1) Temuco to Puerto Montt. [350 km] - In search of penguins. - CycleBlaze

1) Temuco to Puerto Montt. [350 km]

On our bikes at last

[Jan 24]   We retrieved our bikes from the gorillas at the bus station and repaired them sufficiently to ride them. There are some new rattles and squeaks, and my front fender looks like a crumpled potato chip bag. But we are mobile again.

So far, Temuco looks nothing like any small town in BC, beginning with a lack of English signs, and the occasional ox-cart.

The temperatures down here (1000 km south of Santiago) are much more reasonable. The daytime weather is still tee shirts and shorts, but we have left the blast furnace that Chileans call Santiago.

Ox-drawn cart in downtown Temuco. This one was carrying a huge load of kelp. Horse and ox carts are a very common sight outside town.
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Our plan for the morning is coffee, buy some food, more bike spares, then head south.

[Jan 25]. We were lured by the siren call of flush toilets, (cold) showers, and electricity to recharge our devices. A private campsite for only 5 CAD pp was bargain. 

LW:  The campsite has a strange musical background of bird calls and highway noise. Getting to the campsite was a good test for our bikes on gravel roads. Happy to say everything seems to feel good with the load.

Mike as usual when travelling has been under the weather since we got here. I feel sorry for those around us as he coughs throughout the night despite the multiple packages of cough drops and syrup we have tried.

Starting the day slowly as my cheap replacement watch dropped an hour somewhere overnight and doing some reorganization but gotta get moving soon.

Campround #1. Several other tourist parties joined us later.
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[Jan 25  am]  We awoke this morning, stiff and sore from the unacustomed exercize. Thanks to our cold showers yesterday, we were clean though. We packed up the campsite and set off by about noon. Louise immediately discovered the "Chilean can-opener". One is included with every guard rail, in case cyclists feel a need to remove a saddle bag, or a leg. 

Chilean can-opener.
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One wrecked saddle bag.
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Fortunately for Louise, it was only the former. It took us about an hour to cable-tie and wire her pannier back onto her bike. We then set off south, making great time. 

[Jan 25  pm]   {map}   

Until I ran over a small rock and punctured my rear tire and tube. The fabled and expensive "Stan's Majic Potion" that I had filled my tires with in Vancouver, did nothing except make an interesting squelching noise as my tire ran flat. Another hour wasted. Finally we pulled into another micro campsite - with flush toilets and a pool.   

[Jan 26].  We went to sleep last night, surrounded by fireflies. And awoke this morning to a chorus of bird songs, none recognizable. There is one crow sized bird that specializes in tormenting dogs. And another similar bird with bright red legs and a huge curved beak. Also, many brilliant white egrets that hang around the cows.  

Any guesses?
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Bill ShaneyfeltNot much detail, but it is an ibis. Location would narrow it down to black faced ibis.

https://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/Species-Account/nb/species/blfibi1/overview
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2 months ago
carmen gloria cheuquepanCarmen Here!!

I can guess that bird is called "zarapito" (Numenius phaeopus), From Alaska to Chile =)
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1 month ago

[Jan 26  am]  The day is beginning well, apart from Louise's psuedo-thermarest that deflated last night. At this rate, we will be walking to Ushuaia, carrying our remaining stuff in plastic bags.

[Jan 26  pm]   {map}

We almost set a new Personal Record (PR) - we went almost a whole day with no equipment failures or accidents.  However at about 7:00 pm Louise was getting exauhsted, sunburned and dehydrated. That and navigating while trying to decipher Chilean road signs exceeded the bandwidth of her brain. The resulting curb / bike collision will take some time heal.

Oww, my leg.
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The Chilean countryside is completely different from the capital city of Santiago (population 5 million). The route south has been quiet farms and small communities.  

Stopping for lunch.
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The cycling is a bit boring because we are following the national highway (route 5). But is is paved, has wide shoulders for cycling, and there are lots of cafes and restaurants along the way. 

Typical scenery along Route 5. The grades are modest so it makes a good warmup for the Carratera Austral.
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We stayed at posh campsite ($25 CAD) last night because we were too tired to look around for a cheaper one.  There are trampolines, kids playgrounds, tree houses, and lots of other stuff we didnt need or want. But there is a nice river to camp beside and a couple of very fat dogs for company, and the usual symphony of weird birds. Next we continue south and see where we end up.

