Archive for the ‘Chile’ Category

Río Grande to Río Gallegos   Leave a comment

Tuesday 11th November 2014

My little sister and I are notorious for giving our loved ones more or less exotic nicknames, but when Johannes and I are coming around a corner in Río Grande we spot the following sign:

It’s official!


Soon after leaving the town we are alone with the sheep again…

The way Chile and Argentina have divided Tierra del Fuego between themselves means that we have to go through Chile and lengthy border formalities again – leaving Argentina: immigration form, exit stamp in passport, unloading board luggage and x-raying of board and hand luggage; entering Chile: immigration form, entry stamp, import declaration, x-raying of hand luggage, sniffer dogs checking the board luggage, which can stay in the hold this time. Similar efforts are taken when we re-enter Argentina after crossing the Magellan Straits.

Why they don’t seal the bus, put a big sign ‘Transit’ on and just wave us through is beyond me – what a waste of time, paperwork and labour! We enter ‘3 horas‘ in the field for ‘estimated stay’ to make a small point of what we think of this swollen bureaucracy.


And sheep…

Occasional hills

Storm clouds over Cerro Sombrero

Fortunately the sun is still shining when we reach the Estrecho de Magallanes


This time we are confined to the ferry’s belly, from where the waves look really impressive. What must the conditions around Cape Horne be like when the navigators prefer the Strait of Magellan?

Quite depressing when we think of all the rubbish we’ve seen littering the countryside…

Back on the main land

For the last time we see construction works that unite the Chileans


After another border crossing and two more stamps in our passports we are in Argentina again.

We meet the iconic Ruta 40 again that ends further east at the Atlantic near Cabo Virgenes

After ten hours we arrive at our destination


The last time I stayed in Río Gallegos I didn’t really like it – the weather was horrible, the people were not very friendly and I didn’t see anything remarkable in town. This time it is different: the sun is shining, the wind is strong but warm, we meet smiling locals, find a nice room in the excellent Hotel Croacia and get a good deal.


After walking out of some rather exclusive restaurants again when we see the prices on their menu, we find a great place to have dinner – Pizza Express in the Avenida San Martín 650.


A bit more sight-seeing and off to bed.

Parroquia Catedral Nuestra Señora de Luján


Wednesday 12th November 2014

For this evening we have planned a long distance-trip to Trelew, 1,167 kilometres further up north on the Ruta 3. The bus leaves at 20.00 hours and we have still some time to explore Río Gallegos.

The coal mined in Río Turbio gets shipped from here

Gigantic equipment

Coat of arms of Río Gallegos

It’s green to amber when we pass – of course, we have sun lotion with us…

Upland Goose

Fence-eating bush

Oficina de Turismo

Eye to eye with the condor

Cathedral by day

… and from behind


We visit the Museum of the Pioneers


In the 19th century the Argentine government wanted to establish settlements in Patagonia and offered land and sheep to the people willing to move south. But the Argentinians didn’t take the offer. Living conditions were harsh and dangerous, the weather is cold and windy, there was nothing attractive here. So word was sent to Europe and immigrants came from the British Isles, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Croacia and also Chile and they started a new life here – facing the elements in this part of the country, living of the river in the beginning, building farms, breeding sheep, growing fruit and vegetables. These pioneers showed truly amazing spirit, determination and persistence.


There was nearly nothing here apart from freshwater and guanacos – furniture, clothes, food and even coal had to be shipped over from Europe.

People had to be resourceful

We are very impressed


Then it’s time to return to the hotel, write another post and collect our belongings before heading for the bus terminal.

Even as a backpacker, Johannes takes great care of his appearance

The coach leaves Río Gallegos at 20.00 hrs


… and will drop us 15 hours later in the Welsh colony of Trelew – the town of Lewis – in the Chubut province.


