On either side of the Andes Mountain Range lies a completely different Patagonia, similar cultural traditions but different landscapes. I was asked recently about the geographical north of Patagonia. It’s always in debate, as it seems to be inching further and further north due solely to the keen marketing tactics of businesses right on that northern edge. Moto Patagonia itself is on that edge. We named ourselves Moto Patagonia because Patagonia is where most of our riding is done. South of our home base is where we specialize in adventure motorcycle travel.
The Chile side of Patagonia is complex and unique because it is also divided from the north to the south, something many people may not know or understand without looking at a very big map or simply riding down here. The division is due to the Southern Patagonia Ice Field, the second largest Ice Field outside of the poles. It’s massive to say the least and it’s a huge roadblock to make it from northern Chilean Patagonia to southern Chilean Patagonia, requiring people to cross into Argentina to continue south. The Carretera Austral road is the only road in Chile linking everything together north of the Ice Field, it ends in Villa O’Higgins as discussed in a previous article. This northern section is very green, a temperate rain forest, huge trees, glaciers, rivers, waterfalls… Basically, is like Jurassic Park but instead of dinosaurs we get Puma, deer, tons of birds in the summer and lots of flora and fauna.
South of the Ice Field things change. You have Torres del Paine National Park near the town of Puerto Natales. This is one of the most beautiful National Parks in all South America in my opinion, certainly one of the most famous in Chile for tourism. It’s well run and well cared for. It is very similar in many ways to the land north of the Ice field; however, when you leave the park to the south things start to open up and you end up in a very high plains range land similar to what you would find in Argentina. It’s very windy and you lose the green lush trees and replace them with grass lands and wind! Eventually you end up on the shores of the Straights of Magellan and the other side is Tierra del Fuego, the largest Island in Chile however shared with Argentina. You see the Ice Field divides the Chilean side of Patagonia, making travel here even more exciting and logistically challenging due to the vast ferry system that is operated in Chile as well as the border crossing to continue south and the various routes to access everything. Chile is a land of extremes and to know that requires firsthand experience, riding here is a once in a life-time trip for many, but for others it calls them and becomes a second home or in my case a permanent home.