What the hell just happend.....?
We met a couple of travellers in El Chalten, Thomas and Shoelle (Swiss) and Bill and Rosemary (English). Thomas in a VW camper and Bill in a Defender. They had this brain wave to enter Chile via a very unused route in the south meaning we could get to see more of the mountains. The route was challenging and not many people had ever done it. There were rumours and a few blogs of bikes and motorcycles but nothing about cars !
The plan was to cross to Villa O'Higgins at Paso Mayo ( from Argentina and into Chile at the El Bello border crossing ) there was customs on both sides so everything was set. Safety in number and Thomas spoke excellent Spanish !
We'd been told to go to the road maintenance company in the nearest big town to ask if the road was open. It was, so we made our way along track to the Argentinian border where we met Christian Maciel and his Gendarmerie collegues. The information we got off them wasn't good. The river was problably too high to be crossed. Maybe 2 meters! There was lots of muttering between us, we all wanted to give it a go and at least have a look ! So off we all went in the three vehicles to see if we could cross. The Gendarmerie officers sitting in Thomas's camper. We got to the first "puddle" and couldn't even get through that. I got my feet wet for the second time that day as the earlier river crossign was easy in comparison. This one although narrow was very rutted in the middle and it was too high. Remembering the previous place where my rear axle dragged in the mud I bottled the crossing and said "no way". The Gendarmerie offered to get the Uni-Mog and take us to the main river. Of course we all said yes. Who wants to turn down a trip on the flat bed of a Mog to see something they said the Mog couldn't cross.
The rest is sort of obvious. We went on a three hour off road adventure to see the river. I got my feet, legs, shorts, money and private parts wet to see if it was too deep. Too right it was and we would also have been washed away. So mission aborted. The photos of the foot bridge and waterfall posted a few days ago on the excursion. The current and depth in the main channel were too much even for the Mog. The Mog didn't have any brakes !
We moved north to another crossing at Passo Roballos catching up with Bill just as they denied him entry. Thomas turned up just as we were giving up and asked the Gendarmerie in Spanish all about the reasons.
Reason removed. PM me if you want to know why.
We wild camped that night and later found Wi-Fi in Los Antigos and SKYPE called the UK Embassy in Chile. They were somewhat amazed and said they would look into it. Which they did. The rule is legitimate and they didn't know. Most people are let in it seems and not many are denied. We had chosen the wrong border to try (problably the wrong office on duty also). So we decided to try another. We missed out the one at Los Antigos as the Roballos border had called them when we were arguing about getting in. So they knew all about us at Chile Chico on the Chile side of Los Antigos. We went up to Rio Frias and got in. The Gendarmerie were a bit strict on the food we had but eventaully let us in when we showed we had been in four times already with the same food. We thought at one point we wouldn't be let in for the food rather than the real reason. That would have been really bad after the tracks we'd driven to get there !
We were into Chile. After lots of kilometers on tracks to the borders we were on tarmac and Ruta 7. This is absolutely stunning although the tarmac didn't last long. The southern parts are breathtaking so I'm glad we went through where we did. We were the first car since before new year to pass the border and it was already the 6th.
We arrived at the devastation of Chaiten which was flattenend in 2008 by the volcano. Again theres a photo in the other post. The town isn't up to much but we were VERY lucky. We arrived on Sunday and the only boat leaving there is on Monday !!! The only way to leave is via boat. We got up early and secured a ticket for £150 (bloodly hell !!).
So here we are in Puerto Montt in a garage on Wi-Fi. Antoher boat needed to get here but this time is was $22usd so not too bad.
We are on mainland Chile proper......
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