Tuesday, October 25, 2011

2011, 8th - 11th October: Esquel, Argentina to Coyhaique, Chile

2011, 8th - 11th October: Esquel, Argentina to Coyhaique, Chile

Theme: Buses & Hitching through Stunning Scenery...(a ´Patagonian transportation learning experience´)

For all the photos, follow this link:


8th - 9th October: Esquel, Argentina

The aim overall was to get to Chile via the Trevelin (near Esquel, Argentina) to Futulueful (Chile) border crossing. Before heading for Esquel I could find no information on the border crossing bus (that´s the way the local bus timetables work here - it´s all local knowledge with pretty much no published timetables outside of the local town). So, I travelled from Puerto Madryn to Esquel overnight arriving in Esquel at 6:30am Saturday only to find the next bus to Chile was on Monday - nice. Not so bad as Esquel is pleasant and a chance for a few easy days.

Flora Near to Esquel

10th - 11th October: Esquel (Argentina) to Coyhaique (Chile)

Things got more tricky here as this part of Southern Patagonia in Chile is absolutely beautiful but very remote so really difficult for transportation and very slow (unless you do something (hitching) to speed it up).

I expected (along with Cecile (Norweigen) and Karo (Slovakina) who I met on the way) to spend a few days in Futaluefu (Chile) as it is very famous for rafting. Alas, we were a month too early and the season had yet to start so the town was dead. Options; wait till the next morning for a bus which will only take us part way or hitch...

First hitch, a lovely family from Esquel who set me down part-way at a junction where they were heading in the opposite direction - the trouble was the junction was in the middle of nowhere. So, waiting, waiting a car every 30 minutes nobody stopping - ok, maybe I´ll sleep in somebody´s shed tonight. Then, saved by two guys in a pickup truck - hurrah, freeze my bits in the back of the truck and admire the glorious scenery. The driver really shifted, so left part of my skeletal structure along the bumpy gravel roads.

Argentinian Border Post Near Trevelin

River Futaluefu in Chile

View of Chilean Southern Patagonia from Back of Pickup Truck

By hook or by crook, we got to La Junta which is on the ´Cerreta Austral´- this is the ´M1´of Southern Patagonia. The Cerreta Austral was built by Pinochet in the 1980´s - primarily a strategic move because at that time there were still border disputes running with Argentina. Most of the route through Southern Patagonia is very basic being gravel only. Prior to this road being built, people could only travel in the area by boat through all the inlets, rivers and lakes, so while it is ´only´ a gravel road it did make travel in the area somewhat more practical.

Me, Cecile and Karo spent the night in a rather basic trucker´s stop in La Junta (also rather basic) - couldn´t wait to get out. Up at 4:45am to try to get a bus to Coyhaique. It pulled up...."it´s full says the driver", "we´ll take the floor I reply" (one bus a day at best so I took whatever was available - I did not want to spend another day and night in that trucker´s stop). Then 6 bum-cheek-freezing hours on the floor of a bus, but through yet more of the unbelievable scenery of Southern Patagonia and; at last civilisation in Coyhaique.

The Chilean ´M1´ of Southern Patagonia
(a very rare dual carriageway section as most of it is only a lane and a half wide). The majority is not tarmac but gravel like this.

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