Category 2013 Bike Packing South America

El Calafate to Puerto Natalas (bus 300 km’s) & Hiking Torres del Piane

Getting near bottom
Torres del Paine
Hike the “W”
Survive the winds

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It was an easy bus ride with another boarder crossing back into Chile.

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After a few days of planning, renting of packs and poles we struck out to hike the Torres del Paine. There are two routes, the full circuit, or the W. we chose to do the W. we planned on staying in the park 6 nights because we had the time.
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We chose to hike 18 Km’s in from the administration building, and then hike the W from west to east.
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While campsites were busy, most of the time hiking was not too busy.

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After hiking in, we pitched our tent at Paine Grande. The winds were so strong that we huddled our tent in with others in a little corner, protected by a berm.
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Click here for camping at Paine Grande
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It rained day two so we spent what ...

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El Chalten to El Calafate (bus 220 km)

4 strong winds
That blow lonely
Down the pampas
In southern Patagonia
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Click here – Davo gets a birthday greeting

It is really difficult to describe the winds. They can be strong and constant, Or very gusty, and unpredictable. They are no friend to people in tents, all part of tackling Southern Patagonia.
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The great activity in this town is seeing Glacier Pedro Moreno glacier. Seeing a glacier up close is magical. Thinking of the ice ages, how our landscape was altered (Armour hill in East City Canada is a drumlins, as a result of glacial activity).
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As expected, there are many small icebergs flowing as a result of ice breaking off the glacier.
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Click here to view ice breaking from glacier
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In the village we saw wild flamingos.
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Click here to see wild flamingos
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J and D

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Hiking El Chalten

Biking sore muscles
Try some hiking
Maybe different muscles
Wait and see
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El Chalten is the newest town in Argentina. It was established in 1985. It appears the Argentinians built the town to stake claim to the area, which was in dispute. This is a tourist town and one can do day or overnight hikes to Mt. Fitz Roy and other mountains in the area. You can start the hike from your hostel, no need for a transfer.

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Click here to view hiking mt. Fitz Roy
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Click here to see a little friend on the hike
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Click here for more Fitz Roy video
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In the end, hiking does use some different muscles and we were very sore the next few days.
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J and D

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Los Antiguos to El Chalten (640 km by bus)

Ride the pampas
On the bus
Strong strong winds
Biking not safe
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This starts our backpacking/hiking part of the journey.
It is about 640 km by small bus over the pampas of Argentina. I had heard of pampas but did not know what it meant.

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Click here to learn more about Pampas
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We had a minor bus breakdown. The driver got under with a tool kit and replaced a hose nd away we go. Very hot, dry and so windy it knocks you off your bike or even worse, into traffic.
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It was a lovely ride, as it was a 9 hour ride, they planned a few stops like Siberia.
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This man lived alone at Siberia, making fresh pizzas for his bus guests. It was a Siberia, baron, isolated, yet he had forged a very lovely quiet life.
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We saw lots of ostrich and guanaco.
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Click here to learn more about gua...

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Chile Chico to Los Antiguos (35 km)

Chile to Argentina
Not perfect paperwork
When lemons appear
Make good lemonade

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It is a quick ride between these two towns. Most of our mileage was exploring Los Antiguos, as the border towns are less than 20 km apart.

Both Janis and I had paperwork issues with our visas into Argentina, so,it took a little while.

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Once in town, we shard a lunch with a new friend from Santiago.

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Los Antiguos means “Place of the Elsers”. In1991 Mount Hudson erupted, spreading ash on the entire region. The ash forced evacuation, killed the vegetation which in turn killed the sheep.

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Click here to learn about Mount Hudson Volcano
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The ash was the lemons so they re-tooled using the newly fertilized land and started a very successful cherry industry (making lemonade).

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A local farmer we purchas...

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Puerto Ibáñez ferry ride to Chile Chico

Chicken little camping
Bikes on boat
Nice lake crossing
Another rest day

We camped in the municipal campground at Puerto Ibáñez. Nice quiet spot.
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Click here to see our little camping friend.

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We met a young Chilean couple who show that you don’t need high priced gear.
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Click to view different cycling gear
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Nice ferry boat and ride.

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Click here to see landining
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J & D

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Villa Cerro Castillo to Puerto Ibáñez (40 km)

Abandoned the gravel
Head to pavement
South sounds great
Winds pick up

We left our piece of heaven campsite and cycled back uphill for 8 km back to the turnoff to Puerto Ibanez. It was a wonderful day of cycling with ups downs and lots of sites.
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Click here for video leaving Castillo

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Condors overhead.

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We ran into 10 cyclists who were doing a 5 day tour. They rent a truck and take turns driving so they can have an assisted ride.

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The harbour at Puerto Ibanaz was a stunning turquoise.
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We shared a campsite with some hens and roosters.

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J and D

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National Park Cerra Castillo To Villa Cerro Castillo (38km)

Beat the heat
Cycle at dawn
Start with ascent
Legs like pistons
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We woke early, mixed up a yummy Nescafé instant coffee with powdered skim milk (yum, yum, yummy). Our staple breakfast of oatmeal gave us energy for the day.

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Click here for ideas on chairs for canoeing. and hiking

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Striking views from the summit.

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After more or less a day and a half of climbing (about 1,500 meters total ascent) we were ready for a nice decent. T get a feel for what this is like unassisted, take your 30 pound bike, add 50 pounds of supplies and 10 pounds of water, go to the bottom of Armour hill and spend a day and a half climbing 5,000 feet of ascent. Add to it 35 degree weather and you pretty well get it.

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I left the camera run for about 6 minutes on part of our 15 km downhill decent.
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Click here...

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El Blanco to National Park Cerro Castillo (25 km)

Climb, climb, climb
Hot, hotter, hottest
Horse fly infestation
Like flying piranha
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We left El Blanco and started the climb. Not too steep but lots of it.

We met a lady, Nicole, who was walking the same route we were biking. She walked 22 km per day with a full back pack, including food in a pouch on her shirt and supplies in the bottom of her pants (whatever it takes).

We are on the Carretera Austral, a famous highway in Chile, built by Pinochet.

Click here for more information on Carretera Austral

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We even heard there was a man on rollerblades pulling a little cart a few days ahead of us.

Every once in a while there are roadside monuments put up by truckers to watch over the highway.

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Birds along the way.

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It was so hot that sometimes you rested in the bushes away from the sun...

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Coyhaique to El Blanco (37 km)

Attachment to places
Amenities are addictive
Can’t stay forever
On road again
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We got all packed up to cycle down the road and the calling of one more coffee changed our minds. We stayed a second night.

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We also met up with Alejandro, he was the cyclist who switched rooms with me on the ferry boat so Janis and I could be in the same room. We call him Wyatt Earp. (Love his cycle hat). He is cycling south to capture the heart of a young lady. We wish him well.

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Lovely waterfall along the way.

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We arrived at El Blanco and enjoyed a hot shower. Next we toured the Mate museum. It is the name of this region and also the name of a tea that people of Argentina and Chile drink. It is more than a tea, it appears to be a lifestyle...

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