Back on the bike in Volcano land

Day 94 – March 25th 2016 – Route Puerto Montt to volcano Osorno
Set off from Hostal Suizo and the LOVELY owners, Rossy and Walter, said they felt like our adoptive parents and wished us well. It was fun being back on the bike and we treated ourselves to a cake stop, lake paddle and sandwich stop. We then made it to the volcano national park and then crazily decided to cycle up it. 12.5km and 1080m of climbing. It almost killed me but was worth it! There was a lovely ski Refugio at the top and we got a bed and a lovely 3 course meal.

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On the way up the orsorno volcano
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Orsono volcano

Day 95 – March 26th 2016 – Route Volcano Osorno to wild camping
We had an awesome morning hiking up the volcano to the glacier and getting a stunning view of the lake and forest below. Hummingbirds birds were waiting for us at the top while they rested and warmed up.  After a late breakfast in the Refugio we finally hit the road at 2pm for the long downhill. We actually had to stop a few times on the way down to stop the brakes overheating (boiled the fluid once though!). We had a lovely day cycling on good relatively flat roads through part of the Chilean lake district. We made it to a camp spot at sunset and found it full of locals partying for Easter weekend. We set up camp, listened to our audio book and got some sleep like the old fogeys we are.

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Hike on the volcano

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Lots of old steam engines in these parts

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Beautiful skies and co pilot!

Day 96 – March 27th 2016 – Route Wild camping to wild camping
Despite trying we did not get on the road till 11. We had a day cycling alongside lakes in what felt like rolling English countryside. Then the bike started misbehaving and after some checking we discovered a slow puncture which we fixed. We also managed a bit of apple scrumping and blackberry picking. With the delay of the puncture we decided to set up camp early in a nice Riverside spot. Chilled, had dinner and slept to rest up before crossing the border to Argentina tomorrow.

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The Easter bunny parade

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River next to the camp spot

Day 97 – March 28th 2016 – Route Wild camping to wild camping (between border crossings in no man’s land)
We spent a lot of the day spotting packaging for goods Argentinians have bought in Chile and smuggled back into Argentina. This is because not many imports are available in Argentina and it is cheaper for them to buy them in Chile. It was mainly packaging for mobile phones but also laptops, beard trimmers and shoes! All thrown on the roadside in a beautiful national park on the border, lovely. Most of the day was spent climbing the pass across the Andes into Argentina. It wasn’t as tough as the volcano and we were rewarded with a fab Andes vista at the top and on the way down. This whole area is covered in tons of volcanic ash from a huge eruption in 2011, it looks like snow but isn’t. We kept getting passed by trucks full of fancy mountain bikes and found out that the world endura mountain biking championships were taking place in nearby Bariloche. As per usual there was a huge gap between the Chilean and Argentinian border controls so we camped up next to a beautiful river in no man’s land between them.

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Top of the pass - volcanic ash at the roadside

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Nice views on the descent

Day 98 – March 29th 2016 – Route Wild camping to wild camping
Had a breakfast of blackberries picked on the roadside and then passed through the Argentinian border. It was another day of blazing sunshine and the UV index is 8 due to the thin/lack of ozone layer here. We stopped in Villa La Angostura for lunch and supplies and started on the hilly but beautiful routa de 7 Lagos (Argentinian lake district). We found a lovely camp spot on the beach of a lake and settled in for the night. Oh yeah and I paddled my feet 🙂

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Lovely lakes

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The jolly paddler

Day 99 – March 30th 2016 – Route Wild camping to near lake Meliquina
As forecast we had a day of relentless cloud and rain. We kept spirits high during the beautiful but hilly ride by eating all our snacks and hence lightening our load 🙂 we met a lovely french canadian cyclist, Renaud, on a light and speedy road bike and felt some envy. there was a low point of bike maintenance as the back brake seems to be sticking – again. This was probably the wrong bike to bring as it us just too complex for the job. After about 60km we arrived drenched near lake Meliquina and luckily found a little apartment for the night. Hot shower, heating to dry wet stuff and some relaxation – bliss!

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Thanks to Pablo Martin Barreiro for the photo

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Rainy day

Day 100 – March 31st 2016 – Route Lake to San Martin de los Andes
The sun came back out and we had a super easy day of 25km on the bike, almost all downhill. San Martin de los Andes is a really lovely town with friendly people, nice cafes and lovely views and vibe. James consumed 0.5kg of great ice cream and we stopped to chat to a lovely local who had paparazzied some cool photos of us riding the day before. We found a nice little hotel and had an evening of empanadas, wine and TV.

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The teams powerhouse

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Fuelling up

Day 101 – April 1st 2016 – Route San Martin de los Andes to wild camping
We decided to treat the tandem by removing a few kilos of our things and posting them to Buenos Aires and buying and fitting a new timing chain chain (made up of two normal chains). The first chain we were going to get was $80 USD but luckily we found a cheaper option – we are spoiling this bike! We then followed a ‘detour’ on the GPS, fatal mistake, which meant an hour of pushing the bike up a steep hiking track before turning back! We then pushed on in the blazing sun on a gravel road to the border. We sailed through the Argentinian border crossing but got stuck in a very thorough Chilean crossing, including having all our bags scanned and being forced to eat all our nuts and raisins in the spot. At dark James secured us a camp spot under a bridge, a new hobo first for us.

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Letting the post office carry some of the load

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Pretty but not the right way
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Warning cyclist in the area
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No nuts or raisins allowed across the border

Day 102 – April 2nd 2016 – Route under bridge wild camp to Riverside wild camp
We had a lovely slow start in our dry and beautiful camp spot. A lot of the morning was spent listening to the parakeets squawking. We pedaled the kilometer to the lake and port and then hopped on the boat crossing Chile’s longest lake, Lago Pirihueico. On the boat we met a group of 25 Chilean mountain bikers who were really friendly and helpful. Once off the boat we cycled for another 13km. While scouting for a wild camp spot by a bridge a local said it was his land and it was fine for us to stay – perfect.

