and cycling again.
On our way to Villa O’Higgins.
A lot of climbing between the 20km and 45km points. This seemed to be a memorial to soldiers that lost their lives including the last entry for a pilot.
It looks calm, but a considerable wind picked up here.
Getting close now…
Made it in between 7:30pm and 8:00pm. Dinner had been served, but otherwise still more than an hour before sunset. Glad I could cycle the full distance today even if it ended up being later.
Day Six – El Chalten
Wow! A great ride today with several different parts: (a) short 8km ride to the ferry (b) three hour ferry ride (c) overland pedestrian only crossing from Chile to Argentina (d) another ferry ride (e) another 36km of gravel road cycling.
A bridge on the way to the ferry.
Loading time, bicycles but no motor vehicles.
We passed this iceberg on the lake.
At least three waterfalls here.
And we’re off! The riding in Chile wasn’t too bad as it was a jeep road. Some steeper climbing to start.
Stop at the passport office after 1km to check out of Chile.
Example of the road in Chile, all reasonable riding though occasionally steep short hills.
Argentina border, now the fun begins. Unfortunately, I was busy enough having fun that I didn’t get many photos.
Some single-track that wasn’t too difficult to ride.
There was more soft mud here than it looks. Fortunately, also a river that I forded at the far end to wash off my shoes and socks.
It was a slow walk for much of the single-track including some narrow well-worn sections. I saw a few cyclists with loaded panniers struggling to go up the other direction and didn’t envy them as a good portion I also ended up carrying my bicycle.
In the distance is Mount Fitz Roy.
Cyclists relaxing outside the Argentinian police/customs station. Fortunately, all made it in time but we did have a wait for the ferry.
On the other end, I slipped leaving the ferry and nearly dropped my camera in the water. Caught it just in time. Otherwise, a slow cycle to El Chalten, though still made it just before dark.
Town of El Chalten with other side of Mount Fitz Roy.
One of the tasks for a rest day is to get laundry done. I found at least four laundry places in town, many trekking shops and many hostels, guest houses and hotels. This is a destination area for many hikers.
We have three rest days in El Chalten before our last 11 cycling days + 2 rest days going to Ushuaia. It is already windy here and I expect it to be windy throughout. One rest day is camping in Torre del Paines, so not sure how many photo updates I’ll get before we reach our end as wifi is also rather flaky in these towns as all the tourists try to use it at the same time. Otherwise having a run ride.
Two days cycling have brought me to Chile.
I had taken an easy day in Villa La Angostura. Went for a short ride on my day off and encountered a group that seemed to be on a bike race/ride coming the other direction.
Once I got to the turnoff of the road heading to the border I turned back and otherwise had an easy day.
Day One – Villa La Angostura to Lago Puyehue
Next morning I was back on the road. Reached the turnoff sign, this time with a loaded bicycle. It was 15 kilometers to the border station but another 17 kilometers after that to the border.
Overall it was a beautiful area as I slowly climbed past snowcapped peaks.
This was just before the border station.
The border controls were simple. Just prior to the border, I passed a police kiosk on the road. They handed me a paper with room for several stamps. At the border itself, I needed to complete the stamps: first to have my passport checked, second to look at other documents and then back out. A little past the border control was a second police kiosk where I now handed off my stamped paper.
There was still another 17 kilometers to the border itself and 39 kilometers to the Chilean station on other side of the pass. It was a beautiful ride.
One of the volcano peaks near the summit.
The summit area itself, where I took the photo at top of this page.
Elevation 1321 meters. Not as high as further north, but still high enough to have snow everywhere.
After this a good descent down from the pass. I passed through this area where the trees were all dead. I believe this area had a volcanic eruption two years ago or so and assumed the ash along the road and dead trees were related, though the trees might have died from other causes.
Near bottom of the hill I reached the Chilean customs. They also used the method of having an extra paper that contained stamps for each of the steps. I first went to the passport control. My passport was carefully examined and I got a stamp for Chile. Next stop was customs control. I completed the customs declaration and indicated I had with me dairy (cheese) as it was listed along with fruits and vegetables as one item under control. Once the customs official realized I was traveling by bicycle, she called me back and had me provide details of my bicycle so she could write up a document that carefully described the bicycle that I was “importing”. I saved this document away as I expected it could come in handy on exit from Chile. The final stop was outside where inspections were performed.
I now learned what happens when you declare cheese on your customs declaration. They made a quick inspection of rest of my bags, though didn’t open everything (presumably realizing I was honest enough to declare the cheese and not finding anything on the other bags they quickly checked). I was given an option of eating the cheese right then – so ate several bread rolls with cheese. I showed them the empty cheese package and they then stamped my third stamp indicating the inspection was passed.
