After a few days on Chiloe we take a ferry from Castro to Chaiten over on the mainland. The Carretera Austral starts somewhere south of Puerto Montt and drivers/riders must drive and take ferries to keep moving south. We had planned to go back to Puerto Montt and start the highway from the top, but on a whim we checked in at the ferry in Castro and there was a boat leaving the next day and they had space for two bikes….so off we go.
The crossing is supposed to take 5 hours but takes a little longer and we arrive in the early evening and settle into a campsite for the night.
The Carretera Austral is an incredible adventure road, nearly 750 miles long, and made up of some paved roads and even more gravel roads. The name means “southern highway” and is a mecca for cyclists, bikers, and overlanders wanting to explore the southern parts of Chile. The road north of here from Puerto Montt has been gravel, and where we pick it up in Chaiten we ride about 25-30 miles of pavement. Riding south the next morning we pass Corcovado National Park on our right which was supposedly created by the founder of North Face (wish I had better internet to confirm all the facts…. so please bear with me if something isn’t right), Doug Tompkins, and later given to the nation of Chile. Tompkins has several large tracts of land in Chile and Argentina and is working on what sound like some incredible projects.
As we cross a bridge the gravel begins and we stop so Brian can adjust the air in the tires.
We stop in Santa Julia for a break and an empanada.
Then back on the road.
We come to a fjord at Puyuhuapi and notice the tsunami warning signs along what I had thought was the edge of a lake.
We camp here again for the night and then move on the next day to camp near the Ventisquero Colgante, a hanging glacier we plan to hike the next day.
We get a great look at the glacier and its waterfalls from below and then hike across a suspension bridge and up a 3.5 km trail to a viewing platform. The hike is gorgeous and the view at the end of the blue ice of the glacier is stunning.
And this is only 3 days into the Carretera….this is gonna be good!