Puerto Madryn


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South America » Argentina » Santa Cruz » Río Gallegos
April 4th 2007
Published: August 7th 2007
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Puerto MadrynPuerto MadrynPuerto Madryn

Perhaps the kite surfers´paradise?
I had always pictured Patagonia as being all mountains and rivers and trees. I have since discovered that a great proportion of it is flat, dry and very unpopulated.

We have been doing some mission bus rides to get ourselves to the very south. The first 20 hour jobbie went surprisingly quickly. They played some good movies (with Spanish subtitles) and I got a good sleep in the super recliner chairs.

We broke our journey in Puerto Madryn, a relatively small but sunny place that seems to exist in the middle of nowhere. The Welsh landed here in about 1865 and the place stayed pretty small until the 70s when an Aluminium smelter went in. Goodness knows what they ate or drank. These days water is piped 70kms from the nearest river. Electricity comes 700kms across from a hydro station in the Andes. The land is so fragile, farmers can only have about 4 merino sheep per hectare, otherwise the land turns to desert.

We did a quick side trip (a mere 400km day trip) to see the Peninsula Valdez. Here, we were promised Orcas snatching sea lions straight off the beach. We soon found out that this
Penguins Penguins Penguins

But no whales ; (
only happens rarely, but nevertheless we diligently stood at the lookout, staring out to sea hoping to catch a glimpse of the buggers. No luck. We did see penguins and elephant seals, plus lots of guanacos (like little llamas) and a few choique (like a mini emu). The highlight of the trip, however, was a kid on the bus who insisted on throwing up every 10 minutes. I would have had some pity for him, especially if he had a tummy bug, if he could have just got the chunder into the bag. He missed every time, much to the dismay of his fellow bus passengers (and their shoes).

The next day, we jumped back on the bus for another 20 hours down to the town of Rio Gallegos. This seemed to take an age. The landscape was flat and barren the entire way. Just a few shrubs and merino sheep and what must be thousands of kilometers of fences. There was a *problem* at one of the police checkpoints. It seems some young guy from the bus had some problem with his paper work. This necessitated much standing around, with everyone doing nothing until the unspoken go ahead
Patagonian steppePatagonian steppePatagonian steppe

This was the view we had for around 40 hours
was given about an hour later.

Staying in Rio Gallegos was a bit like overnighting in Waitara when you really want to be in the Bay of Islands. Even so, we found a reasonable hotel, ate a good meal, watched yet another public protest/demonstration (- we have found Argentinians to be quite good at these) and strolled among a surprising selection of shops. Ben even bought a pair of running shoes. For a random town in the middle of nowhere, it is surprisingly well set up.

Next we are back on the bus (again) for the final section to Ushuaia. This internet connection is once again painfully slow, so the photos of flat Patagonia will have to wait.




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27th October 2007

so how is it?
i just saw your trip and it looks like it was intresting to say the least. Im actually flying into there quite soon around new years and was wondering if you had any recommendations, dont worry im not taking the bus down, ive down that way to many times.

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