Burning through the “Northern Patagonia” of Argentina is a touch boring. At one point I could see the road disappear over the curve of the earth with no bend insight. We were aiming for Chile Chico, a small border town just inside the Argentina-Chile border about 300km north of Gob. Gregores. Alfonso with his new oil was ready to rock and we enjoyed the first 150km of the drive together, then we battled each other a little to get into 4th gear during a fairly windy section of road, those moments get a little tense. The Patagonian wind is a constant companion on these sections of road too and you may be getting rained on under a blue sky because the wind is carrying rain from about 2 days away. We made it to Los Antiguos by about lunch time and then had a drama free entry into Chile except they stole some very fancy salt we had… Ivan was devastated.
Chile Chico is a nice little town on the coast of a stunningly large lake, whom’s name I can’t seem to find. Trust me it was large and stunning. That night in Chile Chico we tried to find some propane with no luck and then ended up parked on a street beside a bus stop for the night. The next day we began our trip to Puerto Rio Tranquilo where we were going to check out the Marble Caves. Little did we know that the 170 km drive was going to take 4 hours due to the amazingly horrendous road conditions. Alfonso handled beautifully but at some points we were driving along essentially 1 car roads, about 500ft above the lake with no guard rail, I had some sweaty palms, let me tell yah! The views around this lake though were totally amazing, snow capped mountains surrounding rolling hills and crystal blue water, I feel like there is a trend here, Chile is a real stunner.
After making it to Chile Chico we hopped on a tour to the marble caves 30min after we got to town which was handy. Not really knowing how to dress or prepare we sort of went for it, and the boat ride was pretty rocky, but also a ton of fun. The caves themselves were pretty amazing, the erosion from the water had opened caves of perfect marble and they created these smooth curves on the rock. I’ll add lots of photos because my description won’t do the rocks justice.
We ended up having a nice dinner out at a local pub and then slept on the beach looking out over mountains. Pretty amazing the places you can park and sleep here, there were 4 other vans and campers on the beach as well. The next morning we got going fairly early to attack the crap road (it is the Carretera Austral, a famous and amazing road, its just not well maintained). We took about 4 hours to get another 150km to a town called Cerro Castillo and had some lunch then the most amazing thing happened… the road became paved, and didn’t stop being paved the rest of the way to Coyhaique our stop for the next couple nights, it was a dream. We had a snow ball fight on the side of the road cause we were so giddy and also had to pee.
After pulling into Coyhaique we immediately went for a place that potentially had propane… AND IT DID!!!! We can finally cook for ourselves again and Becca can have coffee whenever she wants which is a big thing for us! We are now at a great little camp site catching up with some wifi and enjoying propane and hot showers and the simple things in life. Alfonso needs a little patch work so we’re going to explore this little city and enjoy a couple days of no driving and then we’re going to start our slow journey to San Carlos de Bariloche and see where we end up!