Published: December 10th 2007December 10th 2007
... strange title you may say, but it is true and I thought you might like to know. This is going to be quite a short blog as time is limited, but such is the life of a globetrotter...
Anyway, we left behind lovely Bariloche on a cool, crisp, sunny morning and boarded the bus from hell. Well, maybe it wasn´t that bad, but now being used to cama buses (where your seat reclines very far and you can sleep like a baby) it was difficult to get comfortable on a standard comun bus (similar to National Express in the UK or Greyhound in the US). The next two days were spent travelling south covering hundreds of miles along Argentina´s Ruta 40. The going was tough but it was a great way to see Patagonia and witness the change in landscape first-hand. By the second day I was able to sit by the window and pass half an hour just watching the changing cloud formations and wonder at the endless landscape stretching out on all sides. This is the emptiness that people associate with Patagonia and which made the trip bearable.
Desipte the apparent vacuum, it turned out that
Ruta 40 is not completely without sights. During our journey we saw a surprisingly large number of animals, including rabbits, flamingos, guanacos and armadillos. Even more amazing was the "Cueva de las Manos" (the Cave of Hands). Now, this really is
in the middle of nowhere. It´s remoteness makes it all the more spectacular though. In a stunning wide gorge, you stumble across cave paintings made by local Telehueche tribes, some as old as 9,000 years. The largest number of paintings are of people´s hands and they are fascinating to look at and to think "why" and "how".
So, after two long days we finally arrived at the small town of El Chalten. This is the local base for trekking into and around the great nearby mountain peaks. Most people (including us) head for the Fitz Roy and Torre massifs. These thousand metre high granite peaks shoot up from the earth providing a wonderful sight, especially after the flatness of patagonian Ruta 40. Fitz Roy and Torre are notorious for being difficult to see as their own micro-climate creates significant amounts of low-level cloud. We were not immune to this problem, and there was plenty of cloud there on
our three day visit. However, on occassions, it did lift enough for us to stare in wonder at the peaks, and the weather on our last day was particularly good. The treking was fun, although tough going (25km every day, which was plenty for me!).
All too soon it was time for us to move on from El Chalten and get back on Ruta 40 to go further south to El Calafate. We only spent one and a half days there, but that was all we needed to be able to visit the huge and advancing Perito Moreno glacier. This is a truly awesome sight, at 30km long, 5km wide and 60 metres high. At its deepest part it is 700 metres deep. It was cold when we were there and unfortunately cloudy, but nothing could take away from the stunning views. My photos do not do it justice, particularly with the inclement weather conditions, so my recommendation is to go there and see it for yourself!
So, our time in and around the Glaciers National Park was at an end and it was time to take our first internal flight in South America. This took us to
Bizarrely, this rainbow effect is not a trick of the camera - it is actually what we saw with the naked eye.
Ushuaia, known as the "southernmost city in the world" (although Chile likes to dispute this). When we arrived it was cold and snowing. We have spent time relaxing, enjoying a beer in "the world´s most southerly Irish pub" and sorting out onward plans. We have only been here for a short time as we need to go off on another adventure - tomorrow "Antarctica here we come...!"
There are more photos below