Patagonia – The call of the wilderness
Patagonia chilena – original wilderness and deserted spaces. Located at the southwestern end of South America and still in some parts unexplored, especially the Chilean Patagonia for many people still are considered as the end of the world. The wonderfully untamed and majestic beauty of the region has really fascinated us 2012 on a journey with mountain bike and packraft. After 1½ months between Punta Arenas and Coyhaique was clear: “We need to return to the edges of the large ice fields very soon!”.
The focus layed on a field with plenty of water at the western side of the Campo de Hielo Norte, the North-Patagonian ice field. We also agreed about style and type of sensing: with a unsupported expedition on foot and by packraft we want to explore this pathless and completely civilization-free landscape of numerous rivers, fjords, swamps, glaciers and steep mountains.
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Marooned – Everything is possible
After a 48-hours-journey from Saultitz in Saxony to Laguna San Rafael in the Región de Aysén and a speedy crossing by zodiac, we let us throw out on the western shore of the lagoon. When putting down, one of the two Chilean boatman pulls out his camera for a last “farewell photo”, a short time later we are on our own.
Behind us the deep green jungle wall of the terminal moraine, we stand on the shore of the huge lagoon in front of a panorama of glossy clear water densely filled with distinctively shaped icebergs of all sizes. Absolute silence wraps us up. With the unbelievable noiselessness of this magnificent scenery the practice of inner calmness and serenity adjusts itself very quickly, to tackle the next challenge. We are ready now – for everything.
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Thought up – Route through pathless and man-free wilderness
Primarily we want use our packrafts as often as possible. This makes sense on the one hand around strengths to spare and to get on quickly, on the other hand with these brilliant light boats we reach places which no human soul has entered before yet. Every human work is missing at all. The often uncomfortable weather, relative inaccessibility and the national park status¹ has preserved the virgin nature before colonisation by human beings.
Till now only a handful of discoverers has penetrated into the area between ice field and Pazific coast subdivided by deep fiords and swampy plains. There really aren’t any useable paper Topos or GNSS maps. Satellite images are helpful and make many routes seem to be possible. Of course it usually looks more detailed on the spot.
Essentially the rough route consists of the following waypoints: Laguna San Rafael – Rio Negro – Rio Tadeo – Playa San Quintín – Laguna Benito – Glaciar HPN2 – Glaciar HPN3 – Glaciar San Quintín – Laguna Blanco – Laguna San Rafael.
¹ The National Park Laguna San Rafael is an UNESCO biosphere reserve and has an area of 17. 420 km².