I remember when we were sitting with Jessica and Kobus from Life Remotely at their house in Seattle at the very beginning of this trip. Sam asked them if there was anywhere on the entire trip they did (over 19 months down the PanAm) where they would want to buy property and live one day. They said the Carretera Austral. After traveling in this area I totally agree, that would also be my answer now to that question. I was dreaming about tiny little places to live in one of the blue, blue rivers as we drove. This entire part of Chile was off the charts stunning.
The only wild card about traveling in this region is what kind of weather mother nature throws your way. It makes a huge difference to what you do and see, because when it is rainy, it gets so cloudy that almost everything is invisible and it is so, so wet. We struck out trying to see the hanging glacier in Queulat National Park. The weather was continuously drizzling and visibility was almost zero. It was like we were traveling in a large cloud. We spent two days hunkered down in the XP waiting out the rain until we finally gave up, put on our rain proof coats and did the long hike up through the wet rainforest to the mirador where we saw……nothing but fog. However, to add to the frustration, we could hear the glacier cracking, exploding and calving into the lake. It was such a tease, we could only imagine what it must have looked like.
The mud on this hike was so yucky. I just gave up and would walk in the rivers and deep mud puddles with mud up past my ankles. I took this with the iphone, the fancy camera is not allowed in the rain.
Water seemed to be coming from everywhere. Down the trail, down the rock walls. No wonder it was so green. Reminded us of Sitka, Alaska.
We finally gave up trying to see the glacier and headed towards Cerro Castillo in search of sun. However, on our way towards Cerro Castillo we were stopped and forced back because of a landslide from all the rain. So we had to turn around and wait a day until it was cleared which turned out to be a good thing because we waited out the rain.
The good news it is Chile not Peru or Bolivia and they had it cleared in a day.
As we headed towards Cerro Castillo the next day something amazing happened, the sun began to come out. We had no idea all the stunning mountains that were hidden right there in front of us!
When the clouds part it was always a total surprise what was behind them, blue sky, a glacier, a forest, a mountain….
Still a bit hidden behind clouds.
We decided to camp on a little back road next to a small glacier with a waterfall. It was a pretty sweet campsite.
We woke up the next day to a perfect blue sky, it was amazing!
I am sooo glad the weather turned for us because if not we would have missed this!
And this….ok you get the point, but it is crazy that we would never have seen these views with the clouds.
The mountain range of Cerro Castillo was so stunning, it is the one behind the house in the distance.
We drove around some of the back roads and were just blown away by how pretty it all was.
Hiking around this area leaves lots of burrs on your pants and shoes that are so sharp they made my finger bleed when I took them off. Everyday…..
The drive towards some cave paintings I read about.
I tried to imagine thousands of years ago what inspired people to create these.
Hiking up to the cave was cool, the scenery around was even better.
From Cerro Castillo we drove to Rio Tranquilo, it was an ok drive =).
On the way out of town.
Glacier waters mixing with other rivers. Looks like a blue cafe latte.
One more view of the crazy mixed river.
Just another lake. so many of them we almost started to take them for granted.
We were driving by this lake and I told Sam to stop and take some pictures. It was such a strange, milky aqua blue.
We were so happy to have sun, it lights up the water and makes everything so much better. We felt very blessed.
Driving to Rio Tranquilo, almost there!
We arrived in Puerto Rio Tranquilo and camped here for the night getting ready for some glacier hikes and tours of the marble caves.