Two weeks and a half after my arrival in Chile, I took another plane to go to Patagonia.
I did not know much about Patagonia. Huh, almost nothing. I had heard about Torres del Paine in Chile and Perito Moreno glacier in Argentina, and a part from that I had the image that Patagonia was all flat with low vegetation.
There is indeed an extensive flat part, the Pampa in Argentina (which is not all the Patagonia in Argentina either), but the Chilean part offers a diversity of landscapes: mountains, rivers, lakes, glaciers, ice fields, fjords, volcanoes and much more.
My initial idea was to fly to Punta Arenas (southern Patagonia), visit the famous Torres del Paine and Perito Moreno glacier, and then travel by land to Coyhaique (northern Patagonia) where one of my friends lives. That was until I learnt how long distances are, how difficult transport is over there, and how cold it would be in late May. So, change of plans: I flied directly to Coyhaique, the capital of the Aysén region.
So this post is not about the highlights of Patagonia, but about an off the beaten path small town in northern Patagonia.
My daily life in Coyhaique
When I woke up, my first concern was to light the fire to heat the house. My friend was already at work, she starts early and I am not an early morning person (specially when it is cold). Once the fire was on, warming the two floors of the house, I had my breakfast.
After breakfast, I added more wood to the burning stove. It is necessary to add some every hour or two, since it consumes amazingly fast. I took a shower and, fresh and dressed, it was time to go out to enter more wood. All houses have a specific area right next to the house to store the wood, protected with a roof so it does not get wet with the rain and snow.
In those two weeks I got all kinds of weather. Most of the time it was cloudy and rainy (and very cold!), sometimes it was slightly sunny and one day it snowed. The bad weather was the perfect excuse to spend the morning at home, reading, organizing photos and writing for the blog. For lunch, I used to meet my friend near her working place.
When it did not rain I used to walk there, it took only 15 minutes. I liked the walk, passing by small houses and shops with views of the surrounding mountains. There was also a long square with a statue representing a shepherd. In that region there are a lot of sheep and hence good quality wool handicraft such as warm hats and gloves.
On the other hand, if it rained I took a “colectivo” instead of walking. A colectivo is something in between a taxi and a bus, that is, a car that goes around in a fixed route and can be flagged at any point. There are no buses inside Coyhaique, only colectivos and taxis.
When the weather was bad I used to go back home after lunch. The first days, for example, it rained non stop. After that the weather improved so I started having a small walk in the afternoon, going to the post office, the supermarket and the ferry agency and bus terminal to organize my trip (to go to Chiloé, my next destination, there were two options: by ferry from the coast three times a week or by bus… via Argentina! so yes, transport over there is not evident).
Simpson river viewpoint
Saturday was a sunny day (finally! if I ever go back to Patagonia it will be in summer) so I went out to explore. In the morning I went to the West limit of Coyhaique, to a viewpoint over the river Simpson. There I could appreciate for the first time the beauty of the surrounding landscapes: the river, the mountains, and the trees changing color since it was autumn, almost winter.
In the afternoon (of the same Saturday – it was the sunny day!) I went with my friend to Puerto Aysen, a small village settled next to a river at the end of a fjord. The best of the trip was actually the route to go there, the landscapes I saw through the bus window were very scenic. Yes, this is Patagonia!
My friend told me that the inhabitants of Coyhaique say that people in Puerto Aysen “están pasados a agua” (are always wet – because it rains a lot there). In the same way, people from Puerto Aysen say that those from Coyhaique “están pasados a humo” (smell of smoke – because of the wood burning stoves). It seems international, very often neighbors do not get along with each other!
Lake General Carrera
The second weekend we went to the lake General Carrera. I had never heard of it before, but it is a very big lake (the fourth in South America!) and is shared with Argentina, where it is called Buenos Aires (apparently they could not agree on a name). I had a fascinating trip with my friend and a group of geologists, involving geology and history, miners and dinosaurs… but this will be a story for the next post!
Pin it for later!