2 December - Rio Grande – San Sebastian (and
by car to Punta Arenas) - 38km
That morning the wind looked a lot less fierce than the previous
day. I packed in a hurry and was out the gate as soon as
possible, but to my horror the wind was no less violent than the
previous day. I was battered by that wind kilometer after
kilometer, and each turn of the pedal was an achievement in
itself! The wind, however, blows in gusts and every so
often I got blow off the road and had to get off the bike, push
it back onto the road and try again. Worse was that it also blew
me into the road, which was rather narrow and even although the
drivers were very courteous it was still nerve racking. It was
still freezing cold and soon it started hailing!! A
friendly truck driver stopped and gave me a lift to San
Sebastian. With renewed energy I set off again. The border
crossing between Argentina and Chile is quite low key but still
took a while before all was checked and cleared. This is also
the end of the tarred road and from there on it was a dirt road.
That was about as much as I could take. I felt rather sorry for
myself pushing my bike (in high wind) along this desolate
So I weakened and when a friendly Chilean driver stopped and
offered me a lift all the way to Punta Arenas, I got in and was
grateful for the warmth and safety of the car. The people here
are so incredibly friendly, I’ll have to watch out or I’ll be
given lifts all the way through Patagonia!! (Although it
may be the only way I’m going the get through it).
3/4 December - Punta Arenas
I camped at Hospedaje Independencia, easily the cheapest
accommodation in town and therefore full of backpackers from all
over. Much of this region once belonged to one person namely
Jose Menendez, wool baron of his time. Even today it is still a
sheep country and wool and lamb is big in this area.
Francois (one of the cyclists who I met at the Hostel
Argentino in Rio Grande) also arrived by bus and it was like
meeting an old friend. The weather station put out an alert for
high winds in the area (according to them over 100/120km per
hour) so there and then I decided to stay put and check the
weather out the next day.
5 December - Punta Arenas – Puerto Natales -
21km (and the rest by bus)
The weather looked really good and after a slow start I decided
to cycle along, but once again I only cleared the city limits
(about 10km) and the wind hit me with full force. I truly don’t
know how people do this. I’m just too scared. I turned around
and flew back, down-wind into the city centre again.
From there I took the bus to Puerto Natales, as I had already
arranged with Yutta and Francois to do some trekking once in
Puerto Natales. Even the bus seemed to have great difficulty in
staying in the road. What an unforgiving area this is. The
plains are rather barren, treeless and windswept. Every now and
again there was a lonely and forlorne looking estancia, some
even deserted. Once in Puerto Natales I found some good camping
in Josmar Hostel with a nice protected campground and
6 December - Puerto Natales
I met up with Francois and Yutta again. The day flew by as we
prepared for our 8-day Torres Del Paine trek. I rented a bag and
walking sticks from the local shop and stocked up on some food
stuff. The bag was rather heavy and I wondered if I’d even make
the first few km (and that was even before I packed the wine).
Just the very essential stuff like tent, sleeping bag, food and
warm clothes was already a lot of stuff to carry.
7 December - Torres Del Paine - Las Torres –
Things were rather well organized to get to the Torres Del Paine
National Park. Francois, Yutta and I grabbed a 7.30
bus to the park and then a small minibus to Hotel Las Torres,
where we started our first day’s hike - a short and easy walk. I
heaved up my heavy pack and we strolled off to our first camp
site. We had lovely views of the snowy mountains and lakes
nearly all the way. Our first campsite was a bit exposed to the
elements and of course the wind blew like it can only blow in
Patagonia. We managed to cook some food and I was quite sure
that I was going to lose my tent during the night.
8 December - Torres Del Paine - Campamento
Seron – Refugio Dickson
I woke to fairly sore ankles but paid no attention to it as
little aches and pains normally come with the territory. We
packed at leisure and then ambled along to our second campsite.
