Update from: Patagonia

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Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 30-04-2006

We’ve covered a hell of a lot of ground now having passed back up through Argentinian Patagonia and just crossed into Chile the other day.

This picture says a few things about Patagonia…

Long straight roads, vastness and broken windscreens! I only noticed one which wasn’t broken so far. Most are so knackered up it’s mad. This one is typical and is from the top deck of a bus we took.

What the pic doesn’t say is how incredibly big and deep blue the skies here have been.

Oh yeah, a new hitch-hiking experience. We had some more success last week hitchin from Perito Moreno to the nearest town 60km away. On the way there Clare got the comfort and warmth of a front seat and I got the open bit of a big pick up. Twas cool to have 360 degrees views. I loved it but was lucky I had my hardcore snowboard jacket and snowboard gloves on me as the Patagonian wind was icy as!

Nice town too – Los Antiguos – on a river and huge lake.

On the way back a cool well chilled dude gave us a lift in his car, chatting about clubbing in England and stuff.

Since then we left the comfort of our own pad and are in fantastic surroundings in Chile. This current town – Coyhaique – has mountainess views on all sides which are cool as they all have patches of forest of different autumnal colours.

A yellow pad, stunning colours and ancient artwork.

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Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 28-04-2006

I’m in Perito Moreno (the town rather than the glacier) at the moment and have just had a great week.

First of all, we managed to blag the coolest pad to stay. It’s a cabin (kind of flat/apartment) all to ourselves! With 3 double bedrooms and a spare single, bathroom, big hallway room, a cool kitchen with 2 tables and even our own garden! You can’t appreciate your own time and space until you’ve been staying in other people’s for 6 weeks. And all of this at a rate cheaper if not the same as hostels we’ve been staying at. Sweeeeet.

From here we made a 2 day trip with a local guide (Daniel – a big, friendly bloke with a big beard and a gaucho hat). We drove for ages in his huge pick-up (with loads of features including a snorkel for the engine so it can keep going when submerged), maybe 3-4 hours, to a lake I read about before Xmas – Lago Posadas. It was really cool as the landscpae is full of loads of different colours, deep reds, sandy yellows, turquoise everywhere you look.

Two lakes are divided by a narrow bit of land (an isthmus I´m told) but the lakes are both quite different colours themselves. We spent time fascinated by the different stones and pebbles, setting up camp on the isthmus, walking, a little bit of fishing (spinning) and, of course, making a fire. Later we cooked up a feast on the fire including Daniel’s freshly caught trout! Mmmmmmmmm.

During the evening it was real peaceful being 30km from the nearest village – population 290.

The next day, after our routine transport problems that seem to happen every Weds (the motorbike at the horse trek and the miserable hitch hiking) of the pick-up’s battery being dead and not being able to push start it due to thick mud from the all night rain (luck came from a jump start later), we made our way towards the cave of the hands. The journey away from the lake was classic pushing the pick-up to the limit; slipping and skidding through the thick mud and deep puddles.

A few hours later we were passing through the awesome valley and started seeing a lot of guanacos (similar ish to llamas) and ostriches (local name choique). The caves are mostly overhanging cliffs but also one big cave that were used by idigenous indians (Telheulche) who painted the images using the different earth colours mixed with water and fat from guanacos. It was fantastic to see them all, mostly pairs of hands but also maps of guanaco trails, an iguana, guanaco figures, hunting scenes, even an ostrich hoof print and dots made by dipping animal droppings in the paint and throwing them up at the overhangs! The oldest paintings are dated at 9,300 years old.

We also walked along the river in the canyon basin and saw cool tucu tucus (rodents that look like big gerbils – kind of), a condor and an eagle.


A cool 2 day venture getting us back to our pad late the 2nd day.

Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego

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Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 18-04-2006

We spent some time at Ushuaia on (the island) Tierra del Fuego – have a look at a map, it’s mad when you look at how south it is. Often referred to as the End of the World it’s the last stop before Antartica.

We had a good time here. The town is reasonably touristy, nice shops and good atmosphere. It’s on a slope starting from the bay so you get good little views around town with the mountains rising up to the north.


We did 2 separate day treks; the first up one of the mountains with the whole scenery plastered with deep snow. So some great, tranquil sights and landscape…but…some damn hard, icy, wet terrain. The view from the top was worth it and the sliding down slopes and the immense snowball fights on the way down were great fun. Although the last half hour was a bit of a race for a heated room to prevent frostbite.

The second trek took us through some of my favourite surroudings with a few different forests and a general path following a river up another mountain, so we had some cool rope bridges to cross. One well scary, high up but luckily quite short. All this led to a small glacier at the top that was kind of stuck in the highest cliffs.

After the stay here we had our first taste of hitch hiking in South America…

We did well to get 3 separate lifts, the first a quick one to the police check point on the edge of town, 2nd to nowhere – just nothing there – the third was the life saver. It was probably the most miserable day so far weather-wise – drizzly, cold and WINDY. The 3rd car was 2 Spanish guys who had rented it for the day, they were cool and took us to the next town. From there we cornered a minibus cab thing and paid a bit to get to the next town where, at least, there was accommodation. Rio Grande.

