Motorcycle Explorer Issue 17 - Page 44

At the Southern tip of the Andes in Chile in the Magellanes & Chilean Antarctic lies Torres del Paine National Park, one of the most impressive sights in the Southern Hemisphere – it was stunning. The name Paine (pronounced pine) came from a nomadic group travelling from Patagonia who saw a large rock formation and the glacier blue (translated to Paine) waters. The place was full of other ‘tourists’ but none the less this did not distract from its all-round beauty.

It had a daunting feeling of sheer beauty, timelessness and ultimate presence – making the mere timescale of a human’s meagre existence meaningless! The terrain was all gravel and in some places deep, not helped by the ‘gringo tourist buses’ weaving and overtaking each other, whether that be on the right or wrong side of the tracks. A lunchtime rest on a small island with empanadas against the vast mountain ranges certainly added to the magic of the place.

Heading north along the off road sections in and out of Argentina/Chile soon filled up the blank pages of my passport and customs checks/rituals – but to be fair were all painless and often resulted in the obligatory photo with the bike. Most of them enjoyed my vague attempt at Spanish which was often met with very good English – just to add insult to injury!

Next stop the much awaited Perito Merino Glacier. The 250 km2 (97 sq mi) ice formation, and 30 km (19 mi) in length, is one of 48 glaciers fed by the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. It is considered by many to be the eighth wonder of the world – having now seen it then it’s hard to disagree with this point!

The sound of the ice moving and cracking was like bullets firing or small explosions all of which were enhanced by the echo effect – amazing! Scenery there and on the ride in/out was also stunning. The crystal blue colouring (reflection and refraction processes so I am led to believe) just add to the raw beauty of the Glacier.

This ice field is the world's third largest reserve of fresh water. The glacier as named after the explorer Fransisco Moreno, a pioneer who studied the region in the 19th century and played a major role in defending the territory of Argentina in the conflict surrounding the international border dispute with Chile.

Heading towards Puerto Bernard the only fuel stop was via an old pickup truck with the fuel on the bank in a barrel. The young lad looked very surprised as my tank drank in 20 or so odd litres of fuel which obviously he had never seen on a bike

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