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Published: January 27th 2013
Leaving El Chalten at the unsociable time of 5am was made slightly (and only just) more bearable by the amazing sunrise and subsequent scenery witnessed through the truck windows as we drove, we spent the day following the Atlantic coast heading towards Camarones. Long drive days quickly settle into a routine of dozing, reading and watching the world go by, accompanied by a soundtrack of whatever’s flavour of the day on my ipod, this way 14+ hours of driving passes relatively painlessly.
A few 100ks outside of Camarones we stopped for the night, heading to what looked like a lovely little campsite and it was a lovely little campsite to begin with, we set up the tents and got on with cooking dinner, it was still warm and sunny at 9pm, beer in hand, tunes on, camping when like this is so good! Suddenly it all changed, from brilliant sunshine a summer storm rolled in, thunder, lightning, the campsite floor turned quickly from sun-baked earth to a muddy mess – the ground was clay so rather than the water draining away it collected on the surface - for a while it wasn’t too bad, sheltering in the tent, the internet
connection was still up and running, and it was quite a surreal experience to be sat in a tent skyping Livvy in Indonesia whilst the thunder crashes overhead, but then it got worse, first the internet went, then the ground under the tent turned into a pool giving the feeling of lying on a waterbed, then the tent started to flood, managing to evacuate before the sleeping gear got too damaged we spent an uncomfortable night asleep on the truck, with many others who’d all experienced the same fate.
The storm had passed by the next morning and after a muddy start clearing away the tents we drove onto Camarones. A sleepy fishing port with just two paved streets we passed straight through the town and onto the wildlife reserve of Cabo Dos Bahuas to play with the 12,000 Magellanic Penguins that reside there. Walking along boardwalks in the sand you pass between hundreds of the Penguins, many of them standing stock still like some massive game of musical statues, you get the feeling that as soon as you turn your back they’ll be partying away, but whilst you’re there watching most hardly move except for their
feathers ruffling in the afternoon breeze.
Then you turn to the sea and see the guys that have been out fishing return to the nests, as they waddle along the shore you’re put in mind of surfer dudes heading in from a swim, you can almost see them chatting about the last wave that they caught and how radical it was.
After spending time with the Penguins we headed out of the national park to look for somewhere to camp for the night, we didn’t have to look for long, just off the road on a headland overlooking the beach we stopped and set up camp, a beautiful location to cook dinner and sleep for the night and a vast improvement on the muddy campsite of the night before, paid for campsite rubbish, free middle of nowhere camp amazing – bush camping score!
Awaking to the most amazing view over the Atlantic Ocean is a pretty good way to start the day, packing up the tents we carried on up the coast to the beach town of Puerto Madryn, spending two nights in a campsite here gave us a chance to stay off
the road for a few days and prepare for the last push to Buenos Aires.
Setting eyes on the beach side resort holiday mode kicked in, forgoing a trip to another Penguin and Sea Lion colony I spent a happy two days, having a much needed long run along the beach side boardwalk, a lazy seafood lunch on the beach, a wander around the town in the sunshine and some SCUBA! After 15months out of the water it was back into the wetsuit and a chance to do some underwater exploring. Whilst the diving wasn’t the most exciting I’ve ever experienced being back in the water regardless put a massive spring in my step, and as the temp and visibility was (apparently) on a par with what I’d experience if I gave diving in the UK a go its prompted me to rethink my only diving in hot countries policy……
After two days of salt water in my hair and sand between my toes we embarked on the final leg to Buenos Aires. 2 very long drive days - breaking camp at 4.30am is never, ever fun! – and with another amazing bush camp we finally arrived into
Argentina’s capital city.
After all the camping, hiking and generally being outdoors I’m looking forward to spending some time in the cosmopolitan capital, a chance to eat some steak, experience some culture and hit a bar or two or three or four…………..
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