Los(t) Gringos – Adventures in South America PART 2

September 15th, 2010

Roland Morley-Brown shaka times at Punta De Lobo surf break. Photo: Johnny McCormack

For 3-weeks we are launching attacks on the resorts of the Andes Mountains from the 7-million strong city of Santiago. We aim towards all those infamous resorts across Chile and Argentina. On the hit list: Valle Nevado, El Colorado, La Parva, Portillo, Nevado De Chillan all in Chile and Las Lenas, Cerra Catedral in Argentina.

Check out Part 1 here

Part 2 – The Coooast!

It’s been the call everytime we bag a good shot up on the mountain; “the coooaaassst!” Its mainly been echoing from our photographer Johnny McCormack who, like all of us has been dreaming of surfing Chile’s famous point breaks. And although we are here to shred the Andes Mountains it would be a damn shame to come all this way and not taste the salt water and ride the perfect waves on the other side of the Pacifico.

So with a range of hammer photos and a bazillion lifestyle hammers under the belt over the first 10 days of the Los(t) Gringo’s tour, we stored the board bags in our mates apartment (the legendary Pablo) in downtown Santiago and set the compass for due West.

Nick Gregory and Will Jackways chillout for the sunset at Punta De Lobo. Photo: Johnny McCormack.

Algorobbo – Disguised as Dubai

The first night was a surprise – we stayed at fishing and boating town named Algorobbo. Our accommodation was in a resort that is very hard to describe, so I’ll use one word: decadent. The 6-star complex is made up of a 10-buildings that are all connected by a man-made lagoon that’s 1 km long by 300 metres wide. It stretches from the doorsteps to the ocean – and it’s big enough to sail and boat in. There is a small army of men who continuously clean this giant pool, which would be similar to trying to keep the ground dry when its pouring with rain. The surrounds of the complex are pure luxury; palm trees, beaches, infinity pools, indoor spas and pools meant the complex was more what I would expect on a visit to Dubai rather than on the coast of Chile. It was completely out of context, but we didn’t let that get in our way of getting our chill(e) on.

Will Jackways takes a chile dip in the man-made lagoon at Algorobbo. The coast was a good break on thsi long tour of Chile and Argentina. Photo: Johnny McCormack

Casa Ala Azocar – The resort we stayed in towering above the Chilean coast. Looks like it belongs in Dubai. Photo: Johnny McCormack

The view from the balcony of the man-made lagoon and the heated pool inside the pyramid. Photo: Roland Morley-Brown

Surfing Point Breaks of Pichelemu

Val Paraiso the second biggest city in Chile is a port town 2 hours west from Santiago. Cargo ships and shipping containers litter the harbour front and create a corridor for the city centre to be squashed between the water and steep hillsides that rise up sharply to the east just a kilometre for the shore.

The city is splattered with Spanish architecture, cobblestone streets and very dirty and grimey. Street art / graffiti covers nearly every building; “It looks like the police have lost the battle here”, Nick Gregory aptly described as we cruised around the city having more than our fill of a visual fruit salad.

Roland teaching a local kid how to skateboard. if you look closely the kid wasn’t into it… Got the shot though – so UNICEF. Photo: Johnny McCormack.

The street markets of Val Paraisio are a gringo heaven – be wary of the crims though. Gringos stand out like dog… Photo: Will Jackways.

Will Jackways got to tour the local police station and came back with a handful of happy snaps like this one with the station captain. Photo: Will Jackways.

Who likes NAS? This police dude does. He made us play it for him on the iPod. Photo: Will Jackways.

More interested in spending our time in the water instead of near it we pinned it for the famous Chilean beach town of Pichelemu 4 hours south.

Pichelemu is more what we imagined Chile to be. Super dry, dirt streets all connect to one sealed main road and dark sandy beaches. Huge Chilean flags blow in the winds as old-times stand in doorways of colourful one-story buildings or wittle some wood in a chair under a tree. Dust blows through the town as we ventured farther south to our accommodation – Surf Lodge Punta Lobo .

The Surf Lodge is about 10 minutes out of town and 1500metres into the green rolling hills away from the famous point break of Punta De Lobo. We were lucky enough that our friend Eduardo (the marketing manager at Burton in Santiago) hooked it up.

The lodge itself sits is incredible, it sits on a tree filled property that has around 12 luxury cabins built in an “Eco-friendly” design. Each cabin, which all vary in size are made from local timbers and are designed to fit into the environment. Raw timber, bark, slate and local stone are used to create a beautiful atmosphere including an outdoor fire pit at the front door and a clay BBQ. A dream house, this was a holiday cabin – camping in luxury.

The Surf Lodge Punta De Lobo. Pure serenity. Big ups to Eduardo and the Chilean Burton crew for letting us crash – Playas! Photo: Johnny McCormack.

Only 5 minutes drive down a dirt track from the cabin is Puta De Lobo. This left hand point break reels mechanical lefts from the Pacifc Ocean start at an iconic set of bird covered towering rocks that sit off the tip of the point.

It was truly a unique Chilean experience to chang into the 4/3 wetsuit, booties and hoodie, then walking down the dirt paths and past the cacti that line the way before rocking-off into the water line-up. Thankfully the 3-4 foot swell posed no real danger for getting in although for anything larger it could get very sketchy very fast.

The water temperature is numbing on the hands but bearable if the wind is down, although after 3 consecutive duck-dives the headaches are quite intense. The wave itself was incredible, even though it was only shoulder to head-high its glassy-smooth protected faces curled into perfect walls through makeable section to makeable section. It’s much like a left hand version of Lennox NSW without the boulders, or as the Kiwis explained the break was comparable to Raglan and its northern sister break Shippies in NZ. An amazing sunset session on the point rolled into a bonfire and BBQ back at the lodge and some long needed rest from the snowboard boots and all-day hiking/filming sessions.

The next day we would say goodbye to the coast and head to Santiago and on to Buenos Aires and down to Bariloche, Argentina. There in Patagonia the resort of Catedral Alta Patagonia and a 2-metre spring snow base is waiting for the Gringos.

Stay tuned.

Pichelemu beach break was fun. Although it wasn’t fun paddling out while fisherman were bur-lying up the water with fishheads. Photo: Johnny McCormack.

Punta De Lobos was mellow the day we were there. Imagine this break at 8-10foot!? Photo: Johnny McCormack.

Roland Morley Brown. Photo: Johnny McCormack.

The view south from the point at Punta De Lobos. Photo: Johnny McCormack

The streets of the famous beach town of Pichelemu are relatievly quiet in winter – a great time to visit and good time for swell. Photo: Johnny McCormack.