Friday, February 11, 2011

Thursday 10 Feb: beautiful carretera austral

Puyuhuapi, most picturesque of the towns on the carretera says the guide books, and who are we to argue? But it's really seems just a pleasant end to a stunning day.

The paved road carried us right through to the Puerto cisnes turning. Coupled with a fairly early start, this got us to the base of the ripio climb over Queulat by 10.30. We'd been forewarned about this climb by Mike and Kerry way back on our day hiding out from the wind on the way to El Chaltén. Knowing what's coming, it never seems quite so bad in actuality and we slogged and slipped our way up it before lunchtime, even with the gravel surface. On the descent we found a turning for a short walk to a splendid waterfall where we took our lunch, thankfully away from the flies.

All the way over the climb, through a saddle between the Cisnes and Ventisquero valleys, we were treated to amazing views of snow-capped mountains and glaciers. Ventisquero itself, the hanging glacier, is a quite magnificent sight that greeted us as we made it off the numerous gravelly switchbacks of the descent. There was the option of a two hour trek to get a closer look, but we saw so much as we cycled we didn't feel we needed it.

Once again not a cloud in sight all day, we were very glad to be in shade on the flat again by the heat of the afternoon. I took a quick shower in a mountain waterfall to cool down, and a dip in the lake when we arrived in town.

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