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November 26th 2016
Published: November 27th 2016
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Ushuiai to Puerto Montt


Patagonia at its bestPatagonia at its bestPatagonia at its best

Torres del paine national park
Sunday saw us hopping on a bus to Tierra del Fuego National Park where we chose to do a 8.5km walk along the shores of Lago Acagami. The weather is always unpredictable in this part of the world and we started in bright sunshine negotiating, at times a rough path through lovely forest. It took a little under an hour and a half to reach the end which sits astride the Chile - Argentina border amid stunning mountain scenery. The return journey was comolested after a more sedate pace which allowed as to see Caracara ghosting ghrough the forest and to listen for Red headed woodpeckers at work. Only minutes after emerging on the lake shore the weather turned bleek and we headed for a cafeteria about a kilometre away getting quiet wet along the way.

The next day we visited the excellent Ushuaia maritime museum which is based in an old penitentiary and had excellent collections regarding prison life and the Antarctic pioneers. The rest of the day was about picking up laundry and planning the next stage of our journey.

The next morning it was time to leave, after another unsatisfactory breakfast we graded down the hill
Lapataia River Lapataia River Lapataia River

Tierra del Fuego national park
to the bus station as rain started to fall by 8am we were heading north into the mountains and a snow storm which was nice for someone who has rarely seen snow. I am not sure what I expected of Patagonia but mile after mile of booking farmland was not it, the hours wasted crossing the Chilean border was even less pleasant.

A sighting of flamingos and several dozen guanaco certainly improved things a little as did the slightly interesting ferry crossing of the Strait of Magellen after that it was several more hours to Punta Arenas. There was little opportunity to see much of the city but what I did see mostly through bus windows was quite appealing and the few people we met were very friendly.

By 10am we were on the way to Puerto Natales again the country side was flat and dull but we saw a few more flamingos and a couple of llamas. The trip was quite short just three hours so we had the rest of the day to wander around town, the place is small and appealing but as with everywhere down here very expensive. Our accommodation is good if a
To old to LimboTo old to LimboTo old to Limbo

Tierra del Fuego national park
little pricey and we are just a five minute walk from the bus station so we no problems getting our 730am bus to Torres del Paine National Park.

The bus took about two hours to get to the national park gate at Laguna Amarga where we and the five hundred or so backpackers lined up to complete registration forms, pay park fees and watch a video on how to behave in the park. On exiting we reboarded the bus to head to our destination at Administracion all the hikers got off before then and we arrived alone and had to ask a ranger to call our hotel which was located just outside the park.

The hotel is expensive as are their tours and is located in the middle of nowhere, we have been kicking ourselves for not hiring a car. We managed to arrange a 3 hour hike from Laguna Amarga to the park entrance at Largo Sarmiento which was excellent, lots of wildlife, indigenous cave art and some wonderful scenery. There are surprisingly few trees in the park as a major fire swept through in 2011 causing devastation.

Friday morning we travelled to Lago Grey to
Ruth crosses a streamRuth crosses a streamRuth crosses a stream

Tierra del Fuego national park
take the catamaran trip to the lakes glacier. After arrival at the hotel near the lake we purchased our tickets and walked across a suspension bridge through some forest onto a broad gravel beach separating two sections of Lago Grey. The fickle Patagonia weather was throwing a few drops of rain and strong winds at us as we crossed the beach past a large blue iceberg, when we reached the end there was no boat so we followed everyone else up a sloping path only to find a lookout rather than the expected boat landing so we had to run back to the beach.

We boarded the boat in the "iceberg cemetery" spending the next three hours cruising the lake with a significant portion of that time spent at the three locations where the icebergs calf. I think if we hadn't seen the massive icebergs of the Southern Ocean just a week before we would have been even more impressed. Over all it was a great experience and we enjoyed the trip even allowing for the awful weather.

Our last morning in Torres del paine national park dawned sunny the views of the mountains and lakes exquisite. On
Indian bread fungus Indian bread fungus Indian bread fungus

Tierra del Fuego national park
our way back to Puerto Natales we saw literally hundreds of guanaco, ten emu like rhea and three condors. On arrival in Puerto Natales we went looking for a meal other than junk food and found a classy seafood restaurant where I had a great grated shellfish pie which was like a mornay, it was seriously good eating.

The trip to El Calafate was long and dull we entered Argentina for the third time taking several hours to clear customs, on arrival we purchased bus tickets to the glacier and tickets to Bariloche 26 hours up route 40 before having lunch and travelling to our place of sleep. El Calafate is a neat little tourist town that services trips to the Perito Moreno glacier located about 80 kilometres from town, the most economical way to visit the absolutely awesome glacier is by bus so we boarded around 9.30am arriving 90 minutes later.

