Now heading south for Cochrane and Villa O´Higgins. The highway hadn´t reached this southern outpost in 1993. Now it´s possible to catch a ferry with the bike and walk/ride on rough tracks to Argentinian customs at Lago de Desierto and onto El Chalten. This has become a favourite summer route for foreign cyclists.
The route from Futalefu to Coyhaique was a mixed bag. Mostly bad weather- held up for a few days with heavy rain. Lots of late spring snow on the peaks, and the rivers were turbulent with snowmelt.
Here are some photos of the trip. I´ll write more at a later date.
The highlights were the spring flowers, wild campsites and spotting a pudu in the rainforest. It is the smallest deer in the world and quite a rare animal to see down here.
It was also the first time on the ride since leaving the Caribbean shore and after 12000kms riding the spine of the Andean chain, to hit the salty smell of the sea. Puyuhuapi village sits on the Ventisquero fjord with access to the Pacific Ocean. We rode along the coast for about 15kms before climbing back into the mist-shrouded mountains of the Quelat National park (this is where I spotted the pudu).
Map of the route
Futalefu river running down to the Pacific.
Notro (Chilean firebush) Embrothium cocaineum
A member of the Protea family and an Andean relative of the waratah in Australia.
Copihue Lapageria rosea Chile´s national flower, similar to the Tasmanian climbing heath.
A house in Chaiten buried in volcanic ash and mud detritus after the eruption of nearby Volcan Chaiten in May 2008.
A small chapel in the Chilote style, with shingled roof and walls.
Riding down the Carreterra Austral on a rare sunny day
View of the peaks from our campsite by Rios Palena and and Frio.
An out-of-focus shot of a pudu deer. I spotted this timid pudu in the forest but managed to get one quick shot before it fled deeper into the damp undergrowth. This is the smallest deer in the world and it was a real surprise to see one so close to the road.
Forest orchid in Quelat national park.
View from our campsite at 600m in Quelat National Park.
Rainforest flora and vegetation
The road south to Villa Manihuales