I cycled to end of the customs station and away. It was mostly downhill from here, though several steep little uphills as well. Overall the day had more than 1400 meters of climbing and only 500 of that was net climb from Villa La Angostura to the top of the summit.
Here was a small church I passed along the way.
This field of tulips was close to a large company that indicated it grew the bulbs.
Once I came close to Lago Puyehue, I came past more tourist vacation areas. Peak season appears to be January and February so many places were still closed. I stopped briefly at a store and then not much later passed a campground where I stayed for the night. There was only one other party camping there that evening: two young women from Boulder, Colorado who were in Chile and Argentina skiing volcanoes. I was impressed that even this late in the season (November), it was still possible to ski.
Day Two – Lago Puyehue to Osorno
It rained overnight. Not hard, but enough that I packed a wet tent. There was also off and on drizzle on my ride today.
Picture of a boat by the lake, taken at the campground.
The little village of Entre Lagos was 9 kilometers away. This restaurant was closed, but thought their sign was amusing.
This bakery was fortunately open. I bought breakfast items here.
Along the way, I passed this interesting looking set of dwellings that seemed to be partially underground.
The road slowly became busier until I reached middle of town of Osorno. This is the central square.
There is a large church on the square.
Apparently the fifth church built in this location.
While Chile is predominantly Catholic, this church had a banner proclaiming the 500th anniversary of the reformation.
Fruits sold on the street corners.
630 Chilean pesos the dollar and prices above are in liters so gasoline is more expensive than in the USA.
Otherwise nice to get to the larger town and walk around the area.
Villa La Angostura, back again
Back on the road again.
After three weeks in Bariloche, I cycled back towards the Chile border to Villa La Angostura. Stayed in the same hotel that I stayed before Bariloche. The day started clear and became more cloudy and ended with light rain.
This photo from the end of Lake Moreno looking back towards Bariloche. It seemed like my progress was awfully slow until I noticed that my speed was in kilometers but the distances reported were miles. After that it made more sense.
Still enjoy seeing the peaks in the distance.
A protest against eviction but not clear the exact situation.
On my way north I met an Italian cyclist heading south. It was an interesting test of my Spanish. Many Italians speak excellent English but I’ve also met a few where my Italian was zero and their English was minimal. We resort to Spanish and that somehow is more difficult than with a native Spanish speaker. Today we struggled some, but I did feel like this conversation was easier than before.
I also met an Argentinian cyclist from Tucuman who was cycling south to Ushuaia. Once again, I appreciated having better grasp of past tenses, subtleties of Argentinian pronunciation and it was nice to get a sense, “glad I had that class.”
Near Villa La Angostura it was a touristy area.
Wood carvings along the way.
Overall, I made it to town by mid-afternoon. It was lightly sprinkling and then started raining more later. I exchanged some Argentinian pesos for Chilean. Also checking the weather as I expect it to be wetter on the Chilean side of the mountains.
Bariloche, la ultima semana
Time goes fast, already three weeks of Spanish class in Bariloche. I worked further through grammar topics such as differences in “por vs. para” and a lot of the different past tense conjugations. It has been helpful overall and I have a good set of summary notes for grammar basics to review again later. Bit by bit, nice to work further on my Spanish and these weeks have helped.
Last weekend I retrieved my bicycle and on Saturday morning bicycled to nearby Cerro Catedral ski area.
As far as weather goes, that was the nicest part of the weekend as later on Saturday afternoon it started to snow. Sunday was also a mix of snow and rain and good day to stay indoors. Normally, the winter season in Bariloche has snow between mid-May and mid-September so this was unusual.
Otherwise nice to wander around Bariloche further.
Our Spanish class had a few activities including a visit on Wednesday to climb up the clock tower and view the mechanism. Interesting to learn that temperature had an effect on the accuracy of the clock. At a temperature of 23C, the clock was accurate and more or less it would drift.
I still plan to go out with other students late this afternoon as well as a little bit of homework on the last day. However, the main classes are done.
The world is interconnected and while Argentina doesn’t celebrate Halloween, there were still references downtown in the tourist areas.
Sadly, also flags flying at half mast after an attack in New York City killed five Argentinos.
In addition to cycling to Cerro Catedral, I’ve done a few short bike rides this week. There is an facebook group, “ridingeverydayinNovember” and I’ve cycled short distances each day while taking part.
I’ve also done some further writing down of previous bicycle trips as well as editing content I’ve already written. It is a fair amount of work to write these sections about previous trips, but also fun to go through the past rides. Above is the book cover I am using for now.
I have just over two weeks before the TDA trip departs from Puerto Montt. The direct distance is only 350km or so, but I’ll depart somewhat early to make sure the welded bike continues to work fine. I expect it to be very unlikely, but if I have a problem with the weld, then this may give me some time to last minute retrieve a different bicycle. If not, I’ll also have some extra time in Puerto Montt before the TDA part of the ride.