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near Villa O'Higgins, Aisén (Chile)
The present track covers the southernmost stretch of the Carretera Austral, from Villa O'Higgins to Cochrane. The arrival at Villa O'Higgins from El Chaltén, with its peculiar mix of sailing, cycling, and bicycle pushing, will be covered in a separate track, since I considered that material too different in nature from that covered here.
In this track you find also the round trip to Caleta Tortel, which is highly recommended due to uniqueness of the target spot, with its network of wooden "paserelas" allowing the survival on marshy ground.
Consider that there is no asphalt at all in the region: ALL the roads covered here are unpaved. The gravel (the infamous "ripio") is seldom in very poor condition, except for occasional wet and muddy stretches. However, consider that it does not allow for a high speed or for an easy ride.
The track summarizes five cycling days performed in March 2014:
07-03. the first 50 km out of Villa O'Higgins. Night in a little shelter built specifically for cyclists;
08-03: arrival at Puerto Rio Bravo, and ferry traversal on Fiordo Mitchell to Puerto Yungay;
09-03: visit to Caleta Tortel;
10-03: from Tortel to Río Los Ñadis;
11-03: arrival at Cochrane.
PHOTOS: WORK IN PROGRESS
Southern end of the carretera.
First big river crossing after Villa O'Higgins.
The Carretera Austral turns all around it, probably to avoid a marshy area.
Probably not open for tourists.
A shelter for cyclists.
It is on the east side, do not go to the one on the west side a little south, since it is private.
Here you take the Barcaza Padre Antonio Ronchi.
Check the seasonal schedule.
Just an hour of navigation.
Former endpoint of the Carretera, see second photo.
A little higher than 400 metres.
Followed closely by the road to Caleta Tortel.
The municipal camping is located at the far end of the pasarelas.
The village between the two Hielos, Norte and Sur!
The access to the centre is exclusively by foot, on wooden "paserelas".
The many steps prevent the access also to bicycles.
There is a shelter at the airport
One of the few inhabited places in this stretch of the road.
At the start of the last remarkable ascent before Cochrane.
Start of a short ascent to Laguna Esmeralda
Last lake before Cochrane.
A little town indeed, but the only one for many hundreds of kilometres.
In the shops, and in particular at the Melero supermarket, you can find nearly everything.