A Travellerspoint blog

Patagonia adventures


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Day 9- Tuesday 12.3.13
Buenos Aires/ Rio Gallegos/ El Chalten.
The day I would rather forget!
We were up at 4am to leave hotel for 5am to catch flight down to Patagonia.
Got to the airport and things went from bad to worse!
We were bumped off our flight, later found out that flights had been cancelled the day before and all flights were full of people from the cancelled flights.
Anyway, our guide Hugo managed to get us on a flight in the afternoon to Rio Gallegos and then have a drive of about 6 hours to El Chalten. It then came to light that Laurence and I had no flights at all! Something we are taking up with the tour company- fingers crossed for that dispute! Manage to buy flights at the airport so we can still do trip!
After landing all worth it the views and landscape are amazing.
Arrive very late and tired.

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Day 10- Wednesday 13.3.13
El Chalten.
Best day yet :-)
9 hours of hiking in El Chalten (26km). Louis our guide had climbed the fitz roy peak, took 3 days. our hike was like a stroll to him. To view points of Fitz Roy. Absolutely amazing. We have had the best weather - no wind which is very unusual in Patagonia, full sunshine all day, not a cloud in the sky. Amazing!!!

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Day 11- Thursday 14.3.13
El Chalten/ El Calafate.
We have had a great day kayaking!
There was only me and Loll and 3 guides. Miguel, Juan and I can't remember the third guys name- 20km (4 1/2 hours) stopped on the shore for lunch.
Saw 2 condors gliding above us.
A group of horses (don't know the official name for that!) cross the river right in front of us.
We also managed to capsize! A bit of a shock but had full dry suits on so we were ok. Neither of us lost our sunglasses! I still think it was Laurence who didn't paddle in the right direction :-) we were in a tandem kayak.
Hopped on bus to El Calafate.
Totally seizing up on the bus.
Stopped at a place Hotel Leona where Butch Cassidy and the Sun Dance Kid hid out for a while.
Now at our hotel enjoying a beer across the road in the hostel, easing ourselves into hostel life!!!
We have some great action shots that the guide took but on the camera. Will upload them when we can!

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Day 12- Friday 15.3.13
El Calafate.
Perito Moreno Glacier
One of the natural wonders of the world, never seen anything like it. Largest glacier in Argentia, 3rd largest in the world. Currently it is in balance, meaning it is not shrinking like a lot of glaciers. It also creates a dam with part of the lake Argentino, meaning it blocks a section, then after a few years the water level in that part of the lake is high enough and warm enough to break through the glacier into the larger section of the lake. The glacier is continually moving with pieces breaking off it, hearing cracking and movement all the time. Got a boat right to the side of it. Photos don't do it justice!

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Day 13- Saturday 16.3.13
El Calafate.
Excursion day in El Calafete.
Loll and I got a 4x4 on the El Calafete balcony (table mountain to see views)
We go up in a chair lift (quite scary and very cold!) and then got this monster truck around the top seeing some amazing views. It is another very clear, wind free day. We can see mount Fitz Roy which is 80km away.
It will be interesting to see the town in a few years time as it has considerably grown in the last 10 years from 6,000 people to 22,000 people. They were developing the top of the balcony for ski season, building facilities and beginners slope for next winter. Think the place will change a lot, nice to see it before too commercial.
Then a nice wander round town. Went to the local museum which had remains of mega mammals that used to roam the area. Then just sorting ourselves out for travel next day.

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Day 14- Sunday 17.3.13
El Calafate/Torres Del Paine.
Route- El Calafate route 40 short cut on the old road (dirt track)/ cross into Chile/ Torres Del Paine national Park
4x4 until Chile border going down old route 40. Change vans at the border.
Lunch At the border- what a bustling place in the middle of nowhere.
Journey quite challenging as a lot of dirt tracks so pretty bumpy and not feeling great again :-(
Arrive in Torres Del Paine national park. Beautiful landscape again. Have a shortish walk to horns view point and waterfall.
Lovely hotel in the middle of the valley.

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Day 15- Monday 18.3.12
Torres Del Paine.
Long walk today. 19km.
I have woken up with the worst cold- right ear totally blocked, but determined to do the walk to the view point. Amazing weather again. Very tough first hour as just feeling hot and bothered but made it to the refugio for a snack break. We made it to the top in about 4.5 hours.
What an amazing view.
Had lunch in one of the worlds most beautiful spots and headed down. Feeling very tired coming down but did walk in about 9 hours.
At the Refugio on the way down our guide (Polo) was chatting to another guide who had a cup of mate, a traditional Argentinian herbal drink. There is a server who makes the drink and you share the cup and drink through a metal straw. We had seen lots of people throughout our travels drinking it, and our guide Hugo told us about it, it is a social activity. So our guide, us and Tessa (another member of the group) stayed behind and shared his mate. It is quite bitter and not what I was expecting. Not sure I like it, although it gave us strength to get down the last part of the walk. Which seemed a lot longer on the way down than the way up!
Rewarding ourselves with an ice lolly at the hotel. So glad I struggled through. But a tough day. Bath, dinner, and early bed!

