On route 7 into the heart of Patagonia | DW Documentary


vast and variable the remote landscapes

of southern chile are spellbinding it's

one of the wildest places on the planet

Chilean Patagonia

the carretera austral is a 1240

kilometer stretch of road that serves as

an artery into the very heart of this

wilderness the terrain here was once

deemed impassable carving a road through

these expanses utopian little by little

construction of the carretera austral

are also known as the southern highway

has advanced creating access to this

natural paradise

the road connects distant fjords with

major cities and is an economic lifeline

for Chile's salmon industry

join us for a road trip full of

surprises to explore the magical

landscape and meet the people of Chilean



it's a 13,000 kilometer journey from

Germany to Patagonia in southern Latin

America Patagonia stretches across both

Chile and Argentina Chile's canna Terra

Australis center of the country with its

southern tip but to date the road

remains incomplete and getting south

requires crossing into Argentina our

journey begins in the Chilean port city

of Puerto Montt this is the starting

point of the carretera austral also

known as ruta seven


after some 60 kilometers Patagonia

begins to show its wild side the road is

soon interrupted by a feud

it's one of the many especially along

the northern section of the carretera

austral ferries transport cars across

but the Chilean government eventually

wants to replace them with road

captain's stanislav medina

isn't worried about his job yet the

project to replace the ferry connections

with the road will take at least 30

years they'll have to build bridges and

tunnels it's a long-term project I might

be dead by the time it's done

traveling the entire carretera austral

involves several ferry connections this

stretch across the kamau feud is more

than 60 kilometers

could a road really be built across such

wild terrain critics are skeptical they

say a modernized ferry system would be a

more efficient solution but the

government has given the road project a

green light

in this still very sparsely populated

region only few people would actually

make use of the road the first stop on

our journey lies on the banks of the

Kemal fjord

German marine biologists work at this

research station in the Bay of who and I

it can only be reached by boat across

the fjord

it offers scientists a unique

environment for research


Freeney hi sermon is in charge of the

station we meet up with her ahead of our

trip at her home in puerto montt there

kamal fiat that the kumar feud has the

same ph value that the oceans are

predicted to have in the year 2100 so it

provides us with a glimpse into the

future we can see how coral will live in

the oceans a hundred years from now

fastened at yonder invert researchers

here specialize in cold water corals

that only grow in these fjords they grow

so close to the surface of the water

that scientists can dive down and

explore them

Freni has discovered more than 50 new

species she's officially named some

after her children and husband but she's

made troubling observations in recent

years entire coral reefs have died out

from one year to the next and in April

2015 she made another alarming discovery

at a different field satoru up when lip

- it felt apocalyptic we looked around

and saw one dead whale after another we

were so shocked we flew over the area in

a small plane and using GPS tracked

every whale we spotted we were just

clicking the whole time and I thought

I've seen a hundred now and then even

three hundred the beach was just

littered with dead whales it was



duh sister school it was the biggest

whale stranding in history immediate

when the research has countered 360 dead

say whales during this observation

flight Freni believes the total was

substantially higher on Vice fun Calvin

we know from the US northeastern

Atlantic that only five to 10 percent of

the gray whales that died in shallow

water get washed up onto the beaches

if those 360 whales constituted 5 to 10

percent of the number that died then

we're looking at a frightening figure

one that seriously jeopardizes the say

whale population in the southern


mokou-san the cause of death was most

likely a red tide

the maharajah as it's called here the

red tide gets its name from the color

given to water by microscopic algae that

release toxins these can be fatal to

certain types of sea life

when Vice al Kresta Marietta along with

environmental pollution in general the

Mafia Hoffa is increasing around the

world we see changes that can be

attributed to anthropogenic causes

offensive these anthropogenic causes

meaning caused by human activity could

very well be increased economic activity

in the region little has impacted as

much as industrial salmon farming which

was brought to Patagonia

with the arrival of the carretera

austral today it's the biggest employer

in southern Chile a seasonal worker

gives us an insider's look into the

business it's the same like farming

chickens or pigs it's an industry just

like any other on his cell phone his

recorded video of his job on one of the

floating farms in one farm there are 10

enclosures each with 40 thousand fish

this is the injection gun these are the

hoses in the medicines and vaccines go

through these this is how you use the

gun you take it in this hand and inject

the drugs into the fish just imagine the

fish is subjected to this but it's not

even sick it's like the fishes on drugs

we use a blue paste called benzocaine

it's like an anesthetic it keeps the

fish calm when you hold it in your hands