Again it was a short and easy day, which I was happy about as it
started raining and it drizzled all day. By the time we reached
Refugio Dickson we were wet and cold, my ankles were throbbing
and I found it quite difficult to walk. Dickson is, however, one
of the nicest camping areas on the trek, and has a lovely
Refugio with a fireplace, communal sitting area, coffee, tea -
and one can even order food. Well you can just imagine all the
wet and cold bodies (and boots) huddled around a small
Outside it was bitterly cold, I dressed in all I had to ward off
the cold, but nothing seemed to work. Soon it started snowing
and turned the entire landscape around me a brilliant white.
Falling snow is quite a novelty to me, but it was not as
romantic as I imagined, instead it was just freezing cold. I
thought my poor tent was going to collapse under the weight.
9 December - Torres Del Paine - Refugio
Dickson – Campamento Los Perros
Once again we were very slow at packing up. We knew it would be
a short walk to our next camp and as there were rumors that it
was even colder there, we only left at around 12h00. Although
I’d tried to ignore the pain earlier, by now I was really
struggling with my ankles and feet (too late now to think that I
should have stayed an extra day at Dickson). The walk however,
offered stunning views of the glaciers and surrounding
mountains. I was going slower and slower, François walked with
me as I crawled along at a snail’s pace. I wobbled along, and
aided by my two walking poles I dragged myself to camp. I felt
bad that I was holding up Francois and Yutta, but there was
little I could do. It was bitterly cold by the time we arrived
at camp and I knew that I should get my tent up as soon as
People are just so incredible, all offering pain killers and
lotions. I, however, knew that there was no way I could even
think of crossing the pass in the morning. I understood that the
pass was a steep climb of about 1 000m in deep snow and that it
was at least a 6-hour walk to the next camp.
10 December - Torres Del Paine - Campamento
I was virtually stuck inside my tent and could not move!
My ankles and feet were so sore that I could place no weight on
them at all. The slightest bit of pressure sent shock waves of
pain through me. I waved Francois and Yutta good-bye and then
had to think about how to get out of where I was. I understood
that one could get a horse, but with no command of the Spanish
language I felt lost and very sorry for myself. Eventually I
understood that I could not get a horse there at Los Perros, but
had to walk back to Dickson and maybe I could arrange
something there. Just how I was going to achieve that, I did not
know, as I found it quite impossible just to stand up.
Later that day a group of British horse riders arrived, and it
was good to hear a language I could understand. The guide came
to my tent and offered to take my backpack back to Dickson, if I
thought I could make it there by foot.
11 December - Torres Del Paine - Campamento
Los Perros – Refugio Dickson
I soon discovered that two of the horse riders were South
African doctors, now working in London. True to nature they had
a fair amount of medicine with them and offered me some
painkillers. Thanks to them, I could at least get out of the
tent on could stand on my feet. I waited for the tablets to kick
in and then, aided by my walking poles, shuffled back along the
path. This was not only embarrassing but also very painful. I
kept on telling myself “it’s only pain” but it did not work for
me!! Even my usual motto of “even this will pass” was empty
words that did not convince me one bit. I knew that I was not
doing my ankles and feet a favour by walking back but what can
I was very proud of myself for making it all the way back to
Dickson. Once there I found 3 other trekkers waiting for horses.
I pitched my tent and did all the necessary things, like filling
up with water etc, etc, as I knew that once I sit down there was
no getting up again - I had to keep on moving until everything
was done. Exhausted I flopped into my tent.
Soon a storm wind picked up and I desperately had to get outside
to secure my tent ropes. All I could do was to crawl on all
fours around the tent and hammer in the pegs and tighten the
ropes! What a sight that must have been. Still I was not
sure that the tent would hold up in such a strong wind. So I sat
with my back against the side where the wind mostly came from,
it blew so strong that I could hardly hold it up, even leaning
against the side with all my weight.
