Back to civilization
I’m back alive and refreshed. On Feb 10th I left Cagalandia, a remote and beautiful land of Thomas Verster near Raul Marin Balmaceda in northern Patagonia.
I spent 2 weeks there with another volunteer (Bjorn from Holland who is going to stay there for a while to help Thomas build a house) and then a week of solitude, only with some 16 chickens and a beautiful dog Bethoven. Here’s his glamour shot one early morning.
The place is pristine and I don’t have time to upload many pics, but found a great album of one of the volunteers back from 2009 when he took these photos. Frankly not too much has changed there since then. The land is beautiful. I trekked the jungle-like forests trying to reach Lago Escondido 6km up north, but the vegetation there is incredibly thick and moving with machete is the only to move at all. I also used the old canoe to go around the corner and get a glimpse of Volcan Corcovado and a glacier next to it. Unfortunately i didn’t want to risk taking my camera on the canoe, so wasn’t able to picture the moment there. Otherwise spent time completely unplugged, without any connection to the outside world (even radio signal only works if you get higher on the hill or canoe out into the Pitipalena Fjord – luckily i didn’t need to use the radio). No electricity (the hydro dam that Thomas built had a broken generator so couldn’t even charge batteries), which left a lot of time for long evenings near the oven baking bread, drinking tea and reading. Walden Pond was truly of the most perfect choices on my kindle for this place.
For the past 4 days I’ve been hitchiking south toward Villa O’Higgins, which is the last town on Careterra Austral*. The road ends there but I will continue via ferry and trekking to cross the border into El Chalten, Argentina. It is suppose to be a beautiful trek and a bit of a different way to reach Argentina. I’m excited. Currently i am in the town of Coyhaique so today I will stop by NOLS outpost 15km south of town, get some gear for the upcoming treks in Villa O’Higgins, El Chalten, Torres Del Paine, et al and continue south stopping by in towns of Puerto Tranquilo and Caleta Tortel. The further south you go here the fewer people are here and the fewer opportunities to hitch a ride. Also, it’s a holiday season so i have some competition on the roads with Chilean students and backpackers, but there’s no better way to get to know the people and these places than spending time on long rides with local people.
My next steps below:
*Carretera Austral is a 1,240km road (mainly gravel) stretching through the evergreen forests, channels, Patagonian fjords, vast pampas, glaciers, rivers, national parks and reserves of Chilean Patagonia from Puerto Montt to Villa O’Higgins. It would continue south if not for the massive glaciers it hits south of Villa O’Higgins.
And then border crossing via ferry/trekking into Argentina.