411 km of cycling as part of a bicycle world trip - from the Argentinean border to Puerto Natales, trekking in Torres del Paine National Park, then southwards to the penguins at Otway Sound, to Punta Arenas, crossing Strait of Magellan by ferry and cycling to the Argentinean border on the Land of Fire.
29 December 2006 - 12 January 2007 / 15 days
2,292 metres in altitude
Highest cycled point: 733 m
Two days before New Year's Eve once again we crossed the border to Chile and pushed the bikes against the wind to Puerto Natales. We made ourselves at home in Chila's tiny and friendly hospedaje and got a warm welcome with coffee and cakes. Chila was like a mama and this was not at least one of the reasons why we stayed that long at her place. But additionally Mewes got a serious cold and therefore we celebrated New Year's Eve with Chila's family before just wandering around a bit in town and heading for a bar.
Two days later Mewes felt much better, thanks to Chila's strict healing instructions. So we catched a bus to famous Torres del Paine National Park, where we spent five amazing days, heavily packed with food, tents and other stuff, hiking to the impressive Torres, passing the Cuernos while heading for Valle Frances, approaching Paine Grande and Grey Glacier. Despite the first day we were surprisingly lucky to be present during the first four continuously sunny days.
After one day of rest in Puerto Natales I sadly had to say goodbye to Astrid and Mewes as Ushuaia and the end of their trip got closer and closer and therefore both of them decided to slow down as much as possible. So we were deeply hoping to catch up again in Buenos Aires.
On my own again I started cycling further south to the Strait of Magellan which divided the Land of Fire from the American mainland. It was a kind of stunning feeling to cycle along the shore of this strait, quite magical. I made a loop to windswept Otway Sound to visit a colony of Magellanic Penguins, before reaching Punta Arenas, the America's mainland's southernmost city. It was here where I met Antarctic travellers who paid not less than 24,000 US-Dollars for this by all means unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime-experience. I deeply wished to get a glimpse at this frozen continent beyond the end of the world, but actually it was quite ok, that this one dream could be kept. With 1,000 km the Antarctic anyway was close enough, since the huge gaping hole in the atmosphere's ozone could be recognised even hundreds of kilometers further north, because of the constantly rising chance to get seriously sunburned.
It took me two and a half hours to cross the Strait of Magellan by a rough ferry ride, before I found myself on the Land of Fire! The indigenous people, who probably gave the island its name with their many small fires lit at the shores, had been erased long ago. In the meantime the Land of Fire had been divided in a Chilean and an Argentinean part by a straight north to south borderline. A decent gravel road was leading to the border post and so I entered Argentina for the third time, once again enjoying one of those apparently never ending constant rainfalls.