A Horse Trek – Gaucho Style

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Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 13-04-2006

This horse trek was great fun! We got picked up by Luciano early and drove out to an Estancia (farm estate) way out towards a lake (Lago Roca). A slow start; after finding out there were no horses in the stable, failing to get the motorbike started after push starts down a hill, wondering about the Estancia getting headbutted by a resident sheep and exploring with the local pair of cool dogs, Luciano returned with a small horse from a few fields away. He saddled him up and then rode off again with the dogs and returned with a herd of horses!

So, we eventually had a horse each, Remanco (calm) for me, Caballito (little horse) for Clare and Montana for Luciano. We then spent the rest of the day trekking up hills (stopping occasionally for another swig of Cognac!) and around a lake and saw a couple of cool foxes, flamingos, loads of birds of prey and a couple of huge hares.


We also saw fantastic cave paintings from the indigenous indians who used to live in the area.

A great day out finished off with a BBQ, Argentinian style, of the best steak we have had so far and plenty of wine.

Iceburg, dead ahead!

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Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 12-04-2006

Perito Moreno is an awesome Glacier and one of the most active in the world. It advances at a rate of 2m per day! The first echoing crack was a shock and we heard plenty more throughout the day and saw chunks break off.

I took loads of photos but can’t seem to get them onto the blog (managed this one!)but they’ll have their own album on Snapfish soon(ish).

A quick overview (by someone else) of the glacier with photos can be read here…

Trekking in the Andes

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Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 08-04-2006

A report by Clare ‘Clarita’ North….

Before we left England I photocopied some information on a trek near
Bariloche from a guidebook. It sounded like it could be hard in places but
fun, and so we decided to give it a go the other day. We spoke to the old
guy at the hostel who said it was very beautiful but kept saying ‘ojo, el
viento’, whilst pointing to his eye- literally meaning eye, the wind, or
watch out for the wind!

He let us leave our backpacks at the hostel and we headed off with lighter
packs and sleeping bags on the bus to Cerro Catedral. This place is normally
a ski resort but was completley dead. The lift we wanted to take was under
repair but luckily another was going so we were able to get up into the
mountain.

The trek takes you to ‘refugios’ or mountain huts and the book described
some ‘minor hand climbing’ on the 1st section. In reality we basically spent
4 hours climbing over massive boulders and rocks with a sheer drop to one
side. It was terrifying and knackering! There was then an incredibly steep
climb down to an amazing lake and just when i thought it must be nearly over
another scramble down a mountain side to a bigger lake where the refugio
sat at the far end.

It has to be said that the scenery was incredible but I couldn’t really
believe that they let people with no experience climb this – it was so hard!
The refugio was very basic with bunk beds and a wood stove, no electricity
and I wont even mention the toilets(!) but the quiet and solitude of the
place was immense. We sat out for a bit in the freezing cold that night to
see the stars – so clear and bright, you could see the whole milky way. My
thermal vest has proved itself to be a worthy addition to my backpack!

The next morning was a dilema whether to go on to the next refugio (7 hours)
or duck out along an easy path home. My muscles were aching like mad, but I
knew deep down Dave really wanted to go on so we went for it. The first part
involved climbing back up past the 2 lakes which was relatively easy. The
next part however was virtually impossible. A steep steep descent over loose
rocks and scree, falling down into a mountain valley with the wind howling
in our faces. In the end Dave gripped my hand really tight and we literally
surfed down the mountain side. I’m sure it was highly dangerous- I fell over
a few times and have the bruises on my bum to prove it!

The next part was through a beautiful wooded valley with amazing autumn
colours and actually flat walking for a while (more how I’d envisiged a trek
to be!) However it was soon another huge climb and equally trecherous
descent over the next mountain. By now my whole body was completley
exhausted but the refugio was in sight down by another stunning mountain
lake.

We eventually made it down to the hut which was actually pretty nice. We
treated ourselves to a meal which was great, cooked up by the hut caretaker
on a wood stove and served by candlelight. Sat with a cool Isreali couple.

The next day we decided we couldn’t do any more of the hike as we were aching
so much, so we took the gentler route back to the road. It was still 6-7 hours
walking, but through a valley with beautiful forest and a winding river. At
luchtime we met the couple from the night before who invited us to share
their lunch. They cooked up soup and mashed potatoe on a camping stove – it
was great and a lot nicer than the dry crackers and biscuits we would have
otherwise had!

We walked the rest of the way back with them and eventually caught a bus
back to our hostel in Bariloche. The hostel owner gave us the funniest look
when we arrived – we were sweaty, smelly, sunburnt, bruised but happy! I cant
actually believe I managed to do it, although it will be a few days till I
can walk normally without pain in my quads again!

A Stick

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Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 07-04-2006



Plucked from the shallows of Lake Tonchek in the shadow of Cerro Catedral, this stick proved a great companion and aide during the 3 day trek.

(San Carlos de) Bariloche

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Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 04-04-2006

We arrived in Bariloche Saturday 1st April after a 20 hour bus ride. It is a nice town on one of the 7 major lakes in this area. Here is the view from our hostel balcony:
On the 2nd day we went out into the mountains a bit to have a look around and ended up trekking for 5 hours through a peaceful nature park…

YES! Clare is out here too!
We have done loads since this and will update when I can.