Patagonian digs.

El Chaltén-El Calefate; 220km. 

I’ve quickly come to realise that riding in Patagonia involves strategic hops from one windfree or rain-sheltered enclave to another. Like hallowed secrets, the exact locations of these sanctuaries are passed around between the international touring community; valued information swapped around a carton of wine at a campsite, or scrawled onto a crumpled map, or exchanged on the road.

By way of example, this is where – and with whom – I had the good fortune to spend the last couple of nights, between El Chaltén and El Calefate. Parquet floors, concrete cells, bats, beetles and bugs; it’s all part this wonderful journey by bike…

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Some 30km along Ruta 40, beyond the junction to El Chaiten, lies the abandoned ‘Pink Hotel’. Although the building may have seen better times, it’s still a surprisingly social premises; a French Canadian couple heading north, and five riders heading south, converged the night I was there.


Twisted firestarter… My chosen patch of floor for the evening. A piece of Tyvek, a 3/4 length Thermarest and my sleeping bag (clothes scrunched into a pillow) make for 5 star hotel accommodation.


Dinnertime with Tom and Myles, both from the UK, and touring on Thorns.


Sunset in the hotel grounds.


The next morning, breakfast in bed. Note parquet floor…


Don’t forget to sign the Pink Hotel’s guestbook before rolling on.


The elements we seek to avoid, and for which Southern Patagonia is renowned. Unless, of course, they propel us.


Another grungy yet extremely welcome abode, shielding us from a howling wind that gathers gusto each afternoon.


Brian, from Argentina, and his Surly Crosscheck. His travels will take him around the continent for the next two years.


Myles finds a nice corner to nest. Eventually, he’s headed up to Colombia.


Aline and Olivier, from Switzerland, bed down in one of the covered cells. They’re on the last leg of a round-the-world trip.


Viva El Che. The stuff of Motorcycle Diaries.


A room with a view… Welcome to Ruta 40.

8 thoughts on “Patagonian digs.

    1. Cass Gilbert Post author

      I think it’s best if we don’t start that particular debate.

      Of course, I omitted to mention the bleached animal skeletons that graced the yard too…

  1. Cass Gilbert Post author

    Great! Are you headed back to Puerto Natales first? I may need to go there before hitting Torres to rent a backpack, and possible use the ATM. Let me know which road you’re riding. I had an idea to hit Puerto Natales via the Cerro Castillo and the park back road, drop bike off, hire pack, then bus/hitch back out there.

    Am in El Calafate for now. Probably won’t leave here for a few days, catching up on work and visiting Perrito Moreno.

    1. Cass Gilbert Post author

      The observatory looked very cool indeed, but I was enticed onwards by the promise of a social gathering at the hotel.

      I’m a little scuppered by a lack of cash right now – I failed to realise the ATM in Cochrane wasn’t Visa-happy, so low on Pesos Chilenos, which may require a dash to Puerto Natales. I’d like to spend some time hiking in the area, so hiring a backpack would be handy for that too, best done in PN. After a few day hikes around Monte Fitz Roy, I’m keen to get up close to those granite slabs.

      A few cyclists I’ve spoken too have attempted the ‘link’ from the other side, but were turned back by the police due to a lack of passport formalities. I’ll look into it today…

  2. Oliver

    Fantastic places (or should I say spaces?) to crash for the night! 🙂 I’m surprised to see how “commonplace” these accommodation options seem to be over there… I mean finding shelter from “wind and weather” is probably all you need most of the time. So these abandoned houses, or their remains are the almost perfect hideaway. I think a rain barrel would probably the icing on the cake… 🙂
    Great impressions, thanks for sharing!

  3. Grace

    Love the photos!

    You might have “omitted to mention the bleached animal skeletons that graced the yard too…” but still the pics suggest that they were there…


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