Kilometers from Montevideo 9900
When we arrived into Chile we found a camp spot real close to the border to park for the night. We met Lin and Alef here, and their two kids Indy and Jona and were immediately invited for dinner! Lin and Alef decided to quit their jobs when the kids arrived and were doing this for 4 years now, from living in the Italian alps to enjoying life at a farm in Muiden. The next day we continued our way towards Cochrane, the little but only town in this area to get some fuel and shopping done. And then onwards to the South, over the famous (mostly unpaved) Carretera Austral. Towards the real end of this road in the little town of O’Higgins, we made a quick stop in the cute village of Caleta Tortel. The first settlers that arrived here all came by boat. So this town has no roads, or cars. Only boardwalks along the steep fjords. The drive towards O’Higgins was really pretty: Snow-topped mountains, lakes and a cool ferry ride over the lake. O’Higgins itself is not much, but if you want to touch the end of the road you have to go there. The Carretera is also a big favorite amongst cyclists. Lots of cyclists we passed, all of them with all of their luggage going up and down the sometimes very bad rippio roads. Pretty impressive! At the campsite in O’Higgins we met Vince, an American who traveled all over the world all his life, and was now settled in Chile. He is a pilot and gave us an offer to go with him in his little plane to fly over the surroundings of O’Higgins, including a nearby glacier. It was a pretty good deal so we decided to join him. And it was really amazing.. We got really close to the mountains, glacier and river. He was not scared to make quick and sharp turns with his little fully restaurated 1969 Cessna P106D, which Ralph could feel in his stomach… ;-).
Then we went back towards the North again. Shopping in Cochrane and then we found a pretty camp spot in Patagonia National Park for the night. The following day we went for the Lagunas Altas hike. A pretty tough hike as it went steeply up and down. We really felt this one the next day!
Continuing our way North we ended up at a spot right at the Rio Baker. The weather turned out really nice so we allowed ourselves to soak up the sun for one day ;-). We also made a stop in Puerto Guadal, where we discovered an abandoned mine (Mina Escondida), an old copper/zinc mine. We found lots of pretty rocks in the rubble of the mine, so collected a couple of them ;-).
North onwards we drove into Valle Exploradores. A valley full of glaciers and waterfalls which makes for a pretty drive! We camped on a little beach along the lake and visited the Glacier Mirador. A short hike up through temperate rainforest (?!) got us on top of what turned out to be the terminal moraine of the glacier, with a viewpoint over a little bit of the large San Rafael glacier and the lake in the valley.
Then it was time for a visit to the Marble caves. A pretty famous sight in this area. Our initial plan was to rent kayaks and go there by ourselves, but unfortunately this was not allowed anymore unless you have a guide. But we were already at the campsite down by the lakes and no guides were available. So we went for the motorboat tour instead. We had a sunny morning and the one hour tour was pretty good for visiting the caves. The blue water of the lake combined with the colors of the marble makes a spectacular site! After this excursion we continued to Cerro Castillo where we did another hike. Only 7km one way, but all up, with about 1100m of elevation gain, with a spectacular view at the end. And without having to share it with tons of people like some of the popular hikes in Torres and El Chalten.
Next we will continue our journey north, and if all works out join a big Land Rover meeting at the end of February:)