Guanacos

Guanacos

Cochrane (Carretera Austral, Chile) – Bajo Caracoles (Argentina)

We left the wonderful colored lake and continued on the Carretera Austral down south. A mighty river has carved a deep valley into the mountains. Again we are stroke by the colors. This time I was reminded of cooling liquid for my motorbike engine.

Cochrane is the most southern part of the Carretera Austral we reach. From here we go straight east, through the “future National Park Patagonia”as the Tompkins advertise it. Douglas Tompkins (founder of The North Face) built up a couple of National Parks here in Patagonia, not without resistance from locals. The resistance seems to be pretty odd at first, but imagine a Russian oligarch would buy large areas in the US. That certainly would not go unnoticed and strange rumors would spread.

The Tompkins had the conservation of a great landscape and wilderness in mind (see their own vision here http://www.tompkinsconservation.org/about_kris_and_doug_tompkins.htm) but of course there are other people affected as well. People have real issues with them, such as the fishing industry and everybody who wants to use the Carretera Austral since the unfinished (and from the locals wanted-to-be-build) part in the north would go through private property and a national park founded by the Tompkins.

So here, east of Cochrane the Tompkins bought large areas of land again and they are eager to turn this into a National Park as well. They build up a nice building as the entrance of the park. A little plane is standing upfront. Seems they are at home here. In fact James who is passing thorugh here a day after us is meeting both Tompkins and has a great talk to them (see more about that here: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1020523).

We soon understand why this area has caught the attention of the Tompkins. It is beautiful. We see hundreds of Guanacos in large herds.

The scenery contains steep snowy mountains, lakes, swamps, rivers with crystal clear water and lots of grasslands which glows golden in the intense sun.

The sky is in dark blue and the bright white clouds create a hard contrast.

We pass through the road with our truck and are happy to have such a rugged vehicle. The road is quite bumpy and rocky at times.There are large herds of guanacos to be found here. These large llamas are adorable animals, sometimes almost elegant, mostly looking a little bit dazzled into the world. Or with other words: they are cute and pretty stupid animals. You just have to love them. And so we stopped the car many times to take pictures and enjoyed their view.

The bordercrossing is a small building. The 3 officers are very casual. It seems their bosses don’t show up very often. The papers are done very quickly and so we are back on the road.

As soon as we get to Argentina the landscape changes again. The hills get smoother and the landscape is more vast. We make it safely to a small town. It is the only town on the Ruta 40 for 200km. And so it is no wonder the few houses here are worth an entry even on the large scale map of ours.

 

Snap!

Carretera Austral – Tecka – Rio Mayo – Coyhaique

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I just saw a cloud of dust in front of me. Christys bike slid on the right side. Somehow she managed to be still on the bike. With a little pirouette the bike bounced to the left side and Christy finally crawled away from the bike.

This all happened very quickly right in front of me. It looked painful.

I slammed the brakes and ran to her to see whether she’d be ok…

 

The road led from Rio Mayo in Argentina back into Chile to Coyhaique. We had to make a detour via Argentina as the Carretera Austral was blocked due to a landslide. There were only two options: wait for a few days or make the detour. With the pouring rain we had in Chile the decision was made quickly. We rode across to Argentina, stayed the night in Tecka and went down the paved Ruta 40 till Rio Mayo, where we found a little hotel. From there it would be only going straight west back to Coyhaique in Chile. So this was how we ended up on this road

The road from Rio Mayo was enjoyable, but it was difficult to ride on. I followed Christy and could see how her bike bouncing underneath her quite wildly at times.

But she did well, and looked quite relaxed on the bike. The road consisted of deep gravel with stones as big as my fist. The only way to get through there is either very slow or with some speed. We felt comfortable to go with 60km/h and that turned out to be a good speed. You had to be very concentrated though, since the gravel was soft at times and piled up to deep ruts. We rode this road for 2 hours before the accident happened.

Christy was surprisingly pretty relaxed. Her right foot hurt badly, but after a while sitting on the ground she decided she could go on. I can’t believe how tough she is. We continued on the road for another 60km before we reached the Chilean border. The road got a lot better and we found a nice hostel in Coyhaique where Christy laid down. The foot has swollen quite a bit and she was in pain.

The next day we went to the hospital to make sure nothing has been broken and to get some medicine.

She got an x-ray and the doctor opened the news on the screen very frankly: 2 broken metatarsals (2nd and 3rd). No walking, not to mention riding a bike off-road for min. 6 weeks.

We had to do some re-planning…