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PatagoniaArgentina & Chile Photos

On 21 February 2008 from Reuver, Netherlands | comments closed

As I promised to let you know, the best photos of Argentina and Chile are online now. I already put the best ones of Antarctica online a few weeks ago. In 6 weeks time I made about 900 photos, and 25% of them are online now. (If you actually do the math and check it out, you will notice that more photos are actually online, but some of them were copied from others because they were just too good to withhold you.)

Below is the complete route of my travels in Patagonia and Antarctica. Ideally this map would be visible from the Patagonia & Antarctica 2007-2008 album, but an unknown issue is currently preventing this.

Travels Patagonia

PatagoniaBack Home & Antarctica Photos

On 27 January 2008 from Reuver, Netherlands | comments closed

Travelling back home somehow seems more telling of the distance than travelling away from home. Maybe it has to do with not seeing any new things anymore, making time go slower (although some psychologists actually argue that time goes faster when you do not have new experiences). In any case, it took me some 20 hours to get from Santiago to home, flying 13 hours to Madrid and another 2 hours to Amsterdam. I arrived home Tuesday late afternoon.

All in all, it was a trip with many experiences. Of course Antarctica stands out most: the pristine white landscape, thousands of penguins, many seals and whales, cruising between huge icebergs with strange shapes, and imagining the hardship of the early overwinterers. When it comes to physical activities Antarctica does not top the list (aside for a quick run away from a glacier calving off), but Patagonia does: I did some excellent hiking, horseback riding, rafting, biking, glacier hiking, and volcano climbing. But my 6-week vacation also offered plenty of opportunities to just relax and enjoy the backpacker life that I got used to during my year in Australia, New Zealand and South-East Asia.

By visiting both South America and Antarctica, this trip completed a life goal of mine: visiting all 7 continents. And that before my 30th birthday. Guess I have to start looking for a new life goal, although I usually only come up with one just before achieving it. That said, the New 7 Wonders of the World may be a nice new challenge, as I have only visited the Colosseum in Rome so far.

PatagoniaRelaxing Last Days

On 21 January 2008 from Santiago, Chile | comments closed

The last days of my trip my travel pace has slowed down considerably, starting with a visit to the thermal pools near Pucón on Thursday evening. The warm waters made sure I had a really good night’s sleep. Friday evening I had an overnight bus to Viña del Mar, but instead of making it a busy activity-filled day in Pucón I slept out and wandered around the town and on the beach a bit on Friday.

When I arrived in Viña del Mar on Saturday I visited a small museum with one of the moais from Easter Island outside. Afterwards I took the bus to Valparaíso and explored the city. Because most of the city is on a hill, small cablecars have been built to get up and down, and I made frequent use of those. In the evening I just relaxed in the really nice B&B in Viña del Mar.

At noon on Sunday I took my last Chilean long-distance bus to Santiago. Because almost every museum was closed on Sunday afternoon, the walking tour I did was pretty short. Luckily the smog also was not very heavy because there was not much traffic. But it was still very noticable from the viewpoints at Santa Lucia and San Christobal.

This pretty much ends my travel blog for my Patagonia trip. I am off to the airport now for my flight back home. Upon popular request and keeping with my tradition I will let you know when the photos are online 😉

PatagoniaVolcanos Everywhere

On 17 January 2008 from Pucón, Chile | comments closed

Tuesday I crossed over into Chile for the last time this trip, as I will be flying home from Santiago. In Osorno I was able get a connecting bus to Puerto Varas, leaving immediately, so that worked out very well. The weather was great in Puerto Varas, so it was perfect to make some photos of volcano Osorno, rising up behind the lake. Besides making photos, I did not do very much in Puerto Varas, as I was there too short to make any of the daytrips. But it was good to relax and update my e-mail.

Wednesday afternoon I took a bus to Pucón, best described as the Chilean Bariloche. Only difference is volcano Villarrica in the background. And for the first time since Buenos Aires the temperature is above 25 degrees again. So it feels like summer as well. Not that I am very keen on high temperatures, but visiting South America in the summer and wearing a polar fleece every day is a bit strange too. Guess I went too far South. But I just love the long daylight hours, for the most part of my trip the sun did not set before 22.00 hours.

