Tuesday 9 January 2018

There is only one direction from Ushuaia, Its North

We enjoyed Ushuaia but all good things come to an end and we set off North . 

The scenery in this region is stunning with snow caped mountains, rivers, forests and lakes.. Sadly a bad decision back in the 1920's to introduce Beaver to the area has now resulted in colossal damage to more than 400 square kilometres of forest.  

After a couple of days we decided to turn west on the dirt road from Rio Grande and take the small border crossing into Chile. 
Borders are in two stages. First you leave a country and they you enter the next. However, sometimes these stages can be some distance apart,  so I guess you end up in a bit of an airlock of no mans land. These borders were only about 1km apart. 

To enter Chile you need to be totally devoid of fresh foods and meat, so smuggling has become a bit of an  art, that I haven't yet grasped properly. 
The problem with these sleepy borders is that that you are probably the first vehicle for several hours so they have the time for a thorough search , whereas on the busy borders when the queue is a mile long they rush you through. 

But on this occasion any searching officer with a blindfold on would have found the large quantity of raw meat that I had forgotten to hide and was still in the freezer. ( oops ) 

Luckily he was a very nice guy and gave us the option of cooking it all , which we did. We then cheekily asked if we could park at the border for the night which wasn't a problem

The next day we decided that heading north was the right way so we turned south again on the dirt road Y85.
Wow is the only word to describe this road. It was 100km of winding twisty mountain passes, lakes and forests. The views were incredible. The great thing about this road is that when you get to the end at the western point of Lago Fagnano, you have to turn around and do it all again the other way. We did stay the night at the end of the lake. 

I have condensed the journey into about 8 minutes for those of you need to get out more. Buckle up.

Here we met a Dutch couple and spent the evening socialising. We also had a visit from some Chilean motorcyclist who we invited to join us for a coffee.

Despite Pat warning them that the small path to our camp was deep gravel they took it anyway and both came off their bikes. No harm done and very amusing.  It did however raise that increasing dilemma of what action to take when someone has an accident ...... help or film.  

The route back was quite eventful. Firstly I decided to take the binoculars and go on Beaver watch ( I am sure this is a crime ) We parked next to a lake with a big dam and lots of evidence of beaver activity. 

I had only just got set up when there was a really loud bang from the truck and the sound of escaping gases. I could see Pat in the passenger seat who clearly thought she was going be thrown from the vehicle for the second time in as many weeks.

Following the advice of a fellow overlander " Paul Crittenden" we put the kettle on and decided what to do. I knew it was an airline on my auxiliary circuit that had burst as my retarding brake was dead but more importantly my very loud air horns didn't work either. Continuing to travel over a mountain pass without brakes is acceptable but I am afraid that big air horns are mandatory. 

Luckily before the tea was finished I had tipped the cab, found the problem and fixed it. 

Back on the road we were really lucky to see a pair of Andean Condors circling overhead.

Laga Blanco was our next nights stop in a beautiful free camping area. We headed for the coast and on the way stopped for lunch in the Russfin Wood Mill on the Y85  who offer their canteen facilities to travellers.

Pat used to work in a Timber importers so she found this place quite interesting as they used all the same processes such as Kiln drying the wood. In a addition they used all the waste material to fuel a Biomass generator that provided all the energy to run the Plant

Its quite common here for people to work away from home , not unlike an oil rig. Most of the employees worked 9 days at the plant then 5 days off so they could get back to their homes that could be a considerable distance away. They offered rooms and food to traveller

This region must have had a gold rush at some time in its history as there is evidence of this time lying around. Some pieces have become attractions 

We hit the coast near a town called Cameron . We set up camp about 15km west of the town right on the sea front. We had only just arrived when we spotted a group of Tonina Dolphins hunting just off the shore.

We had just come to the conclusion that the day couldn't get better and then it did.

Now Chile is a big country. So what is the chances of two sets of travellers bumping into each other. That's exactly what happened  . When we were in Montevideo ( 5000 km away ) we met french travelling family " Loic and Raphaelle" and we hadn't seen them since that time. 
We had just settled in when they drove over the hill towards us. Whats the chances of that.

A big campfire and lots of wine and Patagonian Beer  was the order of the day.

They left the next day but we decided to spend one more night in our piece of heaven. That night we had a knock at the door and were greeted by a bunch of 5 Chilean students and a french hitch hiker they had picked up. They were from from Santiago who were on a road trip. They asked if they could share our fire. More wine flowed followed by the high octane drink called Pisco........ Great lads 

Just up the coast we stopped at a king Penguin colony at Pinguinorey . Very nice but they don't do much. I thought about uploading a video but believe me it would have looked just like the still photo .

We have discovered that if you get your timing wrong then the traffic on these roads here can really hold you up. They don't have any road sense just push in all the time .

As I am writing this we are parked in garden of the Tourist information Office in Cerro Sombrero. The guy who runs it "Enrique" is really nice and allow people to stay and hijack his wifi. 

we noticed a cut in a tyre so Tomorrow we have to find a guy called a Gomeria to fix it. I think you will find that he is only one point in scrabble away from being really anti social . 

As an additional note , we are seeing some incredible bird and animal life, from Dolphins to Condors . We have also become very familiar with these two creatures . 

The Patagonian Fox aka The South American Grey Fox 

This guy is very smart and has adapted to all environments . They are not afraid of people and will come quite close if they think there is a snack involved. We get visits from these on a regular basis 

Then we have the Guanaco . God was probably in some sort of experimental stage when he knocked this beast up. Its part Llama, part Camel and part Vegetable.

I dont think there is a more stupid creature out there. There are thousands of them here . They clearly have no concept of road safety and have never heard of the Green Cross Code. A group of 50 by the side of the road isn't the problem, its the one on his own on the other side who is going to do the suicide run .

On the upside they are quite pretty and do look good in your photos.

I think our next stage will be out of Tierra Del Fuego back into the mainland of Patagonia.

Hasta Luego