Tag Archives: Carretera Austral

Austral 09

Green Miles : Carretera Austral, Chile

After the great times we had around the Lakes DIstrict of Argentina, it was seriously hard to leave. But the deep south beckoned and we answered the call.

Austral 01 Bird watching. 

Austral 02Flamingos

Austral 03 Austral 04 Los Alerces National Park, Argentina

We crossed back into Chile to take the Carretera Austral (Southern Highway), keen to spend as much time as possible in the mountains and forests.

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The Andes trap all of the rain on the Chilean side as it sweeps in from the Pacific. This means foggy rainforests, huge lakes, glaciers hanging from towering peaks, and more shades of green than I thought possible.

There are no tourists this time of year, so the gravel roads were mostly deserted and we could camp anywhere we wanted for free. Often times we would pull into a National Park campground, with not another soul around and nobody to accept payment.

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Once in a while we rounded a bend and realized that the dark body of water before us wasn’t a lake, but an ocean fjord.

Austral 12Puyuhuapi fjord

We are moving pretty fast these days, but we found time to take a wander through one of the forested trails in the Queulat National Park. The temperate rainforest is amazingly rich in plant life. The continual rain makes the ground soft underfoot, every inch of space is covered with something alive. Trees grow on other trees. A rock isn’t just a rock, but a foundation for a miniature bonsai-like forest of ferns and moss. The thick forest and the soft rain dampened all noise, so it was really peaceful. Just soft footsteps, bubbling creeks and birds chirping.

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There’s a glacier here that hangs over the side of a cliff, melting into a waterfall, which drops into a lake and empties through a river into the ocean a few kilometres away. The thick clouds rolling in from the coast completed the entire water cycle on a grand scale right in front of us. We sat and watched for a while as the occasional chunk of ice broke loose and fell into the water, the loud cracking sound reaching us a little later.

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Later that day we stopped in at another deserted campground, and couldn’t believe our luck when we found one of the wood cabins unlocked and stocked with firewood for the stove.

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Another drifter dropped by to share the warmth.

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As we travelled further south, the temperature dropped. Towns and gas stations became fewer and farther between. But with a van stocked with food, all we needed were flat spots to pull off for the night. And they were plentiful.

Austral 22 Austral 23 Fuel stop.

Austral 24 Austral 25 Austral 26 Austral 27Austral 29Roads, roads, roads.

This is a seriously beautiful part of the world. I have filed away a few moments and images in my memory, to be revisited someday when I need a brief escape from a long day at the office.

Posted from: Olavarria, Argentina