12 December - Torres Del Paine - The “rescue”
Early morning, and quite unexpectedly I was told that a horse
has been arranged for me. The horse was however on the other
side of the river. I took my last 4 painkillers, waited a while,
and then tried to pack up. It felt that the tablets had no
impact on the pain. I tried my utmost to pack my bag and tent in
the high winds. Eventually the camp owner came to help and I set
off towards the river. The wind was blowing so strong that one
could hardly stand; driven by the wind the river was a torrent.
The oarsmen of the boat which was to take me across the river
could not get the boat hooked up to the cable which was already
spanned across the river. In the meantime the ranger with horse
was waiting on the other side! Eventually everyone gave
up, and we headed back to the Refugio. We had a hearty lunch
after which the men went to check on the conditions of the river
and the wind.
Eventually the boat got hooked up, they loaded me and backpack
into boat and we made it across, by literally pulling the boat
along the cable. Getting out of the boat, across the rocks, and
onto the other bank must have been quite a spectacle. Eventually
I could meet up with the very patient ranger and my horse - I
later discovered that he was the most experienced and longest
serving ranger in the park. Then I was heaved onto the horse by
strong hands and off we went!! In the process I was lucky
to see an isolated part of the park as we followed one of the
horse trails. After about 2 hours (and by now also with sore
backside) we arrived at a small road where an off-road vehicle
waited!! I had no idea it was going to be such a mission.
With a most skillful driver I set off on a very exciting ride
through the park. The jeep track went up over mountains, through
rivers and marshlands and past some of the most stunning scenery
the park can offer. What an adventure I had, albeit a bit
Arriving at the main gate of the park I found an ambulance
waiting!!!! How embarrassing, well they loaded me in and
took me all the way to Puerto Natales Hospital. At the hospital
x-rays were taken, feet examined and I was declared fit and
healthy except for pulled ligaments and tendonitis. Although the
doctor indicated that my injuries will take 3 weeks to heal I
paid little attention to it, and was sure I’d be up and running
within a day or two. I had the luxury of an intravenous
painkiller but as far as I could figure it did absolutely zilch
for me!! So it was 11h00pm by the time I look the taxi for the
short distance to the hostel. Finally I could rest my weary
feet. Total cost US$470!!!!!
13/25 December - Puerto Natales
All was not well as yet! I still needed the medication
from the pharmacy and had to ask one of the staff at the hostel
to get it for me. At least I shuffled along and had a much
needed shower. Thank goodness for my laptop! At least I
could sit in my room and type up my adventure. To be quite
honest with myself, I very much suspect that the problem was due
to a lack of walking. After nearly 4 years on the bike, my
ankles are not very strong. So all in all, it was my own fault
for once again thinking that I can do more than the body was
Both Yutta and François arrived back from their hike and both
had a great time, needless to say I was very envois of them.
I waited for the ankles to improve, but it was slow in healing
itself so I helped it along with some anti inflammatories, just
so I could go to the bank and do some shopping. Day after day I
waited but progress seemed dreadfully slow. Daily I shuffled to
the supermarket, a painful exercise at snails pace. My friends
all moved on and still I waited. I could not believe, that a
simple ankle injury takes that long to heal. I was bored and
desperately wanted to get on the road. I however had the bad
news that tendonitis takes 3-6 weeks to heal!!! This was
not what I wanted to hear. There are unfortunately certain
things in life that one can to pretty little about. This was one
of those situations so I waited!!
Morning after morning I woke with great anticipation just to
find that there was little difference since the day before. I
was close to despair, bored stiff, and with virtually nobody to
talk to I even started wishing that I could cycle into the wind.
The hostel where I stayed turned out to be a favorite among
young Israeli travelers, and they arrived in their hordes. They
seem to favor South America as a travel destination and move in
packs – you seldom see one travelling alone. They therefore have
little need for other conversation and stick very much together,
speaking Hebrew – so that lot was of no benefit to me as I
And I waited … And I waited … And I waited!!!!
