We woke up early and watched the seals and dolphins swim within feet of our van. After a short ride to the ferry we left the island and were on to the next adventure. At a Copec Station (gas), we met Adam who had ridden his motorcycle all the way from Canada. Life is full of people who have amazing stories. I think it is one of the things we have found to be so enriching when we are on extended journey’s. After getting gas we decided to hike to The Hanging Glacier in Quelet National Park. We arrived too late so plan B was the hot springs.
While waiting for our 5:00 pm reservation at the hot springs we went into the town of Puyuhuapi. There we met a couple from Britain with their two children. They had been traveling by van for a year; another great story. The next day we ran into them on our hike to the glacier. The hot springs were absolutely needed not for the pools themselves but for the hot showers. Yes, the hot springs were nice but we had not showered in a unmentionable amount of days. Welcome to life on the road!
After a cleansing time at the springs, we headed back into town and parked across the street from the town square. We were right next to the ocean. It was approaching 9:00 pm so we pulled the curtains, did some reading and nodded off for the night.
Thursday, Jan. 18th
We got an early start on our four mile hike to the glacier. The forests were thick with lush rainforest but with minimal humidity. After two hours we reached the lookout and were stunned by the majesty. I mean you can’t make these places up. As you can see in the picture the glacier is literally hanging, surrounded by cascading water falls. Suddenly the ice calved and from a distance it looked like it fell 500 to 1000 feet. It exploded on the rocks below and sent out a delayed report that was completely unexpected. The sound would be best described a freight train falling to its demise twisted and mangled on the rocks below. Truly an awesome moment!
Getting back to the van we fired up the coffee and got on the road. I know I sound like a broken record but the scenery at every turn is more and more awe inspiring. We decided to rent an Airbnb in Coyhaique for two nights to clean up the van and get some supplies for the next leg of our journey. We are now about half way between Santiago and Punta Arenas which may be our furthest destination. But, who knows, we may drive all the way to the tippy tip, Ushuaia in Argentina.
Friday, Jan. 19th
Day of getting our chores done. Cleaned out the van, did all the laundry and went into town to look around and get dinner. We are back on the road tomorrow and continuing our journey south.
Saturday, Jan. 20th
Started the morning with coffee followed by a workout and a good session of cherry picking. Yes there was a cherry tree right outside the front door. It was hard leaving our Airbnb because we had access to hot showers. I know that doesn’t sound all that fantastic but we were told that most of the homes in Chile have cold showers. Having a hot shower for two consecutive days seemed like such a luxury. You never know what you have until you don’t have it.
The roads around here can be tricky to navigate. Not only do they have potholes galore but speed bumps are everywhere. On our first day in Chile we hit a speed bump that sent us flying. But today we came into contact with a new obstacle, an invisible dip/ditch Launch O Matico! We had just left the gas station and put on some Julio Inglesia. Cruising down the road in some traffic the front end of the van suddenly felt like it dropped off a cliff. We were both suspended in mid air for a split second. Then the car rose up in the rear and the back wheels left the ground. It was like riding a cinched bull in a rodeo. Everything in the back, our cups, food, solar shower, spices, oils and fruit were launched throughout the van. We didn’t know what hit us nor did we see it coming but it sure was a hoot. We had to pull over and assess the damage but thankfully all was good, nothing was broken. ARRIBA!!! ARRIBA!!!
We drove to the town of Cerro Castillo where we planned to do a hike the following day. We arrived in the afternoon and drove up to the trailhead and got stuck in the sand. With a little shovel I did some digging and we were able to back out. I cooked a nice dinner and we got to bed early. We planned to be at the trailhead by 7:00 am.
Sunday, Jan. 21st
Early to bed and early to rise. The morning was cold and I would guess in the high forties Fahrenheit. We put on plenty of layers and set off for the trailhead. We were soon met by one of the many local dogs; he acted as our tour guide for most of the day. We hiked about 14 miles round trip. The trail took us to a high altitude glacial lake just below mount Cerro Castillo. The color of the lake was an unreal turquoise. We shot plenty of pictures but they did not capture the color of the lake that we were seeing. Our tour guide took us back down to the bottom and we finished up a fantastic day with a nice cup of coffee.
We drove to the town of Puerto Rio Tranquillo, a beautiful little village. We had set up a kayaking trip to the Marble Caves for the following morning. Dinner was at a local restaurant we're we spent the evening talking with a couple from Austria. The van life gives you limitless options on where to spend the night so we parked right across from the town square and called it a night.
Monday, Jan. 22nd
We started our kayaking tour at 7:00 am. We could not have requested better weather and our guides (George and Lewis) were raring to go. We were joined by another couple from the Netherlands and spent the next three hours enjoying the wonders of the Marble Caves. At one point we paddled through a tunnel of beautiful marble and enjoyed every moment. Our guides were drinking Maté, a caffeine enriched herbal drink. Sarah and I tasted it. It mostly tastes like tea. They are not big on coffee in Chilé but they do love their Maté! We Americans love our coffee and so do Europeans so we invited the other couple to a nearby cafe for carrot cake and coffee.
Once on the road, we headed toward Chilé Chico where we will cross the border into Argentina. The drive was stunning at every turn. We hope some of our pictures can capture the beauty. As the afternoon approached, we pulled onto a bluff that overlooked a river flowing into a lake complimented by a vast range of snow covered mountains. What a view from our front room. A couple from Belgium pulled in not far from us and we spent the evening talking about our Patagonia experiences and life in general.
Keep on Rolling
Scott and Sarah