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…
If you would like to keep up with where I am between blog posts, I try and keep my While Out Riding facebook page regularly updated, along with posting extra photos. You can find it here.
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.
A room with a view… Welcome to Ruta 40.