But even with these long daylight hours, I had to get up in total darkness on Thursday morning, as we set off at 04.00 hours to climb volcano Villarrica. The first bit of the climb was in the dark, but it got light after we put on all our expedition gear (gaiters, crampons, axe) to cover the icy slope. The climb took over 5 hours at a pretty slow pace, although we had to cover 1400 altitude metres to get to the top at 2847m. From there the views were amazing. The entire Chilean Lake District is dotted with volcanos, hence volcanos everywhere. The way back was a lot of fun, as we basically slided down through the snow at sometimes pretty high speeds. Sliding for grown-ups, pretty cool.

Patagonia7 Lakes Road Trip

On 14 January 2008 from Bariloche, Argentina | comments closed

Sunday afternoon Joanna, Willie and I picked up our Volkswagen Gol 1.6 to drive the 7 Lakes Route to San Martí­n de los Andes. By the way, Gol is not a typo, that really is the name of the car. When we got the car, the rental agency was not even sure if we could drive the unsealed bit of the road today, because it had rained in the morning. But after a quick telephone call they said it was OK, as long as we would drive carefully.

It basically took us all afternoon and evening to drive the 240km from Bariloche to Juní­n de los Andes, where we would stay overnight. This was mainly caused by many “Sunday drivers” on the road, and the fact that the unsealed bit was pretty rough. It was a very scenic road though, and we stopped at some of the 7 Lakes for photos and lunch. The scenic town of San Martí­n de los Andes was the last stop, and we got to Juní­n de los Andes just before dark.

Monday morning Willie and I left Joanna at the bus station in Juní­n de los Andes (she was travelling on to Mendoza), and we checked out some interesting religious statues and the view of the city and surroundings. Afterwards we took Ruta 40 back to Bariloche, which was sealed all the way, so even with some nice stops for photos and lunch, we got back at the end of the afternoon.

Tomorrow I will be leaving Argentina, and crossing into Chile for the last week of my trip. I updated the Itinerary post to reflect this.

PatagoniaRelaxing, Rafting & Biking in Bariloche

On 12 January 2008 from Bariloche, Argentina | comments closed

The morning before an afternoon flight is an ideal time to explore the little museums and attractions a city has to offer. That’s why I went to the Centro de Interpretación Histórica (museum about Patagonia) and Laguna Nimez in El Calafate on Tuesday morning. In the afternoon I had my flight to San Carlos de Bariloche. Only 2 hours delay.

Wednesday was a rainy day in Bariloche, and since most activities here are outdoors, I spent the day at Hostel 41 Below. They must be doing something right, because I planned to stay 3 nights, and ended up staying 6. The reason might be that Bariloche has it all: beautiful surroundings of lakes and mountains, lots of outdoors activities, good chocolate and ice-cream, and a fun nightlife.

Weather-wise Thursday started off bad as well, but in the afternoon it cleared, and Dan, Abbie and I went up to Mt Campanario to enjoy the views and eat some rich cake. In the evening we visited another local bar.

Friday the weather was good, and it made the rafting much more enjoyable. We rafted for over 2 hours on the Rio Manso, with some really nice class III rapids. One rapid we took head on, diving into the wave. Luckily the wetsuits kept us warm, because the water was ice cold. Just before the border with Chile we got out of the water, and had a nice asado (barbeque) in the mountains.

Saturday Joanna and I rented bikes to do the Circuito Chico, a nice 30km bike ride with some good views of the area around Bariloche.

PatagoniaPetito Moreno Glacier

On 7 January 2008 from El Calafate, Argentina | comments closed

After the 5,5-hour bus trip from Puerto Natales (CH) to El Calafate (AR) on Sunday, I spent the rest of the day relaxing in the hostel, and trying to get my flight to Bariloche. It seems it is almost impossible to get a flight with Aerolineas Argentinas. Making a reservation online works fine, but then no possibility to pay is offered, and the reservation is cancelled when no payment is done within 24 hours. So I lost my first reservation, called their office in Chile, got another reservation, but could not pay by phone because they would have no time to process it. I was told I could pay at the airport in El Calafate, so I went through the hassle of getting to and from the airport, only to find out there was no office at the airport, and I still could not pay. At least they extended my reservation and assigned me my prefered window seat. Today I physically went by their office in the city and was finally able to pay for the flight and get the ticket. On to Bariloche tomorrow.

