Cycling Argentina II - Patagonia

756 km of cycling - as part of a bicycle world trip - carrying bicycle and luggage on foot from the Chilean border in the middle of nowhere to El Chaltén, trekking to Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre, cycling a side trip to Perito Moreno Glacier and to El Calafate, then following Ruta 40 southwards to the Chilean border.



10 - 29 December 2006 / 20 days

756 km

5,982 metres in altitude

Highest cycled point: 1,121 m


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Bicycle Travelling Report


Having passed the border marker, the only way to get through appeared to be on foot, following a norrow muddy path. We left the bikes and the front panniers and started walking, packed with bags like a mule, through endless forests, muddy, slippery, up and down, crossing a couple of small streams on fallen trees. We repeated the same procedure with the bikes and the left luggage and pitched our tents in the forest just before sunset at 10 p.m.. However, we couldn't see the sun anyway as it still was raining as if it would never ever stop again.


The next day we kept on digging in the mud, up and down, crossing streams, until we finally reached the Argentinean border post at Lago del Desierto. While it still was constantly raining, we went back to catch the bikes and the left luggage and in the early afternoon everything eventually was packed at the Lago's shore. We got our entry stamps and a few hours later we crossed the Lake in a small boat to its southern end.


Next morning we started fighting against the stormwinds heading for El Chalten at nearby Fitz Roy Range. Sometimes it was fairly difficult not to get swept off the road, but we got a few quick views of Fitz Roy's impressing summit. The town itself hadn't that much to offer, windswept and overpriced, so we had a day of rest and went for a trek to get a closer view of these world-famous peaks. But neither Fitz Roy nor majestic Cerro Torre with its extreme peak and just for hard-core climbers, could be seen that day. A group of Italian climbers was now waiting for decent weather at its bottom for more than three weeks to climb Cerro Torre. Even them, they saw it just once for a couple of minutes, except one of them, who unfortunately went to town for shopping during that time...


Passing the endless and windswept Patagonian pampa, we cycled a couple of days further south to El Calafate, where we had planned to spend Christmas Eve. But before this we went to Lago Roca and, of course, to famous Perito Moreno Glacier, the world's most dynamic glacier. Constantly huge icebergs calved and collapsed into an iceberg channel, arm of Lago Argentino. Despite the constant rain an unforgettable experience!


We just prepared ourselves for heading back to Darto's Restaurant Rio Mitre 60 km away, where we had pitched our tents, when I surprisingly met Brit and Franziska, who I had worked with together in Alice Springs, Australia, half a year ago. So for Christmas I had a lot of nice guys around me. Together with a couple of other cyclists and motorbikers we prepared heaps of hot wine and, of course, an opulent dinner. Astonishingly there were fireworks at midnight everywhere in town, so we nearly started wishing ourselves a Happy New Year...


We went on cycling south, sometimes just reaching walking pace, as tremendous stormwinds and heavy rain slowed us down. There was not just one moment I asked myself why I was doing that. In the evenings we pitched the tents beside the road, often without any chance to shelter it properly against the Patagonian winds. We went sleeping, ready to pack the tent in the middle of the night in case of too strong winds and storm to avoid its total destruction. Even if this never happened so far, I lost a remarkable part of my travel energy, gone with the wind and the rain...


But we were quite close to the world's end already and I could have never ever imagined to turn back. So once again we crossed the border to Chile near Puerto Natales for celebrating the New Year there and doing some decent trekking in spectacular Torres del Paine National Park. Hopefully getting a bit less wind and rain... 

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