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Distance

79.04 mi

Elevation gain

3,990 ft

Technical difficulty

Moderate

Elevation loss

4,462 ft

Max elevation

2,360 ft

Trailrank

62

Min elevation

785 ft

Trail type

One Way

Time

2 days 4 hours 15 minutes

Coordinates

4721

Uploaded

February 9, 2017

Recorded

March 2014

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2,360 ft
785 ft
79.04 mi

Viewed 4042 times, downloaded 23 times

near El Chaltén, Santa Cruz (Argentina)

When some years ago I first studied this route, it seemed to be a pioneering endeavour. Now it seems to have become folklore in the so called "adventure-cycling" arena.
Actually, this crossing between El Chaltén and Villa O'Higgins allows to link the classical tours of southern Patagonia (Paine, Calafate, El Chaltén) to the Carretera Austral. To be honest, it does not involve that much of cycling, since most is done by pushing and by boat. Specifically, one can distinguish the following stretches:
1) unpaved road from El Chaltén to Lago del Desierto;
2) boat through all the whole Lago del Desierto;
3) pushing from the Lago to the Portezuelo;
4) cycling from the Portezuelo down to Candelario Mansilla;
5) boat from Candelario to Puerto Bahamondez;
6) unpaved but nearly perfect road from Bahamondez to Villa O'Higgins.

1) is straightforward, and may be very spectacular in a clear sun day. I had this while coming back from Piedra del Fraile, see for example my track Marconi - Pollone - Cuadrado.
2) marks the main difference with respect to what I had studied years ago. Namely, at the time one was expected to push on a bushy path throughout the whole side of the lake, an operation accounting for several demanding hours. Now the availability of a boat connection makes all very simple. The boat was cheap, I guess that with increasing popularity the prices will readily rise!
3) is perhaps the most peculiar stretch. Allow for it a whole afternoon, because with loaded bicycles it is hard work. The photos demonstrate well the nature of the terrain
4) is also scenic, you have the rare experience to cycle on a little airport - the little one of Laguna Redonda. Consider, however, that this is a rule in southern Chile, and you can do the same also in Caleta Tortel or similar isolated spots. You end up in Candelario Mansilla, a truly unique place, connected to civilization only by a boat running twice a week - this, at least, in summer. Here you find only the station of Carabineros and the house inhabited by Justa Mansilla, a descendant of Candelario.
5) is the most spectacular phase, due to the unique colour of the lake, and to its oceanic waves, which can also forbid navigation at all. We needed to wait one day in Candelario, camping in the meadow above Justa's house, and because of the high waves the boat ferried us directly to Puerto Bahamondez, without the usual detour to the glacier. In spite of this, I guess, they make us pay the whole price, which incidentally is totally disproportioned to the standards of the region. To be honest, I guess that even high waves were also an excuse, probably they wait that both in Villa O'Higgins and in Candelario there be plenty of waiting tourists (nearly all cyclists), such to maximize the income... Namely, we navigated with such powerful waves that I cannot figure out how the previous day they could be expected to be higher.
Finally, 6) accounts only for seven kilometres, not many in comparison to the 1240 more that are waiting for you on the Carretera Austral!

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Waypoint

El Chalten

  • Photo of El Chalten
  • Photo of El Chalten
  • Photo of El Chalten
River

Rio de Las Vueltas

  • Photo of Rio de Las Vueltas
  • Photo of Rio de Las Vueltas
  • Photo of Rio de Las Vueltas
  • Photo of Rio de Las Vueltas
Waterfall

Chorillo del Salto

  • Photo of Chorillo del Salto
  • Photo of Chorillo del Salto
View on the popular waterfall.
Waypoint

Pasarela Las Vueltas

Bridge

Puente Rio Electrico

  • Photo of Puente Rio Electrico
  • Photo of Puente Rio Electrico
  • Photo of Puente Rio Electrico
  • Photo of Puente Rio Electrico
  • Photo of Puente Rio Electrico
  • Photo of Puente Rio Electrico
Lake

Laguna Condor

  • Photo of Laguna Condor
  • Photo of Laguna Condor
  • Photo of Laguna Condor
Waypoint

Fitzroy Expediciones

  • Photo of Fitzroy Expediciones
  • Photo of Fitzroy Expediciones
Bridge

Puente El Puesto

  • Photo of Puente El Puesto
  • Photo of Puente El Puesto
  • Photo of Puente El Puesto
  • Photo of Puente El Puesto
  • Photo of Puente El Puesto
Waypoint

El Puesto

  • Photo of El Puesto
  • Photo of El Puesto
  • Photo of El Puesto
  • Photo of El Puesto
Waypoint

Capilla de Loreto

  • Photo of Capilla de Loreto
  • Photo of Capilla de Loreto
  • Photo of Capilla de Loreto
  • Photo of Capilla de Loreto
  • Photo of Capilla de Loreto
Waypoint