The rest of the day I visited Petito Moreno, South America´s most famous glacier. I can understand why, it is picture perfect and looks much more blue than the glaciers in Antarctica. I spent 2 hours looking at it, waiting for a piece to break off. Unfortunately only very small pieces broke off, but it sure is an active glacier. After the lookout we took a boat across the lake to the south side of the glacier. When the guide was explaining about glaciers, there were actually 2 decent sized pieces that broke off. Of course all attention diverted immediately. After the explanation, we got crampons on and made a 2-hour walk on the glacier. We could see deep blue crevasses, small streams and sinkholes. It was a lot of fun as well to walk on the glacier. To top it off, we had some scotch whiskey with real glacier ice. No surprise everybody was sleeping in the bus on the way back.

PatagoniaTorres del Paine

On 5 January 2008 from Puerto Natales, Chile | comments closed

Freely translated: “Towers of Pain”, but I will get to that part later on. On Tuesday 1 January in the afternoon I took the bus into Torres del Paine National Park, and the catamaran got me the last bit to the Paine Grande Lodge. Before long I decided that roughing it on this trip would refer to the hiking itself, not to dragging around and putting up a tent, or creating warm evening meals. The accommodation and evening meals were provided by the refugios.

It was a good thing I did not start the hiking on 1 January, because it was raining all day long. On Wednesday there were still some showers, but much less. From Paine Grande I hiked to refugio Grey for some coffee and lunch. Along the way there were some good views of glacier Grey. All in all a good introduction day to the park, ended by a nice hot shower and dinner in the lodge.

Thursday would be the longest day: all the way from Paine Grande to refugio Los Cuernos, including the side trip to the Frances Valley lookout. Luckily the weather cleared up and it was dry all day long. The views from the Frances Valley lookout were amazing: 360 degrees of mountains and turqoise blue lakes. But it was a tough day: hiking from 9.00 to 18.00 with only a few short breaks.

Friday I could still feel Thursday’s hike in my legs, but it would be the shortest day, so that helped a bit. Since there were no lookouts between refugio Los Cuernos and refugio El Chileno, it was not the most interesting hike. Weatherwise it was OK: clear blue skies, but very hard winds. I literally almost got blown off the trail, only by holding on to some brushes I managed to prevent it.

Today all made up for it though. I left at 6.30 and reached the Torres del Paine lookout at 8.10. This is one of those places with a very high probability of bad weather, like Milford Sound in New Zealand. But like Milford Sound I had the luck of being there on a day with clear blue skies. Because I left so early I also got the chance to enjoy in it peace, before all the dayhikers arrived. On the way back I kept singing the few lyrics that I know of the song “Perfect Day”. Beautiful view in the morning, only having to walk downhill to the bus, wind in my back, and saying “hola” to everybody walking uphill: it was a perfect day.

PatagoniaHappy New Year from Chile

On 1 January 2008 from Puerto Natales, Chile | comments closed

My last day in Ushuaia (Saturday) I basically spent checking e-mail, updating this blog, downloading the data from my GPS travel recorder, getting very frustrated with the slow computers in internet cafes, and sending the now traditional New Year’s e-mail. In the evening I had dinner with Yannis, Aspasia, Michael and Patricia. It did not get very late though, since everyone was still quite tired from the Antarctica trip, and I had to catch a bus to Chile early in the morning.

For a trip that was originally intended to be Chile only, it has taken me a long time to actually get to Chile. Sunday was the day I finally crossed the border into Chile, after quite a long drive through no-man’s-land between Argentina and Chile. The luxurious bus journey between Ushuaia and Punta Arenas also made me realise how far away Ushuaia actually is. More than 100km of the road was still unsealed, leading through the empty and windy Patagonian tundra.

Monday the same bus company brought me from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales, gateway to Torres del Paine National Park, the main reason for me to travel to Chile. I had gotten very worried about being able to get non-tent accommodation, since e-mailing the various companies and travel advisors had not resulted in a confirmed booking. However, when I went to a local travel agency in Puerto Natales, everything was settled within half an hour. Quite a relief. I immediately arranged the bus to El Calafate, as well as accommodation there and in Bariloche. All according the the Itinerary in another post. In the afternoon I also had some drinks with Pieter and Eva, whom I met in the local supermarket (it’s a small world).

