Rio Turbio and Chile border - big trip - diary - argentina - march 2003

Tapi Aike, a petrol station of sorts

Shrine to a bus crash

Monday 10 - Tuesday 11 March

Finally managing to leave sunny El Calafate and Sjaak with his revolutionary new knowledge of windows explorer (i.e. that it exists), we'd forgotten to fill up with diesel in all the excitement. Fortunately there is a remote fuel station on the way and we had a full tank once the guy had started the diesel generator to supply the pumps with power. The road to Rio Turbio is being tarmacked and after fuelling up we took the gravel without thinking and found ourselves shaking along beside a silky smooth new road. A big pile of rocks and gravel lay parallel to the road but the landy managed to crash across it without any problems.

Abandoned wagons...

...and trains... Rio Turbio coal mine

Soaking up the sun in Rio Turbio

Railway crossing

Strange house

Rio Turbio is heavily slated in the guidebook as being a well minging place but if you like decaying machinery and stuff like that then its great. The coal mine is beside the road into town and is a big old building with all the windows smashed in and still chugging out a big cloud of stinking smoke. Beside it are piles of old railway stock with various grafitti abusing the local politicians - probably the ones who are gradually closing down the mine. After stocking up on breakfast essentials and a big steak dinner we climbed the hill out of town to camp sandwiched beside Mina 1, the first coal mine here, and some ski lifts. Plenty of dry 'wooood' made a big fire to ward off the bitter cold.

The border of Chile, but does...

...Glasgow council know about these?

Although there was a border post right beside us it was all closed up and the road barred so we headed south a few kms to cross just the other side of Puerto Natales. Our spuds and onions were confiscated and probably chucked into one of the Glasgow City Council wheelie bins beside the immigration building. Wonder how often the glasgy bin lorry comes round to empty them?

Smooth tarmac took us straight to Puerto Natales where we checked up about the ferry through the fjords to Puerto Montt, one leaves every Thursday and costs a fair whack but will be better than driving up route 40 again as the most southerly crossing over the Andes in Chile is near the town of Perito Moreno, a long way.

Gauchos and their dogs

Old pier at Puerto Natales

A couple of Belgian cyclists en route to Ushuaia

After a go on the internet, much quicker than everywhere since Comodoro, we drove south once more towards Punta Arenas, meeting a pair of Belgian cyclists to break the monotony of seeing German motorbikers who seem to be like sheep down in these parts.

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