Patagonia day 21: Camping El Risquero to Rio Bravo ferry terminal

January 18, 2020. 48km.

The other group of cyclists was going to Tortel to catch the ferry to Puerto Natales and had a very leasurely morning. I also go a late start, in part because I had to find the host to pay for camping. I had thought about making the detour to Tortel, but decided to go straight toward O’Higgins instead. Which meant that although I had a short day mileage-wise, I did have a big climb ahead of me.

One of the family members at the camping area was chatting to the Tortel-bound cyclists about the route and how it was totally flat. This is what “completely flat” looks like in Patagonia I guess.

It was fairly easy cycling though, and I’m not completely immune to stopping to take photos of waterfalls.

One stretch of straight road went through an area where it looked like something was being harvested in bags. Some sort of peat or moss or something, it looked like.

Again, I got to cycle through woods along a river, which I’m still, enjoying.

I soon got to the turn-off for Tortel, knowing that my morning of relatively flat road was at an end.

Luckily, though the road definitely climbed, the views made it worth it. The road did wind along on the edge of what felt like a cliff, which is always a little bit nervewracking. Even with very little traffic, it’s too easy to think about what would happen if something drove you off the road. Not terribly likely, but it’s still always a bit relaxing to get back to areas where there isn’t a giant fall off to one side.

The climb went along a stream (going upstream of course), and yet again a lake greated me at the top. There was still quite a bit of up and down along the lake, but thats better than constant up.

As the road turned down, there was usually water or valley on one side and interesting rock faces on the other.

One section of the descent was paved, I think because of the grade. I was glad not to be going the other way.

There are a lot of optical illusions when cycling on these roads. Often, upcoming hills look nearly vertical even when they aren’t that bad. At one point, a glipse of upcoming road through the trees really did look more like a wall than a road.

As the hills became a bit more rolling, I passed a runner going the other way. I figured this meant I was getting close to the ferry terminal, which turned out to be true. The Puerto Yungay terminal has a free ferry toward O’Higgins run by the military (I think), as well as the longer ferry to Puerto Natales (by way of Tortel). When I arrived there were quite a few cars, as well as two cyclists (the French couple I met briefly after the last ferry from Hornopiren). Turned out the Natales ferry was leaving at 8pm and most of the people were waiting for that.

The Rio Bravo ferry toward O’Higgins left at 6, with one bus of tourists and a few trucks. And my bike.

It was a short 45 minute ferry ride, which I spent largely inside the small lounge area because of the cold wind. On the other side, it was quite a quick process to unload the few vehicles and passengers and load the 5 or 6 cars and trucks waiting to cross back. Within 15 minutes, I was alone at the dock with the ferry pulling away again.

As folks had said on iOverlander, there was a shelter right by the dock with a bathroom and benches good enough to sleep on. Since it was already 7pm, I just stayed there. I cooked my dinner on the porch of the shelter with a lovely view of the fjord, and set up “camp” indoors. It was warm and easy, if not the most comfortable sleeping arrangement in the world. Someone showed up around 5am in a truck, but other than that, I had the place to myself.

Bronwyn Woods