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“Islote Blanco” Beach
A few kilometres after Antofagasta, we left the monotonous Ruta 5 to reach the road along the coast with the aim to camp by the sea.
After fighting against the strong wind during an hour on the coastal road, we set up the camp a few kilometres away from the small city of Taltal. We opted for a small beach protected from the wind thanks to a few rocks. The side-cars are parked on the sand, the mattresses are inflated for the night, the camping stove is out to cook the pasta with the asparagus soup. We enjoyed the last sunrays before a night cadenced by the lapping of the waves.
When we woke up, we opted for a coffee in the small city of Taltal. The address was nice but the croissant was not what we expected. It tempted us on the menu but finally it was disappointing by its tiny size and its taste. Finally, we learned this pastry, translated as “croissant”, is actually “media-luna” which are a small pastry covered of icing sugar and eaten at any time of the day by Chilean people.
The mines nearby Vallenar
Once crossed the Vellanar city, we continued by going towards South on the Ruta 5. This highway is made of asphalt and delimited by fences. It was hard for us to find a wild camping spot in these conditions. Finally, the iOverlander app helped us again to find a camping spot. In the middle of the desert, we set up our tents on the field of a mine, still in operation.
The sunset over the sand dunes was amazing. During the diner, a “zorro” (animal looking like a sand fox) came to visit us. With almost no light pollution, the Atacama desert is famous for being the best spot to observe stars. Indeed, most of the biggest telescopes in the world have been placed in the area. Here, we were a few hundreds of kilometres from this strategic spot ; but still in a desert with no light pollution and offering a beautiful starry sky. We contemplated them with smooth music notes by Ludovico Einaudi in the background.
The Pullinque Lake
The 7 lakes area required probably more than a day to visit due to the beautiful wild camping night we had by the Pullinque lake. Thirty kilometres before Puerto Montt, we left the highway to head to Panguipulli. This small city, which wooden houses reminding us the villages in the French Alps, symbolised our entry in the area of the 7 lakes. We went alongside the lake of Panguipulli. The road was slightly slippery after the shower of the afternoon and there was a light smell of the humid forest. On the right hand side, the grey clouds were going away to let the sunshine reflecting over the blue water of the lake.
Arrived on the bank of the next lake, we looked for a perfect spot to set up the tents. Here again, we explored the area through small paths. After a curve, we passed by a football playground where two local teams were playing against each other on the rough grass. When we passed by, the players stopped to watch the ball, distracted by our vehicles. Finally, it was at the end of a path that we found our spot to camp. In the background of our camp, a lake with a turquoise colour and the mountains of the Andes. Upon our arrival, a family was leaving the small beach. But before to do so, they proudly offered their embers for using them as our camp fire. On the program, swimming in the fresh water of the lake, fishing with our axe and popcorn.
Along the Rio Negro in Hornopirén
Mid-afternoon, we arrived in the small village of Hornopiren. We bought our ferry tickets to reach Chaiten the following day. We looked for a wild camping spot for the night.
After crossing the small city, used a bridge spanning the river and we turned immediately on the right in a small path going along a stream. Before the Noire river flowed into the Comau fjord, small clearings, surrounded by trees, offered nice hidden spaces protected from the wind to set up the tents. It was 5pm and we never set up a tent so early. We collected wood for the campfire, put the beer to cool down in the river and tried to swim a bit in spite of the fresh temperature. Hopefully, when we went out of the water, the sunshine and the small campfire helped us to warm up. For diner, we cooked our favourite dish on our camping stove: spinach ravioli. This first wild camping night in Patagonia was, indeed, a bit chilly, but quite.
The Cochrane Lake
After a day on the Carratera Austral to go back from Villa O’Higgins to Cochrane, we ended the day by a path of 16 kilometers to reach the Cochrane lake. We were going up the hills and then going down steep hills with nice curves. We knew the return will be hard the following day but the beautiful view was worth it.
Just a few metres before the lake, we were face to face with a big bull. We estimated his weight of almost one ton. Scared by the engine noise, he looked terrified with a bit of slobber. We stopped the engines and waited patiently that he got used to our presence. After ten minutes spent behind a bush, the bull passed by the side-cars and went away. Without a second thought, we went on our vehicles and passed the curve to reach the beach.
Glorious surroundings, diving from the pontoon in a clear water at the dusk, after a traditional mechanical time due to the day on the tracks. Diner with our camping stove with a curry rice and chorizo, changing from the usual pasta.
We woke up with a drizzle making us folding our tents still humid. In spite of this inconvenience, we enjoyed a beautiful rainbow over the lake.