THE ALTERNATIVE AUSTRAL

…and then it kicked up again, this time even steeper in places – I struggled to get a foothold at times and was very grateful for my lighter bike!

Eventually, somewhat knackered, I reached the summit and its ‘excuse for a gate’!  The combination of gates, river crossings and unrideable sections meant that, when not pushing, I had spent a large part of the day climbing off and back onto the bike!  Needless to say, I was keen to find a campsite and rest.  I pushed on to a good spot by a stream in Dan’s route notes.  However, as I began to pitch my tent, it became apparent that the location came with a jumbo-size portion of voracious Patagonian mosquitoes!  Full Salar-style protection was donned as I went through the evening rituals at warp speed and then retreated into the tent to assess the bite count!

Moving quickly on, I got away from the swampy area and started descending, on fantastic double-track, through woods and across yet more streams/large puddles, before emerging into another area of fire-scarred landscape and, before long, to a great view across a wide open valley.

In the middle of the valley was a super-wide, but thankfully not too deep, river crossing…

And, before long, it was time to climb again, on another super-steep slope…

Before finally descending through woods and farmland to the last crossing at the Río Cisnes, a fairly fast-flowing river but thankfully not much over knee deep!  

And then it was just a matter of a short distance to the village of La Tapera to find a bed for a couple of nights to recuperate.  It’s a fun route and certainly physically-challenging, but that makes the downhill sections all the more precious and enjoyable.  And, it definitely felt like an adventure – I only saw one vehicle over the two days.  It’s clear, though, that the Chileans are certainly not a scratch on Peruvians when it comes to dirt-road building!  That said, if they were, then there would probably be a lot more traffic using it, so it’s a blessing in disguise.

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