Published: January 11th 2012January 11th 2012
Day 2: Jagged mountain ranges
The past couple of days have been very cool! It has felt like we are really getting into Patagonia now - high mountains, snow, heaps of rivers, glacial meltwater lakes and of course, cold weather : )
Leaving Coyhaique behind, we drove to the little town of Villa Cerro Castillo, based at the foot of the mountain we were planning to hike up to. This village lies on the Carretera Austral: the final southernmost road in Chile, that meanders through mountains and rivers. During winter, this area is completely cut off from the northern parts, due to the snow and rain. Not many people drive this road and public transport is very scarce. Most people cycle or hire a car or hitchike to get to the southernmost village, O Higgins. We opted for the hitching/attempted public transport method. Cerro Castillo was our first stop (after waiting a day for a spot on the bus).
The hike was 3 days long. Upon arrival, we found the little tourist office closed for the day. We decided to try and leave some laundry to be done while we were hiking. While walking to the laundromat, a young boy came out his house
Day 2: Our lunch spot
and asked us if we needed help. When we told him we were just dropping some clothes off at the laundromat, he told us that his mom had a washing machine and could do it for us. So we left our clothes there instead (those of you looking for work, this is a possibility to make a business back home).
We set off in the afternoon and day 1 was a relatively short walk to our campsite by the river. We walked in the forest, amidst a plague of caterpillars and horseflies. We failed to mention on our last blog that we had killed 176 horseflies within a 5 hour timespan on our previous hike. This time, however, seemed far worse, so we whipped out our new swatting devices - black Island style slops - and carried on swatting! We met many fellow hikers (most a little confused as to where they were on the map) and spent the evening chatting to 2 Israelis and Ozzies.
Day 2 was a tough climb up a scree slope, but the view at the top was mesmerising! Snow covered jagged peaks, a glacier, waterfalls everywhere and a glacial meltwater lake down
Day 2: Ice walking!
below. We both felt very priveleged to be able to see something as spectacular as this. We drank in the views while lunching at the top, before descending to our camp spot, but not after a very quick dip in the blue waters of the lake.
The camp spot was on the slopes, within view of the other 3 glaciers nearby. The weather began to turn in the late afternoon and clouds started pouring over the mountains and the wind picked up quite a lot. We found a sheltered spot to camp and enjoyed some hot tea and cookies.
On the final day we explored another path in the morning in the hope of getting more glacier views but the path ended in the forest so we turned around and started our hike back to town. This is when the rain started. Climbing up a scree slope in the gusting wind and driving rain was not much fun, but it subsided as we approached town a few hours later. We enjoyed a warm shower and crashed into our warm comfy beds for an early night.
Our first hitchiking attempt was rather unsuccessful. We stood with 2 Chilean
Close up of glacier
guys wanting to go to the same town as us (they had been there since the night before and had slept in the bus shelter!). Not many cars go past, and most were full anyway. We ended up getting a spot on the bus for all of us.
We hopped off at Rio Tranquilo, another very small town. The weather continued to be rainy and windy and freezing! We took a boat tour the following day to some marble caves (along with our 2 Chilean friends and 2 Basque people). It was a fun tour and the caves were pretty cool, despite being smaller than we expected. It was amazing to see the marble chipped away by the water and the colours were amazing too. The trip back was very wet and bumpy with huge swells (for a lake!). Our group became a unit and we all were planning to hitchike together to Cochrane (a bigger small town further south along the carretera austral).
10 people were trying to hitch to the same place and we realised our chances were bleak. We devised a few plans, none which worked out, but after a phone call to the bus
driver (from our tour guide), ended up with 3 seats on a passing bus and 3 standing spots (which later became seats too), much to the disappointment of the remaining 4 people.
Our group are all camping in this freezing weather, but we enjoyed a social evening around the fire with piscolas (pisco mixed with Coke - tastes just like Klippies and Coke). Our campsite has a cherry tree dripping with fruit, so there were many hikers and cyclists in the tree picking heaps of cherries (very yummy!). We will be leaving our Chilean friends here, as the Basque couple and ourselves head to the end of the Carretera Austral tmrw (Villa O Higgins). Here, we will go on an interesting border crossing. There is no road, so we have to catch various modes of transport, hiking and camping en route. But more on this next time... check you all on the flip side (ie Argentina)!
Marco and Phil - incredible views and the knowledge that we are in Patagonia
walking in the rain (but always matched with something nice afterwards, so not that bad)
What we miss most:
Glacier view with Cerro Castillo in the background. Loads of waterfalls (from melting glacier) into the lagoon
Marco - can´t think of anything
There are more photos below