[Jan 27]  {map}

This was a low mileage day. We spent much of the morning exploring Lanco, a tiny farming community. Also we needed 1st aid supplies to repair Louise's leg.

You will be waiting a long time for that train.
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A volcano, as seen from the parking lot of the (only) supermarket in Lanco.
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Louise has become addicted to glamping. 

Glamping.
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Last night we camped in a field with about a dozen full size chickens and roosters that were most curious about our tent. But we also had flush toilets, electricity, and *** warm *** showers. The latter was thanks to the ubiquitous 3rd world suicide shower - 220 vac and 50 amps delivered to the shower head. 

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It rained last night but we stayed mostly dry. Today looks to be cloudy with showers. 

[Jan 28]   {map}   Longest day so far - 60 km. There were no other real towns along the way, so we pushed on to Los Lagos. It is a beautiful alpine town surrounded by lakes and volcanos. Many Chileans come here for their summer holidays. Unfortunately we wont have time to explore it, but we could easily spend a month here.

There is a surprising amount of logging in this part of Chile. It all seems to be 100'  eucalyptus trees. The trees are bucked to 10' lengths and hauled to  tiny 1-2 man sawmills. There is also a thriving market for firewood. Every house and most commercial buildings too, have 1-2 cords outside.

Eucalyptus forest.
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Typical sawmill. Finished lumber on the right.
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Gourmands may want to give Chile a miss. The resaurant food here would make a british person homesick. And it is expensive. The beer and wine are cheap though.  

Last night we stayed in a hotel, for the first time since Santiago. They are surprisingly expensive, compared wih northern countries like Ecuador. Our hotel was one of the cheaper ones in Los Lago, and cost about $20 USD per person.

[Jan 29 pm]   {map} 

Princess Louise's luck ran out today. We are wild camping at the edge of  huge field. No hot shower, No flush toilet, and no electricity. On the bright side,  no ravenous dogs or inbred farmers have attacked yet. If our luck hold until sundown, I will put the tent up. 

Campsite
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There is not much to report about today's ride. It was a long and tiring route through small fields and huge forests. The wind was brutal. Eerytime we picked up a bit of speed, a gust would slow us to a crawl again. It was almost a relief to have the large transport trucks rumbling by - at least they provided a bit of a windbreak.

Tomorrow we should make it to Orsono, a somewhat larger town.

Jan 30.  AM. Stopped along the highway for lunch and a dressing change on Louise's leg. We are about 50 km north of Orsono.

If anyone is thinking of a nice stress- free holiday where they can relax and rejuvenate, I know exactly the perfect place to avoid. It is called Chile.

Another day in Paradise.
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[Jan 30]   {map}

We reached Orsono yesterday (Jan 30) afternoon. It was a good ride - lots of downhill and the winds were not as srong. Orsono is a small tourist town with lots of tree lined streets and very small shops. 

We celebrated our success by renting a very posh hotel room. How posh you ask? I had a shower, *inside* the building. And I didn't even have to bring my own water. It came out of a tap, already heated. Jamie take note. The Hat Hilton has some serious catching up to do.

Anyway, we quickly turned our very lovely hotel suite into a squalid laundry room / field dresing station so it felt normal. Too bad we couldn't sneak the bikes in too, but they were watching. 

What a difference a shower makes. Dinner at a small pub, Orsono.
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Kathryn HamiltonGlad you had a better day. Could you include some pictures of the pretty villages?
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1 month ago
Jan Salmon ArmCivilization!! Admit it, you're nostalgic for those overly interested chickens.
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1 month ago
Ring StonechildGood going you guys..keep on truckin' : )
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1 month ago

[Jan 31]  {map}

We headed east from Orsono to check out several cervesarias (micro-breweries). They were pleasant enough, if a little pricey. But the interesting thing was the steady stream of customers showing up with 2 litre soda pop bottles. Apparently that is what they use for growlers down here. 

Believe it or not this is a cerveceria! Small but good beer.
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A few beers later, and we headed south on a secondary road that had just been paved. It was easy cycling and very pleasant - until the pavement ran out. 

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Then it was a bone-jarring, teeth-rattling, washboard. It was like riding down an endless flight of stairs, except it was level, and there were loose rocks everywhere. We couldnt go much faster than walking speed because the gravel was so loose. And there were thick choking clouds of dust every time a car went by.  At 9:00 pm the sun went down, and we setup camp in a farmer's field.