Harbour Desierto

  • Photo of Harbour Desierto
  • Photo of Harbour Desierto
  • Photo of Harbour Desierto
Waypoint

Glacier view

  • Photo of Glacier view
  • Photo of Glacier view
Waypoint

Carabineros Desierto

  • Photo of Carabineros Desierto
  • Photo of Carabineros Desierto
  • Photo of Carabineros Desierto
  • Photo of Carabineros Desierto
  • Photo of Carabineros Desierto
Waypoint

Uphill stretch

  • Photo of Uphill stretch
  • Photo of Uphill stretch
  • Photo of Uphill stretch
  • Photo of Uphill stretch
Pushing is mandatory here.
Panorama

View on Lago del Desierto

  • Photo of View on Lago del Desierto
  • Photo of View on Lago del Desierto
  • Photo of View on Lago del Desierto
With the Fitzroy looming in the background, this is perhaps a great moment fro people coming in the reverse direction.
Waypoint

Narrow stretch

  • Photo of Narrow stretch
  • Photo of Narrow stretch
  • Photo of Narrow stretch
  • Photo of Narrow stretch
  • Photo of Narrow stretch
Lake

Laguna Larga

  • Photo of Laguna Larga
  • Photo of Laguna Larga
  • Photo of Laguna Larga
  • Photo of Laguna Larga
Here we camped.
Waypoint

Portezuelo

  • Photo of Portezuelo
  • Photo of Portezuelo
  • Photo of Portezuelo
  • Photo of Portezuelo
Orographic saddle and border crossing. One of the most original in the world!
Waypoint

Aerodromo Laguna Redonda

  • Photo of Aerodromo Laguna Redonda
  • Photo of Aerodromo Laguna Redonda
  • Photo of Aerodromo Laguna Redonda
  • Photo of Aerodromo Laguna Redonda
  • Photo of Aerodromo Laguna Redonda
  • Photo of Aerodromo Laguna Redonda
Bridge

Bridge after Aerodromo

  • Photo of Bridge after Aerodromo
  • Photo of Bridge after Aerodromo
Waypoint

First view on lake

  • Photo of First view on lake
  • Photo of First view on lake
Panorama

Panorama on Lago O'Higgins

  • Photo of Panorama on Lago O'Higgins
Larger version on Google
Waypoint

Abandoned buildings

  • Photo of Abandoned buildings
  • Photo of Abandoned buildings
  • Photo of Abandoned buildings
  • Photo of Abandoned buildings
  • Photo of Abandoned buildings
Waypoint

Rocks

  • Photo of Rocks
  • Photo of Rocks
  • Photo of Rocks
  • Photo of Rocks
  • Photo of Rocks
  • Photo of Rocks
Waypoint

Carabineros

  • Photo of Carabineros
  • Photo of Carabineros
Wilderness hut

House of Justa Mansilla

  • Photo of House of Justa Mansilla
  • Photo of House of Justa Mansilla
  • Photo of House of Justa Mansilla
  • Photo of House of Justa Mansilla
  • Photo of House of Justa Mansilla
  • Photo of House of Justa Mansilla
Waypoint

Harbour of Candelario

  • Photo of Harbour of Candelario
  • Photo of Harbour of Candelario
  • Photo of Harbour of Candelario
  • Photo of Harbour of Candelario
  • Photo of Harbour of Candelario
Panorama

Panorama from the boat

  • Photo of Panorama from the boat
  • Photo of Panorama from the boat
  • Photo of Panorama from the boat
  • Photo of Panorama from the boat
Larger version on Google
Explanation on PPH
Waypoint

Entering north branch

  • Photo of Entering north branch
  • Photo of Entering north branch
Waypoint

North branch

  • Photo of North branch
  • Photo of North branch
  • Photo of North branch
Waypoint

Puerto Bahamondez

  • Photo of Puerto Bahamondez
  • Photo of Puerto Bahamondez
  • Photo of Puerto Bahamondez
  • Photo of Puerto Bahamondez
Actual south end of the Carretera Austral.
Panorama

Two-color point

  • Photo of Two-color point
  • Photo of Two-color point
  • Photo of Two-color point
Bridge

Puente Grosse

  • Photo of Puente Grosse
  • Photo of Puente Grosse
  • Photo of Puente Grosse
  • Photo of Puente Grosse
Waypoint

Villa O'Higgins

  • Photo of Villa O'Higgins
  • Photo of Villa O'Higgins
Farthest village of the Carretera Austral.
Waypoint

Best Fries

  • Photo of Best Fries
  • Photo of Best Fries
  • Photo of Best Fries
  • Photo of Best Fries
Religious site

Iglesia

  • Photo of Iglesia
  • Photo of Iglesia

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