From El Chalten, there are two options for cyclists. Either you go back to the dry east of Patagonia on the Ruta 40 or you take an adventurous border crossing between the Lago del Desierte and the Lago o’Higgins.
We choose adventure. But we started relaxed. After wind forecasts of gusts with more than 100km/h we replaced the first 37km gravel road by a bus transport from El Chalten. After an hour in the bus, we arrived at the Lago del Desierto. Here, we took a first boat, which brought us to the other side. There, we went to the by far smallest Argentinian border post we saw so far and got our exit stamp from Argentina.
Looking back to Lago del Desierto
Here, the main adventure started: Towards the Lago o’Higgins and to the chilean border control we had to cover 21km. From this, the first 6km are a hiking trail (really!). We had to push our bikes uphill through a small gully formed by a small stream. We had to get over many tree roots, lifted the bike over steps and needed to cross 4 rivers, pushing the bike through barefoot. For the first 6km, we needed about 4 hours, collected 1kg of dirt on bike and bags and had wet feet at the end.
One of the many rivers
The hiking trail ended at the actual border line. There, we put up the tent and passed the night. The next day was easy - 15km on relatively well dirt road (actually road!) towards the Chilean border control. After that, we started the second boat ride.
Leaving Argentina and the Hiking trail
The second ferry only leaves during good weather. We met some people who had to waiy in the middle of nowhere for a couple of days waiting for the next boat. After being on the boat, it is completely understandable that there it would not leave at bad weather - even on a sunny day there was a lot of rocking and rolling.
After about two hours and 6km more of cycling, we arrived in Villa O’Higgins, for us the start of the Carretera Austral.
Lago O’Higgins - Start (end) of the Carretera Austral