Ruta 40 through to Chile’s Carretera Austral

Its now 9th January and we are in Bariloche in Argentina (again) Since the El Chalten post we have traveled up the dreaded Ruta 40, crossed into Chile at Chile Chico on Lago Buenos Aries  (the lake is half in Chile and half in Argentina. Lago Buenos Aries needless to say is the Argentinean name) Take a look at the map( top right of the blog) if you haven’t already

We stayed in Chile Chico (it sounds like a Chico Role with Chilies doesn’t it?) which is a peaceful little place. After the horrors of Ruta 40 it was so good to have a stop.

The picture below is me trying to open the door of a Restaurant that says “OPEN” but is CLOSED! This is typical and very frustrating! Restaurants typically open at 8.30 (ish) The staff can see you outside. The sign says open but they won’t let you in …even for a drink!

The Restaurant says it's open, they can see us but wont let us in till 8.30!

Just a few words on Ruta 40. The part from Tres Legos to Perito Morino, some 600 kms is nearly all RIPIO.

The frustrating thing is they are building a magnificent new road which will probably be open next year. So, here you are bumping along trying desperately hard not to fall off and just meters away is this near perfect road!

It’s not possible to get onto the new road as it’s blocked off! So as I’ve said before, it was hot, windy, bumpy and we were horribly overloaded with extra petrol…but WE MADE IT  and didn’t fall off once!


Ferry trip on Lago Buenos Aires

At Chile Chico we took the Ferry to Puerto Ibanez. The trip takes two hours and cost me $10 for me and the bike. The lake is gorgeous and the water is deep blue with mountains in the background

The next challenge was Chile’s magnificent Carretera Austral. it’s a 1350 kms road built in the 1970’s linking Puerto Montt in the north to Villa O’Higgins in the South.

View on the Carretera Austral

It was a pet project of Pinochet and a financial disaster…but a fabulous road through absolutely wonderful countryside.

Some of it is good asphalt and a lot is narrow RIPIO. We traveled for 500ks on the Carretera and 300 of that was ripi0 (if you think Ive got an obsession with this ripio …you’re right!)

The night of the 7th we found a GEM. We rounded a corner by this little lake and saw a tiny little shack that called itself a Hosteria. We climbed this steep bank and met Mirta. The pictures say it all.

Mirta's Hosteria on Lago Torres, Chile

There was Mirta, another lady and an old man in this tiny little shak. Mirta cooked up a magnificent meal of lamb in next to no time.

Mirta's kithcken..look at that stove!

She managed to find some beer and wine which made me happy. Two Italian bikers arrived. We all had a great time telling lies over a camp fire made from a 44 Gallon drum.

Azulo's "bedroom" at Mirta's Hosteria

Then out came the MATE. “MATE” is a tea like drink that the Argentinians (mainly)  are obsessed with. It’s drunk from a little pot with a metal straw.

John enjoying a MATE and Mirta

They share it around. You can’t buy MATE in a Coffee bar but you see people walking around with a thermos and their Mate pot. It’s sort of like “secret Argentinean drink” as you simply don’t get to taste it unless it’s offered. Mind you…I don’t know why they bother as it just tastes to me like strong bitter tea.

On the Carreterra Austral - Chile (in the rain)

The next day we hit the RIPIO for the last time. 300 Ks in pouring rain! It took us 12 hours!. We traveled through fantastic scenery which we could sort of see, got lost again!

A tough day but we both loved it and neither of us fell off! Sorry if this is a long and wordy post .

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