Published: April 1st 2009February 28th 2009
OK, so as you probably all already know….we’re home now but we wanted to fill you in on the last few weeks of our adventure. We have started our journey in Patagonia, which is turning into one of the most stunning places I have ever seen.
So our next stop is Ushuaia, the southern most city in the world. I was pretty excited about heading down this far south and had also heard that there was a pretty large Penguin colony there too, which obviously ruled! In case anyone was in any doubt….I bloody love penguins. Lol
When we arrived in Ushuaia we were pleased to discover that we had accommodation booked in a hostel. We were supposed to be staying in a campsite just out of town so this was a real treat. My first impression of Ushuaia was a clean, alpine town, with lots of shops, bars and restaurants. Looked like we could be in for a very fun, civilised few days…..which made a nice change from camping. We were here for 4 days so we quickly went about planning our days. We wanted to go to the national park of Tierra del Fuego and obviously see the
penguins and maybe spend a day in the town. After finding a very good deal on hire cars we decided that the best way to get around and see Tierra del Fuego is by car. We got some groups together and hired three cars and went on mass to the park. It was lovely,. We didn’t pick the best day, which was a little frustrating but with warm and dry clothes on, we set out to explore as much as possible. There are many set routes to walk around the park and we tried to take in as many of them as possible….driving in-between them for ease and to fully utilise our hire car. It was a shame that the weather wasn’t on our side as the views from the top of the park look out over the Beagle Channel would have been amazing but we still had some views of the snowey mountains and the channel, which were cool although it was raining/snowing a little. After this walk, we headed to the end of the world…..or so it said. It wasn’t quite what we imagined as you can see land stretching out before you when you get there. It’s
a bit of a con lol Saying that though, it is the end of the Trans Atlantic highway which we had been following, pretty much from Peru so it was still something. Of course we took the obligatory pictures of a sign in Spanish that meant nothing to us and then headed on another walk find some beavers and their damns. We had already tried to find some in another part of the park and failed but much to our delight, there was one beaver at this dam….going about his business and he didn’t seem to mind an audience too which was cool. Another cool thing you can do in this park is head to a post office, which is at the port and get your passport stamped to say you have been to the southern most tip of the world. I was pretty excited as the stamp is in the form of a penguin….yeay! So, we rushed to the post office as we had heard that it was due to shut at 4 and it was about 15.30 already. No need to worry….we made it in the nick of time, with about 15 minutes to spare……but…..like a lot of
things in South America that don’t go to plan, they were shut! I was so annoyed! I wanted that penguin stamp so much….more that anything in the world at that point! How disappointing. So, to cheer me up and because we still had about 7 hours of day light (doesn’t get dark in Ushuaia and a lot of Patagonia until about 23.00ish) we decided to go on a hike, round a huge lake to the border of Chile. Interesting idea….to try and cheer me up I thought (remember Inca Trail Carol) but it actually turned out to be lovely and there were 5 of us so we walked, chatted and enjoyed the afternoon crisp but sunny weather. What a lovely day!
One great thing about the hostel is we could actually cook for ourselves using the kitchen facilities so a bunch of us chipped in and Derek, one of our lovely fellow travellers, cooked us a great stew. It was really yummy and much appreciated after our active outdoor day. Thanks Derek!
Next day, pretty excited…..the penguin cruise….booked up through our tour company under the promise we would be able to get in amongst the penguins. WOW!! The cruise itself
was pretty good, taking in a lot of the Beagle Channel, wildlife and of course, Penguin Island. As we approached we were pretty excited but we soon realised that we had been misinformed and there wasn’t much chance on disembarking the boat, as it was too big. We did however get pretty close to the beach and the penguins but it was difficult not to feel a little disappointed. The penguins were lovely though we got some great photo’s……with our zoom lense.
So, that was pretty much it from Ushuaia. We had a couple of nights out in the town, which has about 7 Irish bars and I had my phone stolen but apart from that, Ushuaia is a lovely city and I only wish I had seen it covered in snow as think it would have looked even better. So, after our 3 day , we set off for our 2 days of driving to Torres del Paine. We had an over night stay in Punto Arenas and then had our worst shopping experience so far in the morning. We all headed to the shops pretty early as Trevor needed to go and be fixed for something. When
we got to the shop….it was of course shut. We headed into the town, none of us very impressed that we had to hang around. We just wanted to get on with the driving and get to Torres. By a stroke of luck, there was another supermarket in town so we all set about doing our shopping there. Because we were going to be in the Torres national park for 5 days and there are no shops there, all the cook groups would be due to cook in this time so everyone had to shop. What a bloody nightmare! We literally bought the whole shop….apart from potatoes which we still had to find from somewhere. Our cook group was due to cook on Day 5 too, which made our job even harder cos we couldn’t buy anything fresh. So…..we went for corned beef hash…sorted! Although they didn’t have any corned beef or potatoes so we went for some tinned ham concoction instead. I don’t think this is going to work….but we’ll try it anyway! Lol After a two hour wait, in the supermarket, 25 of us…..with all of our shopping, we got taxi’s back out to Trevor as the power
lines are too low for the truck to come and get us. We loaded up….and set off on our way! Torres…..here we come!
