Punta Arena to Puerto Natales
I started the ride alone because the two others did continue cycling already the day before. On the first day to Puerto Natales I had problems to find a place for camping because there was no wind shadow, but with the help of some farmer I found a nice spot next to the road. In the night I got woken up by a terrible storm with lots of rain. At that point I was happy that I had decided to take a very windproof Hilleberg tent. In the morning the rain was gone, but the wind was obviously still there.
It was still more than 100km to Puerto Natales and I thought I would take me another 2 days to get there (but had only food for one more day). So I started early and made 40km before the wind started. I really enjoyed cycling that morning, no wind and the landscape became more and more hilly. Then to my surprise, I saw a cyclist with a trailer at the horizon, it was Joel (France) whom I’ve been cycling with a few days ago. With his help I made it to Puerto Natales.
Hiking Torres del Paine
From Puerto Natales everyone goes to the famous National park “Torres del Paine” for hiking, most of the people do 4-5 days hikes. Due to the fact that I had my flight on Feb 23rd from El Calafate (more than 300km from Puerto Natales), I decided to do only a short but intense hike in the National Park. While Joel cycled to Park (150km) I took one of the many buses to get there.
With many other tourists I entered the park. I transformed one of my bags into something similar to a backpack and started hiking. I enjoyed the beautiful landscape and the different type of sport. I stayed overnight in a totally packed campsite, the next day I hiked towards the bus stop and left back to Puerto Natales.
From Puerto Natales to El Calafate
I left Puerto Natales with no wind in the beginning on nicely paved roads, always having the big mountains and glaciers on the left side. Around noon I got to the Chilean-Argentine border. First I met a german cyclist coming from the opposite site on a recumbent bike (Liegerad), who gave me a few good tips. Then I had lunch in the house of the Chilean immigration authorities (you’re not allowed to take any fruits and vegetables crossing the border). They were really nice and offered my coffee and a nice place to sit and to have my lunch.
Argentina welcomed me with climbing gravel roads for a few kilometers, but then I had the strongest and most amazing tail wind in my life which let me easily go with 40-50km/h. As easy it was for me at that moment, as hard it must have been for the nice Japanese couple, coming from the other side.
In the end of day I had 120km on my tachometer and arrived in Taipi Aike (1x Estancia, 1x Petrol station and 1x Police and Road workers station). I could set my tent in the garden of the Police station. I cooked and had dinner in front of the police station.
The next morning I had one these very surreal experiences. While I had breakfast, one of the road workers lifted a sheep in a bench a few meters next to time and slaughtered it with a big knife right away. I watched him during the whole procedure.
First I made 70km on one of the worst gravel roads (until now, I guess I will find worse ones in Bolivia). At 3pm I got back to the paved road, filled up all my water reserves and kept going (with in average 10-12km/h). The road went slightly up trough the wide and flat Pampa. I had serious trouble to find a place to put my tent. After more than 30km against the wind I almost fell from the bike and had to camp right next to the road, half in a drain pipe.
The next day started with an awesome downhill towards the Lago Argentino with many glaciers in the background. I expected sharp head wind on the last 40km to El Calafate, as I cycled West towards El Calafate, luckily there was no wind. Somehow I still was really tired that day when I arrived after 70km in El Calafate. It’s a little village consisting only of tourists who are here for the famous glacier “Perito Moreno”. I checked into a nice hostel with a good vibe, where I randomly met Johanna from Südtirol who gave me a lift 5 yrs ago in Australia from Sydney to Melbourne. That proofed once again how small the world is!!!
Yesterday I joined the tourist circus and went by bus to the glacier. It is absolutely beautiful to see the glacier calving (huge parts of the glacier fall into the lake on which shore you can follow this spectacle a few hundred meters away).
I was supposed to leave Wednesday by plane to Buenos Aires for the marriage of my great friend Valentina (Thursday civil marriage and Saturday the main wedding ceremony). Unfortunately my flight got cancelled and they put me on a flight on Thursday. It’s really sad that I missed the first part of the wedding, but I joined the Party as soon as got into Buenos Aires. I’m now looking forward to the main wedding party on Saturday!
Thank you for your great comments, they push me a lot when I fight against the wind!!!
I’ll keep you posted.