All the ones which did this one before know probably what is coming now…
El Calafate – Tapi Aike
On the Carretera Austral, I was complaining a lot about the rain, I know. And on the way I had a lot of discussions with other cyclist what is worse, the rain or the wind. I thougt it is the rain because you get sick after a few days. However, the wind is at least as bad if not worse. It takes a lot of energy and motivation. And you can’t just cycle out of it because it slows you down so much. Following the reason why I came to this conclusion.
When I started in El Calafate, I was very lucky and had tailwind for the first 50km. This was a lot of fun. After this 45km with different wind direction followed and it also went uphill for a while. However, this was still bearable. However, when I reached the cross road at Cherrito, the road changed from paved to gravel and more important it changed direction towards west. I was planning on cycle on this part of the road for a while to get as far as possible. However, I got slowed down to around 7km/h and had to stop just two hours later. I just couldn’t do it anymore. Unfortunately at that point it was very difficult to find a suitable place to set up my tent. Therefore, I ended up next to one of those SOS stations. Even setting up the tent was an adventure because the wind was that strong. However, as soon as the sun had been gone, the wind stopped suddenly too and it good wonderful silent. Unbelievable silent. And the Southern cross showed up at the sky. Beautiful. But I was so tired that I just wanted to sleep…
The next day started again with, exactly: wind. It was already kind of an adventure to put the tent away again. During the day I had wind from all sides but it was neverthless very tiring and I was very happy when I finally reached Tapi Aike. Shortly before me two older Italiens reached the same place too. They did the whole thing (more thank 160km) in one day! Impressive but impossible for me.
If you are ending up in Tapi Aike too, check in the building opposite the petrol station. There are some beds available by a very friendly employee if you are lucky. And make sure that you have enough water with you. The whole area is extremly dry!
Tapi Aike – Puerto Natales
One of the Italiens checked at the petrol station at which time there should be less wind. Therefore, they decided to already leave at 6 in the morning. However, at 5.30, there was already a lot of wind and even some, probably very welcome, rain. It got to be 7 till I finally left.
The wind was alreay very strong. After more than 2 hours, I just managed to make 15km. And the wind got not weaker at all. I measured more than 50km/h headwind. It was impossible to drive and my back started to hurt more and more (it started already yesterday). At that point I decided that it is enough because I would have to do at least 60km more against this wind. I stopped and started hitchhicking. And I was very lucky that a young couple from near Buenos Aires stopped with their small SUV and gave me a ride. I was actually planning to go towards Torres del Paine. However, I was so desperate to get out of the wind that I ended up in Rio Turbio, which is kind of close to Puerto Natales. I reached Puerto Natales in the early evening, not without getting hit by strong winds and showers again.
So if you are asking me, if you should take the bus or the bike for this part, I would tell you: take the bus ;-).
All the best from Puerto Natales,