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South America » Argentina » Neuquén » Junín de los Andes
December 16th 2011
Published: December 21st 2011
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Woaaahhhhh I´ve been up to so much, updating is going to take a while, but I'll try to keep it short. The last thing that happened was entering Brazil for Foz do Iguacu.

The two days that we were there we saw the falls on both sides, Brazilian and Argentina. The Brazilian side is the one overlooking the falls, whereas the argentinian is the side with the actual falls. The latter provides a more close-up view, and in my opinion a better one. Still, the Brazilian side was impressive, and finally you could be at the bottom of the falls where the Garganta del Diablo (throat of the devil) is. The Argentinian side was incredible with close-up views of the falls, occasionally getting soaked by drops unleashed by crashing water. But it was a refreshing contrast from the hot sun.

Besides the falls we couchsurfed with a guy called Hentz (actually his last name). We had a fantastic time there. On the second day they had a secret santa kind of idea, where everybody bought a gift and lottery tickets determined when a person could choose one. They invited us to join and we did! I ended up with a 6-pack of stella, interestingly enough.

The next day Johan and I split ways and I took a bus from Puerto Iguazu to Buenos Aires. What a fantastic place. It´s a European style city, in the sense that you really feel as if you are in Europe with its tall buildings. There are beautiful neighbourhoods, gardens, markets. And the food... the FOOD!!!! Incredible steaks (and cheap!), delicious wine (and cheap!!)... If you´re not a vegetarian, it´s a great place to be. I also met a lot of people that I met at my previous destinations - Anna from Salvador, Petra and Alexander from Itacare, Jean-Francois and Pierre from Lencois, Jean-Marie and Juliana from Rio, etc. So I met up with everybody, went site-seeing, partying, to watch Tango, and ate good food. Generally just having a fantastic time.

I spent about a week in Buenos Aires. The most interesting places to visit were Cemeterio Recoleta, a place where rich people get buried... seriously, some INSANE tombs over there; La Boca with its coloured houses and football stadium create a really nice atmosphere (the people are seriously CRAZY when it comes to football, completely nuts); San Telmo with its nice Markets, and Palermo for the nightlife.

From BA I took a bus to a small village called Las Flores, from which I decided to hitch-hike to Puerto Madryn. The first day wasn´t super easy, the waiting could take a while, which was only normal since the distances are big and there aren´t so many cars that pass. The first night I crashed in a town called Tres Arroyos. The next day I was lucky and got picked up by a German and Czek Republican guy in a landrover. They were super cool! They did a lot of travels themselves and were planning on driving way down south to Argentina and back up all the way to Alaska. So they were actually able to take me all the way down to my destination, which was on the way for them. We had to crash one night, so we camped outside a small village. The first place we chose was INFESTED with mosquitos, so we moved about 5 km to a place where we could just relax and have a beer. The next day I arrived in PM. It´s a relaxing place with a good atmosphere, though the wind can be a bit chilly. Everything was WAY more expensince than the guidebook stated though, which was a shame and meant I had to miss out on some key activities. Instead I rented a mountainbike and went to a reserve where they had sea elephants, which was nice enough. After 2 nights I decided to head for the west, again by hitch-hike.

The road between PM and Esquel is one very few cars take and sometimes I´d have to wait for over 3 hours to get a ride. Still, I made it in 2 days. I slept one night in a place called Los Altares, at about the halfway mark. As you ride along in this part of Argentina (Patagonia) you cannot be anything but surprised at the landscape you pass through. It´s just one vast nothingness, with an occasional collection of trees along a lone river. Otherwise it´s just a stony desert where only the dryest of bushes grow. Also the wind is the fiercest wind I´ve ever experienced. And it´s constant! It was all I could do not to be blown over everytime I stood out by the side of the road to catch a ride.

Finally I arrived in Esquel, a nice, quiet place, beautifully surrounded by mountains. I met an Israeli guy called Edan at the hostel, and the next day we did an all-day trek in Parque Nacional de los Alerces (Alerce is a type of tree), which offered magnificent views of the surrounding nature. Edan brought his backpack with him and left it with a guy who was there to take tare of, and preserve the nature. On the way back while we waited for a bus he offered for us to chill with him in his trailer, protecting us from the wind. So we did just that, and shared mate and stories in the best Spanish we knew.

The following day I took a bus to El Bolson, which is known as a laid-back hippy village. Though I didn´t do all that much laying-back. I went on another day-trip hike through the mountains, to a place called Cajon del Azul, a small canyon, but pretty enough. I dipped my feet in the river which was absolutely FREEZING, so I decided not to swim. I met some nice people at the hostel whom I shared a few beers with. But I didn't linger here long.

I continued my hitchhiking up to Bariloche, which is in the lake-district of Argentina. The city itself is placed right on Lago Nahuel-Huapi, a massive lake, though the view wasn´t all that great due to the ash from a Chilean Volcano. I didn't want to do any treks here, since my feet were completely cracked from the previous treks, so I only stayed one night. But I had a good time with the people in the hostel sharing a drink and some laughs.

From Bariloche I took a bus to Villa la Angostura, a quaint little village and the start of the 7 lake route. The village itself was COVERED in ash, as was the beginning of the route. But I hitched a couple of rides, and got some beautiful views of the lakes later on that day. The end point was San Martin de los Andes. A city with one of the most beautiful settings, right on a lake surrounded closely by green mountains. It's a real attraction for those who do wintersports. I didn't stay long, since I wanted to get to Chile asap. So I took a bus to Junin de los Andes and from there to Pucon Chile. Chile will be my next update though.


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