Thursday, January 20, 2011

This is the end my friends

Well, I’ve reached the end of my year and the end of my South American journey.  The last week was in glorious Buenos Aires with the tango and steaks off the parilla.  The city was exciting and vibrant with dancers, musicians and vendors in the streets.  Lots of activity going on all day and night.  I hit a street market in San Telmo and finally got to buy a few trinkets as I wouldn’t have to be carrying my backpack anymore.BA 029There is a great combination of the colonial…BA 021    The modern…ba2 028 and the unique here in BABA 017

I hit it off with a great lady, Annette, at my hotel and we went to a few tango shows and dinners together.  ba2 008

I made it to most of the highlights of the city and even stood on the balcony where Eva and Juan Peron addressed the masses. BA 052  My last delicious steak was in colourful Boca alongside tango in the street and then I was on my way back to Canada.ba2 043  My world is wet and cold once again but it’s nice to see family and to sleep in the same bed for more than a few nights.ba2 049 


Top 10 List of my South America trip

  1. Trekking the Puerto Moreno glacier in Patagonia
  2. Driving across the Uyuni salt flats in Boliva with random sightings of bright pink flamingos, vicunas and chinchillas
  3. Spending a day climbing in and around Machu Picchu, Peru
  4. Paragliding off the cliffs in Lima
  5. Riding a boat under the Iguazu Falls
  6. Horseback riding in some of the best scenery imaginable
  7. Walking with penguins on Christmas day
  8. Flaky croissants, creamy ice-cream, cheap but pretty good wine and thick juicy steaks in Argentina
  9. Four days on the Navimag boat navigating through the fiords of Patagonia complete with dolphins, glaciers and rainbows
  10. Every lovely person who patiently listened and interpreted my pigeon Spanish.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Mendoza and Iguazu

Well, I’m heading down the final stretch and only have a few days left but I’m still enjoying Argentina.  Spent a few days in Mendoza which is the wine capital of the country and met some lovely ladies on a wine tasting tour.  We went out for a little tasting of our own as well as some delicious steak.mendoza (14)

I flew to Puerto Iguazu and spent all day today in the park. It’s absolutely fantastic.  Filled with kilometres of jungle and animals as well as a new waterfall around every corner.   One of these little guys stole my lunch…couldn’t catch him.iguazu 022 Butterflies were everywhereiguazu 086Lots of fantastic birdsiguazu 128  Reptilesiguazu 042 and, of course, the falls.  This was taken from a zodiac type boat that took us right up under the water.  It was like being under a fire hose but a pretty good way to cool down in the humidity.iguazu 094 There are so many waterfalls that it took all day to walk to them all.  Luckily, the park has a great series of boardwalks, paths and trains to get you around.  It was possible to walk around the bottom and over the top as well.iguazu 124

Sunday, January 2, 2011

San Carlos de Bariloche

On my way north and, finally, into some hot weather.  I actually wore sandals yesterday.  I got onto a bus that I thought was 18 hours but turned out to be 30 hours and ended up in Bariloche, a pretty little town on the edge of Lake Huapi.  It’s famous for skiing in winter and outdoor sports in summer but it’s also just nice for walking around.bariloche 004See…pretty bariloche 008

I hiked up to a cave that archaeologists say has had inhabitants for the past 8000 years.  bariloche 025It was quite the hike but the view was worth it.  There were some cool cave paintings that the local guide explained might be a rudimentary map of the area. bariloche 035 Then, I started the New Year out on horseback.  We got to go through fields, forests and mountains until reaching a beautiful waterfall.  This is my guide, Marie from France.bariloche 052 bariloche 057 I’m really hoping that this means 2011 will be the start of a new adventure and not a year filled with sore bums :)  Happy New Year to everyone still reading.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ushuaia, El Calafate and the Holidays

I wanted to do something fun on Christmas day to make up for missing all the festivities at home so I spent the day at the end of the world in Ushuaia, Argentina with the wildlife.ushuaia 024

Found out that sea lions are called ‘lions’ because the males have a mane…learn something new everyday.  These aren’t males, just pregnant females.ushuaia 068 Went walking with penguins.  They sure do walk funny.ushuaia 095 It was on a wildlife preserve so we could get really close…you can see the mommy and baby right behind me.ushuaia 126

After an 18 hour, four border crossing bus ride, I’m up in El Calafate which is a pretty little town with lots of cafes and shops.  The main draw here is the Puerto Moreno Glacier which I visited yesterday.elcalafate 026 It’s ridiculously beautiful.  Our tour started out by walking along kilometres of balconies across from the glacier where we could eat lunch and watch huge chunks fall into the lake.  The sounds of cracking and thundering were amazing.elcalafate 030 Then we hopped on a boat to get closer.elcalafate 064

We walked through a lush forest….elcalafate 110.. and went trekking on the glacier for about 90 minutes. elcalafate 094 The trek ended with glacier ice in whiskey.elcalafate 099

So far, the holidays are shaping up pretty well.  :)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Torres Del Paine

I spent the day in the famous Torres Del Paine Park.  I was going to spend a couple of days and do some easy hiking but the weather didn’t co-operate and I just went the one day.  It’s an incredible place with over 200kms of trails and views that just don’t stop.  Started out looking at Los Torres torres del paine 041

The (towers) del Paine really are quite impressive.  They were formed when magma entered under the rocks and forced then up into jagged peaks so there are layers of volcanic and granite mixed together.torres del paine 067 Saw some really cool animals like the flightless nandu, a relative of the ostrich and who, according to locals, produces delicious eggs that are the size of a dozen chicken eggs.torres del paine 023 and I finally got to see the forth member of the camel family, the guanaco.  This is a baby.torres del paine 031

The whole place used to be a sheep ranch until 1959 but now, at the base of these amazing towers of rock, are rolling hills of grass and trees with rivers, lakes and waterfalls.torres del paine 060

The last part of the day was spent hiking up to a lookout for the Grey Glacier in the drizzling rain.  There was a huge variety of flowers in the forest  which made up for the lack of view once we got there.torres del paine 049

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There were some beautiful icebergs floating around.torres del paine 110

I got back to the hotel very wet and very glad that I had taken a one day tour instead of camping out there.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Navimag

What, you ask, is the Navimag?  It’s part ferry, part cargo ship and part cruise ship that travels between Puerto Montt and Puerto Natales in Chilean Patagonia.  navimag 081We boarded on a beautiful day and watched the volcanoes of the lake district disappearnavimag 017 

As we sailed off into the sunsetnavimag 019

That was the last time I saw the sun as we hit rough weather in the open seas.navimag 031

A lot of people were tossing their cookies but I had motion sickness pills for my roomies so we were mostly okay.navimag 152

Julia, Elizabeth and Jenny, who not only didn’t snore, but turned out to be a lot of fun.  The next day, we got to take a hike at a national park and through a small village.navimag 077

We also visited the biggest glacier in South America, Pio XInavimag 114

Where it was bloody cold but also incrediblenavimag 120The weather became a crazy thing that tormented and amazed us with freezing rain and heavy clouds…. navimag 134 stray shafts of sunlightnavimag 136

and rainbowsnavimag 138

It was a great trip that I would recommend to anyone, regardless of the weather.  The crew was fantastic, food was tasty and plentiful, the entertainment was great and the wine wasn’t too expensive, although, you could bring your own bottle to the pub.  They also gave lectures on the wildlife that we would see, Chilean phrases, glaciers and National Parks but mostly, we just watched the fiords of Patagonia slip by our decks.