Today we are in the little resort city of Futaleufu. Did the river yesterday. We have met some wonderful people and have had a great time traveling the Autral Caretarra. So far we have traveled about 1200 miles(only 120 miles of it has been paved) We only have less than a week to go to get to the last ferry out without having to drive back into Argentina.
2/12- Walked through Tortal, a unique city with no car access only wooden walkways. Then drove to Villa O'Higgins via a long Ferry wait. Arrived in O'Higgins a late afternoon. Found the gas station, a campground and then went to dinner late. Met Belgian and Husband at dinner, had a nice time communicating and getting a typical Chilean roast beef dinner, with a Pisco sour of course.
2/13-Drove to the end of the road to the port on O'higgins lake. Then drove to the second bridge over a nice river to fish, but it was raining and cold. Birdwatched for a bit along a protected back road, had lunch, waited to see if the rain would clear, and the wind would stop. NOT. Drove in the rain up to another river. Rio Sobre. Rained all night and got us to worrie abit about the conditions of the road.
2/14-Woke in the rain and decided not to fish. This river had risen a bit and it was miserable outside. Our chairs got wet. Drove to get the 11:00am ferry. Made it just as the ferry was arriving. Then drove back to Our little free site on the Baker river. Found a crack in the additional water separating fuel filter. A rock must have hit it. Had to improvise to remove the filter and hook the line back up. Took a while in the morning.
2/15- a rainless day, Drove again to Cochrane, gassed up then drove back to Lake Carrera, to see the Marble caves that had been carved by the wave action. Bought gas again at Puerto Tranquillo. Was told that the Cerro Castillo was a beautiful view and almost as spectacular as Torres Del Paine. It was a long drive that day and Paco was having some trouble with acceleration?? The overlook of the Cerro was awesome and we camped on an overlook waiting for the perfect shot, as the clouds began to clear.
2/16- Got some great photos of Cerro Castillo in the morning sunrise. Then drove and found that the road just north of the little pueblo of Cerro Castillo was PAVED. We made good miles that day through some awesome fiord like country. High peaks with snow and glaciers, much like the area in Washington and Brithish columbia. Beautiful. Drove to the big city of Coihaiqu, gased up had a great lunch on a short walking street. Saw Belgian and her husband again, visited and then went to find a little reserve called Dos Laguanas. Well, there were few birds and it was cold. Had a nice walk to another lake and it was a bit cold.
2/17- Went into Coihuique, found a autoparts store and bought some hoses and clamps for making my patch job look a little more professional. Drove through Puerto Aysen. The end of the pavement. Then drove to north to a picturesque little Lake Aquirre, with a camp horse. This place had a beautiful view of a peak. To our west. We had shopped that day and bought a extra blanket, slept a bit wamer that night.
2/18- Woke and replaced the hose and changed the fuel filter and fuel pump. Hoping that that would solve the acceleration problem. As it turned out it was a little better but not what I was expectin. Got a late start that day. Drove to Puerto Cisnes, and fished a while on the Cisnes river. Then drove to parque Queulat. With a beautiful hanging Glacier and huge waterfalls. The sites were full that day so we were able to just park and camp in a parking lot near the visitors center.
2/19-Woke this day to beautiful weather and had a nice walk to the lake just below the giant hanging glacier. Then we got a great hot shower. Then we drove north through Payahuin, had a great little fish lunch on a back street Conerceria. Then found the northern campground of Queulat, found Belgian and her husband again. They tried to get us to stay but we wanted to push onto Futalafue. Bought gas at Junta, and headed east to the Fu. Made it to a place called Cara del Indio, which was a home, rafting, fishing guide, adventure campground. We were the only ones there that night. I inquired about rafting and there was a four person minimum and they had no sign ups. As we drank our evening wine and prepared dinner, a pig and some chickens showed up sniffing and pecking around Paco. It was hot that day and the sun was really intense, sapping my strength..
2/20-Drove into the pueblo of Futalafu. On the way, we saw a VW campervan parked along a good site for camping a libre. Stopped and talked to Jutta and her boyfriend for quite a while sharing our trips with each other. They had a bunch of toys with them, Kayaks, wind surfing gear and bikes, all piled ontop of their van. They brought the van from Germany and planned to go to Alaska, over a two to three year period. They gave us some tips of what was available in town. We then told them that we would be back that evening if they didn't mind. Went into town to get money, food, and find out about rafting the Fu. Stopped in at a place that had been recommended to us on the Rio Baker. We ended up signing up for a ducky trip that afternoon on the class 3 Espalon river, and then a bridge to bridge class 4+ trip on the Futalafu the next day. We got a package deal, but it was still on the expensive side, but luch was included for both trips. So we had about a half hour to get ready for the afternoon Espalon trip. We paddled a double ducky and had a great time on this beautiful river with some of the Managers family and friends. A great Sunday afternoon trip with some great little rapids to keep us on our toes. Drove back to the Libre site had dinner and I finished my book. The Germans drove up later that evening after dark and told us about their day doing the Espalon in there Kayaks. Both of us had booked a trip for the Fu the next day. I was so excited to get to do the Fu that I had a hard time getting to sleep.
2/21- Woke early and had a great night sleep after our little river trip on the Espalon. Met with the Germans again and visited. We found out that we had both taken the Antarctica trip on the Ushuia. And they also booked it as a last minute deal.. what a cooinsidence. We did get to the put in at the first bridge at the Beach of Futalafu Explore. We had 16 ft hyside paddle boats with a kayak photographer, and a rescue cat for company. Josh, the owner of the company also kayaked along our trip. Josh was one of those first to help develop rafting on the Fu mid eighties. He was also some help in keeping the Fu from being damed. An ex grand Canyon guide, who reminded me of Jim Cassidy like guy, but very quiet. Well let me tell you this was great. Our guide Santiago, a peruvian, spoke perfect english and went a through rescue-river talk for a possible dump and swim... not a fun thing to think of in this big water. The section that we did was about 10-12 miles long and took about 2 hours to do. There were 14 or more rapids that had the most clear white water imaginable. Santiago got us through them all and we were soaking wet, thank goodness we had wet suits, dry tops, helmets and booties along with our PFDs. We hit waves as big as the boat and surfed a couple on purpose... Santiago was a great guide. He told us that he had tried to get a job on the Kern River but the company never returned a reply. Maybe we could help get him connected down on the Kern..?? They served us lunch at their lodge on the best beach on the Fu. Our 5 other paddlers were Isralies on they were on their way to Argentina that afternoon. We finished at about 3. They let us stay in their beach that evening...