Posted 18 November 2014 by Pumpy in Argentina, Chile, The 2014 Rucksack Trip

Punta Arenas   Leave a comment

Wednesday 5th November 2014

Busses to Punta Arenas leave Puerto Natales every hour and so we have a bit of a lie-in after our early start the previous day. The Ruta 9 is paved and we enjoy a comfortable journey looking out for huemules, ñandúes and sheep, hundreds of thousands of sheep.

Puerto Natales looks like freshly laundered in the morning

Local press

Along the Ruta 9

First glance of the Estrecho de Magallanes – the Strait of Magellan – and Tierra del Fuego

What we didn’t know is that there is a big endocrinology congress taking place in Punta Arenas, hotels are fully booked, and so we spend several hours searching for accommodation. Finally, the helpful señora in the tourist information office finds us a room in a small B&B a bit further away from the centre up a steep hill.

On the way to the hostal I am interviewed for a school project

The views make up for the relative remoteness of our accommodation (click on the photo for full panorama size)

Down into town

The southernmost English-speaking school in the world, founded in 1896 and serving an area larger than that of Great Britain

Palacio Sara Braun, where Shackleton was received by the British Club in July 1916 and where he raised funds to rescue the rest of the Endurance crew still stranded on Elephant Island

Monument of the schooner Ancud, sent by the Chilean government in 1843 to claim sovereignty over the Strait of Magellan

Imperial Cormorants – or long-necked penguins, as Johannes claims…

And at long last, Johannes spots an Huemul (South Andean deer)

Not everyone can be as lucky as I was in 2010…

Still, we celebrate the occasion with two of our Chilean favourites: Raspberry juice and Churrasco Italiano (thinly cut steak in a bread roll with avocado, mayonnaise and tomato)

La Catedral – Punta Arenas is the southernmost city in the world (the towns of Ushuaia (Argentina) and Puerto Williams (Chile) lie further south though)


Thursday 6th November 2014

We have a rest day in Punta Arenas – I really like the place and there is still a lot to see. Johannes enjoys sitting on the Plaza Muñoz Gamero watching the world go by…

Statue of Magellan with a mermaid and two indigenous Fuegians at his feet

Local legend has it that touching the Fuegian’s toes will bring you back to Punta Arenas one day…

In the meantime I visit the Museo Regional de Magallanes in the Palacio Braun Menéndez

Office of Mauricio Braun, brother of Sara, another member of the wealthy pioneer family

El Comedor

First charting of the Strait of Magellan in the 16th century

Writing utensils of José Nogueira, Sara Braun’s husband, successful sheep breeder and merchant in Sandy Point (Punta Arenosa in Spanish)

Early examples of the excellent Chilean wine

Reunited Johannes and I explore more of the city

Long-necked penguins and Tierra del Fuego in the background

Of course, I have to touch the sea

Captain Johannes at the wheel

We also visit the city’s fascinating cemetery

How people like you and I are buried in this part of the world

This reminds us that life is short and should be lived to the full

In the evening we find a little gem of a restaurant

Is it the shaky hand of our lovely host that makes us look blurred?

Or all the alcohol?

We drag each other home – buenas noches, Punta Arenas!


Tomorrow we will continue our journey to Tierra del Fuego and cross the Strait of Magellan.

Posted 10 November 2014 by Pumpy in Chile, The 2014 Rucksack Trip

Dear Reader…   2 comments

… You may have noticed that I am a bit behind with my blog – the last post is from Argentina whereas in real-time I have already been in Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru and half way through Chile…

Well, it is hard to find the time (and often even an Internet Café) while travelling, enjoying the stunning countryside, riding pretty technical trails, socialising with the locals and having the time of my life.

At least I try to keep The Route up-to-date with a brief summary of the day every evening and also strive to complete the Photo Galleries on a daily basis – or whenever I find a local internet connection with sufficient upload capacity.

I hope you forgive me – I also keep a detailed journal and will write a proper ride report on Adventure Rider, UKGSer and Horizons Unlimited when I am back after Christmas.

Thank you for your patience and that you are still looking!

Ela x

Posted 31 October 2010 by Pumpy in Chile