The glacier itself is massive and appears to come down from multiple mountain passes before calving in to a large lake, a series of walkways 6 kilometres long have been built to enable safe viewing after 32 deaths over the years. It was possible to get
Dense forestDense forestDense forest

Tierra del Fuego national park
reasonably close and we watched and listened as large chunks of ice separated from the massive sheet and dropped in to the lake with a crash, the ice sheet moves up to two metres per day. Apart from the ice Ruth continues to spot Condors everywhere we go the count now us 18.

We need to be in Santiago by the 26th so a 26 hour bus ride north to the very pleasant town of Bariloche was necessary the highlights of which were a body search by Argentine police, a flock of eight rhea, four St Bernard's and a human garden gnome. San Carlos de Bariloche is perched on a mountain encircled lake and is another in a line of lovely Patagonian towns, we found a bar with two for one beers which is a miracle in the tourist towns of Patagonia and over indulged a little before returning to our room with a view.

The following morning we wandered around town looking at the sights, the town likes to associate itself with Switzerland so chocolate shops and St Bernards abound, before heading back to the bus station for our journey across the border to Puerto Montt. The
Lake AcigamaLake AcigamaLake Acigama

Tierra del Fuego national park
scenery was stunning perhaps more then at any other place we have been in the south of the continent and the border crossing was painless, unfortunately entering Chile saw an end to pretty forests and the beginning of farmland as we travelled south to Puerto Montt.

Puerto Montt is an ugly town, we didn't plan to stay here but our plans to visit Chiloe fell through so we went out to Puerto Varas a pretty tourist town located on the continents largest lake instead. Lake Llanquehue is encircled by live volcanoes one of which (Chabulco) erupted spectacularly just a year ago, we travelled up the slopes of Volcan Osorno and rode the chair lift to the red crater. Later we visited a spectacular waterfall at Saltos del Petrohue before returning to Puerto Montt and boarding the all night bus to Santiago followed by a flight to Lima.


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Mountains peak out through the foliage Mountains peak out through the foliage
Mountains peak out through the foliage

Tierra del Fuego national park
Puma scatPuma scat
Puma scat

Torres del paine national park
Maritime museum of Ushuaia Maritime museum of Ushuaia
Maritime museum of Ushuaia

Contained in an old prison
Stunning mountains of Torres del Paine Stunning mountains of Torres del Paine
Stunning mountains of Torres del Paine

Torres del paine national park
Cuernos Del Paine Cuernos Del Paine
Cuernos Del Paine

Torres del paine national park
Waterfall Waterfall
Waterfall

Torres del paine national park
Lago GreyLago Grey
Lago Grey

Torres del paine national park
The blue ice was some 10 metres highThe blue ice was some 10 metres high
The blue ice was some 10 metres high

Torres del paine national park
Moving in closerMoving in closer
Moving in closer

Torres del paine national park
Glacier close upGlacier close up
Glacier close up

Torres del paine national park
Pisco Sour? Why yes Pisco Sour? Why yes
Pisco Sour? Why yes

Torres del paine national park
StunningStunning
Stunning

Torres del paine national park
Breathtaking Breathtaking
Breathtaking

Torres del paine national park


29th November 2016

Wild Patagonia
I find it fascinating to read of the adventures of others in Patagonia...to feel the vibe in their words as to how the experience affected them. I thus read yours. I gotta say you have travelled through some of the most pristine wilderness areas in the World. We regard Torres del Paine as the most beautiful place in the World and my own blog was so titled. Yet when our daughter was there it was windsweep, wet and bitterly cold. The weather in Patagonia is definitely a determinate in the level of enjoyment. Yet reading your account I cannot help noticing you traveled everywhere by bus and at least in Torres del Paine regretted not hiring a car. I cannot agree more. We hired a car in Bariloche and traveled south. A friend recently did the same at our insistence and also agrees that as she did so it increased her enjoyment tenfold. Next time next wilderness place may I suggest you do so!
29th November 2016

Wild Patagonia
You are dead right Dave it is an expensive and often difficult part of the world to get around, if I did it again I would hire a car in Bariloche or even mendoza and drive down and if possible leave the vehicle in Ushuaia and fly out.
3rd December 2016

Patagonia...wild and wonderful
We are eager to go to Patagonia and really enjoy your writing. We will take your advice and rent a car.

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