Posted on 6th Mar 2016
Photo: Crossing the Roballos pass from Chile to Argentina.
What can only be described as an epic crossing of the Andes mountains. The mountainous nature of Chile means there aren't any roads that go directly down its length to the southernmost point and it is necessary to cross into Argentina to head further south before heading back into Chile.
Today we crossed into Argentina via the Roballos pass that is the southern most road crossing on the Carretera Austral, it's also a little used pass with only about 5 vehicles crossing per day at this time of year. The route started through the Parque Patagonia on reasonable gravel roads before deteriorating and for those in an average 4 door saloon like ours, the going got a lot slower. We averaged about 40km's hour for this 160km stretch.
The drive through Patagonia Park is one of the most beautiful drives you find anywhere in the world. The hour and a half long drive exposes visitors to the majesty and beauty of Chilean Patagonia. Vistas present views of the flamingo filled waters of Lago Seco, expansive views of snow-capped Cerro Kristine, and clay-red peaks covered in glacial ice.
Parque Patagonia Website
On crossing the border we carried out customs formalities at a small building staffed by Gendarmes (military police) only one of which was dressed in uniform, the others were quite scruffily dressed in casual clothing; I don't think they were expecting may people to cross the pass that day. Everything was written in a book, no passport scanning or computers here probably no budget for things like that. Having completed the formalities we continued on our way for about 1km before finding an unsigned 'T' junction, we turned left and after a short while decided it was probably the wrong way so turned round and headed in the other direction hoping it was the right way (we only had a very poor map that didn't show the junction). The gravel road continued decended west towards the Patagonian Steppe for about 90km before reaching the paved 'Ruta 40'. The silence of our types on tarmac was a welcome relief to the ears after so many hours of the noisy grave roads. We continued south on the 'Ruta 40' for about 4 hours to Gobernador Gregores where we found some grub and a cheap place to spend the night.