26 December - Puerto Natales
At last if felt as though my injuries were on the mend and I
could at least walk around with less pain than before. That
evening Ernest arrived from the North looking rather haggard
from weeks of battling the wind and the harsh conditions along
the Carretera Austral in Chile, and the infamous Route 40 in
Argentina. There was a lot to catch up on since I’d left him in
Melbourne 2 months earlier, so we talked until late in the
27 December - Puerto Natales
That morning we went to the ticket office in order to find out
about the Navimag Ferry which sails between Puerto Natales and
Puerto Montt to the North – apparently a spectacular 3-day
voyage via the channels and fjords. We discovered that this
weekly ferry sailed that very evening and there was a cabin
available for us – so a quick decision was made to take the
ferry, something which I secretly had my eye on for a long time.
Although it was quite expensive, it included 4 nights and 3 full
days of sailing plus all meals. It would also give my feet 3
more days rest, and it would get me out of the fierce Patagonian
wind and cold conditions (I hoped).
An odd thing is that we had to board the ferry at 21h00, but it
only left at 4h00 the next morning. I was as excited as a child
just to be on the move again. Shortly after 21h00 we settled
into our cabin on the Navimag ship “Evangelistos”, and although
our cabin had 4 berths we were lucky to be the only two
28 December - Puerto Natales – Puerto Montt -
Early morning we sailed, and by 6 AM the ship was maneuvering
through narrow passages and fjords. Snow-covered jagged peaks
surrounded us and a fierce wind whistled by, so I was happy to
watch the spectacle through the cabin window.
That afternoon we passed the huge and spectacular Glacier Amalia,
and although it was bitterly cold I ventured outside for a
picture or 2. The scenery was impressive with thousands of
uninhabited islands, snowy mountain peaks and icy looking
glaciers in the distance.
We’d already had 2 good meals that day, and at supper I
discovered that I could request a vegetarian main course instead
of the usual fish/meat/chicken – so I had a very tasty vegetable
stew and rice which came with a small side salad.
29 December - Puerto Natales – Puerto Montt -
Breakfast like the previous day consisted of bread
porridge/eggs, cheese, ham, fruit, yogurt, cereal, juice and
coffee. Not bad for 2 homeless people! All the meals have
been excellent so far, with enough tasty food to go around.
Through a narrow channel we passed the shrine on a small island
which is the Guiding Spirit of all sailors, and we also passed
an “insurance scam” floating shipwreck before heading out of the
channels into the rolling swells of the Pacific Ocean (time to
take the anti-seasickness tablets). Although the dinner was good
as usual, I noticed that there were less passengers at the meal,
and it was fairly tricky to balance your food tray on the way to
the table. At least we were rocked to sleep that night.
30 December - Puerto Natales – Puerto Montt -
Some of the passengers still seemed a bit “green around the
gills”, but we again enjoyed our breakfast (proof that the
seasickness tabs work). By mid-day we were back in the channels
again and sailed smoothly along without having to cling onto
every conceivable thing like tables, chairs, and especially
railings. The early morning fog burned off and brought excellent
views of the Southern Andes Mountains with its jagged peaks and
snowy volcanoes. For the first time we had calm sailing and sun
at the same time, and the upper deck outside the bar/lounge was
very popular that afternoon (by evening some of the paler
passengers resembled well-cooked crayfish).
Once again at dinner time we stuffed ourselves in the dining
room, and as any good ship will have it there was a little bit
of a party on our final night.
31 December - Puerto Montt
We docked at Puerto Montt during the wee hours of the morning,
and by the time I woke up most of the trucks had already left
the cargo decks below. We enjoyed our final fancy breakfast and
then it was time to pack the bikes and disembark to continue
with our normal lives.
We took a short cycle to the city centre where we booked into
the hospedaje where Ernest previously stayed on his way South.
In the typical Chilean style it was a rickety triple-storey
shingle clad home with lace curtains and wooden display cabinets
housing all kinds of family heirlooms. I felt that I had finally
arrived in Chile proper. The elderly owner of the place is also
quite an interesting character (he’s owned that place – simply
named B&B – for the past 40 years).
