Cycling above the Clouds

Riding the Andes by Bicycle

Camping Pehoe

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After a night in the fancy refugio, I set out on the bike to ride round Lago Nordenskjöld and Lago Pehoe, where I’d camp for two more nights. Reading the National Park bumph I came across these two announcements. Not much I could do to magic up a cycling parter now though – hey ho!

The gravel road through the park was short but surprisingly tiring with a lot of climbing to do and plenty of washboard surface to navigate. Initially the views were curtailed by cloud again but it was still beautiful as the roadside was peppered with small tarns and lagunas.

I passed more guanacos. They run for higher ground when they feel threatened and some crossed the road right in front of me and sprang over a high fence. Others just stood staring at me from the field (when not doing their annoying foghorn donkey laugh). Their long necks made me chuckle as their heads look like periscopes as they peer at me from above the hill tops.

I reached the Nordenskjöld Lookout for my first view of the Cuernos (horns) of Torres del Paine. It was a typical Patagonian weather day as I patiently caught sight of one horn and then the other as the cloud came and went. The lakes glimmered in their contrasting colours as the sun came out.

View from Mirador Nordenskjöld across the lake and over to the ‘horns’

Some of these views just really look like pieces of fine art!

Lago Pehoe

I planned to camp for two more nights at Camping Pehoe, a private campsite on Lago Pehoe which was more reasonable than the campsites located on the popular ‘W’ trekking route that I’d just come from. I was a little early, so stopped by a small cafe next to the lake to warm myself up with a cup of tea. The weather went back and forth between sun and rain and the cafe owner told me there was a nice little walk to see a waterfall and to get another great view of Los Cuernos. I locked up the bike and trusted no-one would run off with all my gear, grabbed my waterproofs and headed off down the short trail.

The waterfall as Lago Nordenskjöld drains into Lago Pehoe

Los Cuernos viewed across Lago Nordenskjöld

The horns are granite, with black tips of darker sedimentary rock that haven’t yet fully eroded from the peaks. It looks like someone’s brushed the tops with a calligraphy pen.

I pedalled the final section through the wind and up and down over more steep bumps in the road to the campsite.

Tent nice and sheltered from the wind and rain – a great spot for the next 2 nights!

This buzzard seemed very tame and kept an eagle eye out over the campsite

The views from the campsite are superb – I awoke to this view the following morning!

Trekking to the Grey glacier

From talking to the lady at the cafe, I’d learned that there was a great 24km trek I could do the following morning if I took the catamaran boat across Lago Pehoe to Paine Grande. I could catch the boat at 9am, do the trek to the glacier and catch the 5pm boat back. So the following morning I got up early to make myself a good porridge breakfast and hitch-hiked the 6km or so back to the jetty.

We were treated to a rainbow as we left the campsite

Catching the catamaran across Lago Pehoe

It was a nice trek up and past a small laguna and then over a pass where the first view of the glacier was visible. The wind was howling through the pass and it was hard to stand at times. I leant into the wind and sat down as soon as I could to take a couple of photos.

The first view of the Grey Glacier taken from the very windy ‘Grey lookout’ pass

The small laguna along the trail

The view of the Grey glacier from across the lake

Large chunks of ice are blown across the lake after they carve off the glacier

I enjoyed this view whilst I ate my sandwiches on the top of the rocks, then turned around to return to the boat. Some more of the cloud had burned off, so there were some good views to see.

The craggy peaks looked as though they’d come out of a Disney film, covered in ice frosting

Views out over Lago Grey

Turquoise waters of Lago Pehoe

Bird life

The following morning I packed up the tent and said my farewells to Torres del Paine National Park as I rode out towards Puerto Natales.

The peaks had disappeared from sight again – I felt lucky to have had reasonably good weather for my few days in the park

I joined ‘La Ruta del Fin del Mundo’ (The Road to the End of the World) for the final stage of my ride down to Ushuaia

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