A FIERY FINISH

Puerto Natales > Villa Tehuelches > Punta Arenas > Río Grande > Tolhuin > Ushuaia

It’s been an embarrassingly long time coming with ridiculous levels of procrastination (even by my own high standards), but I had to finish off the record of my exploits, if only for myself!  So, if any of you are still interested, here’s my account of the final stretch of my journey…

After a few days in Puerto Natales, I got word from Scott & Sue, who I had last seen in Futaleufú (some 1000km to the North and over 5 weeks prior) and decided to wait for them before heading on.  As keen mountain-bikers, they feel similarly about avoiding the busy asphalt wherever possible and liked the sound of the route that I had planned to Punta Arenas and beyond.  Once again, thanks go to The Ride South, Bikesandbackpacks and Skyler des Roches for much of this route.
The ride out of Puerto Natales was an easy one on asphalt, gratefully assisted by a growing Patagonian tailwind.  Having cracked out 100km with fairly little effort, we decided to eschew the option of camping in a rather drafty-looking barn, that has provided shelter to many a tourer, at Morro Chico, and push on to Villa Tehuelches, a further 40km down the road.  It didn’t take long, however, before we realised that we had perhaps under-estimated the boost that the tailwind had been providing, especially as we had now turned 90 degrees and it was manifesting itself as a brutal crosswind.  One of those times to put the head down, get into a rhythm and just pedal!  Without much in the way of interesting landscape to gaze upon, it was once again left to the clouds to provide visual stimulation!

 On the road, we bumped into Ryan, with whom I had hiked in Torres del Paine and rode on together.  Upon getting to Villa Tehuelches, a small village, we made our way over to the local government office, opposite which stood a very smart new shelter, clearly designed as a waiting room for travellers.  We were too slow though as two French tourers had already made it their home for the evening and there wasn’t much space for another four cyclists to spread out!
Hoping that they might have a spare bit of floor that we could lay our mats on, I went round to the Police station and asked about a place to camp in the village.  They suggested that we could camp in the stables and gave me directions.  We weren’t overly excited at the prospect of this, in our minds picturing a filthy and drafty wooden structure.  We thought it best to check out the offering, however, before we refused it!  Well… I have to say, the Chileans treat their horses very well!  To be fair, I’m not sure that any horses had ever set foot in this most clean and modern of stables which even offered electrical sockets!

After a comfortable night, each of us with our own stall, we rose to yet another beautiful sunrise…

Ryan decided to stick to his plan and carry on on the main road to Punta Arenas, whilst the three of us dived off into Estancia Puro Chile following the path less travelled.  It was a nice morning’s riding with great weather.

Spotting some birds on a fence, I asked Scott to hold my bike whilst I got closer to take some pics.  Scott, the bird enthusiast and avid photographer, was green with envy as I stepped ever-closer to my subjects, before they eventually took off with the camera a mere foot away!

Along the way we passed a bunch of very inviting small cabins, seemingly there for the use of travellers or seasonal workers, each with benches long enough to sleep on, a table and a wood-burning stove.  Tempted as we were to make an impromptu stop, we decided to stick with the plan and keep going as we had a fun afternoon planned, which would involve riding along the beach…

Once off the beach, we found ourselves in an abandoned mining complex and had to negotiate a couple of very tall gates, for which I was grateful to have two companions to help with man-handling the bikes over!  With another hill to climb before Punta Arenas, the light fading and drizzle in the air, we found an Estancia (farm) and asked the owner if we could camp in the field in front of his house!  After a damp and blustery evening, we awoke to beautiful clear skies…

…and had a very pleasant ride over the hill to Punta Arenas, the only impediment being a procession of wire and wood gates that had to be hopped, lifted or contorted to squeeze over/past/through.

5 Comments

  1. Dear cousin Campbell,
    Seeing THAT SUNSET again (and your last camp for the first time) sends shivers up my spine too. It really was something and you were of course far, far more deserving in being treated with it at the end of your incredible journey!
    Wecome back and bon prochaine voyage!
    Jean

  2. . . . and so ends a truly courageous, life-enhancing adventure. Thank you for going to such lengths, in eloquent words and outstanding photography, to paint such a magnificent canvas for all of us, your dedicated followers. Me thinks 2016/17 may well have marked something of a seismic shift in your personal tectonic plates!
    Dad xxx

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