New Year’s Eve a BBQ was organised by the hostel, complete with a campfire with the traditional Patagonian lamb. It was a good and relaxed atmosphere with more than enough alcohol. Anticipating this I got my bus to Torres del Paine today in the afternoon. The next 4,5 days I will be hiking in the national park.

PatagoniaAntarctica 2

On 29 December 2007 from Ushuaia, Argentina | comments closed

Early Monday morning we sailed through the Lemaire Channel on the M/V Antarctic Dream. It is a very narrow and scenic channel, but the weather was too foggy to see much of it. The first landing was at Yalour Islands, where we got to see the adélie penguins, that we had not seen before. In the afternoon we did a zodiac tour among some large icebergs near Pléneau Island. Even after a few days in Antarctica, it was still amazing to see these huge blocks of ice. We even managed to see a leopard seal sleeping peacefully on one of them. In the afternoon we went back through Lemaire Channel, and this time the sky was clear, and the scenery was breathtaking. In the evening we anchoraged at Port Lockroy, the UK base-turned-museum.

On Christmas Day (Tuesday) morning we did a landing at Jougla Point first, watching more penguins, but also some cormorants, a crabeater seal and some large whale bones. Then a zodiac took us to Goudier Island, where Base A of the UK was located. Bransfield House is now Antarctica’s most popular museum (17.000 visitors in 2006/2007). It also has the largest souvenir shop, and since all proceeds go to preservation of Antarctic heretage, I decided to buy an overpriced polar fleece here.

Christmas Day afternoon we tried to get to Enterprise Island, but there was still quite some ice in Wilhelmina Bay. That did not stop our expedition leader, and we moved through the ice until we got stuck, moving back, and trying again. After 5 attempts we had created 400m long canal through the ice, but it was decided to abort there, and move on with the expedition. A white Christmas was basically created by almost completely surrounding the ship by ice. And being on an ice-breaking ship was really cool, since there are not that many ships able to do this in the first place. Before the M/V Antarctic Dream became an Antarctic Expeditions vessel, it served in the Chilean Navy, and therefore has a extra-strenghtened hull. After cocktails in the evening, we had our Christmas dinner with the new friends during the trip, very nice.

Wednesday we arrived at Deception Island, one of the world’s safest natural harbours, even though it is still volcanically active. We did the most difficult landing so far, because it was very windy and we landed on a sandy beach. That meant the waves were getting into the zodiac while we were landing, and I got some icy water into my left boot. Luckily that dried up during the hike onto the hill overlooking Telefon Bay. From the hill we could see the landscape formed by the recent eruptions. The waves hitting the zodiac on the way back were even worse, and this time my right foot got all wet. It is a good thing the hot showers on the ship are working perfectly, since it is the best way to become warm after a cold landing. They would also have come in handy after the planned swim at Pendulum Cove, and everybody was really looking forward to a swim in thermally heated water in the Antarctic. Unfortunately there was still too much ice to reach it.

On Thursday the Drake Passage was quite OK again to the point where an engine room tour was organised. You could really tell the people working there were proud of their work, because everything was very clean. The rest of the day I spent sorting out my photos, making sure to type everything in before I would forget it. Friday morning I got up at 6AM to see Cape Horn, the Southermost point of South America.

On Friday evening the expedition leader gave a recap, and after that we had some cocktails and a large farewell dinner. As had become usual, there was way more food than anyone could eat. Since we already arrived in Ushuaia in the evening, we got off the ship after dinner and went to a few bars. It was early in the morning when we arrived back on the ship, allowing only a few hours of sleep before breakfast and checkout. It was a good end to an amazing trip.

PatagoniaAntarctica 1

On from Ushuaia, Argentina | comments closed

On Wednesday 19 December I left the Ushuaia harbour onboard the M/V Antarctic Dream, ready for an Antarctic Expedition. I was one of 69 passengers onboard, varying in age between 14 and 80, but with more younger people than I expected. A great deal of the time seemed to revolve around food: breakfast in the morning, 4 courses for lunch, and 4 courses again for dinner. It is a good thing the portions were relatively small, otherwise I would be leaving the ship with quite a few extra pounds. After getting to know most people onboard a little, I ended up having most dinners together with Michael (Swiss), Patricia (Swiss), Yannis (Greek), Aspasia (Greek) and Shani (Israeli/American/British), all aged between 28 and 32. We had quite a few good laughs together.