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Hobo time

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Boat full of bikes

Day 103 – April 3rd 2016 – Route Riverside wild camp to Villarrica Husky Farm
We had a beautiful day riding along lakes, pretty countryside and nice quiet roads. We stopped for a late lunch at a lovely town called Licin Ray. We then decided to seek out a local German run husky farm (Aurora Austral Patagonia). After 90km of riding and a bit of a wild goose chase we finally found the peaceful and well hidden husky farm. They had a lovely cabana for us and offered us a ride to town and a husky go karting excursion the next day 😉

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More volcanos

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Flowers at the restaurant

Day 104 – April 4th 2016 – Rest day at Villarrica Husky Farm
We did our washing chores and popped into town with the owners for breakfast and shopping, Villarrica is a really nice and authentic Patagonian town on the lake with views of volvano Villarrica. The afternoon was spent sledding on local dirt roads being pulled by teams of enthusiastic husky dogs. Brill! They are super fast and we definitely need some to help pull the tandem They have 50 friendly huskies on the farm so it is a fun and crazy place. Oh yeah – despite being experts at hand washing our clothes James managed to burn his socks in the drying process!

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James and Konrad putting a harness on a husky - plus James' bald spot 🙁

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The huskys in full run

Day 105 – April 5th 2016 – Route Husky farm to Villarrica
We had a relaxed morning in the cabin and I annoyingly managed to lose part of my belly button piercing. We set off after 14:00 for a tough but rewarding Route suggested by our German hosts. Cycled the 20km to Villarrica and spent the afternoon looking for jewellery stores and then made the executive decision to grab food, a mojito and a hosteria so we could get an early start the next day.

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Llamas at the husky farm

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Paying bills eased by a mojito

Day 106 – April 6th 2016 – Route Villarrica to Regalil
We got up bright and early and hit the road before 8:39, could be a record for us.  The beginning was a busy and not so pleasant road to Pucon, the adrenalin and adventure junkie capital of Chile. We stopped only for breakfast and to get cash. We then made some great progress on the tarmac (excluding a 10km round trip wrong turn) before hitting the gravel roads and heading into the Mapuchu (native Indian region). The last 40km was very dusty and hilly but in a beautiful quiet valley. I started to lose the will to ride at various points and James kept me motivated, mostly by lying to me about how far we had gone 🙂 we smashed out over 120km in the end! One of our longest days yet. We luckily found a little Mapuchu hosteria – Hospedaje Veronica – to sleep at before it got dark and the rain poured down. Rewarded ourselves by warming at the fire and having a good solid pasta meal. The hot water for the shower was heated via a wood stove!

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If James owned a supermecardo

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Volcano and horses

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Trying out a very sketchy suspension bridge

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Our lunch spot

Day 107 – April 7th 2016 – Route Regalil over a pass to wild camp Nevada Sulli Pulli
We waited for the rain to clear and headed out after 12, saying farewell to our wonderful mapuchu host. This is where it got tricky as the road we were taking was new and not in any if our maps…so we had to rely on intuition and my comms skills! It was a really hard day of half pushing and half pedaling on what was pretty much a 4×4 adventure track through a nature reserve. We only traveled 27km and climbed about 700m but we were pooped. We did however only see 1 car all day, had stunning views of the valley, cycled through lots of beautiful forest and did 5 wading river crossings. What a rollercoaster! We eventually made it to the lodge we were aiming for who then said they were closed so we had a very chilly night camping at over 1000m at the volcano Sulli Pulli trail head. Unfortunately our stove decided to stop working so no hot dinner…

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Our nice hostal host

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One of the barefoot river crossings

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Clare chopped the tree down with her penknife

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The monkey puzzle trees

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Another river crossing

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Feeling small in the big trees

Day 108 – April 8th 2016 – Route Nevados Sulli Pulli to Icalma
We set out in the freezing morning and enjoyed the fantastic light and dramatic vistas. We quickly reached tarmac and James spent Diana Ross’ greatest hits (25 songs) working in the bike rack and set up as it had all shifted. We then quickly ran out if tarmac and started climbing our 2nd Andes pass in 3 days! It was hot, pretty relentless and we had empty bellies. We made it to the top and were rewarded by the gravel road heading through a flat plateau of mapuchu farmland and lakes. We arrived in a lakeside border town in perfect time to secure a room, fill our bellies and catch the sunset. Lovely!

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Big skies

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Gaucho and his cattle

Day 109 – April 9th 2016 – Route Icalma to Lonquimay
We started our day chatting to some locals who loved our bike and adventure and kept calling us valiant. They took loads of photos with us and gave us lollipops for our journey. We had a fast and fairly flat day on the plateau half gravel and half tarmac. The first 10km we were followed by a very stinky but friendly dog – it gave up in the end though – it was like the dog boggins from Adam & Joe.  This mapuchu region is noticably one one of the poorer regions of Chile we have seen and obviously doesn’t get much government investment – our hosteria owner said the Argentinian government invests much more in services like water, roads and schools. We had cool views all day and decided to stop in a small pueblo as we had no luck finding a wild camp spot. After a bit of searching we found a nice hosteria and breathed a sigh of relief when the thunderstorm struck and we were safely inside. The town we are staying in is layed out in the shape of a rugby ball which is strange.

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Amazing views

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Stretching whilst admiring the scenery
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Just the two of us

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