So, after our unsuccessfull attempt to tackle the winds on the Ruta 40, we decided to take the more rainy variant by continuing the Carretera Austral all the way down to where the road ends, at Villa O´Higgins. Except for having a day of heavy rain, on which we only got saved from freezing to death by some friendly roadworkers who offered us a roof, a fire to heat up and some food, we arrived at this little town from where the actual adventure started.
To hike into Argentina, it all starts with a boat to cross Lago O´Higgins. That doesn’t sound like a lot of adventure, except when you take into account that there was a wind so strong, that the boat was just a playball of the high waves. When, on top of that, one of the coworkers of the boat kindly asked us to all go and sit on the same side of the boat to prevent it from capsizing (?!?!?!) we seriously asked ourselves why we were on this boat, on this lake and in Patagonia in a general manner…
But the boat was strong enough and we safely (if not for our upset stomach) got to the other side, from where we started our hike into Argentina. “Hike? I thought you guys were cycling?” Well, let’s say that for those 20 kms into Argentina, you can’t really speak of “cycling” as it is actually a combination of cycling, walking, pushing the bike and carrying it. We rented a horse to carry our bags for a day as the road is really bad, especially for the last 8 km, where it basically turns into a very small hiking path, impossible to pass with bags on the bike. Add to this about a week of Patagonian rain and you are just about imagining correctly the mudbaths, rivers that are so high that the actual bridges (read: pieces of a tree, probably ment to be a bridge) are about half a meter under water, and bushes we had to cross.
If we had fun? Yeah, actually we had fun! Even despite the snowstorm that we got into in the middle of the day and a broken spoke which really couldn’t have come at a worse moment, we had fun and felt very proud actually walking into Argentina and seeing the beautiful Lago Desierto marking the end of this trip.
And then, a day like this is still better than cycling the Ruta 40 or working!
Vera & Jean-Christophe
PS: You can check some of the photos from this adventure.