QuickPeek: Bus Ride. Border Crossing. Awesome Host.
Once I had seen the route heading to Puerto Natales, it was clear that the option to ride the bike for 500 km on the vast plains of Patagonia on headwind was a bit stupid. It was probably a better idea to bypass as much of the Steppes and head into the bellows of Carratera Austral as quickly as I could.
My preferred option to take the Transbordadora Ferry to Puerto Yungay was not a possibility as the tickets were all sold out and only the March Voyages were open. That was too far off and the second option was to take a bus to El Calafate and make my way to El Chalten and into Carratera Austral. So Plan B it was.
I had booked the teo legs of buses, one from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales and another heading to El Calafate. I packed up in the morning, and bid farewell to our lovely hosts Flori and Victor, who have been unbelievably lovely and kind and as I started, the Polish cyclist, Severin, that I had met all the way back in Brazil came in to stay with Flori and Victor. I rode into the bus station, paid the 3000 Pesos excess baggage fee for the bike, loaded the bike on and headed out. The bus ride was smooth and it was a 3 hour ride to the first stop.
Once in Puerto Natales, I had to wait for a couple of hours to take the 3 pm bus to El Calafate. As I waited, another couple, who were also cycling came in and now we had 4 bikes to pack in the bus. Hmmm. The cyclists were friendly and were also cycling North! Likely to be some additional company along the Carratera Austral! They had tried riding out from Puerto Natales, but were discouraged by the incessant winds and rain and had to turn back and return to town. The conditions are really not worth riding in.
Once the bus came up, I helped to load up the bikes and was informed there was to be another 8000 Peso fee for bikes. Bummer. I wanted to check with the office before paying and told the guys that I’d pay at the destination.They were friendly chaps and were fine with it. The border crossing was interesting. With a bus load of tourists, we had to queue up at the border and it was a 45 minute affair to get things sorted out, each time. I suppose that adds to the transit time on this leg. The borders seemed pretty busy with numerous cars, Motrobikes and bus loads of travellers. The ride itself was smooth but I got to Calafate pretty late, nearly 9 pm!
I had a couchsurfing host in town, so bit farewell to the other cycling couple and walked into town to find internet to get in touch with my host David. The town was packed with people, as it turned out a music festival was happening in town and there was shit to of traffic and people, pretty much, everywhere. I was unsuccessful in finding free wifi, but a friendly feller at a hotel offered me some time on their wifi and I managed to get in touch with David.
David showed up in 5 minutes in a truck and helped load up the bikes and bags and took us to his place. His Nephew Mauricio was with him and they both were very friendly. Once back home, They shared some of the food they had and we catted for a long while before knocking off.
Track NotesExpenses: SG$ 20.39
Comments: Glad that the bikes managed o go on the bus though it cost a bit of money.