Patagonia, February – March 2008

We were drawn to Patagonia barely six months after shutting the car doors at the end of the Peking to Paris rally.  The pull was quite yin-yang, very interior-exterior.  The exterior aspect was our desire to drive the famed Carretera Austral, a 770-mile ribbon of dirt outlining Chile’s western coastline, a place of ravishing scenery and practically no cars. Driving it promised intimate views of glacier-fed fjords, raging rivers, turquoise lakes, and forests so dripping and dense they belonged in a sci-fi movie.  As for the interior side of things, frankly we longed to once again be sitting side by side in a car, with no distractions other than finding our way and figuring out where to stop for lunch.  You can see the detailed route on the map.

Instead of using our own car, and being responsible for fixing it, we indulged ourselves with a spiffy new Avis rental.  Starting in Santiago we drove all the way to Ushuaia on the tip of the South American continent, then back north to Barriloche and ultimately took a pickup truck and drove the backroads of the Quebrada de Humahuaca, hard up against Argentina’s border with Bolivia.  Along the way we spent days on a ferry plying Chile’s western shore, did some of the best horseback riding I’ve ever done in the Torres del Paine area, drank quantities of máte with new gaucho friends, ate much too much meat, bumped along deserted dirt roads, got nose to beak with thousands of penguins, shook the cloven hoof of Mr. Handsome Merino 2008, and crisscrossed between Chile and Argentina more times than I have fingers to count. Patagonia was everything the Peking to Paris wasn’t, with fabulous scenery, a sociable day-to-day pace, exquisite food, warm, engaging people, a language I could speak.  And great Pisco Sours.  It was in all ways the Anti-Rally.

My dispatches from the road are full of interesting details. To sign up for my Dispatches Newsletter click HERE. If you have questions about where we went and where we stayed, post below and I will reply.

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