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Day 16- Tuesday 19.3.13
Torres Del Paine/ Cerro Sombrero.
Route- Torres del Paine/ Puerto Natales/ Punta Delgada to Bahia Azul/ Cerro sombrero
Saw our first penguins today!!!
Our last walk in Torres del Paine national park. Saw a grey fox and lots of guanacos (lama type animals) nice way to start the day.
Then jump in van to Puerto Natales for a quick lunch stop. A small town aprox 20.000 people but very remote, houses made out of corrugated iron. A tough place to live. Then we get the ferry across the Magellan straight from Punta Delgada to Bahia Azul. Drive straight on to the ferry and it left about 2 mins after. About 15 min crossing very quick timing apparently. We saw penguins swimming and then I spotted a sea lion dipping his head in and out the water!
We are now in Tierra del Fuego (land of fire).
Now heading to Cerro Sombrero for night stop before heading to Ushuaia in the morning.
What a funny little place. An oil town in the middle of nowhere. Staying on outskirts of town. Had dinner and walked into town, not a lot to see apart from a couple of monuments.
What hard place to live.

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Day 17- Wedneday 20.3.13
Arrive at the end of the world!
Cerro Sombrero/ Ushuaia.
Route to Ushuaia- Cerro sombrero / cross the border at San Sebasti√°n back into Argentina/ Rio Grandes/ Tolhuin/ Ushuaia
Arrived in really good time to go on penguin boat!!!
Early start but our journey was very quick and arrived to drop bags at hotel and then run to the pier to catch the penguin boat.
Saw sealions, the light house- which is the southernmost point and then on to penguin colony. How lovely to see them in natural habitat. Very tired as still suffering from cold. 5 hour boat trip arrive back 9 pm late dinner and bed.

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Day 18- Thursday 21.3.13
Ushuaia.
Go to Tierra Del Fuego national park.
We have true Patagonian weather today. Very windy and rainy. Nice to actually experience what we have been missing. Glad we had so much sunshine. Some of the walks we did would have been totally different with harder weather.
Have a short walk round the forest and lake. Visit the post office at the end of the world and get our passports stamped and view the lake, you can actually lean on the wind without falling over. Stop at visitor centre and museum. Then to the southernmost point on route 3!
Head to town for the afternoon. Weather seems to be clearing up.
Afternoon at the prison museum. It was huge! A lot to read. Very interesting but too much.
Head back to hotel and last dinner as whole group. Head to bar for a few drinks as a goodbye to the trip!

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Day 19- Friday 22.3.13
Ushuaia/ Buenos Aires
Last morning at the end if the world. We have a short walk along the beagle channel at the front of our hotel, the weather turns again and we head back- after accidentally walking across somones private property amd thinking their dogs were going to get us!!! luckily we were ok :-) Back to hotel to wait for our pick up to the airport.
All ok getting back to BA. A good flight. Then last night with the group, most of us head to Tango show. Meal, drinks and show. We meet Hugo our guide there to say thank you and tuck into more food (I have eaten way too much this last 2 weeks) and enjoy the show. Nice to see the traditional dance in Buenos Aires.

Day 20- Saturday 23.3.13
Buenos Aires
A sad day saying goodbye to the group, everyone is heading home (Tessa, is going to Igazzu falls so we will have dinner with her Monday) But it feels very strange saying goodbye. We have really enjoyed our Patagonia Adventures and it has given us a taste of full travel experience, we just won't have Hugo with us who was the best guide ever! Safe journeys back to Peter, Frankie, Wendy and Paul. Enjoy your break Hugo and thank you for the last 2 weeks.

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We then head back to Hotel Lola our home from home in Boedo, to find a very needed laundrette!!!
4 baskets of nice clean clothes later we head for an early local dinner and bed.

No pics of Loll as all pics are from his phone at the moment. Can't upload from camera yet, but there are some good pics to come!

Posted by Ford and Bates 14:00 Comments (3)

Finally Made It!


View South America on Ford and Bates's travel map.

271 days, 31 weeks, 7 months give or take money!

Writing the first week in heinsight as we have both been recouping from illness so wasn't up to blogging, but we still did a lot.....

Day 1- London. Monday 4.3.13
271 days, 31 weeks, 7 months
So we have finally made it. What a crazy few weeks before we have finally managed to pack our rucksacs!
It has nearly broken us and need 7 months to recover but departure day has arrived.
We have packed up our flat, painted about 3/4 of it in 3 weeks, new carpet, oiled work top (8 times) it looks the best it ever has and we are moving out of it!
so the trip begins....with way too much stuff!

