Once in Coyhaique and after having done a part of the Carretera Austral, we had a difficult choice deciding what to do next. Our options were the following:
- Continue the Carretera Austral south to a place called Villa O´Higgins where basically the road stops. From there, our only option is to take a boat to the other side of a lake, where we can rent a horse to carry our stuff for a day, while we carry our bikes over an almost undoable path to enter Argentina. Sounds nice hu? Well, there is also option 2.
- Enter Argentina and follow the famous Ruta 40 south, known for heavy side- and headwinds and the absence of water over distances of as much as 120 km. Doesn’t sound appealing neither right?
Finally, after doubting a lot and tossing several coins (never decide anything important by tossing only one coin!), talking to other travellers and reading about other cyclists’ experiences, we decided to take option number 2, thinking that it would be a nice change to cycle in the wind instead of the rain.
So after a few days cycling and travelling by boat between Coyhaique and Perito Moreno in Argentina, we took the famous Ruta 40 having our bags full of food to survive for at least 10 days and enough water to last 2 days.
And the first part, we really wondered what everybody who had done the Ruta 40 by bicycle had been complaining about: the Ruta 40 was asphalted, there were small streams everywhere (so no need to carry a lot of water), mostly rolling terrain and foremost, we had the wind in our back! Just to give you a small idea of what that means concretely: sometimes we didn’t have to pedal uphill, as the wind would literally push us uphill, thereby even increasing our speed! So the first 50 km were done in no time, easier as ever! The Ruta 40 rocks!
Then, for some reason we didn’t quite found out yet, things changed: we don’t know if the road turned, the wind turned or some kind of evil god decided to turn his back on us, but the wind got so strong and from the side and against us, that it was sometimes impossible to stay on the bike! We would just be blown off the road (and the bike for that reason…)! Water got scarce (where did all those streams go??!!), so we were rationed while fighting against the wind on a very bad road (where did the asphalted road go??!!). After a night in which we almost didn’t sleep, due to the tent that blew around our ears and was on the constant verge of flying away (probably with us in it) we continued our quest pedalling for 6 hours over 25 km… Exhausted…
And then there was a point where we asked ourselves “Do we really enjoy this?”. And as the answer was a full positive “NO” we decided to go back. To go back to Chile, with its everlasting rain, (but hey, at least you only have to open your mouth, look up at the sky and drink, no need to carry a lot of water ) freezing cold, but with a normal amount of wind.
And what about Villa O’Higgins, and the impassable path and the horse and stuff? We don’t know and we don’t want to know for now. We’ll see that when we’ll get there. Time for other adventures later!
Vera & Jean-Christophe