Patagonia by bike: the dream begins!
Patagonia: from Bariloche to El Chalten
2nd stage: El Bolson - Epuyen Km 50
Stage totally on tar seal. Only the last 10 km are on gravel road. In Epuyen you can sleep at the camp "Refuge del Lago" very welcoming.
3rd stage: Epuyen Cholila Km 80
The road is now up, to about 6 km, even if the road is fortunately sealed. After this climb begins dirt road that will be with us for almost every kilometer of the journey. This stage is characterized by a wonderful panorama that has accompanied us for every rode meter. From now on the road will be asphalted just few kilometers. Cholila is a small village where you can sleep in a small dormitory on the main square. Better arrive in the village with some food as there is no store but a petrol station to buy anything to eat.
4th stage: Cholila - Esquel Km 120
5th stage: Esquel Passo International Futaleufu Km 85
It's a stage almost flat. It begins to be felt the wind. To the pass we enter in Chile and we must pass the Chilean border (Region de los Lagos) in the province of Palena. Just after the border about 5-6 km is the first small town of Futaleufu. In Chile it is possible to plant the tent on the fringe of the street without any problems.
6th stage: Futaleufu P.to Ramirez Km 50
The road is really hard for the many climbs and the uncomfortable road surface with many holes and stones. The wind makes it harder. In every town, even the smaller one, there are many Hospedajes where you can sleep and eat a hot meal.
7th stage: Pto Ramirez - Villa Santa Lucia Km 33
8th stage: Villa Santa Lucia La Junta Km 75
The Carretera Austral, they call it here with a name that is more appropriate: Camino Austral which means austral path. It's a dirt track surrounded by a dense forest. The road seems a cartoon for how the landscape is spectacular, only the wether is not a postcard and partly ruin the way.
9th stage: La Junta - Puyuguapi Km 80
Numerous falls, streams and the Pacific Ocean, this is the panorama that we see in this part of our trip. Puyuguapi is a small group of fishermans houses.
10th stage: Puyuguapi Villa Amengual Km 70
We stopped in this small village at night and we went into the shop-house. I think is also the only general store, and we ate and drank something hot.
11th stage: Villa Amengual - Coyhaique Km 145
12th stage: Coyhaique - Balmaceda Km 50
All asphalted kilometers, in a continuous up and down. Precisely in Balmaceda we returned to Argentina. Patagonian landscape with a vast stretches into infinity (Pampa Argentina).
13st stage: Balmaceda - Perito Moreno Km 300 circa
We started with the intention of making a hundred kilometres in MTB. After ten, two gauchos offer us a passage on their pickup to the town of Perito Moreno and since it is the only place with human presence here to 300 km and we are a little behind on the road map, we accept.
14th stage: Perito Moreno - Comodoro Rivadavia Km 600 circa
Another transfer, this time by bus to the Atlantic coast in the town of Comodoro Rivadavia, the largest of all Patagonia (about 400,000 inhabitants). Many Italian immigrants who live here and we get in their circle for breakfast. We stay an hour there to respond to their thousand nostalgic questions and to hear their stories that taste epic.
15thstage: Comodoro Rivadavia - Puerto Deseado Km 150
The next goal is Puerto Deseado, the whole road is paved but very busy. We come to the village on the Atlantic coast in the evening and immediately throw us into a restaurant to finally eat an "asado" that we will not forget for a long time.
16th stage: Puerto Deseado - Rio Gallegos Km 700 circa
After a wonderful trip by boat on Ria Deseado, the fjord on which stands the village where live thousands of penguins, many dolphins (the most Southern species that exists or "tonina overa") hundreds of seals and many different species of birds ( cormorants, gulls ...) we are preparing to face what will be our last bus transfer: we move to the extreme southern tip of Continental Argentina in Rio Gallegos.
17th and 18thstage: Rio Gallegos - El Calafate Km 315
After a goodbye to the town of Rio Gallegos (we'll fly back to Buenos Aires from here) we are going towards west toward El Calafate. They will be two days of hell because of the mythical Patagonian wind that up to now had spared us. But the game worth it because we will rest as tourists in PN Los Glaciares visiting glacier Perito Moreno and making a boat trip on Lake Argentino towards glaciar Uppsala.
19a tappa: El Calafate - El Chalten Km 145
Along Lake Argentino almost all day we reach El Chalten after long fought against the wind. Fortunately, the road is almost completely flat, and tonight we should not bother looking for a place to sleep because we have already had indications in El Calafate. Along the route we were very impressed by the amount of dead guanacos (animal similar to a blade but typical of Patagonia) on the roadside, invested during the night when these animals (such as deer on the highways of our Trentino) remain dazzled by the headlights of the few cars passing here.
Parque National Los Glaciares
Arrived in El Calafate, it's time to relax and enjoy the landscape. This town is built on the shore of the Argentinian lake, that receive water from melting glaciers of Hielo Continental, an huge expanse that covers most of southern Andes. One of the most famous glacier that flow there is the Perito Moreno that appears on the horizon after a brief movement by bus. Gangways in front of the glacier allow a spectacular view and we remain there for hours, entranced by that sight. On the way back we catch an eagle that has just murdered an hare and is trying to bring it to its nest to enjoy the meal, while three condors fly through the sky, ready to take advantage from a distraction by the predatory... looks like a movie scene but we are actually living it. On the following day we go boating on the lake, and zigzagging between the icebergs we arrive at the Uppsala glacier, which has an expansion three times bigger than the city of Buenos Aires and a 50 meters high front. I actually cannot find words to describe this heaven on heart, then... go there before “development” also reaches this corner of the globe!
Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy
For many Argentinians the capital city is a faithful portrait of the country and the 40% of them lives in the endless and chaotic suburbs of that city. Buenos Aires is extended around Rio de la Plata river in the homonymous federal district; a fabulous city admired by many visitors for its elegance. The central Plaza de Mayo has always been the cornerstone of any political and cultural activity. Here is located the Casa Rosada (the Argentinian White House), the archbishopric and, not far from there, the Cabildo, seat of the parliament during colonial times. In this square, mothers and grandmothers yearly ask after their desaparecidos relatives, and only in recent years they have obtained some results, thanks to their tenacity. Nearby there is the Avenida 9 de Julio, universally known as the widest street in the world. After the exciting step in the capital city (how much hospitality and generosity we do have received in these days from our fellow expats!!!) we come back in Italy already with nostalgia in our minds for this desolate and seductive land.