That evening we walked out in search of some excitement, but
found that most restaurants and bars in the city were closed and
everyone seemed to party at home in the suburbs. However, there
were spectacular midnight fireworks at the pier, and our host
invited us downstairs for a drink where his family and friends
1 – 2 January - Puerto Montt
We stayed in Puerto Montt for the next 2 days, waiting for my
ankles to heal. I lay watching TV while Ernest proceeded to
polish off 2 bottles of whisky and a case of beer!
The weather in Puerto Montt was relatively mild and I was happy
to be out of Patagonia. So all in all Patagonia was not as
scenic as it sounded, all I remember is a ferocious wind and a
hike that went wrong.
That afternoon a fairly strong earthquake hit Chile, fortunately
it was quite far north and we only felt a moderate trembling.
Our rickety accommodation where we stayed swayed from side to
side but fortunately no damage was done.
3 January - Puerto Montt – Puerto Veras -
At last I felt that we could give the cycling a try and we
cycled the short distance to picturesque Puerto Veras with its
strong German influence. What a touristy place it was, I guess
that picturesque places like that will always come with the
hordes of backpackers, fancy hotels and pricy restaurants.
Unfortunately it was overcast and drizzling so we did not see
the famed volcanoes from across the lake.
At least my ankles held out and I felt a bit more confidant to
continue north. Walking was still causing a lot of discomfort
but at least it appeared that I could cycle.
4 January - Puerto Varas – Frutillar - 43km
We cycled along to the next village along the lake, looking for
a campsite on the lake, but could not find any. We did however
find a lovely campsite in someone’s garden and camped under a
cherry tree. I was happy that a second day on the road went well
without any aches or pains.
5 January - Frutillar – Osorno - 70km
I could not wish for a better start to my recovery cycle. The
road was excellent, with a wide shoulder, a tailwind and it was
a beautiful sunny day. For the first time in a very long while I
could cycle with short sleeves, and could appreciate the
countryside. Needless to say I was very happy.
We even found excellent accommodation in Osorno. Right in the
town centre and with ground floor, outside rooms, TV and hot
showers. I could not ask for more.
6 January - Osorno – Los Lagos - 95km
It was another perfect day on the road as we followed the
Pan-American Highway North. The weather was warm, a slight
tailwind and excellent scenery past forested areas. We turned
off the highway to the small and very un-touristy village of Los
Lagos. We found some rickety accommodation in centre of the
village, more a homestay than a guesthouse.
7 January - Osorno
– Loncoche - 84km
One of the best
days one can have on a bike. The weather was warm; the road was
good, gently undulating, past forestry areas and all this with a
gentle tailwind. I was truly happy to be out on the road. We
stopped at a roadside stall to pick up some cheese, something
that seems to be quite popular around here. We pulled into the
small village of Loncoche and found an excellent room in town
(outside & ground floor). Ernest went off to the supermarket and
came back with a bag full of salad stuff. He then proceeded to
make an awesome noodle salad and I stuffed myself before
crawling into bed.
8/9 January -
Loncoche – Temuco - 88km
I could not
believe my luck as it was another perfect day - clear skies,
sunshine and no head wind. I knew my bad luck had to change some
time. We pedalled along at leisure until we reached Temuco,
quite a large town. After looking around a bit, we again found
an outside ground floor room, something that I always prefer to
being cooped up in a 3rd floor room with no outside
We also stayed the
following day, did some laundry and some internet. A walk to the
interesting local market brought us again to the cheese sellers,
fruit, fish, and meat vendors, and also to the local horse
butcheries - something that appears to be quite popular around
10 January -
Temuco – Collipulli - 102km
It was another
excellent day on the road, although we had a bit of a head wind
in the afternoon. We had to use a lot of sunscreen cream as the
time in the cold South has clearly softened us up. It was so
nice to be in hot weather without a howling wind. We pulled into
the fairly small town of Collipulli. I just love these small
villages where people go about their lives without the tourist
influence. Each town has a park/plaza in the town centre, and
colorful wooden houses. We found a room in the centre at a very
reasonable price and just chilled out for the rest of the
11 January -
Collipulli – Los Angles - 77km
Blue skies abound
and the sun was out as we biked along the Pan Americana highway
(Route 5) north. As in the previous days there were plenty of
small stalls along the road, mostly frequented by the truck
drivers. There were a few hilly sections, as we crossed a number
of large rivers along the way.
