Chile and the Carretera Austral

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Chile and the Carretera Austral

July 24, 2018, day 786 of our journey, we rolled south across the border leaving Peru behind. Our sites were set on the much-anticipated Carretera Austral at the far southern end of Chile. The two inexperienced cyclists who had embarked 2 years ago from Anchorage, Alaska were now well-seasoned travellers with many stories, experiences and adventures behind them. Chile was our 13th country.

We were advised by other cyclists we had met along the way to avoid the Atacama Desert of northern Chile, there was nothing to see. Deserts are incredibly beautiful; the beauty is just different from the high mountain passes of Peru or the rainforests of Central America.

Many hours were spent in hotel rooms, scanning Google maps and examining satellite imagery to find our route south as very little had been documented for cycle touring in Chile. Street view was better in Chile so we often cruised down the roads virtually looking for water resupplies and wild camping potential areas. By now we knew what to look for on satellite.

Cities found us in hostels or hotels for the Wi-Fi, showers and a/c. The local markets resupplied our food rations but with each hostel bed or hotel room, we found ourselves longing for the quiet and peace of the wild camps. We found amazing, lonely places well out of sight of passing cars or people. Our tent was our favourite place to sleep and wow did we ever stay in some crazy locations!

Carretera Austral
Carretera Austral

We left Arica, Chile, and headed for the Atacama Desert. This is the driest desert on earth and there are literally no living things, no plants, no animals, no reptiles, nothing but sandscapes as far as the eyes could see. Our first wild camp in the Atacama Desert was at the top of a truck runaway lane.

This sounds odd but it was an incredible place, even if a truck had been barreling down the highway at top speed, it would never have made it to the end of the lane. At the top, there was a flat area that overlooked the roadway that we had been climbing. This was the first day into the desert and we climbed 3,795 ft in 36.9 miles and saw such…

Jenny and Curtis
Curtis Shaw, a retired paramedic/firefighter, and Jenny Shaw, a retired business owner, decided to travel the world after spending way too many years merely existing and following dead-end paths. They were both in desperate need of change and once that change started, there was no looking back as they head down ONE new path together. It was time for them to start truly living again. So, loving the freedom that cycling gave them, they set off on a cycling adventure that would stick with them forever.
www.cjbiketours.com

Excerpt from BIKE Magazine, click here to continue reading the full article

July 2021

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