Puerto Tranquilo (14th June 2017) to Cochrane (16th June 2017) on the Carretera Austral
“Even in March, people were arriving from Ushuaia telling us how we’re ‘gonna die down there’. But it turns out it’s all hype. It was colder in Bariloche than it was in Ushuaia! It’ll be fine. I mean, really, I’m not sure what the big deal is.” The words of travellers in Villa Cerro Castillo. A few days later we were camping in -11C and 3 foot of snow.
I had agreed with them. Up until Puerto Tranquilo I’d been wondering if there was such a thing as a Patagonian winter. OK yes it was raining a lot and yes there was some snow. And these can admittedly pose some uncomfortable hardships but it was nothing new. Then in Puerto Tranquilo the weather turned a little more serious and we awoke to a whole new set of logistical challenges…
I elect to wear my warmest gloves; a 5000 peso secondhand pair picked up in Pucon. I realise their inadequacy almost immediately when my fingers start stinging on a tiny descent. I question if I have prepared enough; if my kit is inadequate here what the hell is it going to be like a month deeper into Winter and a thousand kilometres closer to the South Pole? Since supply options after Coyhaique are fairly limited I start working through some homemade options to protect my hands from the biting wind. These eventually morph into 2 litre plastic bottle ‘pogies’ in Cochrane (next post) and become an indispensable feature of my kit.
Patches of ice, hidden by snow, make for some challenging riding and a drastic reduction in speed (to accommodate for unknown location of said patches). I opt to walk my bike for small stretches after sliding out uncontrollably and running (literally – on my feet) into a ditch.
Finally we slide into Cochrane looking forward to a night indoors which we spend in the 8000 peso Hospedaje Ana Luz before later switching to La Sureña across the road.
Some recommended Waypoints on the Carretera Austral (from Futaleufú to Villa O’Higgins).
Route: simply follow the Carretera Austral from Puerto RIo Tranquilo to Cochrane.