Bike ‘n’ Raft – Chile/Argentina

Packraft tour on the Río de las Vueltas, Argentina

We already now cycle more than three weeks with mountain bikes against the notorious Patagonian wind. In the baggage our Packrafts.

Because of anticipation it no longer keep us in the sleeping bags, we get up very early and slurp hot tea first. It is icy-cold and the toes and fingers freeze us already now. So it isn’t fun to go on the water. Therefore we wrap oneself into the sleeping bags again and sleep still a round. We start a renewed test toward 8:30 o’clock, because it has got noticeably warmer. The sun has it made finally over the adjacent peaks and the marvelously turquoise-blue water lures!

The paddle gear are packed quickly and the remaining baggage hidden in the thick bushes. We want navigate the Río de las Vueltas with our “Sea cucumbers” (Alpaka Packrafts), as baggage the bicycles, up to the confluence of the Río Electríco and cycle from there back to our camp again. For this the front wheels must removed and then everything will be fixed on the front part of the boats. After few minutes the boats are ready. Now we’re cookin’!
The Río de las Vueltas is a river meandering strongly, as the name already says. The outer curves are rinsed out deeply by the powerfull current of the water and the sandbanks of inside bends are mostly flat. Many overturned trees and driftwood, which lies close under the surface of the water, make the river journey more difficult for us. We hope not that our “Sea cucumbers” ripped by such hidden branches.
We get quite dizzy in the head of the much cornering, but it is really fun, after all we get ahead very quickly and have to use the paddles for course correction only. Again and again stout fat waterfowls start clumsily into the airs shortly before us. They look like gray-head-geese and make a loud show.

Several river kilometers further we reach a big lake and a strong tailwind comes up. To our amazement, the lake is even for „Sea cucumbers“ in the first third in places too flat! In a narrow fairway I just can paddle off the sandy-muddy underground, however Ralph is hopelessly stuck and must get out. For outsiders this would have been a curious picture, but we are here in the deepest Patagonia, passings are rare.
The increasingly furious tailwind blow us further and far forward and big spray waves be produced in front of our boats. I aim at the exit of the lake but also driven more and more to a rock face on the left shore. A fast paddle-stroke only help and just an inch my boat hisses over the sharp rock edges.
Well-done, we are in a sheltered branch again and drift comfortably further down.

After 23 river kilometers the tributary of the Río Electríco is reached. Here we deflate the boats, roll they to little packages, disassemble the paddles and pack everything into the bicycle bags. We biken back to our camp and remain another night at this beautiful place.
After we stave off hunger with rice for the time, the embers of the fire still are used for the round flat dough-cake baking. These are really delicious and our bread supply is fine for the next three days. General it is very difficult here to approach food as a cyclist. The distances between the places with shops are relatively large and in between times there is simply nothing. So we must almost exactly calculate our meal rations. Stupid, when one is always hungry. Ralph is such a greedy guy, he’s insatiable. Therefore we always write a bag of flour on the shopping list and a place for a little fire to bake the bread is in Patagonien’s wild part fast found.

Before falling asleep a good drink of red wine and a couple of nuts – hey people, THIS is “holiday”!
Drizzle has started and everything around us is concealed by thick streaks of fog. Time to cuddle up in the sleeping bag. Well then, good night!