Soon we reached
Los Angeles and turned off the highway to inspect. Not to be
confused with the Los Angeles in USA, this is an agricultural
town, but also close to a National Park and therefore a jumping
board for those wanting to visit the park. This region was hard
hit by the severe earthquake a year ago, and the town is still
busy recovering from the disaster – rebuilding is in the
progress, and many buildings are still in ruins. We found a
room, and could pick up BBC on TV – I don’t seem to have missed
a lot, in fact it is sometimes amusing to see what is considered
to be World News!
12/13 January - Los Angeles - Chillan - 113km
We made some sandwiches for the road and set off at 11h00,
nothing unusual in this part of the world as people go to bed
rather late and only get going at around 10h00. Ernest spotted a
welding shop on our way out of town and quickly had his bike's
front rack repaired - it broke along the infamous Ruta 40 when
he was being blown over on the gravel roads. It was nice to
cycle in warm weather for a change and we even looked for shade
when we wanted to rest.
Chillan was interesting as it had an old city with cobblestone
roads and is also the birthplace of Bernardo O'Higgins who is
regarded as the liberator of Chile.
We found Chillan rather interesting with many squares and parks;
in fact it was so nice that we even stayed the next day. The
town had a nice Town Centre with a mall and plenty of shops and
interesting roadside cafes. There are also some very interesting
churches near the town centre.
Chillan was partially destroyed by earthquakes in 1742 and 1928,
and sits near the epicenter of the 2010 earthquake (magnitude
8.8) which again caused severe damage. The damage is still quite
visible and our accommodation was slanting at such a degree that
we thought we might just roll out the door.
14 January - Chillan - Linares - 109km
Again we only left after 11h00, heading north on the Pan
American highway. We turned off for Linares and found a little
cycle path between the two lanes heading in and out of the town.
Again the town surprised me with all its old buildings;
unfortunately most are still off limits due to the earthquake of
Feb 2010. Close to the town square is the Cathedral Church of
San Ambrosio de Linares, one of the nicest buildings in town.
We found some nice affordable accommodation (with cable TV), we
could store the bikes in a spare room and, as usual, Ernest lit
his petrol stove and cooked some pasta in the bathroom.
Linares - Talca - 56km
For the first time in a long while we had a slight headwind. We
felt rather lazy and turned off for Talca. Talca is a university
town in a wine region and that sounded pretty good to me.
Unfortunately we found Talca to be badly damaged from the Feb
2010 earthquake and all the cheap accommodation in the older
areas that we'd heard about was destroyed - there were mostly
just empty lots where these hostels had stood. It's rather
shocking to see such devastation.
We took a walk to the local Santa Isabel supermarket (which you
get in every town) to get some supplies for supper and for the
road the next day.
16 January - Talca - Curico - 73km
We left at 10.30 with a nice tail wind, but it was not long
before we heard a loud bang, which was Ernest's back tire having
a blowout. He fixed it rather quickly and we were on our way
again. This was Wine County and we cycled past many a wine farm
which very much resembled those at home in the Western Cape.
Once we reached Curico we found the very pleasant Hotel Prat -
with a kitchen for guest use, and outside ground floor rooms
which is always a convenience as we can park the bikes outside
The town was destroyed by an earthquake in 1928 and rebuilt
during the following year. As is the case with the other towns
in the area, Curico was once again badly damaged in the February
2010 earthquake. The Plaza de Armas (the main square) is most
likely the most visited place because of its trees and plants,
as well as the historic bandstand.