We had no idea how B.E.A.UTIFUL Torres del Paine would be. As we drove we could see the mountain range stretching out ahead and it bought the whole truck to an excited silence. Camera’s were out and we were all snapping away, not quite realising yet that our campsite would also have amazing views of the spires. There are many amazing walks available in the park, none of which interested me of course and as Rich’s toe was pretty sore from a previous injury, he wouldn’t be doing either but a few of our group planned to do. The ‘W’ walk is probably the most famous, which actually takes 4 days but can be broken up into day long walks for different sections. Our first day was spent exploring. In a group of about 15 we headed to one of the many waterfalls in the park. It was about a 4 hour walk with an option to go onto a view point as well, which we did….well, started to do before a big storm looked like
it was heading our way so we headed back. Everywhere you looked was stunning, great views as far as the eye can see and I can honestly say this is probably the most beautiful place I have ever been. The evenings here were good fun too as it was still not getting dark till late so we would sit around the fire and eat. In fact, we ate pretty well in the park because we had brought way too much food on our shop and it all had to be eaten as it was mostly fresh. YUM!
The next day was a treat for me as we were booked to go horse riding. I had been looking forward to this for some time now and it didn’t disappoint. Through broken Spanish and little help (well, a lot) from our very own Chilean Val, we arranged for me to have a slightly more spirited horse called Peaenua. I should have become suspicious when they cracked up as handing her over but I loved her from the first minute. She was beautiful and……full of spirit. She flew too…..pretty much everywhere. We had a great afternoon and I soon signed up for much
of the same the next day. It was hard to believe that we were having such an amazing time, with such amazing views and I was signed up to do it all again the next day. Life is good!! Rich really enjoyed it as well although I think he was slightly frustrated with his horse. Didn’t really want to do a lot but he had a great time enjoying the views and stunning scenery. The next day’s ride was pretty much the same, with the same horse, which I was really pleased about. Only a few of us this time, and that was nice as we had a little more flexibility on where we could go….even is this did turn out to be a full on…flowing river. The Gaucho had a good old laugh at me when he instructed me to take the lead and I went in to my knees. The horse knew the route to take though….thank god cos I was a tad nervous of the fast flow of the river. Lol We spent a total of 5 days in Torres and I will never forget the feeling of waking up in the shadow of the amazing Spires.
We actually spent two days just chilling out and enjoying our surroundings. There was a condor view point which we climbed one morning. No condors at the top but there was another amazing view and the weather was lovely so we stayed there for about an hour. Just admiring everything. In the distance you could here the odd avalanche from the spires, which made a very impressive sound, similar to thunder. It was a sad morning when we all packed up our tents and headed North, back into Argentina and to start our 4 day drive to Buenos Aires, via Peninsula Valdes to take in some more spectacular wildlife and help some of our passengers to celebrate Aussie Day.
Peninsula Valdes is where they filmed the really famous BBC documentary about the Orca Whales that beach themselves to pluck the baby seals from the shoreline and then turn themselves around, back into the water with their feed. We were all pretty excited at the prospect of seeing Orca’s, although we also new that this would be unlikely as it wasn’t the right season. There was a chance though…..and we clung onto that. We had a two full on day
drive to get there, with a stop over…somewhere, I can’t quite remember. Now when it was first explained to us that we would have a lot of free camps on the long drives in Patagonia, I had no idea that this would literally mean finding a service station, with a patch of grass close by and setting up camp practically on the forecourt. This however, became a reality for about 5-6 nights during our trip. We camped for two nights, one day in a place called Puerto Madryn, which has a lovely beach very close to the campsite. The weather was lovely and everyone was pretty excited about Aussie day as we were in the same campsite with Moose (other Tucan truck) and more Aussies. Before the celebrations began though, we had some wildlife to view. We set off pretty early to the Peninsula and picked up a guide for the day and entered the national park. We spent the day watching Elephant Seals, Sea Lions and……more penguins. What a treat. I had no idea we would be seeing them and they were pretty close too, which was a result. Unfortunately, the Orca’s let us down and stayed pretty elusive…..although
the excitement through the day was cleverly maintained by our guide who spoke to every warden and then informed us that they were in the area. Hmmm….??
Back at the campsite, preparations were already under way for the nights celebrations. We would be having punch, a BBQ and listen to Australian songs all day/night. Yes, they do have more artists than just Kylie and Jason. A lot more…. I think everyone had a great night. We soon discovered there was another couple of overland trucks in our campsite (all on the same route to Rio) so we all got together and had a huge party. Fire, BBQ, punch and music…..what more could we want. It was a great party and it was great fun being a token Aussie for the day too. “Chuck another shrimp of the Barbie Mate!”
So, that brings me to the end of my blog really. The next stop is Buenos Aires…..after two more drive days. We were all really looking forward to getting to this legendary city. Not only because we’d had a tip that our hotel was pretty nice (when I say nice, we have our own bathrooms lol) but also because there
is so much to do there. I will once again pass onto Rich for the next sector or our travels. The end is fast approaching now though…..which was a sad feeling at the time!
Love loads and thanks again for reading!!
There are more photos below