2017-01-25 – Day 108 – Puerto Varas, CL to Pucon, CL (323 km – 17 hrs)
2017-01-26 – Day 109 – Pucon, CL to Coyhaique, CL (453 km – 8,25 hrs)
2017-01-27 – Day 110 – Coyhaique, CL to Cochrane (323 km – 8 hrs)
The Carretera Austal is one the most mystical route of the planet. I suffered driving it, but it proved to be some of the nicest moments of my adventure!
In the morning of February 24th, I left my hostal at 6:00 AM to finally undertake the famous Carretera Austral. The first part takes place between Puerto Montt and Chaiten, and features 3 ferries.
I did my duties and searched for the information but sources sometimes contradict themselves, therefore I validated the info with the tourist office of Puerto Varas, which gave me a brochure and confirmed that with a moto, no reservation was necessary.
The first crossing was not problematic because it is very short. it links Arenas and Puelche and is available every 30 minutes.
The next passage is much longer and there is, according to the brochure, a departure at 10:30 and another one at 14:30. The link is between Hornopirén and Caleta Gonzalo.
The last ferry is about 45 minutes and located only 15 minutes down the road from the arrival port from the previous crossing. it is part of the previous trip, therefore included in the ticket price bought for the previous passage.
I board the first ferry without any worries and head for the next point.
As you can see, not much room for La Gorda!
My 2 GPS’s send me to the same place for the departure of the next ferry but when I get there, around 10:00 AM, it is completely dead and I have a feeling that something was wrong. I ask a person who was standing by the water when was the next crossing and he responds that there is not boat here, that the the ferry is located in a city that I went by 30 minutes ago!
I therefore go back full throttle to try to make it before the 10:30 departure!
My efforts were not in vain because I arrived at 10:25, except that there was no boat at the port! I entered the office where they sell tickets to get told that the boat was et 9:30, that there is another one at 12:30 but that it is full and as I do not have a reservation, I can get on the 16:30 one… With the consequence that I am going to arrive at a destination around 23:00 and that I have almost 6 hours to wait!
Having no other choice, I buy the ticket, hoping that they could let me take the next ship, considering that my motorbike does not take a lot of space. Indeed, I was always cable to board on all ferries that I took in North America without reserving.
Unfortunately, this is not going to be the case today. 2 days ago, the ship got fined for having had too many passengers on board and so, starting a couple of days ago, they do not let any one on board above 257 passengers. I tried hard, by every possible means (please read between the lines!) but unsuccessfully. The boat left with space for several additional vehicles… But without me.
For those who would want to reserve in the future: www.tausrtral.cl
The only thing to do was to get changed and go for a walk in the small village. I ended up in a small feria and I ate like a pig! A great piece of lamb cooked on coal (parrilla), great home fries, all of it accompanied with almost a litre of Crema de Aji Chilena. Wow!
I also chatted a bit with other motorcyclists who were waiting just like I was. Most of them were from Chile and Argentina, and on smaller motorbikes (125cc to 650cc). Most will not go to Ushuaia.
Guess who boarded first! We finally left the harbour around 17:00.
Landscapes are superb and I am extremely lucky to get good weather.
We arrived around 20:00 and as planned, the drive towards the other ship took 15 minutes on a small dirt road, full of dust. Thank god I could leave before all the cars!
The last ferry was waiting for us we arrived at the destination around 22:00. I had another hour of driving which I did relatively slowly because the sun had set and visibility was reduced.
To my surprise, the hotel I had reserved is clean and welcoming, in spite of the fact what I am in a small isolated village!
I have a cold beer a good bag of healthy chips (!) before getting to bed. It didn’t take much effort to fall asleep that night!
The following day, my objective is to get to Coyhaique. But what was waiting for me was one of the most difficult motorcycle days of the trip.
And it started with this!
On a bike, riding on a gravel road can be very difficult. By car, it is unpleasant because there is a lot of vibration and it is necessary to reduce speed, but on a motorcycle, it is sometimes almost impossible to stay up, and this, especially when the road has just been graded.
In that particular case, I was driving in several centimetres of gravel and it was simply impossible for me to go on.
I was going slowly, therefore no damage, if only for a bruised ego. Except that to find myself in such a situation after only a few kilometres of the Carretera Austal is rather discouraging, considering that there are more than 1500 km left!
Some sections were paved but the most part was in gravel, under construction and in very bad state. The day was very very long and I worked extremely to deserve my arrival in Coyhaique.
My super 5 start hotel!
Seeing this city appear was nevertheless surprising. To find a community of more than 40000 inhabitants, having gone through such an isolated road was like a mirage in the desert!
I left early the following day in spite of the rain. It was not an option staying one more night in this place! The first 100 km is made on a perfect road and I drive relatively fast in spite of the rain and cold. The true challenge was the first 50 kilometres of the gravel road I had to drive in. Phew… Really not easy. Big round stones which make me go from one side to the other. Not fun!
At least, the scenery is great!
Later, the state of the road improves and the show becomes sublime! I am going to let the pictures talk.
A rather proud warrior, having survived the Carretera Austral!
Next stop, Argentina!
2017-01-28 - Day 111 - Cochrane, CL to Gobernador Gregores, AR (439 km - 8,5 hrs) 2017-01-29 - Day 112 - Gobernador Gregores, AR to El Chalten, AR (296 km - 5,5 hrs) 2017-01-30 - Day 113 - El Chalten, AR 2017-01-31 - Day 114 - El Chalten, AR to ... Read more
2017-01-18 - Day 101 - Santiago, CL to Colbùn, CL (350 km - 4,5 hrs) 2017-01-19 - Day 102 - Colbùn, CL to Concepcion, CL(274 km - 4,5 hrs) 2017-01-20 - Day 103 - Concepcion, CL to Pucon (463 km - 6,5 hrs) 2017-01-21 - Day 104 - Around Pucon, ... Read more