Scott and I were admiring a vista today, standing on a ledge looking down at a winding river, acknowledging for a moment that we are out there, at the far reaches of the world.
And in this moment of reflection, as if on cue, a giant Andean condor gracefully swooped up from the canyon below us riding the wind currents.
Everyone should experience beauty and peace like this in their lifetime.
We are only 16 miles away from Villa O’Higgins, the end of the road for the Carretera Austral. The road goes no further in Chile due to the impenetrable Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the world’s second largest contiguous ice field outside polar regions.
Our initial plan was to ride 1/2 of the Carretera Austral and then take a ferry south, skipping the second half. But we missed the boat. This worked out for the best, because I’m glad we rode the extra miles. The remote beauty of this place rocked my world.
But sometime in the not-too-distant future, the Carretera Austral will all be paved. As it is now, the rough road and limited services (particularly the second half of the Carretera Austral) naturally restrict visitors to those adventurous souls equipped to make the ride or drive independently. But with the improved infrastructure the tour buses will come in droves, barfing out tourists who will have little idea where they are or a true appreciation of its remoteness. It will be just another stop in their Patagonia itinerary. Just enough time to get off the bus, snap a few selfies before they’re shuttled back to the comforts of their hotel. The scenery will remain the same, but the experience will be different.