In the past, there was so much solitude and quiet here. But with time, Patagonia has been more often visited by travellers, explorers and adventurers – and the forgotten areas became thriving touristic places with picturesque landscapes: Lakes, mountains, glaciers, high cliff coasts and desert like Pampa turned into the attractions of the region. Patagonia is the country of smiles, of good mood (you’ll always encounter friendly and helpful people; discuss with them for hours while drinking mate tea and enjoy the red sunset skies together) and it’s smart. It opens up only to those who understand it. Patagonia also is challenging both to its inhabitants and its visitors. It has a moved history and is characterized by big distances and rough winters, long roads and harsh nature. It’s a challenging country for everyone who visits it.
One can easily visit Patagonia several times without really getting to know or understand it. The country is very special and full of treasures if you know where to find them. Luckily today there are many ways to get to know the essence of this region and its special places, without getting stuck in mass tourism. One of the most special places for visitors who want to get away from civilization it the “Carretera Austral” in Southern Chile. It goes from the very end South of Los Lagos to the region of Asién. The big part of stories and tales about motorcycle trips made in this area of Patagonia is somehow connected to this route. I am not gonna tell you too many technical details but I can give you a general picture of this roadtrip.
The route is incredible: You will encounter so many different landscapes, attractions, characters in the small villages, flora & fauna and of course climate zones. Sure, the best time for travelling is october to march but in january the days are so incredibly long, don’t forget that!
Let me start with a small piece of the road between Coyhaique and Puerto Tranquilo: Coyhaique is the small capital of this region with 57.000 people and located on the crossing of beautiful valleys, protected by mountain hills. In southern direction you can dive into the valleys. Here, all distances are being measured in time. This track is 4,5 hours long and has a length of 250 km. The first 100 km are made of cobble stone and in good conditions, with a lot of curves, ascending and descending parts which you will love as a motorcyclist. All of you who’ll be on the road here on their motorcycles absolutely have to make some stops and take your helmet off. You will feel your face hurting because you’ve been smiling all the time!
You might be lucky and spot a local species which is endangered by extinction, called the “humuel”. It is a local deer. He often crosses the higher located part of this area to get to valley of Cerro Castillo. The Cerro which gives the region its name is characterized by a descending hill in the shape of a snail and characterized by zig zag-curves – you will have lots of fun riding your motorcycle here! The must do spot here is “el bus de La Sole”, two food trucks where you can buy local food specialties.
In this area originally have been living the Tehuelches and within 10 minutes from the food trucks you’ll find the “alero de manos pintadas”, a small rock monument covered with paintings from the indigenes made 8000 years ago. You should take some time and really inhalate the history of the place that you’ve been travelling through.
On the rest of the road until Puerto Rio Tranquilo you will see and ride through beautiful valleys (attention, lots of people here in high season!). The roads are beautiful, you don’t neet a big motorcyle necessarily – a small bike might even give you more flexibility on the small roads with bumps and such.
Puerto Tranquilo sits right on the beach of lake General Carrera, an international lake that chile and Argentina share. It’s the second biggest lake in Southern America. There you must absolutely take a trip on the boat to see the “Catedrales de Mármol“. They can be reached within short distance and they are so colossal and majestic that you will simply love it. The “cathedral” is made of small marble rock islands which fill our eyes in contrast between sun and the turqouise water. From there you can easily reach the end of Bahía Exploradores where you can take a small boat trip to the “Laguna San Rafael”. The Bahía is located in front of a giant glacier with swimming ice floes which reach into the ocean and it’s called the „niña bonita“ as well. This place has been accessible to the public only since some years ago and luckily still isn’t part of mass tourism and lets you have a spectacular experience of the nature here that you will never forget.
It might seem unfair that we can tell you about all the variety of the region in just one story although the road itself is pretty long, but it’s exactly the tale about the evolvement in people travelling on this road which makes clear what impact all the region here has on people. And how tourists turn into travellers. You will recognize that it’s better not to have a plan when travelling on this road. Respect the country, the landscape, take some time to talk to the locals. In an area where climate changes often within hours, it’s good to take some time to have Asado (barbeque) with new friends and enjoy the beauty of sunrise when getting up early instead of hurrying from one spot to another. Live with nature and enjoy the magic of every sunset which warms your soul at every stop. That’s where Patagonia is.