Day 1 Villa Telhuelch to Rio Verde
‘Ass first’, as one would say. Yes, we are doing some of our cycle route in reverse. ‘Confusing’ I hear you say.
Well, we had a few days to kill before busing back to Ushuaia for our Antarctic trip and the thought of staying in Punta Arenas for three days longer was real painful. So, we decided to catch a bus north to Villa Tehuelches and cycle back to Punta Arenas via Rio Verde.
Villa Tehuelches is a charactistic cluster of houses on route nine. After a quick photo and toilet stop, we were on our merry way.
After 1km we turned off the main road onto a secondary dirt road and enjoyed a fairly strong tail wind. We came across several pink Argentinian flamingos but still too far away for our phones to capture and give them any justice. We also saw guanacos and horses. We enjoyed a leisurely ride as we only set ourselves a target of 30km for that day.
With approximately 3km to go, we saw an ominous cloud approaching us on the horizon, which we tried to outrun. This coinsided with wonderful views of Rio Verde lake. We cycled hard with our goal in sight and with a shelter hut ahead. When we reached the hut, we were amazed by the facilities. Two wooden beds, fire place, table and chairs and an outside toilet. Plus it had a terrific view. We were very impressed. Jon quickly started collecting some wood and before long we were nice and toasty in our little hut.
Vanessa’s dog radar allerted us to hundreds of cattle being herded along the road by several dogs and two men on horse back. Fascinating!
We made ourselves very much at home, ate a fine dinner and had a restful nights sleep.
Rio Verde to Parque Chabunco
We couldn’t wait to start cycling with the thought of a strong tail wind behind us and were also rewarded with good weather, some great views of the lakes and small fishing villages.
Approximately 1 hour into the days ride a car with an empty horsebox in tow stopped in front of us. The driver got out and offered us a lift. He explained that the winds were strong , especially once we turned back onto the main road. We thanked him so much for his offer and thoughtfulness and explained that as it was behind us we were happy to cycle. The irony of being offered a lift when we needed it least!
Shortly before reaching the main road we had a major issue. Vanessa noticed Jon’s rear pannier was hanging on by a thread. We stopped aside the road and examined to find that a nut and bolt had completely detached. Fortunately we were able to find a spare part and fix the dodgy pannier. We then set about tightening all the other nuts on our panniers. Valuable lesson learned here as previously we had only been checking the bikes before setting off.
At the turning onto the main road we sheltered from the wind next to a hut to eat lunch. We would have sheltered in it but it smelt like it was used solely as a toilet!
Back on the sealed main road, we had only to be concerned about the odd truck passing as the wind was mainly behind. We covered the last 20km to Parque Chabunco in extra quick time.
Parque Chabunco is a designated free local camping/barbecue area near to Punta Arenas airport. It was ideal for us although some locals abuse the facilities and leave litter rather than taking it with them.
Day 3 Parque Chabunco to Punta Arenas
A very short day cycling wise. We got up late and had only 25km on sealed road to Punta Arenas. Initially Vanessa was concerned about the side wind but after bumping into a Dutch couple also cycling from Ushuaia north, the wind dropped and the rest of the ride was pretty uneventful. We arrived back in Punta Arenas early afternoon, pumped for our Antarctic adventure ahead.