Jan 18/19, 2019 – 85km to Castro
After the relative ease of my previous leg I was overconfident for Ancud to Castro.
It didn’t start well. My front tire was low. … A slow leak?
I had to stop at a hardware store to buy more bungee cords. For some reason my ugly load wasn’t stable today.
And — though the day was atypically lovely again, there simply wasn’t anything unique on the ride. I took only these 3 photos.
Though the highway shoulder was mostly good, I still struggled to make more than 10km / hour into a slight headwind.
I was happy to return to Castro (pop 40,000), however. Tourists love the bustling capital of Chiloe island.
One big problem. Looking for my Hostal … Google Maps offline sent me to the wrong address. It was another accommodation with slightly different spelling.
Happily my cellular data saved the day. I telephoned my host for the night and he directed me up the STEEPEST hill in Chiloe. I could only barely push the bike up this monster end-of-day.
I decided to take a zero day 6. Castro is a great place to hang out and recover.
Despite the hill, Hostal Altos de Gamboa turned out to be a terrific, relaxing and friendly overnight. I got my own room even though I’d booked a cheaper dorm bed online.
It’s more of a homestay than hostel.
For my day off highest priority was to get my ferry booked from the island back to the Carretera Austral … where my fellow cyclists are no doubt suffering more than my good self. 😀
The ticket office in Castro was open on Saturday. Was super efficient. And super helpful. All of those were a happy surprise for this tourist. Having gone a week unable to buy a paper map, this office gave me one for free.
Last year when I was here researching this option for accessing the Carretera Austral I thought Castro was remote. I realize now that almost everything is available in Castro. The mall looks like Santiago.
The only bike shop in town was closed. That was a minor disappointment.
But I got over it by going site-seeing.
Everything is made of wood here. Buildings burn down all the time.
Boats are everywhere. Some sunk and/or abandoned after big storms.
With my groceries I bought a half kilo of flash frozen vegetables. And cooked them up with grilled chicken. This might be the last vegetables I see for a while.
Tomorrow I’ve got a big cycling day to reach a northern trailhead of Parque Tantauco . One of the world’s 25 Biodiversity Hotspots, it’s a private natural reserve created by business magnate and President of Chile Sebastián Piñera in 2005 in order to protect 118,000 hectares of the region’s unique ecosystem.
Tantauco doesn’t see many visitors in a year. The southern half is accessed only by boat or floatplane.
I’ll start hiking in on Jan 21st. How far I get depends on the quality of the trail and the huge, annoying horseflies (tabanos) which start to disappear end of this month.