Day 2- Buenos Aires. Tuesday 5.3.13
We have survived our horror of finding a strike on Iberia when we tried online check in. Luckily our connection flight was fine. Just one guy boarding the plane at midnight.
Very basic plane, managed a couple of hours sleep, Laurence coughed and sneezed for 14 hours! organised pick up before we took off. Had a lovely guy Fernando pick us up. Laurence is now Lorenzo and I am Helena.
Lola hotel was great in a local area Boedo. We slept as both felt quite ill and then with map in hand and info from hotel we discovered the local area. Cafe Margot only thing we could understand was Pizza!

Day 3- Buenos Aires. Wednesday 6.3.13
After advice from hotel about a free walking tour- we headed into town on the subte (tube) Buying a 10 journey ticket for 25 pesos aprox £4!
It was just like going to work at 10am packed out and hot. Had a great tour of main plaza and congress area of the city. Gaston our guide was great, for about 3 hours learnt little facts and info about places. Very European Spanish/French feel about the city.
Then wandered around areas to get our bearings and headed back to hotel in the afternoon. Brought a pocket dictionary to start our Spanish learning off.
Amazing dinner at pan y arte, local again but lovely vegetarian food, massive portions.

Day 4- Buenos Aires. Thursday 7.3.13
Struggling with awful cold and ear ache we headed out late to Recolata area and the cemetary there. It was amazing, like a mini city of graves and just getting taller being built higher and higher, no grass left just paving stones.
It was very hot, hotter than we were expecting, hope Patagonia is going to be cold enough for all our warm weather gear we have packed!
We made it to Belle Arte art gallery, nice to get out the sun. It was more classic art- local and international.
Back to hotel and local dinner.
Our Spanish is improving. We ordered 2 pizzas and the waitress was trying to say it is cheaper to get a large with half topping of each that we wanted than 2 separate ones. We understood it!
At the end of the meal, Loll wrote on his phone translater thank you for help on menu and she seemed pleased with our efforts.

Day 5- Burnos Aires. Friday 8.3.13
Not getting any better :-(
We decide to go to a certain local bag shop to get a better size day pack as ours are very small and do not fit much in them. Very helpful store staff who spoke no English, but again muddled by and managed to get what we wanted. We will be fluent in no time.
Friday night meal was a real Buenos Aires affair. We went local again to an Italian. There we big queues outside every restaurant, families, couples. We all waiting for free table. We stand there for 10 mins and then another couple come and talk to the waitress. We realise we need to give our name and then we get added to the list! Worth the wait, proper fresh pasta, amazingly fresh pesto. Getting into this Buenos Aires way of life. People still turning up for dinner at 10.30- 11pm.

Amazing thunder storm at night time. Never seen lighting like it.

Day 6- Buenos Aires. Saturday 9.3.13
Late start and head off to MALBA modern art museum in Recolata. Lovely area.
Stroll through the park in the afternoon, feels like the whole of BA is out and about. Great atmosphere.
Stop for a drink on the way back and get caught in the rain!
Local early dinner
Hotel for 9ish
Get some essential laundry done before we head to Patagonia.

Day 7- Buenos Aires. Sunday 10.3.13
Get the subte to San telmo market. What an amazing market a cross between Camden, portabello and brick lane about 20 years ago- loads if antiques clothes, toys, tephones! And new tourist stalls. Great vibe and atmosphere.
We stop for a coffee to see Jaimie Hopkins (an old M&S colleague) and her husband walking down the road!!! How bizarre. Had a lovely chat with them, they are in BA for 4 days before heading to igazu falls and Rio.
Spent the whole day at the market, music, tango, sun.
Head back to hotel to pack for check out next day.
Back to Pan y Arte for last meal in Boedo.

Day 8- Buenos Aires. Monday 11.3.13
Manage to pack up our bags, not easy- still too much stuff!
Check out of our lovely Hotel Lola and head to town to meet our group for Patagonia.
A very nice group for our Patagonia adventures, we go for lunch and have a tour with our guide Hugo of centre of town.
Then we all spilt into different directions- we head to Florida street, where you can change money for a better exchange rate, but really it is a bit dodgy. We walk up and down trying to find the best person to approach- we are like street detectives! We see another couple approaching someone and follow then to see what happens, they go to another person and then ger taken somewhere else. We then go up to this person and agree a rate, get taken to this women who finalises the rate, who takes us into a building, a tiny lift and to the 14th floor!!! Loll and I look at each other disconcertingly. Then get to an office, bank set up. We exchange money and leave. Getting 11.45 pesos to the pound instead of official rate 5.5. Essentially doubling our money in Argentina! All totally dodgy but we did well :-)

Trying to post some pics but can only do ones from my phone at the mo as no computer to get pics off camera. Will try and sort and upload some.

Posted by Ford and Bates 14:19 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

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