The Río Futaleufú

Date: 13th January – 16th January 2013

Where: Trevelin (Argentina) – Futaleufú (Chile) – Lago Yelcho camp – Rio Palena camp – La Junta

Distance: 6930 to 7053 miles

This leg of the trip took us all the way along and eventually down the río Futaleufú in first Argentina, then Chile. Given that most of Geoff’s literary education came from Spike Milligan (ably supported by Roald Dahl and the Beano comic), and his love of Gnus and Needle Nardle Noo, it would be a shame not to attempt to write a kind of nonsense poem about a river and a town called Futaleufú…so here goes:

We left Trevelin early, as the dew glistened on the grassy countryside around,

Morning dew, Futaleufú.

We made good time to reach the Pass, and swiftly negotiated the Chilean border crossing,

Passing through, Futaleufú.

Hounded by biting flies when we stopped, chased by buzzing shadows when we ride, the going is tough,

Go away, shoo! Futaleufú.

The next day, an enormous lake mirrored the snowy peaks that peeked out from everywhere,

What a view, Futaleufú.

The road goes steeply up and down, but the flow of the river ensures there is more down than up,

Thank you, Futaleufú.

We pass the 7000th mile we’ve shared during the day,

A mile or two, Futaleufú.

The colour of the huge río Futaleufú echoed the cloudless skies all the way down,

Looking so blue, Futaleufú.

That day, we met nine other cycle tourers, including the inspiring solo female cyclist: Alyssa, who we cycled with for a bit.

Cycling crew, Futaleufú.

We reached Lago Yelcho and camped with a nice family and a gorgeous hot shower,

Feel like new, Futaleufú.

But on waking in the morning, the tent is surrounded by hungry mosquitoes,

Form an orderly queue, Futaleufú.

What to do? Futaleufú.

Donning sets of full waterproofs, we bundled out of the tent and ran for the house,

Suits you, Futaleufú.

As the sun rises, the mosquitoes disperse and we trundle down the final stretch to another of our long-term goals: the Carretera Austral.

Dream come true.

'Morning dew...' The many meadows on the Argentinean side of the border.

‘Morning dew…’ The many meadows on the Argentinean side of the border.

A fly fisher tries his luck with the río Futaleufú

A fly fisher tries his luck with the río Futaleufú

'Looking so blue...': Geoff is lost in the sheer size of the river

‘Looking so blue…’ Geoff is lost in the sheer size of the river

'Passing through...' Geoff reads the sign describing the region just after the border

‘Passing through…’ Geoff reads the sign describing the region just after the border

We are treated to ten kms of tarmac on the way to the small town of Futaleufú

We are treated to ten kms of tarmac on the way to the small town of Futaleufú

A milky turqoise river ready to join the main river

A milky turqoise tributary ready to join the main river

'What a view...' We'v e never seen such a huge lake calm enough to give such a reflection

‘What a view…’ We’ve never seen such a huge lake calm enough to give such a reflection

'What a view too...' Taken from further round the same lake while being hounded by tabanos.

‘What a view too…’ Taken from further round the same lake while being hounded by tabanos.

Sarah, lost in Patagonia

Sarah, lost in Patagonia

Alyssa with her bucket panniers and second-hand steed

‘Cycling crew…’ Alyssa with her bucket panniers and second-hand steed

Lago Yelcho in the early morning light

Lago Yelcho in the early morning light

Geoff and Lago Yelcho

Geoff and Lago Yelcho, note the trousers are on all the time to avoid biting things!

'Dream come true...' Less than half a km to go before we join the Carretera Austral

‘Dream come true…’ Less than half a km to go before we join the Carretera Austral

On reaching the Carretera Austral we started following the Rio Palena, a new kind of blue river, stuffed full of minerals and startingly turquoise in the sun. We cycle with the ever-positive Alyssa further and further South, stopping to camp by a river with cherry trees, and roll into the town of La Junta midday the next day. Here we decide to take a rest as both our backs are close to agony with all the bumps they’ve suffered in the past eight days of mostly dirt. The weather forecast still looks great for the next week, so hopefully we’ll get a long way South before the weather bites back!

The beautiful turquoise Río Palena is our new friend to travel with

The beautiful turquoise Río Palena is our new friend to travel with

Another friend joins, as Alyssa catches up. Here, leaving our riverside camp in the morning.

Another friend joins, as Alyssa catches up. Here, leaving our riverside camp in the morning.

The bright orange bridges in this part of the route add yet more colour to the special scenery

The bright orange bridges in this part of the route add yet more colour to the special scenery

Waiting out the roadworks in the shade of a sentry box

Waiting out the roadworks in the shade of a sentry box

We still get our fair share of dust on this route, but everyone seems to slow down to minimise our discomfort

We still get our fair share of dust on this route, but everyone seems to slow down to minimise our discomfort

Sarah and Alyssa tackle another Patagonian uphill

Sarah and Alyssa tackle another Patagonian uphill

2 responses to “The Río Futaleufú”

  1. Ed says :

    geoffer! Cheers for the email. Liked the poem 🙂

    You had betetr have gone for a swim in that lake – it looks to nice not to have.

    Would love to join for a cycle at some point. I know you mentioned cycling back in the UK at some point, but my memory is hazy. How much more cycling have you got in south america?

    Planning a few weeks cycling in Spain with my mate in May which should be fun.

    Anyway let me know more details. i am, as ever, totally jealous.

    Ed

    • Geoff says :

      Hi Ed,
      Glad you liked the poetry! We’ve been swimmign enough recently, so we missed out on that lake, but we’ve certainly swam in enough like it! We arrive back in the UK on the 13th April and will spend the next two weeks cycling back to Warwickshire. There is a blog post called ‘cycle home’ that has the approximate details if you want to have a look and join for any of it. if not, we’ll meet for a drink sometime!
      Geoff

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