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[Feb 1]   {map}

Hooray! February already! Only 12 more weeks of this so-called vacation to go.

We awoke early and hit the road by about 9:00 am. The gravel turned to pavement almost immediately and our spirits soared. We cruised down scenic paved country roads with almost no vehicle traffic, almost all the way into Puerto Octay. 

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Then the rainstorm hit. I have never seen so much rain fall so quickly.  And there were gale-force winds too, that changed direction every few minutes. We were soaked in seconds. 

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I am writing this note from a dark cafe in Perto Octay, because the storm knocked out power to the whole town. 

There was no cell signal last night so I couldn't write the Jan 31 note until today.

[Feb 2]   - Rest day in Puerto Octay

Puerto Octay is a lovely little town. We landed in it soaking wet from the storm and found a coffee shop that fits the pacific northwest coffee culture perfectly. The manager was multilingual and was apologetic for only having French press coffee due to the power outage. They were all kind enough to ignore us dripping water everywhere.

From there we found a comfortable hostel with a congenial hostess who talked over our blank stares at her use of multiple phrases when all I wanted was for her to repeat the first one again slowly...

On the rest day we spent the morning checking over/tuning up our bikes. Mike (my hero) used brute force to bend my fender so my derailleur is finally allowing me access to my low gears. While doing this the Puerto Octay town band that is still going strong  since originally formed in 1912, played in the plaza.

We then wandered around town seeing the sights.  A good relaxing day. After returning to the hostel met another couple of cyclists. Nick and Jean (British/Swiss) have been taking cycle tours around the world for a number of years. China, Morocco, Sri lanka, Japan, Iran...very inspiring. 

Mirador --from Puerto Octay Catholic cemetary.
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[Feb 3]   {map}

It is difficult to believe, but we have finally reached the beginning of our planned bike trip.  At long last, we are in Puerto Montt, the beginning of the fabled Carratera Austral. 

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The preceding week of toil and trouble, from Temuco down to here, was based on a single comment by our hotel owner in Santaigo, who mentioned he had spent last summer in Temuco and really liked it. How hard could it be to cycle a few extra days to check out the gear?

Today's ride began early (for us). We were on the road by 10:00 am, in pouring rain. However, the temperature is so warm, even in the early morning that it wasn't unpleasant. 

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We took back-roads from Puerto Octay, through small tourist towns and hay-farms. The roads turned to gravel for a few hours, but it wasn't the insane scree field of a few days ago.

The desent into Puero Montt was a nightmare - traffic jams, route finding problems, and heay black clouds overhead. And I had another flat tire (rear of course).  We found a hotel for $50 cad / night and here we sit drinking El Gato Noir, 1.5 l, $5 cad.

[Feb  4].   Shopping day in PM. The ferocity of the storm and the primitive state of the gravel road two days ago, have struck fear in our hearts. And, when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping. So far, a 2nd sleeping bag and more tent stakes.
 

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Scott AndersonGreat to see you finally on the road. What a nightmarish start!
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2 months ago
Walter McLellanKeep the posts coming - we are following your (mis)adventures with great interest - here’s hoping your luck improves
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2 months ago
Ring StonechildYay !! Hope your cough clears up Mike. Good job guys !
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2 months ago
Ring StonechildType your comment here
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2 months ago
Ring StonechildTo Ring StonechildIf you ran tubeless tires( ie. no tubes with Stans goo inside)with Stans sealant you can use 'bacon strips' or Stans(or other) fabric strips to plug larger holes. I didn't check to see if your rims are tubeless ready though. ..I know not very helpful at the moment lol
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2 months ago
Dagmar KellyGlad to hear you're finally on the road after the unexpected joys of Santiago.
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2 months ago
Jan Salmon ArmWell at least there are relatively few pickpockets hanging out in trackless fields and eucalyptus forests. Stay strong!
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1 month ago
Jan Salmon ArmThinking about your emergency kit: have you learned the Spanish yet for duct tape and fine wire? "Cinta adhesiva" and "alambre fino" is the best Google Translate can do. Also "parches de neumáticos de bicicleta" (bike tire patches) might be handy. Fingers crossed!
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1 month ago