25.12.2007 Puerto Natales 

Sitting on a motorbike is wearying but cannot really be called exercise so it was about time we got out and did something...

Cerro Castillo

The Cerro Castillo hike is a 4 day hike that gives you a closer look at the impressive spires and glaciers of the Cerro Castillo range and is considered one of the classic treks in Patagonia. Lucky for us it hasn’t quite achieved cult status among the backpackers yet so we were alone on the hike. The weather had also scared off a few as we had sat out a day of gale force winds, snow and freezing cold temperatures before we started. Sitting around a nice cosy wood fire in Villa Cerro Castillo was infinitely better than battling the temperamental patagonian weather. I could also practice my spanish on our motherly host Eva and with Josep from Cataluna who arrived by bicycle in that awful wind. To see a short video clip on how windy and cold it is, click here.

Doug finds us

After our wonderful trek whick ended back in Villa Cerro Castillo we strolled back into  Hospedaje Austral and were greeted by a french backpacker who asks us if we are the ones who have someone looking for them? Someone looking for us...well we did make tenuous plans to meet up with Doug on the other side of the border in Perito Moreno. Could it be him? Is he South African? Yes. We turn around and there he is walking in the door. Our co-pilot for the next couple of weeks, complete with shiny red helmet, had tracked us down.

Around Lago General Carrera on the Carretera Austral

For the time being Villa Cerro Castillo is where the asphalt ends on the Carretera Austral. So we had 300km of gravel roads to look forward to before reaching tar again in Chile Chico. Two days of deep gravel, corrugations and sheer drops made for bone shaking and tiring riding but the landscapes made it all worthwhile. The turquoise lake, snow capped peaks and views onto San Lorenzo and the northern ice fields. To see a video clip of Renee riding the side car, click here.

Ruta 40 and the forbidden road

Back in Argentina and heading south along Ruta 40 we were treated to 100km of tar road which then ended south of Perito Moreno unfortunately. We stopped off in Bajo Caracoles for a much needed coffee break and spoke to a bus driver about the state of the road. He gave us the tip to drive on the partially constructed new roads as today being a Sunday they would be free of workers and road-building equipment. The idea was to ride as far as we could on the newer roads as the next day they would be working on them again. That’s when it started snowing. Soldiering on hoping it would stop we were eventually forced to camp on the side of the road due to frozen fingers and muddy roads. 
The next two days we road south chancing our luck and riding on the new road sections whenever we could.  Axel started getting really cheeky and was, by the end of the second day, riding the new stuff even when people were working on it. Encouraged by the friendly smiles and waves we carried on thinking this would never in a million years happen in Switzerland. Then one group waved us down and we thought uh oh this is where we get into trouble. But no, they just wanted to take some photos on their mobile phone cameras! They even got the huge grader to park behind us for the shot. Some more video footage here.