This is one of those places you see pictures of online and think… that’s photoshopped, right? Too much editing and it’s probably not as nice in real life. You build yourself up for disappointment.
I was so wrong. It’s breathtaking.
The entire region used to be a glacier many years ago and the entire lake is a beautiful turquoise color. Not only that, these rock formations have mineral deposits and is made of marble. Over centuries, the glacier lakes have carved these beautiful marble sculptures of caves and caverns. Only accessible by boat, we take a 3-hour boat tour of the region.
The marble walls have a weird texture to them – like beehives? And when you see it, it looks sharp and edgy. But when you touch it up close (because this is South America and you can touch things), it’s smooth like someone has been polishing it.
Surrounded by the 2nd biggest lake in South America, it’s hard to imagine the colors you see, but seeing it in person really put everything else you’ve done in perspective. I mean, it used to be once giant glacier and it melted and became this beautiful lake and then started polishing away the rough rocks into these beautiful smooth marble sculptures. Once the sun comes out, it sparkles with the turquoise blue waters and it’s definitely something that is incredibly hard to capture on camera – you really have to see it in person.
For the past 10 days, we’ve been driving through the Northern Patagonia region in Chile. It’s supposedly the most spectacular and challenging road in Chile since it was isolated from visitors until the first section was finished in 1983. Someone we met in Peru described it as the best road he’s ever driven on and he’s driven Argentina and Chile for the past 4 years.
We decide from the very beginning to take our time and really enjoy the road instead of driving through it as fast as possible. It’s the last ‘big’ thing we will do before we start heading south towards home, so it’s a weird feeling for us. We start the journey by crossing over from Bariloche, Argentina to Puerto Montt, Chile. We have been warned by others that there are really limited supplies on the route (since everything is brought on boats or grown in the region) and cash is hard to come by, so we stock up on both in Puerto Montt. From there, we drive to Hornoprien and then take a 7am ferry ride for 6 hours to Caleta Gonzalo. From here, we can drive the full 927km road to Villa O’Higgins then backtrack up to Chile Chico or take a ferry down further or do a modified route to Chile Chico at 632km.
Now the entire route drives through countless national parks and natural reserves. You could easily spend probably months doing hikes and camping in this region with no shortage of views and spectacular glaciers surrounding you. But we are limited for time so we are doing the modified route to Chile Chico to cross into Argentina instead.
I won’t list every little place we stayed at, but this is some of the best camping we’ve done in South America. The land is so vast and every 10 minutes we see something beautiful and want to pull over for pictures and stare. We stay put in places until the rain clears, because we are afraid if we drive further we might miss something. The region is covered in glaciers, mountains, lakes, rivers and beautiful scenery that really does make you go whoa-whoa-WHOA. Everyone should do this drive once in their life.
Cherries from our campsite
Honestly, we didn’t even get to do the many hikes or side roads to other beautiful places you can do. And all the beautiful parks you can imagine clustered into one semi-paved road. It’s really something you have to see in person.
We finally cross into Peru on day 95! We’ve gotten advice that Northern Peru is quiet dangerous for overlanders. Poverty + Corrupt Police = Potential Robberies. So, we are travelling faster through northern Peru until we can get clear of the dangerous zones.
After 2 days of driving 800 km, we finally make it to the mountain ranges of Huascarán National Park. Here we find the famous Cordillera Blanca and dog-friendly hikes! This park isn’t as famous as Macchu Picchu, but I would say it is beautiful in its own way.
We’ll be staying here for a few days doing some hikes and also acclimatizing to the altitude. What a beautiful way to spend day 100 of our journey!