In summer around this area the sun only sets after 9pm and it
only gets dark at around 10pm, which makes it a fairly long day
- no wonder people have such a long siesta in the afternoon.
Shops could be closed anything from 12 - 4pm!!
17 January - Curico - Rancangua - 112km
As usual we left after 11h00; it was fairly hot with a slight
tailwind, what a pleasure! Vineyards stretched as far as the
eye could see, always with the ever present Andes to the East.
We stopped a few times for a cool drink and soon reached
Rancagua. I did not expect much of the town, but was once again
pleasantly surprised. Rancagua has a historic section with loads
of old houses. It is quite a big and busy place with a very
pleasant town square known as Plaza of the Heroes, and is the
place where the Battle of Rancagua took place (also referred to
as the disaster of Rancagua because O'Higgins and his army had
to beat a hasty retreat and hide in the nearby caves).
18/23 January - Rancagua - Santiago - 92km
Santiago (population about 6 million) was one of the easiest
cities I've had to cycle into. Once we got onto the local road,
which runs next to the highway, it was straight into the city
center. Ernest knew exactly where to go, so we headed straight
Hostel Chile Inn
- where he'd stayed a couple of months earlier before cycling
South. It was located in Bario Brazil district close to the City
Centre and within easy walking distance of almost everything. Of
course, you don't have to walk because the underground metro
railway station was about 100 m from the door and could take you
almost anywhere in the city at a fairly cheap rate (we made good
use of that).
The hostel was one of the many old 3-storey buildings in the
area with high ceilings and large rooms (former grand homes with
an upper deck and ground floor courtyard). The staff were really
friendly and we even got invited to a free barbeque on the deck
(after all, we were like locals as we stayed there a full week).
We danced the Macarena till the wee hours of the morning
together with the staff and a wild mixture of guests (Italians,
Germans, Brasilians, Venesuelans, Mexicans, and of course
Chileans from other areas).
We spent a few days wondering around town, enjoying the novelty
of taking the underground around the city the funicular up the
San Cristobal hill to the statue of the Virgin Mary which offers
panoramic views of this vast and pleasant city. My laptop gave
endless trouble and I handed it in to be fixed but once I got it
back I discovered it was still not working. On the Friday
afternoon I took it in to a proper repair shop, and could only
get it back on Monday pm, the 24th.
24 January - Santiago - (continued)
I finally got my laptop back but then it only spoke Spanish, at
least it was working again. I shopped for some essential stuff
(i.e. nail varnish) and other stuff and was ready to leave.
25 January - Santiago - Los Andes - 81km (+3km through tunnel)
At last we were on our way again. The scenery changed as soon as
we left on our way North, and quickly became very desert like.
It was boiling hot as we followed the road north to Los Andes
via a good old climb up the mountain. After about 55km we
reached a tunnel where we were not allowed to pass through on
our bikes due to the tunnel being very narrow. The people from
the tunnel/highway company quickly loaded us up and took us
through the tunnel with their pickup truck. Then it was a
pleasant short downhill run to Los Andes
valley. We carried on until we saw a small roadside stall with
nice lawns, and upon enquiry we found out that they had a
campground out back - they also sold homemade bread so that's
where we stayed for the night.
26 January - Los Andes - Road side camping - 50km
We packed up at leisure and as could be expected the road was
mostly uphill. Our pace was rather slow and we stopped numerous
times to take photos and drink some water. We camped up on the
hill above an emergency truck stop with good views of the
surrounding mountains. The adjacent cascading stream from the
snowy mountains provided fresh water. We stopped there a bit
early, but we passed the time and Ernest had a wash in the icy
cold river (without anything to drink!). While we were having
supper a jackal came wandering past, and soon it was pitch dark
and a zillion stars lit the sky.