kappa kagerou see i see but i would

Monica local la mano lady Ron the chuck

in 120 kilograms of fish food a day

those 120 the fish eat maybe 40 and the

rest sinks to the seabed

that's industrial pollution but no one's

bothered you just come do the job novena

yeah a salut given a Casanova in the


fisherman Boris lives opposite the

research station on Kemal fraud he was

born and raised here

but really I like it here how many

people get the chance to live in a place

like this

many Bay's that Boris used to fish in

are now occupied by salmon farms in

their proximity he has caught some very

unusual fish you can catch sea bass now

that look like salmon they've been

dumping chemicals and salmon food into

the water for so long the bass now have

the skin and color of salmon there are

tons of them here Boris built his house

in an isolated Bay on the edge of a huge

nature reserve called poo Merlin Park


the park was founded by the American

philanthropist Douglas Tompkins he made

his fortune with outdoor apparel brands

in the 1990s he retired from the

business world sold his shares for more

than a hundred million dollars and

together with his wife acquired wide

swaths of land in Patagonia on the

biggest portion of their property the

Tompkins created Palmer Lynn Park more

than 3000 square kilometers in size the

park stretches from the Argentine border

all the way to the chilean fjords its

existence created another obstacle for

the carretera austral the Tompkins

rejected the prospect of a paved road

intersecting the park

locals were suspicious

some accused Douglas Tompkins of staging

a land grab because he'd bought such a

huge area of land thousands of Hector's

people said this gringo wants to set up

his own state and let no one else in

except himself it was only later that I

started to understand it wasn't like

that at all this was about protecting

what you have making the most of your

resources because a tree doesn't grow

overnight it takes up to 500 years for

trees like this to grow back it said

that Tompkins was looking for the

world's oldest tree before he decided on

the side of his nature reserve


Ranger Sergio has been working at pummel

in park for more than ten years he knows

a lot about its primeval flora you know

path underwater we're crossing the money

or forests these gigantic money owed

trees are about 100 to 150 years old

butin can hear the frogs and toads that

live in the wetland here you know Mia

this is one of the millennia old Alessa

trees I think it's the biggest one we

have in coumarine park


it's about 3000 years old these enormous

Alessa trees also known as Patagonian

Cypress don't grow anywhere else in the

world work here in the park and protect

these fantastic trees more than anything

they're a lung for the world without the

protection of Puma lien Park the forest

will be facing disaster before there was

no respect for nature

Douglas Tompkins died in a kayaking

accident in 2015 but that didn't spell

the end of his conservation project

honey there he gave us a vision now we

the young people and all the future

generations need to care for and protect

the park this isn't the end

Puma lien Park will live on for a long

time what you're in for

in 2017 Tompkins Widow Christine

McDivitt Tompkins handed over all of the

land she and her husband acquired to the

Chilean government it was the largest

ever donation of private land to a

government in South America but there

was one condition that the state turn

all of it

international parks our journey takes us

out of Puma Land Park and back onto the

carretera austral we're heading south to

our next stop chai ten


the small harbour town on the Gulf of

Corcovado is just a shadow of its former

self struck by a natural disaster in

2008 residents were forced to flee less

than half of return to rebuild their

lives here

Tritan volcano located inside poo melon

park erupted without warning a cloud of

smoke rose kilometers into the sky vast

quantities of scree and larvae destroyed

parts of chai ten town located just 10

kilometers from the volcano the volcano

had not erupted for more than 9,000

years and was considered dormant but in

seconds magma shot out of the depth of 5

kilometers cutting a swathe of



it will take a long time for the region

to recover just a few kilometers on and

the splendor of Patagonia's landscape

unfolds again



heading further south our next stop is

via santa lucia and we meet one resident

who devoted his working life to the

carretera austral minimally mario my

name is mario inner Strasse and i'm a

retired Army soldier

dido mario was a member of the military

labor corps for 35 years and proudly

shows us photos documenting his career

the Corps was formed in 1976 when the

building began it was pioneering work

under the most adverse conditions

Mario's company was there from the start

but Gilliland why was the army involved

because no private sector companies

wanted to work there it wasn't

profitable Mario is still proud of his

units achievements clearing the first

path into the wilderness using axes and

shovels beyond misses there were times

when we'd progress only 10 or 20 metres

in a whole month it was so difficult

firstly to divert the water and secondly

to create a stable road

it's a lot of fund officially that's it

these sections here were very hard look

how much construction machinery there is

now we didn't have all that in our day

it's wonderful to see all this machinery

down here today in the early stages

building the road was back-breaking work

up to ten thousand men worked here all

year round there were no weekends forty

