Day 150/164: Villa O Higgins to El Chalten – 63km

Climbing 940 meters and down 800.

Today we had to get up early at 5:30 am to have breakfast, get packed up, and ride 8 kilometres to the first ferry by 7am. The first ferry ride was about 5 hours.

Along the lake this morning (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Along the lake this morning (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

Onto the boat

Onto the boat

Getting on to our first ferry

Getting on to our first ferry

Lots of snow capped mountains, a couple of glaciers, and some icebergs. I got really seasick once we were on the open water, but thankfully it calmed down again as soon as we got near to the other side.

Once we got off the ferry we had to push our bikes up about 5 kilometres of steep, loose, slippery gravel to the Chile Border.

Getting ready to hike up the track to the border (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Getting ready to hike up the track to the border (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

Impossible gravel (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Impossible gravel (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

It took over an hour for us to get through, then we had 22 kilometres across country, through gravel and mud swamp, across rivers, balancing on logs to get across rivers, down steep hills, and about 2 kilometres in total that I could ride. I carried my bike quite a bit as well as pushing and pulling it. Coming down a steep descent, I was imagining my daughter Lizzy whizzing down with a great big grin on her face.

Gravel beyond our capabilities

Gravel beyond our capabilities

Landslide on the way

Landslide on the way

Bike walking . . . it's the latest sport

Bike walking . . . it’s the latest sport

Jo carrying her bike over a log

Jo carrying her bike over a log

River crossing!

River crossing!

Lots of mud!

Lots of mud!

Log riding!

And even more mud!

Typical section of the track

Typical section of the track

Not too keen to ride along that one

Not too keen to ride along that one

Treacherous track

Treacherous track

Getting through the Argentinean border was really quick. Then it was a wait for the ferry.

Checkpoint - No long queues of tourist coaches here! (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Checkpoint – No long queues of tourist coaches here! (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

Checkpoint with a view! (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Checkpoint with a view! (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

The 4pm ferry arrived at 5pm, and initially it looked like a number of people would have to wait for the ferry (45 min each way, plus turn around time) to go back and forth again. This would have meant it would be nearly 7pm before we got to the other side. It was cold and most people did not have enough clothing to sit around for a couple of hours. The only shelter had only one wall and a roof, we were all huddled under it. Luckily everyone was able to squeeze onto this sailing (including the four cyclists who were not in our group, whose 10am sailing just never arrived).

Almost at the next ferry (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Almost at the next ferry (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

The ferry approaches

The ferry approaches

The ferry crossing - beautiful views

The ferry crossing – beautiful views

Glacier above the lake (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Glacier above the lake (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

As it was, it was 6pm by the time we got our bikes off on the other side. Then we had another 37 kilometres of loose slippery thick gravel.

El Chaten appears (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

El Chaten appears (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

It was 8:30pm by the time I got into El Chalten. Then I had to find accommodation as TDA had organized a tent site for these rest days, and the tent site looked bleak and cold, and it was really windy.

Luckily I found a room with an ensuite at the next door hostel. Very expensive though, as I was to discover this was the same throughout this town ($400 USD) for 3 nights. Imagine if I stayed at one of the flash hotels. By the time I had got my bags from the campsite into the hostel and showered it was nearly 10pm. By this time I was so tired I decided that as I still had one of the 6 sandwiches left, I would have that for dinner and fall into bed.

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Categories: Argentina, Chile, South American Epic | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Day 150/164: Villa O Higgins to El Chalten – 63km

  1. Wendy

    Goodness gracious…what a day! a very long day!

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