Well what a few days (or week) it has been! So much to say! Gonna try to break it down to more bite-sized pieces. In Coyhaique we stayed in an awesome campsite called El Camping, which had (mostly) hot showers and great wifi, which was an absolute luxury. We say mostly hot because Becca was on the unfortunate end of a plumbing failure while she was shampooing her hair and ended up standing in the cold for about 20 minutes before the water turned on again. We then spent the next day exploring Coyhaique by foot, checking out some shops and replenishing our fridge food, as we were lucky enough to find propane here. We also popped into some thrift stores here where Ivan stumbled upon a University of Guelph coat! We didn’t buy it, but it was funny to see! They also had quite a few good outdoors stores including… A PATAGONIA STORE! The motherland in Patagonia itself as well! We didn’t buy anything so it’s a lame story, but we were pretty excited and it was great to wander through. The campsite we stayed at was also a prime location to bring out the TRX for the first time on this trip and get in a workout before sitting in the car again for quite a few days!
After a serious search for a mechanic we found a guy who owns a motor home rental company about 20 minutes out of town. After disturbing quite a few of his neighbours on our search for his shop, we finally found his driveway. Turns out his mechanic had the day off, but he kindly directed us to another great mechanic who had an English speaking co-owner who was able to get us looked after. Unfortunately because of Siesta we needed to go back the next day to get the work done on Alfonso, so we went to a nice camp spot beside a river just outside of the city. The next morning, they got Alfonso in right away and got to work on his rear brakes. One awesome thing about Chilean mechanics and owning a camper is that you can hangout in the camper while they work on it, so we just enjoyed the day reading and catching up on some Netflix. The mechanic bill was also much nicer than we expected considering the amount of work done and time it took, so we’ll count that as a win.
That night, we started our drive to Futaleufu and hoped back onto the Carretera Austral. After a couple hours of driving, just after it got dark, we found a pull off beside a beautiful lake and went to bed. The next morning everyone voted that I would get us moving early because we had some serious kilometres to cover before getting to Futaleufu. On the way though was some of the more beautiful driving of the trip (I feel like I keep saying that, but the drives here are seriously stunning). Sunrises turning mountain peaks pink, seeing the trees got from green to red to covered in snow; nature at its finest. Also in Chile you can go from driving through what seems like rainforest to climbing about 800m where the roads are covered in snow and there are glaciers on the mountain peaks.
We then entered a small town called La Junta, where we had heard whispers of a great hot spring not too far off the beaten track. We pulled into El Sauce hot springs after a 30min seriously beaten road drive and were not disappointed. The hot spring is hidden in the forest and totally private. We were the only 4 people there and sat in the water for an hour before we all got light headed and needed to get out.
We kept on moving northward and drove through La Santa Lucia, or sadly, what is left of what looked to be a charming town. Unfortunately earlier this year it was devastated by a massive landslide caused by a glacier collapsing and releasing massive amounts of water into a small valley. The entire north section of the town was completely erased and a wall of mud taller than Alfonso had to be pushed to create the road again. On the way to Futaleufu, we stopped under a bridge for a night which ended up being one of the best camps because even though it poured rain all night, we were covered and were able to dry our clothes from the hot spring earlier in the day.
The next morning I got up early again and go us to town before Becca had even rolled out of bed. We explored the lovely town trying to find some rafting that it was known for but turned up empty handed, as we have just entered the shoulder season. Then we geared up to enter Argentina and that’s when things got really…. interesting? Stay tuned.