It took us until Friday afternoon to cross the Drake Passage, 1000km of Southern Ocean separating South America and Antarctica. We had a very good crossing, with only some china breaking. During the day we had lectures onboard about the penguins, birds, and ice of Antarctica. We got the first sight of Antarctica when huge tabular icebergs passed by in the distance, simply amazing to see. Since we crossed much faster than planned, we already did a zodiac landing in the late afternoon. This meant getting dressed really warm with waterproof clothes and a lifevest on top, stepping into the zodiac from the ship, and out of the zodiac in shallow water. The first landing was absolutely amazing: seeing chinstrap penguins in their real environment for the first time, watching the pristine beauty of uninhabited, snow-covered islands, walking through knee-deep snow, and feeling very small admidst all this.

Saturday consisted of a landing on Aitcho Islands, where we got very lucky to see not only the very common gentoo penguin, but also the uncommon macaroni penguin and king penguin. On top of that there was an entire group of elephant seals. This first two landings were on the South Shetland islands, and it took the remainder of the day to get to the Antarctic Peninsula.

Sunday was a full day with 3 landings. The first one at Neko Harbor, where besides the obvious penguins, there also was a crabeater seal. The main attraction was the huge glacier, and I basically sat on a rock for 2 hours watching it. During that time a few small pieces broke off and plunged into the water, but I felt something big was about to happen. When it was almost time to go, a huge piece of the glacier broke off with a thunderous roar, and it plunged into the water. That meant running for my life, because the resulting wave completely flooded the rock I was sitting on. A unique experience. On the way back I walked down the hill a bit too enthousiastically, and fell down on my knee, which hurt quite a bit.

The second landing on Sunday afternoon was at Waterboat Point, where the Chilean Presidente Gabriel González Videla Station is located. The station was surrounded by a penguin colony, and because of the sheltered location, the smell here was much worse than at the other locations. The station had a small museum and souvenir shop (nothing of interest there). It is hard to imagine how people could spend the winter in these small bases with no supply ship for 6 months, and nothing but bitter cold and snow.

On Sunday evening we did the third landing of that day. Cuverville Island was the location, and there was supposed to be a view from the 275m hill. However, it was quite cloudy and because my knee was still hurting, I decided not to do the hike. Instead, I just sat down among the penguins, and watched them waggle by and approach me slowly. Very funny to see.

PatagoniaFrom Antarctica Hostel to Antarctic Dream

On 19 December 2007 from Ushuaia, Argentina | comments closed

After booking my trip to Antarctica on Monday, the first thing I did was buying the Lonely Planet of Antarctica (yes, there is one, although the first backpacker has yet to be spotted). It proved to provide quite a lot of useful information though.

Tuesday I had time to do another hike to Cerro del Medio, starting from the Antarctica Hostel in Ushuaia. While it was quite warm in the city, there was a freezing wind coming from the mountain, once I had passed the treeline. But the views over the city were amazing. The somewhat tropical sounding Laguna Margot proved to be a half-frozen lake, so that was my cue to go back.

On Wednesday I did some last-minute shopping for my trip, and visited the End of the World Museum, and the Prison/Naval Museum. Perfect ways to spend a rainy day, before boarding the Antarctic Dream late afternoon.


On from Ushuaia, Argentina | comments closed

After more than one week on the road, I guess it is time for a bit of an itinerary for both myself and everybody else. This is a post that will get updated, so check it again and again and again…

