Hornopiren – Caleta Gonzalo

We are now in Los Antiguos having crossed the border into Argentina yesterday afternoon so our first chance to catch up with the blog.  This post is taking us back to the trip from Hornopiren to Caleta Gonzales on 15 January.

On the gravel road to Hornopiren Mike’s car had been cutting out on the downhill corrugated sections so he spent quite a few hours working through possible fixes before concluding the carbs were flooding most likley due to the viton tipped needles bouncing off the seats in the float bowls.  Hopefully a new set of float valves and slightly lower float level will make a difference.

Only 10 km of driving today with most of the day spent on ferries so the cars get a bit of a rest.  The first ferry takes nearly 4 hours heading directly south.  A comfortable cruise well sheltered from the open sea and views both sides of rain forests right down to the water’s edge and snow capped mountains above.  Very similar to Norway except far more diversity and brighter greens.  In our enthusiasm to keep moving we were almost the first onto the ferry – the smart locals and large trucks hung back knowing they would be first off for the 10 km dash to the next ferry.  The rest of of us just waited patiently for another couple of hours.  A good chance to chat to other travellers so we talked with Bob and Dave, cyclists from Wisconsin who had spent 10 years planning for their trip the length of the Carretera Austral to Torres del Paine.  Even though they had well prepared bikes with all the high tech gear and tyres, riding on the loose gravel was still a big challenge and they come off a few times every day

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Our overnight stop in the cabins at Caleto Gonzales in Parque Pumalin is just a few metres from our ferry destination.  Parque Pumalin was the vision of Douglas Thompkins, the mountaineer, conservationist and founder of North Face who in 1989 sold the company along with Espirit which he jointly owned with his wife Susie.  In 1991, he bought a large, semi-abandoned plot of land in the Chilean province of Palena. His objective was to protect the 42,000 acres, most of which was primeval rainforest from future logging. After moving to Reñihué to live full-time, Tompkins began developing plans for a larger park, gradually acquiring additional adjacent properties from willing sellers to form what is today the 700,000 acre Parque Pumalin.  In total he has purchased about 2 million acres of forest in Chile and Argentina and is funding their maintenance until the governments can take them over as National Parks.

There is more information about the park at:

http://www.parquepumalin.cl/en/index.htm

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