Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did.
So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. --- Mark Twain

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Carretera Austral, Day 8, Chaiten.

Day 789, 17.04.2013,
88128 km, since beginning of the journey
Route:  Rio Frio – Villa Santa Lucia – Chaiten – Camp.El Volcan (120 km).

The hillsides are still covered with dense rain forest.


Carretera Austral. Forested, humid, cloudy, overwhelming. But so cool, that makes you stop and just admire this wild and almost untouched nature. Well, no longer fully untouched - as the road has been built and next to the road - a power line, but a few dozen meters away is still a decent rain forest

Another road-builders' camp, and then there is a cow in the middle of the road. And has made up her mind not to step aside.

This time there is a large bridge in front, long and narrow.

And by this bridge the gravel road comes to an end. Here from Puerto Cardenas up to Chaiten there is a new road. It is, however, only 45 kilometres, but after several days one can`t remember that the bus actually has the fourth and fifth gear as well.

There are no very steep rises and descents, you just drive on in the direction of Chaiten with the speed of 85 km per hour. The town is small, but there's a port and from here one can get to the island of Chiloe by ferry. This is one option to move up.

I drive to the port and for a moment it seems that quite in time. The ferry has just arrived and cars are driving off. And others are waiting for getting on board. There are not many of “these others”. Just three cars.

No sight of the price list of vehicles. Talking to other drivers the number 82 thousand is repeated for several times. This 82 thousand is a lot of money - in euros it would be 136 EUR.. And the ferry ride does not seem so much interesting and appealing any more. Actually I had found out from internet about the ferry between Chaiten and Quello and now on the way here I had taken into consideration the following options.

Option A. To reach Chaiten and take the ferry up to Quello, Chiloe Island, and then further to Castro, Ancud and then another short ferry ride, and it is already Puerto Montt.

The plus of this option - the most direct route to Puerto Montt and the minus – a part of the Carretera Austral will not be driven and now the price as well.

Option B. To drive upward along the Carretera Austral up to Caleta Gonzalo, the by two ferries as far as Hornopirenin, as there are no roads by land. From Hornopiren to Puerto Montt and only then to Chiloe. The positive thing – covering all of the legendary Carretera Austral.

The negative side - longer road. And also the lack of information, because according to wikipedia the ferry between Galeta Gonzalo and Hornopiren was supposed to ride only in January and February, Link, and briefly it meant that some other options like C or D should be in store.

Option C was to drive back a little bit, and then to Argentina over Futalefu, that in case when can`t get on in a ferry.

It seems that option B should be the best choice but before it must be found out whether ferry of Hornopiren operates in April or not.

By the beach promenade there is a tourist information office, but the door is firmly closed. Across the road from a hotel I learn that it is closed for lunch from one to three or four. Good. And I also learn that an office of the shipping company, which sells ferry tickets is a few hundred meters away. It is also useful info. The office is closed for lunch as well.

On the wall of the house there is a large map of the local area. The roads are marked in red. .

Lunch-time is obligatory for everybody, even birds don`t fly.


The price-list shows that one can get directly to Puerto Montt from here, but then the fun of covering an important part of the Carretera Austral would be missed.

Finally the lunch-time is over and the ticket-office is open. The next two ferry trips Caleta Conzalo - Fiordo Largo and Letepu - Hornopiren are in one ticket. The tickets costs 30 thousand, ie 50 EUR. Completely different issue. Quite a many times it is emphasized that the ferry will leave tomorrow at two o'clock at the latest, and that one must be present at one at the latest. 13:00 is written in red on the ticket. .

Leaving the town there is another warning that sections of some bridges can endure only 10 ton trucks.

The road takes on through Pumalin National Park.

The results of 2008 volcanic eruption.

At exactly the right time there is a sign by the road. The day will soon be over.

On a side - road.

There is no need to drive on, one can sleep here peacefully, Galeta Gonzalo is 10 kilometres away and probably enough time to look around in the park tomorrow.

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