Week 97 - Rain, Wind and Wild Camping!
We left Punta Arenas in the dry but unfortunately, after only a short distance there was heavy rain plus it was super windy, and this was going to be the case for the next few days it seemed. We even saw a huge lorry that had been blown over on to its side. Normally, we'd have stayed put (the beauty of slow travel) however the B&B we were staying at was not available for any longer and other options were very expensive an a travel budget, so it was either go back to the free camping and get wet and blown about, or crack on and get wet and blown about. We cracked on. The original loose plan was to go to Torres Del Paine and maybe explore the National Park, however it was so overcast and foggy it really didn't seem worth it. We got to Puerto Natales and got a fuel top-up, and also met another English biker there, so had a quick chat.
Following on from our short stop we looked at three potential wild camp spots, however the rain and fog was hindering us and the grassy/muddy ground off-road was sodden and slippery. In the end, more due to getting to cold and tiredness, we chose a wild camp on a large gravel area, which looked like a mini quarry that wasn't currently being used (GPS: -51.30661, -72.84120). Sadly, there was no view to speak of as the weather was just so bad. We pitched the tent under tarp, which we'd erected between the two bikes (love a good tarp!), which meant we managed to keep the tent nice and dry, woohoo! I was so cold though, and with the tiredness and a reasonable dose of hunger I just couldn't warm myself up. Kelvin got to work on soup making duties, which went some way to turning my frown upside down, and then we called it an early night. Our sleeping bags were by far the cosiest and warmest places to be right then.
We literally have no photos of between leaving Punta Arenas and making it to Gobernador Gregores as the weather was just miserable and it didn't seem worth getting our camera wet just for the sake of it.
The next day it was still raining. We put down the tent under the tarp so we could keep it as dry as possible to pack away, however even with our best efforts a lot of stuff still got so wet. The next stop was the border to Argentina, which was easy on both sides. We'd forgotten about the 1 hour time difference and on the Chilean side we were told that the Agentinian border would close soon so we went fast and there was a good distance between the two (5.2 miles) with very little time. Fortunately, there were no issues and the crossing was a breeze.
The winds hit again and the roads were so open on Ruta 40, leaving us exposed to the elements. We had planned to camp at Tres Lagos (GPS -49.59738, -71.44987) but after we filled up with fuel it was still only 3pm. We met a lovely Polish couple and had a great coffee at the fuel station as a bit of a boost and then set off to Gobernador Gregores. My confidence in riding on gravel, especially deeper gravel, had really improved over the last year or so and I'd allowed myself to relax and let the bike do its thing a bit more than I ever used to, however today I'd got a bit too confident and I highsided at speed in deep gravel, with the bike luggage landing on my leg. Thank goodness it was soft luggage! I lost my confidence a bit but I was luckily relatively unhurt except for a bruised ankle.
We got to Gobernador Gregores to Hospedaje Aldo (GPS -48.74931, -70.24393). It was most definitely worth the long ride as it was super warm, cosy and dry, plus prices were still extremely reasonable for the region. Irma, the owner, welcomed us back with a smile, and it was quite nice being somewhere familiar again. We decided on staying four nights due to upcoming very strong winds being forecast, and we weren't in any rush.
We made the most of the four days in a Hospedaje and caught up on banking, uploading photos and video, charging everything and resting plenty. I made a couple of curries and filling chunky soups, which definitely fed the soul. We also met an Indian born traveller from New York who was on a Harley soft tail. He was really nice guy and had travelled throughout the Americas on his Harley. We also got a chance to have some cuddles with the dogs again, who were just lovely, and also the cat, who as per last visit was managing to stay just out of reach of the dogs. It welcomed the presence of our bikes as it frequently used them as a hidey-hole. One other thing that we spent some time on here was looking at a rough route for the end of our adventure, as we were aware that time was passing swiftly by, and we needed to think about what we wanted to see and do in our last few months on the road.
After four productive but restful days we left Gobernador Gregores and headed off to Bajo Caracoles and got some fuel (GPS -47.44445, -70.92627). It was so expensive, and filling up both tanks was more than our daily budget for everything! However, you need fuel to travel and they definitely have a captive audience being in a very isolated area on the Ruta 40 with nothing else for miles and miles either side of them on the main highway. The wind wasn't actually too bad for once, and despite it being cold it was nice and sunny. We'd remembered how windy it had been the last time we were here, so were very thankful for a less crazy day! Unfortunately, Kelvin got puncture on route to Ruta 41. Video of tyre change (20 seconds) HERE.
It took about two hours from start to finish as it was quite cold. After that we kept going through the beautiful scenery and found a great wild camp spot on some green grass at the side of Ruta 41, travelling up along the Argentina-Chile border (GPS: 46.86849, -71.87780). The main issue was the cold, and we both slept so badly because we just couldn't seem to get warm, even though technically we'd slept in a lot colder climates. It was a different type of cold. It was so quiet there as well, deafeningly so. It was unlike most other places we'd wild camped where there was always some form of wildlife noise, but everything here just seemed to be so quiet. Only one car passed all evening, and then another two by 10am the next morning while we were packing up.
We got going again on the little back road and once again were rewarded with stunning scenery. Before we'd got to the border though we got fuel and some empanadas and WiFi. I found out that Kelvin's mum had had a stroke so we spent longer than expected before getting to the border, because understandably we were very upset, and I'd struggled to get the words out to tell Kelvin the news, especially as it hadn't been clear how bad the stroke had been. He found it very hard to hold back the tears so we just gave ourselves time to digest the news so we'd be ok to ride the bikes.
We then crossed the border in to Chile at Chile Chico, which was a bit of a pain as on the Chilean side they scanned absolutely everything, which meant taking everything off the bikes. Also the border was very open and very windy. At least it had been easy and nice on the Argentinian side. We also saw George Ferreira for a few mins at the Chilean border. After we'd crossed we looked for a wild camp spot but the ones noted on iOverlander were not so good or there was a gate, so we didn't feel comfortable going on to what may be private land without the owner being around to ask their permission. In the end we found a place in the bushes off to the side of the road and set up camp (GPS: -46.56905, -72.12496). It wasn't too bad at all, and the scenery was rugged but beautiful. The only downside was just there was lots of wind so it made for minimal sleep once again.