On the Road is a weekday feature spotlighting reader photo submissions.
From the exotic to the familiar, whether you’re traveling or in your own backyard, we would love to see the world through your eyes.
lashonharangue in Chile
The Carretera Austral was finished in 2000 in the small town of Villa O’Higgins. Puerto Tortel, further north but on the coast, did not have a connecting road built to it from the main road until 2003. Until that point it could only be reached by boat or horseback. The port was not always accessible because of stormy winter weather.
So we turned toward the coast after leaving Puerto Río Tranquilo and stopped about halfway at a farm that had a campground according to our guide book. First we had to get there.
This bridge was built over a snow melt feed stream just upstream from the remnants of the previous bridge we could see in the stream bed.
Yes the bridge did flex slightly as the car was very slowly driven across.
The farm was in a valley surrounded by mountains that still had a little unmelted snow. The campground was set up in a field fenced off from the cattle. It had a building for cooking and shower facilities.
The road through the valley had a number of small farms/homesteads cut out of the forest. No utilities were visible but we saw a few satellite dishes and solar panels next to modest dwellings. The farm where we stayed appeared to be one of the larger ones. Seemed like a rugged existence but I can see how the surroundings would draw people there.
Since Tortel was originally only reached by ship, it was built up from the waterfront and expanded up the hillside without any roads. The buildings are all connected by a series of boardwalks and wooden stairs. You drive in and park at the top (edge) of town and walk down a series of stairs to see the sights.
All supplies that arrive by road have to be hand carried down from the parking lot. We saw one fellow carrying a big watermelon.
All the buildings were constructed on wood pilings.
When we were done sightseeing we had to climb back up. Not a place for folks with orthopedic issues.
Next stop – a detour into Argentina.
I mean, wow. In every way!
At first glance I thought it was a walking bridge…..
This is amazing! Wow! Thank you. I would have been tempted to walk across the bridge first, just to check.
I think driving a car across that bridge is maybe one of the bravest things I’ve ever seen.
@arrieve: I started to feel anxious the moment I saw that picture.
Gin & Tonic
Wasn’t sure about the “detour into Argentina” since no roads cross the border down there, but then I looked on a map and saw that in O’Higgins it’s a stone’s throw. Will be interested to see how you crossed. We were in El Chalten about a year and a half ago, but crossing there would require some serious trekking. I keep meaning to put some photos together, as the difference between the Chilean side and the Argentinian is stark.
Just curious: Did the photographer walk all the way across the bridge or get out of the car in the middle? (I’m not sure there’s enough space to do that, honestly, but it’s hard to be sure.)
@randy khan: The photographer crossed first. It may not be obvious from the picture but the cable supports were metal.
Honestly, it hadn’t occurred to me that they might not be until you mentioned that they were. I associate that paint color with metal for some reason.
That town’s not going to make my hypothetical bucket list, but it was fascinating to see it.
Amazing and beautiful. Thanks for the virtual tour of part of Chile I probably won’t get to see.
J R in WV
We have some exotic bridges here in WV, and roads that run through abandoned RR tunnels, too.
There’s a bridge with the roadway glued (no, not really glue, it just feels like that…) on the side of a RR bridge, and if a train comes while you’re driving across the one lane road bridge, it bounces pretty hard. In New River National River at Thurmond. Lots of history, but no mountains like Chile. I don’t think we have anything like that this side of the Mississippi river…
That actually looks like a pretty substantial and well built bridge. I’m sure it did move a little while you drove across!
Iashonharangue, I am really digging this series. I imagine this part of the world doesn’t get tons of tourism, so I’m glad to see it through your eyes.
@Captain C: Thank you. I have tried to convey the wonders and challenges in the text and photos. Not a package tour kind of trip but we were thrilled to be able to do it.
My fav is the view from the farm. Those mountains shouldering up into the sky
Is there a story behind a small town in Chile being named Villa O’Higgins?
On another note: Will the daily CoviD-19 post, or failing that the Thursday morning open thread, go up any time soon?
Please disregard my comment #15.
@Amir Khalid: As you doubtless discovered, Bernardo O’Higgins was one of the leaders of the South American independence movements.
Carrying everything that you get up those stairs from a boat or down from the road certainly means that you don’t have a lot of possessions.
@Gin & Tonic: Did you happen to go to Y Wladfa, the Welsh settlement in Patagonia? That’s interested me ever since I learned about it.
Oh. Driving your car across that bridge. Eeshh. I would have volunteered to walk across ahead. Working years ago on tribal land—one of the bridges we had to cross was simply an upside-down railroad flatcar with a big hump down the middle. I always had my field assistant drive us across. And always rolled down my window in case we tipped into the stream & needed to bail…