When Patagonia comes up in conversation, people usually envision grassy rolling hills, alpine rivers, and imposing rock pillars in the background.
I was one of those people, and I fantasized about embarking on a month-long trip through southern parts of Argentina and Chile, known as the land of Patagonia.
Upon arriving in El Calafate, renowned for it’s stunning glacier Petito Moreno, we were struck by the vastness of the land. As far as the eye could see, the landscape was dominated by sheer rock deserts deeply immersed in hauling winds, with no place to seek shelter. Although I’ve traveled to some remote places before, this was unlike anything I had ever seen. There were hundreds of kilometers of loneliness, with no people, animals or water. The wind was so intense that on lucky days, we could easily pedal 50km/h without much effort, but when the direction changed, progress was slow and discouraging. We sought shelter behind road maintenance buildings on long stretches, where we could pitch a tent and request a water refill.
Once we crossed the border over to Chile, the landscaped changed from desert to sparsely forested land, with lakes and wild animals. Even the wind found solace behind the mountains and we could enjoy the peaceful bird songs during calm evenings. However, this tale-like scenery didn’t last long and soon we found ourselves in the middle of a steppe-like environment. To take rest from the speeding trucks, we took long detours along Patagonian gravel roads along the coast. By that point we were relishing the exposure to raw weather conditions.
Somehow, I found wind flapping in my ears, the aggressive sun burning on my skin, and grit between my teeth grounding and enjoyable.
The experience of rapidly changing landscapes was remarkable, and we were astonished by the diversity it had to offer. Approaching the last stretch of our trip, we entered Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost tip of South American mainland.
They say to save the best for last, and they weren’t wrong. The hills turned into snow-covered mountains, the creeks transformed into rivers and the bushes grew into lichen-covered Lenga trees. Several weeks on the road took a toll on our tired legs, but that didn’t prevent us from enjoying the last few days before reaching Ushuaia – ‘the end of the world’. Chilled evenings in creaky forests, listening to the sounds of laughing guanacos were one of the things that made this trip genuinely unforgettable.
If you want to know what we packed for a month long trip in Patagonia, go read this article.
If you want to know why I opted out on taking a full suspension bicycle instead of hard tail to Patagonia, read this article.