Villa Cerro Castillo - The thirteenth step ... Six months in South America - CycleBlaze

December 15, 2022 to December 16, 2022

Villa Cerro Castillo

Thursday 15th of December 2022

We were expecting a rather tough ride today so we managed to be on the road at about a quarter to nine.  The traffic was rather heavy until the Balmeceda junction where most of the traffic left the Carretera Austral and headed to the airport.

For the first twenty kilometers of climbing we had a nice wind on our backs but we knew that as we turned westwards as we entered the Parque National Cerro Castillo the wind would start to become a hindrance.  Luck was on our side though and we crested the first of the two climbs without much head wind at all.  We then dropped about two hundred meters through the freezing cold valley of the Rio El Blanco and started the three hundred meter slog up to the highest point on the Carretera Austral at one thousand one hundred  meters.   Here we struggled into the wind but eventually we reached the descent into Villa Cerro Castillo.  

Lunch break number two just before Piedra El Conde, a large rock jutting out from next to the river.
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Piedra El Conde
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We noticed a strange ice river next to the road. I guess you could call it a mini glacier.  It seems to have been formed recently because it wasn't there on our previous trips.  All the other streams close by were flowing but thus one was frozen.

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It can be an exhilarating descent but we took our time to take in the views.  The two German cycle tourists who had camped with Stefan and Lauren at Ventisquero came shooting past us but that didn't deter us from stopping often to admire Cerro Castillo which was starting to show itself nicely after initially being shrouded in clouds.

The well known serpentine descent to the Rio Ibáñez.
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Cerro Castillo in all its glory.
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Once in the village we headed for Nordic Patagonia, a newish campground which was already quite full of cycle tourists from various countries.  It has been quite pleasant chatting to some of them and I must admit to eavesdropping on some of their plans as they discussed them with each other.

I'm not sure why we didn't stay here last time because it is a heck of a lot better than Camping la Araucaria which is where we had ended up.  I must say that Nordic Patagonia is a step up from most campgrounds in Patagonia. 

Our tent under the gaze of Cerro Castillo.
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Tomorrow we will most likely wild camp along the Rio Ibáñez.  It is three hardish days from here to Rio Tranqillo but we will just have to suck it up if we want to be in Cochrane for Christmas. 

Friday 16th of December 2022

Well, tomorrow has arrived and we are still in Villa Cerro Castillo.  We went to bed unsure whether or not we should continue or have a rest day but quickly chose the second option when we awoke this morning.  We had two days in hand if we wanted to get to Cochrane on the Friday before Christmas and today has consumed one of them.  So we are still on track.

For most of today it has been wonderfully warm and sunny. A world away from the rain and cold of a few days ago. A good day to choose to sit around doing as little as possible.
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In the end it was a good decision because we both feel quite tired and a rest is needed.  The only other person in the campground is a guy from Sweden who is also enjoying a rest.  Back on the bikes tomorrow. 

Today's ride: 63 km (39 miles)
Total: 4,693 km (2,914 miles)

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