The Carretera Austral


It is three weeks since Jamie arrived, so much has happened since, we have cycled on 18 of those days, we have finished the Austral and we have made it through the notorious O’Higgins – Chalten border crossing. We are on or own again, Jamie’s flying visit and Hannah’s two months came to an end last week, we are tired, exhausted maybe, and enjoying some time off here in El Calafate. And yesterday we did something quite momentous, we booked a ticket from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires, we have two weeks to reach the end of the continent and the end of this trip.

The Carretera Austral is a 1200km long road that cuts through Chilean Patagonia and comes to a dead end at Villa O’Higgins. It is mainly unpaved and traverses several micro climates but leaves you feeling wet and cold in general! We came across these two maps, from different eras for sure but both somehow still accurate.

The Carretera is wild, it is beautiful, you need to carry several days of food supplies with you as centers of civilisation are few and far between, you really do feel like you are on the edge of the world, in some frontier space, the land of gaucho horsemen and amongst some of the most incredible scenery we have come across.

After saying our goodbyes to Jamie and Hannah we headed south to Villa O’Higgins. This lonely outpost sits close to Lago O’Higgins and was only connected to the rest of Chile 20 years ago. It is the end of the road for some but those with bikes can continue on, crossing from Chile to Argentina by way of two lakes and a 23km trek over a pass. A trek that involves a lot of pushing and pulling and carrying and sometimes cycling your bike, somehow managing 35 kilos of luggage at the same time. We were planning to do it in a day and it turned out to be epic. Luckily we were joined by Matej, a Slovenian cyclist and the three of us helped to turn this into an unforgettable day, but certainly one that we wouldn’t want to repeat too often.

Nessa actually fell in as the bridge gave way, just as I was about to take a photo!!!

Finally into warm clothes as we prepare for the final 40km on gravel and the end of a 16 hour crossing.

We are back in Argentina and the end is in sight, we hope to cover the last 1000km in 10 days and arrive in Ushuaia on the 14th February. It is best not to think about the end though, just bask in the memories of the last year and of what has turned out to be one of the trips of a lifetime.

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