Dec 29th and 30th Coyhaique to Puerto Chacabuco
Important: Check ferry times with a human in the ship offices, some leave early.
In Coyhaique, the streets are decently paved, many one way with small arrows on the street signs… choose your route accordingly! Drivers uniformly sane, if all the world’s drivers had such sense and sensibility the planet would be a happier place.
To Puerto Chacabuco, it is a paved two-lane road, good condition with light traffic. No shops or gas stations on the 75k ride until you get to the city.
The road ends at the ferry terminal. Vehicles must stop at Aduana office by gate and show vehicle docs. One gets a stamped slip which is taken away lower down the ramp at the passenger office. They want passport and ticket info and you get boarding passes. The waiting room is just that, no food, no drinks, nada.
Ferry info is hard stuff to get, reminds one of Soviet era when telephone books were classified. As mentioned earlier, Trasportes Austral offices in Puerto Montt were not where advertised, actually in a different city altogether. Navimag is not much better. Their web site, for what it is worth, gave location in Coyhaique that was not correct. They don’t seem to know where their own offices are. The lady there seemed familiar with issue, and with a faint sigh pulled out a scrap and wrote down the correct address, a mile away. 92, Eusebio Lillo.
Well-signed office opens at 9am. Paid for the bike tickets and confirmed reservation and advised boat sails at 5pm, check in 2pm. That was interesting because when we booked, it sailed at 9pm and our planned check in was 6. Had we not checked at office…
We stayed in Coyhaique for two nights. We needed the rest, and we got it.
Thoughts on the BMW:
Can’t speak for the 700 GS, haven’t rode it, as Dominic can’t ride the 1200 GS. I’m 6ft 2 and can hardly get both feet on the ground, and that’s with the lowered seat option. I can’t imagine anyone smaller than myself considering the bike. Perhaps the thinking is that once you get going you don’t want your feet on the ground anyway. It feels very top heavy, especially with 120lbs of panniers and tank bag. Coming to a standstill requires just the right spot, once it starts leaning it’s too heavy to stop it going down.
Being very careful not to prang the bike, dealer pointed out at time of rental that it costs 34k USD in Chile and if I bring it back in pieces they would like the money. So far both bikes still shiny side up.
When moving down the road the ride is smooth and responsive, weight just helps the ride. All kinds of traction control options, used the rain setting briefly on wet asphalt, seemed great. Used Enduro on dirt. Big front coil Telelever suspension great with braking, no real dive although I haven’t hit it really hard yet. Front brake also applies some rear brake. When using the soft ride selection cruising over potholes at 40kph is amazingly, smooth especially on pegs. The hydraulic clutch and tranny are very easy on the hand and foot. All these wonderful gizmos are a world away from my old Bonneville.
All that being said, I’d never buy one. The horizontally opposed engine precludes any sort of front foot pegs, which are essential in my book. Any kind of ride over twenty minutes needs some leg stretching. The engine and guard always seems to catch a shin at some point and make the bike much wider than necessary. The seat is not particularly comfortable and seems small for a bike designed for giants.
We tried using Rainex spray on helmet visors; they make one specifically for plastic. It has been very effective in the rain we have had, water beads up very small and rolls away. We are highly impressed. One note however, Dominic’s spaceman-gold tinted visor did not react well to the treatment; it works best on the clear visors.
Here are some uninformed opinions and impressions. We have visited three quite separate areas so far, Santiago, the Lake District and Patagonia. The Santiago city center was clean and modern, the traffic not too thick, good sidewalks. The population seems well dressed, casual, a few suits. Gents in open collared long sleeved shirts, dress pants, no hats. In appearance the people might be from Madrid or Bilbao, uniformly light skinned, look healthy for city people. There are no panhandlers or other such bother, Mayor Berry WAKE UP. There is a ferocious bus system, they are everywhere and well used. They must be LPG, as there are no nasty fumes. We took the underground system for a couple of stops to check it out. It was clean and efficient, and unlike England actually affordable. The city has more of a prosperous feel than Lima but the older buildings have a very similar style.
Stayed in hotels 5 star to very humble…. Not one of them has a bathroom with either Kleenex or extractor fan. Usually the light switch is on the outside of room, what’s up with that?
The Lake District is a rural area, the industries are cattle, logging and tourism. It is quiet, civil and picturesque. Towns are very orderly, and spotless. The German heritage is very apparent.
Patagonia is as different from Santiago as The Outer Hebrides are from Picadiily Circus. But further apart in miles. Very sparse population and the faces show Mapuche features. Men have a uniform here; blue Levi’s, brown leather belt, knit shirt, collar, short sleeves, and hiking boot-look brown sneakers. Add a windcheater for eveningwear. Their builds are almost identical, about 5ft 6 to 5ft 10, quite broad chested, shorter in the leg, hair on the longish side. There are few hats, despite the constant Patagonian wind. Perhaps they just blow away…
Prices, in general, are not cheap in Patagonia due to high costs of freight. Most product has to come by combinations of boats and trucks, as we did. The food is very basic, with few luxuries. But that’s not why you come here, the remoteness and spectacular scenery is the draw, as are the lack of people – a misanthropes dream.
Chile not inexpensive on the whole, prices on average close to USA. Domestic airfares low, gas is 5 to 6 USD a gallon.
Drinking is cheaper. Wine is so reasonable that options by the glass are rare, they just bring you the bottle. You can take it if you want. I approve of this approach, it reminds me of the rooms at the Press Club in Phnom Penh where the minibars are stocked with Fifths.