five workers lost their lives during

construction prisoners could trade in

two years of their sentence for a year

working on the road

Mario volunteered for 35 years like many

others here he still refers to the road

by its original name Kanna Terra

Australis talked Pinochet jr. for Hogan

the person who actually planned this and

had the determination to make it happen

was General Pinochet people who now want

to change the name don't understand what

really went into creating it my general

left us with technology improvement and

asphalt it's just fantastic

Pablo Acosta Pinochet came to power in

1973 in a military coup his four member

government was made up of the commanders

of the Army Navy and military police

Rodolfo SH Tonga is one of the last

surviving members of the hunter

stronger joined the hunter in 1985 as

head of the national police force the

Carabineros he remained in government

until the fall of Pinochet's regime in

1990 now 93 Stanga is of German descent

thus build this picture here it's a

photo isn't it no no no it's a painting

it hangs in the museum in Santiago along

with all the generals this is a picture

of me this is Pinochet a pope General

Fernando Matteo a head of the Air Force

and me the two of us were called the

German the other members of the hunter

sometimes made fun of us because we

spoke in German to each other when we

needed to change our opinion okay okay

come be our opinion the laws were made

by just for men Stanger still believes

that government model offered advantages

my goodness he won we didn't have many

laws but the ones we did were good ones

today many laws are passed but they're

not all good you know tumblr with

so why was the construction of the

carretera austral so important to the

men of the hunter after all there was

already a well-developed road to the

south of chile via argentina you need to

have your own road it's the same with

anything you can't live half in your own

house and half in your neighbor's house

you live in your own house so it was

necessary essential even that we create

a route on the Chilean side no matter

the cost

stronger doesn't accept responsibility

for everything that happened under the

hunter does it sighs I'm not saying it

was good no unfortunately I didn't have

anything to do with the deaths so hobby

I'm not guilty of anything

under the repression of the military

dictatorship more than 3,000 people were

killed some 27,000 survived torture and

political imprisonment these are the

officially recognized figures documented

by Chile's Truth and Reconciliation

Commission the exact numbers will never

be known Bank Pinochet is still revered

by many today especially along the

carretera austral the atrocities of his

regime and dismissed as a necessary evil

for the progress of the country as a

whole our journey leads us to discover a

small slice of German history in the

village of poo happy

who you happy was founded by German

settlers in 1935 traditions are still

kept alive here to this day hello good


I'm freedom and Gaddis and I've been

living in Pojoaque for three years here

in put you happy houses like this a

relics of the original German settlement

but they're falling into disrepair just

outside the village it's a different

picture I live and pull you happy and

this is where I work

I've lived around here all my life yeah

Helmut set up his own successful

business his most important resource is

water from the nearby glacier what's the



helmut used to breed salmon too but now

he's concentrating on trout because

salmon industry has gone down the drain

Helmut believes quality is the key he

only uses organic feed

I just need a beer then it'd be perfect

and he knows a thing or two about beer

this is the best job you need to test

the bottles every day to see how they're

doing when the bottles are full they

need to be stored for 20 days under a

bit of heat and then the process is

complete every bottle tells a story one

of them is called the golden years my

uncle Volta always used to say the best

years of his life were spent here it was

a long road to these golden years the

founders of puyo hoppy fled poverty in

Germany when they emigrated in the 1930s

amid the isolation and harsh climate it

took all their strength to carve a

living from their land they lived mostly

from cattle breeding forestry and

fishing in 1945 they set up a carpet

factory that found national acclaim to

assist them in their arduous work they

enlisted workers from the nearby island

of chiloé descendants of the chill otter

people today make up the majority of the

population here but the entrepreneurial

spirit of the founders still lives on

today our next stop is a 600 kilometer

ride away through the breathtaking

landscapes of Patagonia













the further south one travels along the

carretera austral the more one often

encounters men like this in Chile

they're known as wasis the horse and the

poncho are part of their centuries-old

way of life

Juan Flores tends the land of a cattle



he was born and raised here in the Rio

Vargas region and he remembers life

before the arrival of roads and other

modes of access to civilization our

lives changed when the road arrived here

it made it easier in every way the next

biggest town for Juan used to be a

month's horse ride away today it takes a

few hours by car there were parties in

every yard here when the road came the

neighbors brought a calf and we

celebrated and another major connection

to civilization arrived here just a few

days ago we've had an internet

connection here for four days now these

are still baby steps but we're a modern

farmers soon we'll have to buy every cow

