Thursday, March 17, 2011

Coyhaique to Puyuhuapi

Leaving Coyhaique


During the last two nights in the camping in Coyhaique, we enjoyed the company of two Americans, two French and a Dutch, who all came with a rented car from Chile Chico. Originally, we planned to leave in the evening, but the nice camping owner let us stay there for free for our 6th night there. We finally left on the day of Amit´s birthday.


We started the day with a climb from Coyhaique and since the top the road was flat for the whole day.



We met 3 of the 5 campers from last night, at the junction to Puerto Aisen. They spent the day in the fiesta in a nearby town, the same wandering fiesta that followed us throughout the Carratera Austral. On the way we met Chris Oram & Margo Mactaggart ( from Canada. They recommended us to sleep at the same spot where they slept the night before. It indeed proved to be a great tip, as we found mint there and took some for the way.


Casa de Ciclistas
The next day was sunny, and we enjoyed the 30 km ride to Villa Mañihuales.


There we went directly to the famous Casa de Ciclistas (G. Marchant 160, Villa Mañihuales), that we heard of from Chilean cyclists a few weeks before. Jorge likes to see himself as "cazador de ciclistas" ( which means cyclists hunter. He is an accountant originally from Puerto Aisen. To try and revive the village, he started a few projects, including a gym, and this is his newest intiative.


The idea is, similarly to CouchSurfing, to help travelers, especially cyclists, with a free place to sleep, fix bicycles, cook, shower (with freezing water) and even do laundry.



The main difference between these two kinds of hosting is that here you can just knock on his door without prior correspondence. The room Jorge provided us with was so nice that we decided to stay for the night despite the early hour and the nice weather. We decided to use up our time and hike a little. First we tried a very steep trail between lumberjacks that ended ubruptly.


We then went back and because the small natural reserve there was closed due to maintenance works there, we ended up going around the whole town (a circuit of about 3 km). In the morning we ate breakfast with Jorge and had pumpkin Chutni and a pancakes layer cake with Dulce de Leche and fried bananas.


Rain in the Carratera


When we left Villa Mañihuales, frightening clouds were starting to gather in the sky.


After cycling 20 km, the asphalt ended, and the worst road on the Carratera began :-(


We saw many lazy Chilean workers who were slowly trying to pave the road, and in the meanwhile only made things worse. Surprisingly, after another 20 km, the road was paved again, but rain started. We found a very nice spot to camp, after getting through some unlocked gate, under a tree that we hoped would provide a shelter from the rain.


After heavy rain at night, we managed to dry our tent in the morning sun. The rain stopped, and we left the place optimistically. On our way out, we met 3 farmers who claimed that the property where we slept was theirs, and that we had to pay for our stay there. Amit pretended to be a dumb tourist who speaks only English. This trick worked very well as Chileans are afraid of speaking English. After a while, it started to rain heavily, and this was of course a great timing for Shoham´s first flat tire for the trip. On the junction to Puerto Cisnes, we found a shed behind a bus station, that we knew was meant for us.

There we spent two nights and met many hitch-hikers including two Chileans with a puppy named Pandora, who spent the cold night with us in the shed. During our stay there we had just a few hours with only light rain that we used for a small walk on the road.


Getting to Puyuhuapi


We decided to leave in the next morning - rainy or not. We left very early, with our riding clothes still wet, knowing that we had a long climb on an unpaved road, passing the Bosque Incantado (enchanted forest). This climb turned out to be quite easy, and the hard part was going down in freezing rain.


When we were down, the sun showed up, so we decided to stop at once for lunch, and dry our stuff in these blessed 15 minutes of sun. When we were starting to leave, we met two Argentinian cyclists who planned to sleep in a camping in the natural reserve Queulat. We rode with them for a while, but as they were really fast, they left us a few kilometers before the camping. We decided to continue directly to Puyuhuapi, without stopping to hike at the Hanging Glaciar, but at least we had a nice view of it from the road.


To get to town, we had to take a ferry, free of chage, for a few kilometers, that was used due to works on the road.


This was our first encounter with the Pacific Ocean for this trip.


                     Shoham & Amit

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