Adios amigos! Final week roundup

Another Malbec, a wine synonymous with Argentina.

Another Malbec, a wine synonymous with Argentina.

Our final week has been a little slower than the previous few. It’s hard work all this travelling!

We made our way, slowly due to flight delays, back to Bariloche. We needed to do laundry to get us through the next week, so off we went to the lavanderia. Smelling fresh and clean, we hopped a bus to Chile, headed for the Pacific coast.

On a recommendation we decided to visit Valdivia, a small city at the confluence of three rivers. It was a few days before Christmas and the Mercado Central was pulsing with life. Vegetables, fruits (especially seasonal blueberries and raspberries) plus fish, featured prominently. The market is right on the riverbank and the seals that have made the area home were cheekily waiting for off cuts of fish that the vendors were chucking out to them.

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The German heritage of the town is clearly displayed with every other cafe having outdoor seating provided by the local brewer Kunstmann, whose brand is burned into the seats.

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Christmas Eve we took a bus 2 hours to Villarrica which is on a lake of the same name and with a view to a volcano with the same name as well. We booked a hotel opposite the lake with a pool as we figured everyone would be in shutdown over Christmas and we could relax a bit. I got to swim a few times and Andrew was happy watching the light change the colours of the volcano.

On or last day in Villarrica we took the local bus to Pucón which is on the other side of Lago Villarrica and sits right at the bottom of the volcano. The beaches have black sand and there was some creative use of lava rock in people’s landscaping. The view of the volcano was obscured due to cloud but the town has evacuation route signs in case you forget it’s there.

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Back in Santiago, we revisited the atmospheric fish market and the Plaza de Armas.

It’s been an interesting 5+ weeks and we have seen some truly spectacular sights. I like to think I will come back to South America. I’m understanding and speaking more Spanish each day and it feels good. We saw most of the things we wanted to see this time around and more. Reconnecting with my friend Tuti and meeting her family in La Cumbre, Argentina was a highlight.

Tonight we fly out of Santiago. I’ll have a very busy few weeks when we get back as I am doing an intensive training course then heading back to work. So I may be quiet on the interwebs until mid-January.

Thanks for following and liking and commenting. I’ll share a few more photos below.

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Fin del Mundo (Ushuaia, Patagonia, Argentina)

We made it to Ushuaia which is on the Argentine part of the island of Tierra del Fuego. I can imagine it being a gloomy place in the rain but we were fortunate to spend a sunny day on the Beagle Channel. Final beers and a nice meal topped off our brief stay at the end of the world. Plans for final week are vague with no booked accommodation after the next two nights in Bariloche. We’ll see where the buses are heading…

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Parque Nacional Los Glaciares (Part 2)

Perito Moreno Glacier, El Calafate, Patagonia, Argentina

Perito Moreno Glacier, El Calafate, Patagonia, Argentina

After a few days in chilled-out El Chaltén we did a three hour bus journey to El Calafate, the jumping off point for the southern areas of the national park. After checking into the YHA hostel (boy, have hostels changed – towels and sheets provided) we had a look around the town and found some liquid refreshment as it was beer o’clock.

It had been suggested to us that we visit Laguna Nimez on the lake if we were interested in seeing some bird life. Laguna Nimez is a wetland on the edge of Lago Argentina and when the waters rise, the two bodies of water actually merge. Lago Argentina is enormous and has lovely turquoise water. The Laguna is much smaller and has some boardwalks and trails around its edge, allowing you to see the birds in their habitat. Being spring, there were a few chicks around and we saw a family of Couquén Común. The long-necked father honked when we approached and mother and chicks scurried into the water and paddled away. Also present on the day was a flock of about 19 Chilean flamingos! They were a fair distance away near an island in the lagoon, but were instantly recognizable by their bright pink colour. It was an odd sight spotting these lanky creatures with the background of snow capped Andes mountains in the distance!

The big site that people come here for is really the Perito Moreno Glacier and we did get there. And it is big. Like 60 meters high sort of big. Think 20 story high building big.

We travelled by bus the 80 kilometers to the glacier through beautiful but dry, scrubby estancia country where there were few animals roaming and hardly any buildings. The bus makes a coffee and restroom stop at an estancia that has diversified into an agiturismo business and acts as the roadside cafe. Here we got to see a baby grey fox that had been rescued a few months before. It was happily playing with a local kitten and seemed to be quite content as we left.

Perito Moreno is one of the few glaciers in the world that is actually advancing. It reaches across the channel towards the Magallenes Peninsula and can be viewed from a series of steel walkways on the peninsula side. Every few minutes you hear a rumble and another chunk of ice drops into the water. Often by the time you hear the sound, it’s too late to see anything. You just see the ripple on the water and maybe a bobbing iceberg.

There is also the option to board a boat that takes you closer to the glacier, so we did it. The perspective from the water was worth it as you could look up at the glacier and see closer into some of the shadows. The blue colors reflecting off the ice are quite stunning and change as the weather goes from mist to grey cloud to bright sun.

At the bottom of this post I have included a few photos of the days we spent in this area and I hope they enhance your appreciation of this region of Argentina.

We are currently 3 hours into a 6 hour bus ride to Puerto Natales, Chile. Tomorrow we begin 3 days of camping and hiking inside Torres Del Paine National Park.

See you when we next have wifi!

Argentine Lakes District

The lakes district stretches along the Andes near the Chilean border. The heart is San Carlos di Bariloche, on the huge lake called Lago Nahuel Huapi and it’s bound on 3 sides by the Andes.There are numerous national parks in the region, all with unique landscapes and flora. It’s hard to imagine a more beautiful setting. On the highways the mysterious Gauchito Gil protects those who believe. We travelled north by car to San Martin de los Andes and on to Lanin National Park. Stunning!

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