Published: November 19th 2010
November 19th 2010
Made it without a scratch, bussing from Santiago to Patagonia tonight. Should be a fun trip. Not looking forward to the wind or cold after the pleasant north but......
And then just a few hours before catching the bus some bastard stole the camera out of my hands. I was in plaza de Armes sitting on a bench taking snaps when a bloke came from behind, grabbed the camera and took off across the road into a market area. I jumped over the fence to give chase, yelling, but was help up by what I assume to be at least one of his mates and so of course lost him.
After 2 hours talking to the police not much else could be done, bugger
So at least a few of the pics are saved on this site but.....
And now to find another camera, in Pategonia where I now sit.
Currently in Puerto Varas, a nice ¨germanic¨town but it would be nicer if it didnt have condensation every 30 minutes. The bus down was brilliant. On one experience only would recommend Tur Bus.
Not sure how to get to Punta Arenas (where I may be able
not so old art
to get a camera), boat, plane or bus.
Either way its certainly got cooler, but still no decent mushrooms
Currently back in Puto Natalas after doing the ¨W¨ of the Torres
Went out by bus, then catamaran and started walking up to Glacier Grey. Note this may be a civilised country after all, found some mushrooms. Not exciting ones but they were not in a shop either. Camped well with rental equipment and had perfect weather. Winds were very strong and some boat trips had been cancelled for other people. The Glacier was fantastic dwarfing the tourist boats.
Day 2, packed up camp and walked to Camp Italiano and set up the tent there. On the way came across tame deer and watched about 30 cyclists arrive and ride off to the south, with the wind.
From Italiano I walked up to the next camp without the back. Watched avalanches to the west and the magnificent views of the back of the torres to the east.
It did get cold
That night it rained, bummer.
Next day walked to camp Chileno and set up camp there. As it was snowing and I was staying in the refugio
Buenos Aires Airport
The day after baggage handler strike. Nice of LAN airlines to provide a hotel and extras for the night
camp site ended up in the refugio having a couple of glasses of wine. This was the dud night.
I didnt put the tent up correctly so condensation dripped inside. It also snowed a lot, with water, then ice falling onto the tent. Also the outer zip got stuck and I could not close the front due to frozen hands. It was a cold rotten, nights sleep and I didnt feel like the early start to go to the sunrise viewing about an hour and a half up hill, into the cloud.
So day 4 I walked down the hill, out to the administration office and back to peuto Natalas where I be now.
I did see condors, foxes, tame deer and hares and a load of birdlife.
The whole trip is very sociable. Constantly meeting and travelling with others and bumping into them even here in town. My clothes stink, the shoes are toxic but my body is the better for it.
If only I could download a couple of pics
The wind was bad in places but a lot of th walk was very sheltered. I rarely wore more than trousers, shoes and a T shirt although gortex
Main St Buenos Aires
From Hotel room (El Presedenta)
may have a display centre somewhere in the park.
Highlights of the trip, possibly the people I met. Its an easy walk but the weather....3 seasons in an hour
Its now 12 December and just git back from viewing the Porta Moreno Glacier. Fantastic to watch massive slabs of ice crashing from 60 metres into the water below. Almost as exciting as the taxi trip there which was half an hour shorter than expected due to a very enthusiastic taxi driver.
With luck off to El Chaltan tomorrow and then a squizz at Mt Fitzroy
OK, its Monday about Dec 19th. Just arrived in Bariloche
Missing in action one camera, one beanie and a walking pole. Pretty good for me.
The pole was left at a bus stop after spending two nights in a great little refugio called Helio Azuel. It rained and snowed but inside was great. Solid wood and a cat that is lucky to still be alive. It meows more than my folks cat. My theory is that up in the mountains was the only place that was lacking in dogs so all the meows that would be to dangerous
to release in town escape into the wild.
Still doing well on food and the weather has picked up. Will try and put a few more piccys up.
Christmas day brief update
Add to missing in action mobile phone and MP3 player. The load gets lighter
Back in Bariloche and forgot to mention that my arrival happened to coincide with the equivilent of Schoolies week. And Bariloche is the Southport for schoolies, bus loads of them. But peace seems to have decended as they have returned to their families for Christmas.
Picked up my first dose of food poisoning in years which cleared the system for about 12 hours. The timimg was bad as we had already planned a three day mountain hike and despite not being able to keep even water down, headed off with heavy packs and high hopes.
The walks were pretty simple, made even easier on the first day by starting on a bus, then transferring to a seriers of 3 ski lifts to get well above the tree line, great way to start.
Then the fun began
It seems you need to drink in order to sweat. Basically almost no energy and
A glimpse of Antarctic Sheet Ice from 11000metres
even the Condors came in fairly close for a bit of a squizz. The views were fantastic though and after about 5 hours we descended and reached refugio Frey. And things picked up from there, despite yet another cat determined to shed over everyone and seek out those with allergies. Day 2 was a hike over two ridges and into two Valleys to reach refugio Jakob which was beautiful if a bit cool. A group of Israelies planned to camp but ended up inside with us as it was a bit too cold, wet. windy and unpredictable.
The final day was the most energetic going over a pass being blasted by wind and either snow or rain, hard to tell what it was, but it was very very cold and moved very fast. Once over the pass we went down as fast as able. Shoes soaked by snow, then mud, then water.
