A good friend Paul Chaplow stumbled across the Carratera Austral 2009. His emails home contained one paragraph which struck a chord:
Chile is so amazing. This cycle route is unbelievable. I recommend it 1000%. The roads are rough, but that´s just part of it, it has such an isolated feel that its just wonderful to travel along. I am so into the biking and scenery that I just want to keep riding all day. Those of you that are into this sort of thing, get planning.
We talked about cycling in Chile last summer but the snows of Gulmarg beckoned. Another friend, Nina Conradi, heard about the trip from us and also talked to Paul. She cycled in Chile last summer – also coming back raving. Hence we are on our bikes this summer.
Paul started in Puerto Montt, the official start of the highway. Due to volcanic activity he had to cycle down the island of Chiloe and then catch a ferry to connect with Route 7 in Chaiten – a village demolished by the volcanic erruption. Nina, on the otherhand started in Villarrica – about 400km due north of Puerto Montt and she joined Route 7 at Futalefu, just south of Chaiten.
Because we have 2 and 1/2 months we are also thinking of starting further north. Leaving that decision till we hit the ground in Chile.. From Villa Higgens there is a 20km single track linking back to Argentina and from there south to Ushuaia where we fly out of in the last week of Feb.
The total distance from Villarrica to Ushuaia is approx 2800km so best we get biking!