a computer they can finally communicate

with us I use all the services on offer

Facebook whatsapp email I use them all

correo electrónico porn find has also

tames Patagonian wild horses in the

evening he prepares a Cordero a

traditional local barbecue this is the

meat from a cab

get the smoke makes it really tasty just

that a bit of salt and that's it no

garlic or anything

although Quan is in favor of the road it

has changed life as he knows it the

doors here are always open and anyone

can come and stay the night if I came to

your house I'd just leave a note

saying I'm so-and-so and I was in your

house so the person knows I stayed there

and I didn't take anything we don't want

to lose that it's already learned to

love the Internet though because it

means he can keep in regular contact

with his daughter who lives far away

the next morning Quan is getting ready

for a trip


he needs to tend to the cattle up in the

mountains but there's no road the

journey on horseback takes nearly two




our last stop on the carretera austral

is fast approaching


the road is blocked once again by a Ford

and we need a ferry to get us to the

other side


after 1240 kilometers through Chilean

Patagonia the carretera austral comes to

what's currently its end at a former

outpost of the chilean army via

o'higgins this last stretch wasn't

completed until 1997 because of its

remote location the airfield has always

been essential for the town's survival

today the mayor Ricardo rockabye is

inaugurating a new terminal this region

has always been isolated because the

country lacks geopolitical vision it's

virtually unknown there are hopes that

the new terminal will increase air

traffic u.s. pilot Vince Beasley has

stationed his chest 'no 206 here for

several years he's been flying charter

flights from via O'Higgins to the

remotest corners of patagonia only very

few pilots dare to venture out into this

dangerous terrain when it comes to

maintenance there's no one he trusts

more than himself he doesn't mind the

solitude in via o'higgins

I grew up remote far away I don't like

living in a city or even the village I

like to live out and so this gives me a

great feeling of I'm the only guy here

and I like it Vince often gets special

assignments he does survey flights for

NASA and in 2015 he was piloting the

plane with the team of scientists who

discovered the beached whales in Kemal


we flew out here to this area and

explored here and we saw a number of

dead whales a few along here not so many

and then all of a sudden when we came in

this area there were maybe thirty five

whales here 40 there scattered along

some in this channel alone there were

100 whales Vince goes through the

checklist a second time before he takes

off traffic ovo he gets alpha tango

whiskey pagando pista tres cuatro vo he


via o'higgins lies at the gateway to the

southern Patagonian ice field the Campo

de hielo saw its the barrier that

stopped the further expansion of the

carretera austral for pilots these are

tricky skies to navigate if you have to

visualize what the winds are doing

around each mountain either going around

it or going over it

coming down a valley and it's just like

water over a rock and the river so I'm

just a kayaker now

a flight kayaker


I like the raw beauty it's much bigger

than you are and you have to respect it

vince has had very close encounters with

the forces of nature in the Patagonian

wild it was a perfect day with no wind

very very nice

visibility and

all of a sudden I saw one of the

mountains in front of me growing and it

didn't take me long to realize that it

was a volcano an eruption and there I

got some very good footage filming with

my my a cell phone

happened to be flying near the calbuco

volcano when it erupted suddenly in 2015

I came within one kilometer of the

crater and they column of ash erupting


I'm gonna concentrate on flying now


the face of it that's reaching the water

meters high

the dimensions are overwhelming the

Campo de hielo stretches for 350

kilometres along the Patagonian Andes

it's a huge obstacle for the carretera

austral project to the east it borders

Argentina and to the west lies a jagged

fuelled landscape

sorry we can't see more but this is

about as far as I want to go inside

weather conditions for civ in

store-bought the flight the winds below

the cloud cover are too strong and

there's a danger the plane could be

swept towards the rocks

vo Higgins vo Higgins alpha tango


Vince bought his chestnut - oh six in

Alaska and fluid with his wife - via


in several stages over the course of

months back on the ground

mayor Roberto acaba is waiting for us

before his career in politics he worked

as a truck driver he transported

building materials for the road and

witness firsthand the enormous changes

that came with the road road has brought

great progress but it will also bring

poverty to the people of o'higgins first

it brought electricity and then

television my friends in the countryside

want to get cars soon but they don't

realize they don't have the money to

live such lifestyles because people are

poor here in the countryside

Monterey is a remote area

this is where the road ends just a

little bit further over there as

Argentina so there's no chance of

building the road further here you know

anything I mean devised by a dictator

construction of the carretera austral

has pushed farther and farther south for

two decades this remote spot is the end

of the road but the dream to create a

continuous road to the southern tip of

Chilean Patagonia lives on regardless of

the wilderness to be conquered in its