Skip to main content

On the Carretera Austral in Chile

February 2007

At Queulat National Park

Kawi towing service

We were camping together with other travellers on the outskirts of El Chaltén and enjoyed the wonderful view over Fitz Roy. After a Kawi excursion to the Lago del Desierto, we stopped next to a Subaru, which was standing in the village, with its hood open. Jonathan and Macarena have bought this car in Santiago in order to travel through Argentina and Chile for three months.
Jonathan explained the problem with the ignition to us in Swiss-German. Since we did not have any tools with us, we could not help. We therefore towed the "Subi" with our Kawi through the village to the place, where we were camping with Robusto.

The ignition system was dissassembled, cleaned and re-assembled. Hurrah, the car was running again. After Macarena marvelled at the tool and spare parts store of Robusto, she said, when saying good-bye: "Robusto is like a Solidmac, a Chilean construction and workman market".

Later we met the two of them in Chile Chico. Their Subaru was still running and we hope, it has been ever since on their trip.

 "Little Monster"

We had met Bruno and Renate, a Swiss couple, on our trip to Morocco in January 2006 in Agzd. At that time, they were travelling in their enormous motor home called "Monaco".

They told us that they had ordered a MAN 4x4 chassis, in order to build a structure on it themselves. Quite obviously they were very curious and interested in Robusto.

In the meantime, they had build a great vehicle called "Little monster", had sold her former big motorhome, gone on a test trip to Morocco and had then shipped it to South America.

One year later, we met again on the carretera austral and spent some eventful and interesting days together.

We will probably meet again in some months in Altiplano.

Carretera Austral

Construction for this road was begun in 1976. Twenty-three years were needed to complete its gigantic length of 1200 km. Pinochet spent - of course for military reasons - some 300 million dollars on it. It is a lane through the rain forest, along glaciers, snow-covered mountains, volcanoes, rivers and lakes (including the second most longest lake of South America, the Lago General Carrera).

It is a region with high precipitation. After all, this is the area of the cold rain forest. The tarpaulin that we tied to the horizontal fixation rail on the sides of Robusto, provided protection against sun and rain. Relaxing in our camping chairs underneath, we could observe the vicinity. Thanks to the Bluetooth outdoor loudspeakers, that we bought in Santiago, we can enjoy our sundowners with suitable music (we now have a collection of some 1300 digital CDs) or some chapters from an audiobook.

Edy had caught some fish and at dinner we almost felt as if we were self-sufficient ... with the exeption of wine, maybe.

Will Amigo take this dog as an example? It belongs to other travellers, with whom we spent a few days, and caught a bird (we don't know the name of the species, but it was an enormous bird looking similar to a chicken), which we fried and ate.

We used our wet-pit pump to fill our tank with water from the crystal clear and clean water of the mountain streams - enough water to wash some washing machines full of clothes from time to time. When hanging out the clothes for drying, however, we had to fix them very well, so that they would not be gone after a while in the strong Patagonian wind.

Argentina vs. Chile

Argentina with its 39 millions inhabitants and Chile with its 16 million share a common border of some 5000 km in length, but nevertheless keep cold-shouldering each other. The Chileans are the cool and silent northeners, whereas Argentinians are rather extrovert and noisy as southeners generally are. Argentinians have a reputation of not being very modest, nor very quiet.

Where is life better?

For Argentinians, the answer is obvious: Their neighbours cannot stand their life at home! Based on studies, eight times as many Chileans live among Argentinians than vice versa. There is no other country in the world, that is so much engrossed in navel gazing as the Argentinians - and yet, they hardly know themselves.

Argentinians were squandering their wealth and became poorer and poorer - no other nation ruined its wealth so thoroughly within just one century. The Chileans, however, saved their money and became richer and richer. Among all the South American countries, Chile has the highest savings-to-income ratio and is nearly free of debt.

For us travellers, both countries are fantastic and problem-free travelling countries.

The ten border stations between the two countries have proven to be uncomplicated and we usually had crossed the border quite quickly.

One finds good camping sites in wonderful landscapes and is not molested or hassled by the locals. Interest in Robusto and in our itinerary, however, never ceased and remains enormous.

The inhabitants of both nations are very proud of their country and frequenly give us hints on very special places that are particularly nice.

Chile is more expensive to travel in, but prices are still very reasonable compared to Switzerland.

We are looking forward to continue travelling through these two countries.

A globetrotter's question: „Are you the ones with the Stabilo?"
We answered: „Yes, Robusto is also a stable vehicle".