One of the legendary roads in South America is the Carretera Austral; a 1,200 kilometer stretch of mainly dirt roads that passes through Chilean Patagonia, some of the most beautiful landscape in the world.
Our plan was to cross into Chile from Bariloche, Argentina. Then we would drive to Puerto Montt, the actual start of the Carretera. In Puerto Montt, we would have to book the three (3) ferry crossings that are required for the northern parts of the Carretera. As a sidenote: as far as we could tell, we could not book these ferry crossings on the web…
Unfortunately, when we got to Puerto Montt, we found out that the next available opening on the ferries was 12 days away. Minor setback…
So, we drove back the same way we came to Bariloche, and headed south until we could cross the border into Chile and rejoin the Carretera Austral beyond the point where the ferries are required.
At first, we were annoyed at “wasting” 700 kms of driving. But on closer reflection, if the point of this trip was efficient driving, we wouldn’t be here at all. Instead we drove back on the ash laden road into Argentina and had another chance to marvel at the amounts of ash deposited, we got to see a slightly different part of Argentina than we had counted on, including the hippie town of El Bolson – serious amounts of dreadlocks – and crossed at a very small, cute, border crossing – so small that google maps does not show that the road we took between Argentina and Chile exists.
We are currently in Coyhaique, Chile, roughly 400 km South of Futalefue, where we entered Chile. So far, the Carretera has been gorgeous, although the weather had been Patagonian: plenty of wind, clouds, and drizzle, interspersed with sunshine.
There are plenty of stories of how rough the road is, but compared to Bolivian roads, the Carretera is paved (as significant parts of it actually are now…). It may get worse as we got all the way south, but so far, you can certainly drive the Carretera in any regular car.
Chilean Patagonia is also well know for its rivers, lakes, and fishing.
And some fishing has taken place, and more will follow. February has been named “fishing month” which means I get to fish as much as I want, and Karen has agreed to serve as the fishing wench: serve cocktails after a hard day on the water, clean and prepare trout, believe my stories of how large the ones were that I released, etc.
More on the Carretera, Patagonia, and fishing in the next posts…