Ted’s Travels Ruta 7
A long time ago I flew into Balmaceda airport and travelled overland to Coyhaique, in Chile. I wanted to see the San Rafael Glacier, for which we caught a small boat as the only way to view the glacier it’s from the water. This glacier runs down from the Northern Patagonia Ice Field. We sailed along fjords, stopped at small villages like Quitralico, and had the spectacular Andes as a back drop.
Today for the adventure-seekers we can plan self-drive overland adventures that start from either Puerto Montt or Blamaceda and drive all the way to Punta Arenas, crossing in and out of Argentina traversing Patagonia. For clients that want to do a short version, we recommend a minimum stay 5 or 6 nights itinerary, and fly to Balmaceda, where they will pick up a 4×4 vehicle and drive down to see the Marble caves located 400kms away, plus see rivers, fiords, mountains, lakes, National Parks, staying in great lodges and estancias along the way.
One of our staff members has just done this trip, Ana was there last week and today she shares her report with us on the Carretera Austral, or also known as Ruta 7.
People kept telling me about the amazing place that is Patagonia, and well, it’s definitely true! The middle part of Carretera Austral is the Aysen Region, named after Fitz-Roy’s detailed maps signalling the end of the Ice field, lost in translation with Spanish, Ice Field became Aysen (ice end).
After flying into Balmaceda airport we drove to Cerro Castillo. Rumour has it that it is an up-and-coming National Park that will compete with Torres del Paine in the following years. There the route turns into gravel roads that only 4×4 cars are eligible to master.
Along the road there are plenty of viewpoints to marvel at the scenery. Cerro Castillo is Huemul area, the Chilean iconic deer that represents the country. From Cerro Castillo the landscape changes from one minute to the next. We passed many dead tree forests that have perished with the fierce winters and melt water high flowing rivers in the summer. We had to stop every few minutes as I couldn’t stay inside the car while watching the immensity and beauty of the Patagonian wilderness.
I will have to rob Ted’s column next week as I won’t be able to share all my enjoyment in this area today, so stay tuned!
Ted Dziadkiewicz is Director and Founder of Contours Travel, Australia’s longest running tour operator to Latin America. He has been more than 100 times to Latin America over the past 40 years and visited over 20 countries. If you want to know more visit www.contourstravel.com.au