Date Overnight Transport
09/12/2007 Iberia Flight AMS-EZE
10/12/2007 Buenos Aires
11/12/2007 Buenos Aires
12/12/2007 Buenos Aires Ferry Uruguay
13/12/2007 Ushuaia Flight AEP-USH
14/12/2007 Ushuaia
15/12/2007 Ushuaia
16/12/2007 Ushuaia
17/12/2007 Ushuaia
18/12/2007 Ushuaia
19/12/2007 Antarctic Dream
20/12/2007 Antarctic Dream
21/12/2007 Antarctic Dream
22/12/2007 Antarctic Dream
23/12/2007 Antarctic Dream
24/12/2007 Antarctic Dream
25/12/2007 Antarctic Dream
26/12/2007 Antarctic Dream
27/12/2007 Antarctic Dream
28/12/2007 Antarctic Dream
29/12/2007 Ushuaia
30/12/2007 Punta Arenas Bus Ushuaia-Punta Arenas
31/12/2007 Puerto Natales Bus Punta Arenas-Puerto Natales
01/01/2008 Torres del Paine
02/01/2008 Torres del Paine
03/01/2008 Torres del Paine
04/01/2008 Torres del Paine
05/01/2008 Puerto Natales
06/01/2008 El Calafate Bus Puerto Natales-El Calafate
07/01/2008 El Calafate
08/01/2008 Bariloche Flight FTE-BRC
09/01/2008 Bariloche
10/01/2008 Bariloche
11/01/2008 Bariloche
12/01/2008 Bariloche
13/01/2008 Juní­n de los Andes Car Rental
14/01/2008 Bariloche Car Rental
15/01/2008 Puerto Varas Bus Bariloche-Puerto Varas
16/01/2008 Pucón Bus Puerto Varas-Pucón
17/01/2008 Pucón
18/01/2008 Pucón-Viña del Mar
19/01/2008 Viña del Mar
20/01/2008 Santiago Bus Viña del Mar-Santiago
21/01/2008 Iberia Flight SCL-AMS

PatagoniaBeyond the Edge of the World

On 18 December 2007 from Ushuaia, Argentina | comments closed

After spending some days in Ushuaia and checking out various travel agencies, I have decided to go for the once-in-a-lifetime adventure. It is quite expensive, but it is not likely that I will get another chance to go there anytime soon. After all, the End of the World is not next door, and going there any other time would require the extra cost of the flight from Europe to Ushuaia. Also, this way I am certain to have a white Christmas 😉

From 19 to 29 December I will be on the Antarctic Dream visiting the white continent: Antarctica. There will be no communication during this time, as it is either impossible or very very expensive. I will be back in Ushuaia for one day after the trip before continuing on to Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales.

PatagoniaHorse & Hike Weekend

On 17 December 2007 from Ushuaia, Argentina | comments closed

This weekend I enjoyed the unusually good weather in Ushuaia. On Saturday morning Thomas, Nora, Rahel and I went horseback riding for 2 hours. It was great way to explore the beautiful scenery. The horseback riding was pretty easy as well, although I got the horse with quite a strong character, who clearly could not be bothered too much with my instructions. Luckily he was also very careful and gentle, getting me dry through a 1 meter deep river at the end. If only sitting down afterwards could feel better…

Saturday afternoon Willem, Nora and I walked around the harbour a little bit, before I spent hours waiting at travel agencies to try to book a bus that I could not book from Ushuaia. That means I am still planning the rest of my trip. Discussions with fellow travellers here are helping a lot because most have already been north. It is therefore much easier to make a realistic schedule over here.

On Sunday Rahel and I went to the Tierra del Fuego National Park, and we got dropped off at literally the end of the road. From there one can travel 17.848 km by road to Alaska (still high on my destination list as well). It was also the starting point of a nice 5-hour hike through forests and along bays and lakes, with always snow-capped mountains in the distance.

PatagoniaBig City Party & Southernmost City

On 15 December 2007 from Ushuaia, Argentina | comments closed

From my last post you may have gotten the idea that I am not all that positive about Buenos Aires, which is not entirely true. The city is just too big for me. But the last night was really great. By an ex-colleague of my girlfriend I got invited to a big (1500 people) party of the TV-station Canal Trece. That was a lot of fun: live artists, good music, nice people, lots of foods, Champagne-Red Bull mixes, need I say more?

I almost got no sleep that night because my flight to Ushuaia was leaving Thursday morning at 05.45. I was able to sleep a little bit in the plane, but I was still quite beat Thursday night. Luckily I am staying in one the nicest hostels in Argentina, with a very good atmosphere.

Ushuaia really has an end-of-the-world feel. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, it is a long way from anywhere, and relatively close to Antarctica (only 1000km). Therefore I spent Thursday afternoon looking into last-minute cruises to Antarctica. Unfortunately there is almost no availability because the Explorer (one of the larger ships) sank at the beginning of the season. That also increased prices again, so the last-minute prices are not the good deals of the previous seasons. It is not making the decision any easier though.

