After meeting at the airport or the port’s peer, we’ll go to La Guarida, our base and the place where local riders use to gather, to pick-up our gear and bikes and get familiarized with them.
Pending on the hour we may ride south from the city along the Magellan Strait to reach the end of the road at Punta Arbol, the southernmost point of South America’s continental road.
Along the road we can have a glimpse of some marine mammals and know interesting historic places like Fuerte Bulnes, the first Chilean settlement along the Magellan Strait, the infamous Puerto de Hambre (Port Famine or Starvation Port) where the first Spanish conquerors perished in XVI century, and the English Cimetery, that contains the grave of Darwins’ Beagle first officer.
We’ll gather very early morning at La Guarida for a short ride and take the ferry to Porvenir city. We’ll then sail through the Magellan Strait to be in Tierra del Fuego around mid-day. On the ferry we can have some snacks and enjoy a hopefully not too windy sailing.
From Porvenir we’ll ride along Bahia Inutil (Useless Bay), a huge glacial scar that divides Tierra del Fuego in two main areas.
After passing Cabo Boqueron highs; this will be our first approach to the gravel roads that will be a constant along the whole journey, with some challenging passages that will made us feel more and more comfortable on our bikes. Along the road we may have a distant glimpse of the snowed hills of Cordillera Darwin on the Southern part of Tierra del Fuego and after around 90 kilometers will reach Estancia Onaisin- Caleta Josefina, that used to be the biggest in Chilean territory during the early 20th century.
Circling the Baha Inutil bottom we’ll encounter and visit a colony of King Penguins, the biggest outside Antarctica, enjoying the view of these lovely birds.
From the Penguin’s colony we’ll follow the road along the southern shore of Bahia Inutil and after passing Cameron town – named after one of the administrators of the huge Sociedad Explotadora de Tierra del Fuego, the British founded company that was the owner of almost all the Pataginian estancias – will continue into Tierra del Fuego’s mainland along the front of the Fuegian Cordillera until Russfin, where we’ll spend the night.
Along the road we may visit an old steam gold dredger seating on one of the numerous streams.
From Russfin, the main camp of a timber company, we’ll continue our way to the West and then South after crossing the Rio Grande (Big river), the main watercourse of Tierra del Fuego and a paradise for fly-fishing.
Passing by Onamonte Estancia we’ll starting our journey to the core of Fueguian Cordillera along the rio Rasmussen, reaching the small and growing community of Pampa Guanaco – named after the enormous quantity of these cute camelids that will made us to take extra care when they gather by the road.
From pampa Guanaco we’ll take an old road to the Lago Blanco (White lake), named after the color it takes on very windy days, the second biggest of Tierra del Fuego, and may have some lunch at its shore, enjoying a magnificent view of another fishermen’s paradise. Along the road if we are lucky, we may see some beavers working on their dams and refuges.
After coming back to Pampa Guanaco, we’ll continue to the South, passing by Estancia Vicuña, the oldest estancia of this part of the island, that still preserves the big old main house, and then along the Rasmussen river we’ll enter the Lenga forest that characterizes this southern part of Tierra del Fuego.
We’ll also start to climb over the first hill chains and for sure enjoy the sounds and view of these untouched forest, only affected by the introduced beavers.
At the afternoon, we’ll reach Lago Deseado fishing lodge where we’ll rest until next day.
We’ll keep moving South, climbing again to pass the last cahin of hills before reaching the huge valley that connects Lago Fagnano (or Kami as Tehuelches used to call it) and Almirantazgo Sound. This is a very important geological feature as marks the border between the South American and the Antartic Plate, that here moves along a big strike-slip fault quite similar to the San Andreas in California, although this seems to be a little bit quieter.
Well then go down to Lago Fagnano shore (visiting a series of beavers’ dams along the road) and then we’ll ride along yet nother fishermen’s paradise, the Azopardo river, that connects the Fagnano lake which is shared between Argentina and Chile, to the Almirantazgo sound. We may the imagine how the first settlers had to endure in order to manage to live here and the strength that original inhabitatants had to have to survive.
On the Lago Fagnano shore we’ll reach the very end of the road at a place called caleta Maria, from where it is possible to take a boat to visit nearby places like an sea-elephant colony, pending on weather conditions. The glacial valley that connects Almirantazgo sound and Laje Fagnano is a truly huge ventury tunnel and thus here windy days really mean it.
Late afternoon we’ll go back to spend the night at Lago Deseado again.
We’ll start our journey back, riding again trough Rio Rasmussen valley and then along the Chile –Argentina border north through Sierra Carmen Sylva and Rio Chico valley.
North of Pampa Guanaco we’ll follow a road along a series of Patagonian estancias that used to be small portions of the huge Caleta Josefina estancia, now in hands of multiple small owners, each of one owns several Townsends of acres, considering that this land can have no more than one sheep by hectare.
Along the road we’ll see how the vegetation changes from the forest and hills to the big Patagonian pampa and its enormous horizon. This is the landscape we’ll have once we reach again the big Bahía Inutil – San Sebastian valley, flanqued by enormous erratic blocks that once were interpreted as a graves form a giants’ cementery.
We’ll then reach Estancia Caleta Josefina to rest from this long journey and specially the wind, that for sure was or permanent companion.
Before leaving Estancia Caleta Josefina we’ll visit the English cemetery to have look at some of the graves of old settlers and have a glimpse of late 19th and early 20th controversial history of the relationship between Indians and settlers.
We’ll then ride again through Bahia Inutil shore but after a few kilometers we’ll take a detour to Baquedano hills and ride through a series of valleys were gold mining is still active before reaching Porvenir to take our ferry back to Punta Arenas.
In Punta Arenas we’ll deliver our bikes and gear at La Guarida and then go to a nice evening dinner at La Ventisca Restaurant to enjoy some Antarctic specialties.