In the style of Forrest Gump, when we hit the end of the road at the tip of South America, we figured since we’d gone this far we might as well turn back around and just keep on going. So that is what we did. We turned the van north heading for warmer weather, some final adventures, and eventually the port city from which we would be shipping Chimera back to the United States.
When we planned this adventure we decided that in general we were going to drive south, we’d stick to the west coast to take advantage of both mountains and beaches, and we’d definitely spend some time in Patagonia, but we never specifically had a destination. Our intention was to enjoy the journey and not focus on the destination. However, we knew that technically the southern end of the Pan-American Highway is in Ushuaia, Argentina, and that Tierra del Fuego was beautiful, so we had in the back of our minds that it would be awesome to go all the way to the end of the road. At one point we weren’t sure we’d make it that far south. The endless washboard roads have been taking their toll on the van and on our nerves and we considered just stopping somewhere nice to hang out for a while instead of pushing further south. But we kept moving on. When we finally pulled into Ushuaia, just five days shy of one year on the road, a fiercely cold wind was blowing the rain sideways and the world was gray, but we couldn’t stop grinning from ear to ear. We had made it all the way south. And it was a fantastic journey.
Long before we left on this journey we had dreamt of exploring the magical world of Patagonia. We imagined glacier-clad peaks looking over turquoise lakes, out of which ran bubbling rivers through verdant green forests, with deer, guanacos, and hares running wild and eagles gracing the skies. We realized that this was probably an unrealistic expectation, but we still had dreams of an enchanting place at the southern end of the world. As we fished, hiked, and camped our way through the Lakes District we realized our Patagonia dreams were beginning to come true. As we got further south, into the heart of the deep south, it only kept getting better. Patagonia showed us many faces, but almost all of them were beautiful and wild.
We finally made it to the much-anticipated Lakes District in northern Patagonia. We had read accounts of other overlanders traveling through the area and knew that it would amaze, but nothing could have prepared us for the beauty. With its stunning azure lakes, crystal clear rivers, and temperate forests filled with the strange Monkey Puzzle Trees, the Lakes District far exceeded our expectations. We enjoyed a leisurely travel pace, spending our days fly fishing, hiking, and relaxing as we passed from one incredible lakeside or riverside campsite to the next.