On Friday Nora, Rahel and I made a hike to the Glaciar Martial, a glacier quite close to the city centre of Ushuaia. However, it still took us some 4,5 hours to get to the glacier through a very muddy forest. Not feeling like doing that again on the way back, we took the chairlift, and did not even have to pay for it because they closed the checkout 😉 Not surprisingly, I did get slightly sunburned, but that was because of this darn weather here with clouds and sun alternating every minute, and the snow on the glacier.

PatagoniaDaytrip to Uruguay

On 13 December 2007 from Buenos Aires, Argentina | comments closed

Buenos Aires is one of those cities where you can see the main tourist sights in 2-3 days. A lot of travellers hang around for a lot longer, but that is usually to take an extensive Spanish course or tango lessons, for which BsAs is the place to be. If you are not into those things, or simply do not have the time for it, and if you are not really a big city person (that would be the third reason to stay), then it is nice to get out of the city after some days.

That is pretty much what I did. On my arrival day I checked out the nice suburb of Recoleta and a bit of the city centre. On the morning of the second day I toke in most of the sights of the city centre. In the afternoon I met up with an ex-colleague and we had some coffee on the Plaza de la Mayo (his office is on the square, quite nice). Afterwards I walked a bit through the San Telmo area, and went to the suburb of Palermo in the evening, but most things were actually closed by then.

After waking up early again (that is the only disadvantage of sleeping right in the city centre with the window on the street side), I took the fast boat from Buenos Aires to Colonia del Sacramento on the third day. Colonia is an old, small, attractive little town in Uruguay, only one hour by fast boat from BsAs. I explored the museums and had a big late lunch at the quiet main square, before going back to busy, noisy, polluted BsAs.

PatagoniaSummer in the City

On 11 December 2007 from Buenos Aires, Argentina | comments closed

The perfect way to avoid the cold, rainy and short winter days of the Netherlands, is to fly to the summer. It only takes 14 hours of flight time (2 hours for AMS-MAD & 12 hours for MAD-EZE) to be in Buenos Aires. But if the captain would have turned back halfway, and flewn back to Madrid, I may not have noticed the difference. Buenos Aires looks a lot like Madrid: huge European-style buildings, everything in Spanish, activity at all times of the day, and there is even a C&A here. The main differences so far are the word Argentina on all license plates, and the fact that the metro doors and windows can be opened at all times, even when it is running.

The first day in Buenos Aires I spent sightseeing the city. It seemed they prepared the place especially for me: lots of rain before I arrived, so the streets were all clean when I got here, and sunny weather with maximum temperatures of 26 to 30 degrees ever since. They also already named a street after me: Guido is obviously a long street with nice houses in the better part of the city (Recoleta). I am not attaching special meaning to the fact that it ends at a cemetery, but it must be said that it is the poshest and most known cemetery of the city.

I decided to make a day trip to Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay tomorrow, since it is only 1 hour by fast boat from Buenos Aires. And otherwise I will never get my passport full with stamps before expiry.

PatagoniaTo the End of the World

On 25 November 2007 from Amsterdam, Netherlands | comments closed

Ever since I saw photos of Torres del Paine in Patagonian Chile I have wanted to go there. It must have something to do with a subconscious preference for remote locations. After all, the places I liked most in Australia were Karijini National Park and the Kimberley, both in the remote north of Western Australia. Since it takes over 24 hours of travelling time to get there, it is not a destination for a short trip. Therefore I have been saving my holidays to be able to go the decent time of 6 weeks.

On 9/10 December Iberia will take me from Amsterdam to Buenos Aires. There I will spend 3 days, before LAN takes me to Ushuaia, the southernmost city on earth. Literally the End of the World. From there I will make my way north to Santiago, from where Iberia will bring me back to Amsterdam on 21/22 January.

In the map below some of the places I intend to visit are marked: the already mentioned Buenos Aires, Ushuaia, Torres del Paine, but also Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales, Puerto Montt, Bariloche, Puyehue Volcano and Valparaiso. I have no predefined route between these places, but will decide as I go along. Watch this website for updates, or subscribe to my RSS feed (I can recommend iGoogle with the Google Reader gadget).

Travels Patagonia