los glaciers national park
puerto natales to villa o'higgins
lago o'higgins to villa o'higgins
Our first 8km of the Caraterra Austral - the beginning of over 1000km of ripio. A nice arrival to Villa O'Higgins. We stayed at El Mosco campsite - good facilities and nice vibe.
Lago del desierto to lago o'higgins/san martin
This is THE hard crossing between Argentina and Chile. Dont forget to stamp out of Argentina before leaving the campsite - one backpacker had to go 6km back to get his stamp! The first 6km out of Argentina are uphill through forest and across small rivers. The start is the steepest but its tough the whole way. No chance of hiring horses this way round. After 6km, you cross the official border but the road is just plain aweful. Soft gravel, big rocks and steep roads make progress slow and tiring - even downhill. We did it in 5-6 hours but plan for longer. After getting stamped into Chile (22km total) there is a small campsite but we went to the lake where there is a small hut with a fireplace. We slept in here, made a fire and caught the non-official boat the next day. The official one did not turn up (no strong winds or bad weather).
The tickets for the second boat have to be paid for in US dollars (if you want to buy them in El Chalten). We had only chilean pesos so we bought ours on the other side which was really lucky: There are 2 boats. One is the official boat and cost 44000 Chilean pesos (72000 if you want to go to the glacier). There is a cheaper boat for 35ooo chilean pesos. One guys bought his ticket for the official boat in El Chalten in dollars - but the boat didn't turn up! Its really hit-or-miss if it turns up on the right day. Some people wait for 3-7 days!!! So he had to pay for the cheaper boat to get across and didn't get any money back in Villa O'Higgins - you have to wait for the boat you pay for - even if it takes one week! Our advise - buy your ticket when you get on the boat.
el chalten to lago del desierto
From El Chalten, there is a rough road to the lake. Its only 35km but it can be slow as its so bad for the first 15km but then greatly improves. We had a bad headwind for the first half (added to the bad road) - progress was slow. The second half - the road becomes much better and there is cover from the wind by trees and ountains so the cycling is acutally really nice. We did not know about the campsites (I think there were 2) on this road... a nice alternative to those in town for anyone travelling this road.
We bought our boat tickets for the first boat in El Chalten. Its a one hour crossing and a really nice free campsite on the otherside which amazing views of Fitzroy. Eat a lot as the next day is very difficult.
The tickets for the second boat have to be paid for in US dollars (if you want to but then in El Chalten). We had only chilean pesos so we bought ours on the other side which was really lucky: There are 2 boats. One is the official boat and cost 44000 Chilean pesos (72000 if you want to go to the glacier). There is a cheaper boat for 35ooo chilean pesos. One guys bought his ticket for the official boat in El Chalten in dollars - but the boat didn't turn up! Its really hit-or-miss if it turns up on the right day. Some people wait for 3-7 days!!! So he had to pay for the cheaper boat too and didn't get any money back in Villa O'Higgins - you have to wait for the boat you pay for - even if it takes one week! Our advise - buy your ticket when you get on the boat.
La leona to el chalten
A nice tail wind until the junction of RP40 and RP23. The road to El Chalten (RP23) can be pretty hard if the headwind is strong. Even with a mild headwind for us - progress was tough. About halfway on this road there is a small estancia with trees for shelter from both sun and wind on an otherwise baron shelterless road. We had our own food here for luch but it would make a good spot to stay a night if winds are strong. Our view of Fitzroy was amazing the whole day - 50km of cycling with the Fitzroy Massif in front of you is really inspiring.
El calafate to la leona
Managed a tough 105km out of Calafate - some headwind but not as bad as it can be by other peoples description. There is a Pink House about 95km - its a disused old house but cyclists have turned it into a cycling hideout. Messages from previous cyclists on the walls about their journey - a little like the La Union Panaderia in Tolhuin but without fresh empanadas!. We made it a little further - to La Leona - where there is cooked food (hamburgers, pizza and empanadas). The camping was 220 pesos for 2 people but the workers did have a party that night so it was really loud. Otherwise - not a bad place to eat/stay.
Perito moreno back to calafate
Tarmac road all the way back to Calafate with gentle tail wind. We stopped by the Glacier museum which was very interesting and had a few drinks in the Ice Bar - it made the last 5km a little interesting too!
wild camp (RP15) to perito moreno
We turned off RP15 onto RP60 (average ripio road) and found a little cafe half way down. Its run by a nice elderly man. We had amazing cakes there and good coffee. There were lots of farm animals - calves, baby goats and even a very friendly baby guanaco! The road to the glacier is termed the whole way once off RP60 and is stunningly beautiful but quite hilly. We made it to the glacier buy about 5pm and back out of the national park by 8pm. Camped close to the cross road and river.
El calafate to wild camp
We took the ripio (RP 15) towards the glacier. Started very late (6pm) with a tough climb and head wind out of Calafate. The road is ok but soft in places - little wash board which was nice. Camped by a river in a field of flowers... really beautiful spot. If you leave earlier - another 30km on from here are 2 official campsites - one is free with basic facilities, the other is not free but has better facilities including cold drinks.
wild camp to el calafate
Possibly the most expensive town so far - even more than Ushuaia! Only came here to see the Perito Moreno glacier. Stayed at El Ovejero camping which was good - good facilities, chilled atmosphere, helpful staff - 100 pesos/person. Not too impressed by Calafate - nice town but everyone is after your money! Road here has nothing on it and a constant headwind.
rp7 to wild camp
Finished RP7 and back on tarmac road. Climbed a bit but a great view from the top and 12km downhill. Camped by a small river on a retired farmer land - very friendly chap. Beautiful spot 40km from El Calafate.
Argentinian border to Rp7
Took the short cut ripio road (RP7) towards Calafate. First 30km were really rough but it did improve. We had a tail wind and have heard that it can take 2-3 days in the opposite direction. There is a petrol station and police hut at the start of the junction (RN40 and RP7) which was great for water and some snacks. Cyclist coming the other way have even had food with the police officers after days of hardship. We were lucky to be going the other way.
puerto natales to Argentinan border
80km out of Puerto Natales to the Argentinian border. 14km of rough ripio road across no mans land. GPS did not pick up movements.