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Published: March 19th 2011
After getting to the Carretera Austral at Villa O'Higgins we got on the road north towards Cochran which is about 260km away. Route 7 is 90% unpaved, with a stretch of tarmac around Cohaique, so it's quite a bumpy ride. The good thing is that there's so much water around we hardly have to carry any as we can fill up at any time and there's virtually no pollution so no need to filter it. We met a group of scottish cyclists on the way who told us about a town called Tortel. It's about 22km off the main road but they told us it is worth the detour. It's built in the hillside of a bay and all the houses are connected by a series of wooden walkways which wind like a maze over the hills to each of the buildings. We left our bikes at the top where the road ended and walked down to find a hostel. It was pouring with rain so was great to find one with a huge wood burning stove where we could dry everything! We spent the night there and left in the morning to do the final 2 days to Cochran. One
day was flat and did the 70km we had planned really easily. As the roads are unpaved we travel quite a bit slower but it's much nicer riding through the mountains than on the flat, windy plains of Argentina where the roads are paved. The last day to Cochran was very hilly, with lots of switchbacks which was hard work!
There's a Rodeo competition today which we've decided to stay for. Looks like a big deal over here and they have lot's of stalls selling food and things. We'll leave tomorrow to travel to Coyhaique which is the biggest town on the Carretera and has a good bike shop we've been told.
For the past week we've been travelling with a Swiss couple, Aline and Jeremy, that we met on the Villa O'Higgins ferry as they're doing the same route as us up to Coyhaique. We have different riding speeds so meet at the end of each day to camp together and it's been good having company on the way. Aline speaks really good Spanish too so she's helped a lot in the towns. Next stop Coyhaique!
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