Rio Tranquilo - The eighth step ... Patagonia etc once more. - CycleBlaze

January 11, 2020 to January 12, 2020

Rio Tranquilo

A German couple, Sven and Vanessa, arrived at the campsite on bicycles last night.  They had similar but different setups to ours - Rohloff hubbed bicycles and a Hilleberg tent.  They wanted to check out our Staika because they had opted for the Allak 3, having gone through the similar choices that we had.  What is more pertinent was that they are traveling north from Ushuaia and had taken the ferry from Puerto Montt to Puerto Yungay to skip the section up to Villa o'Higgins.  

Over supper at the restaurant last night, Leigh and I got talking about this option that we had not yet considered.  We are under a bit of time pressure and at the same time we have been trying to think of ways of changing the route so that we don't just repeat what we did two years ago.  Taking the ferry from Yungay to Natales gives us a chance to get time back that we can use to explore things we never did last time, such as taking a side trip to Caleta Tortel west of Puerto Yungay.

The the first thing I did this morning was to set about booking seats on the ferry.  It only runs once a week and the first boat we can get is in two weeks time.  This means we have quite a lot of slack that we can use up before we get to Puerto Yungay.  We will spend the next couple of days here in Tranquilo resting, cleaning up and catching up with work.

The famous Marble Caves are the only real reason for Rio Tranquilo's existence.  It is a terribly touristy thing to do and Tranquilo's economy is dependent on it.  With the unrest that is ongoing in Chile tourist numbers are down dramatically and every operator is doing their best to entice visitors to their boats, campsites and hospedajes.  Last time we passed through here the packed mass of humanity resulted in us leaving as soon as we could.  Now the town is quiet and relaxed, but at a cost to the locals who rely on a very short season to make a living.

After a leisurely morning we spent the last couple of hours of the afternoon taking a great tour with a very good guide, Camillo.  He gave us a lot more information than just about the caves, providing interesting snippets on the history, geology and environment.  He also used to play rugby, not a major sport in Chile, when he was younger so that was something else about which to talk.

There is something about getting onto a boat that puts a smile on our faces.
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Approaching the marble caves.
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Our guide, Camillo.
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