The oddest part was trying to find our way through a bamboo forest that went on for hours. The babmboo was fine for a while but then I noticed holes in socks, covers and skin. Bummer
Finally reached a road and hitched/bussed back to town for Christmas eve.
Down town early morning. The parks looked great
To put things in perspective I spoke to a french guy last night who took a slightly different past from refugio Jakob.
He travelled alone with his tent, took 4 days most of which was spent lost in bamboo and bog, and scored a beautiful infection around one eye, to the point he couldnt see through it.
Made our trip seem dead easy
And now trying to think out where to go to next
But Merry Christmas to all our readers
Now in a place called San Martin de los Andes and have been convinced by the owner of the hostel/house to stay another night. Nice as the owner is popping over to Chile for a couple of days and has left me with the keys, and I will on the next bus before they return. Not much to do here except eat, drink, sleep (all of which I can and have done but can now do it again). There is a beach of sorts on Lago Lacar but its very easy to resist the temptation to take a dip.
This was meant to be a 1 night stop over after between Bariloche and Pucon but things
The bus trip here was great. Of course I had no idea that the ¨Seven Lakes¨drive was a sort of classic but it was fantastic. Virtually every where you looked for 4 hours was worth a photo. Except for the lack of wildlife it rivaled Canadas tourist drives. A lot of people were camping along the way with entire families evidently spending a week or so chilling out. And why not, what a brilliant area to spend a few days and the more energetic were cycling the entire road while others were fly fishing in the crystal clear rivers. The weather has been perfect which I gather is more than can be said for home. Looking forward to the smell of mildew from the wet back there.
28 Dec and back in Chile in Pucan. Just got back from a short walk around this touristy little town. Checked out the local golf course for fungi. Zip, but there was a nice little forest on the peninsular that allowed glimpses of the lake and Vocano that dominates the landscape. The lake is massive and the volcano has a nice little plume of steam around the summit adding
interest to the view. With a bit of luck I will head up therein the next day or so providing the weather stays perfect. The bus trip from San Martin was great except for the time it took to actually cross the border. We must have spent about hours doing whatever was required but it was worth the extra time to look at the monkey puzzle forest, mountains and volcano Lanin, covered in snow and dominating the landscape for miles
Weather perfect, went up the hill and came back down.
Its one of those funny sort of things people do on holiday and in Pucon, if your reasonably fit, its alost a must. The odd thing is you shop around to see what you get for your money, but in the end everyone ends up doing virtually the same thing and the only difference is the price (probably between 30000 and 48000 pesos) and maybe the age of the gear or the colour of the gortex given to you.
The walk was easy if slow and the option given to take a chair lift for the first section
The summit was nice and although we could hear
60 Metre Ice Cliffs of the Perito Moreno Glacier crashing into the lakes below are quite impressive
the lava we could not see it...unless you got very very close to th edge. But at night you can see the steam and gases above the volcano glow with reflected light. Another nice touch was that there was morning fog over the town and lakes and this looked very nice from above. Even better was that until we got above the fog we had no idea how nice the day would be. Im sure the highlight for many was the sliding down the snow to get to the carpark on the decent using little plastic seats. And yes, there were dogs hanging around the snow but not many. We were supplied with crampons, boots, ice axes, helmuts as well of basic snow gear and glasses, but really little was needed. The boots and gaiters were a good idea and sunblock and sunglasses an obvious requirement. A great day
End of the year and a few odd thoughts
Except for the fields of Patagonia I was surprised at how little rubbish is lying around. Very nice
The trees look great
The dogs, numerous as they are, have been friendly and of no problem. The car and bus drivers
Torres del Paine
Clearer at a distance
expect them to be there and I have not seen a single accident involving Fido
In the lakes district region it was a surprise to see and smell so many roses and lavender bushes.
Traffic rules are a guide, indicating optional but it works. As does the fact that so many streets are one way only
The locals are amazingly tolerant of a gringo with language skills as restricted as mine. And that is for the non financial communications. I hate to guess how badly I have abused the language
Its good to see people getting so much out of cars and not needing to update every 3 years. Yes the Renaults and Citroen 2CVs
Nice to be able to drink tap and stream water without fear after unwanted side effects
Not so nice the number of thefts we hear about. From buses, hostels and individuals.
The food is good and for the most part not spicy. I also like, in this area, the way vendors go around on tricycles or with wheelbarrows selling fresh herbs, fruit and veg. Some you can smell before seeing them th herbs are so fresh. I just feel a bit embarressed taking photos of
The western side of the Torres del Paine walk. This was also the side where the wind was strongest and most constant, but a lot of the walk is sheltered by vegetation and quite easy
In a way its a bit like Asia. Men wear long trousers no matter what they are doing and no matter what the weather is. (Hmm Dad) Blue jeans are the uniform.
Public transport has been very good for both long and short hauls.
The music that I seem to hear on Argentinian radio has been great, but it may not be a reasonable cross section of whats on offer.
WiFi is almost everywhere, wish I had it for travelling. Not so reliable were the banks or internet in the far south.
Stacks of bird life for the twitchers among us.
Football (soccer) is everywhere but how they could play in Patagonian winds is beyond me.
Yes Im sure its the time of year but....so few mushrooms
I note the Chilean Peso has been soaring against the dollar in 2010
No matter where you are, there is always pizza
There are more photos below