Got up at the house and we took it extremely easy. The flight was at 2pm, so plan was to have lunch at the airport and use our food voucher. Stephanie also phoned Adriaan to get an internet sight so we could whatch the first half of the Bok test against Wales (not too exciting stuff). Arrival at airport and booking in went surprisngly easy and there were no hickups. We managed to get a stunning view of the Andes as we started to ascend and it kept going for quite a while. There was one very high one, which I believe was probably Anconcugua. All in all, a really nice flight with a clear sky and stunning view of mountain tops covered with snow. Bariloche is a stunning litte town on the edge of a lake and has one of the best ski resorts in South America (so even more annoyed that we missed the one day there). It reminds me a lot to a Swiss Alps ski town, lost of houses with a unique stone and wood architecture, chocolate shops etc. We arrived in the afternoon, so we immediatly booked our excursion for the next day and then tried to see as much of the town as possible on foot. We stayed at the TangoInn, which was a very nice hostel and we ended up with a great view on the lake and hight up against the mountain on the lake. While walking around town, you do get the impression that in ski season the place will be extremely busy. We had a very nice Swiss cheese fondue for dinner and for dinner, jip, more chocolates (and you are allowed a samle when you walk into the shops as well).
14 November 2010
Went to the Nahuel Huapi National Park for our day excursion. The place is filled with beautiful landscapes, composing of lakes forests and snow capped peaks (oldest park in Argentina). We were in a bus driving around and looking at the landscape. Also some interesting people on the bus and our tour also included a hike up to a waterfall. The afternoon we stopped at Cerro Trenedor, the highest mountain in the area (3478m). It was named this, becasue of the thounderous sounds made by the chunks of ice falling off the glacier (which I saw and heard and yes, it does sound like thunder). In all, a very nice day and we went back to the same restaurant as the night before but this time we both had some trout, which was also extremely good (and I ended up with a big bowl of ice cream for desert at one of the local ice cream shops - the ice cream here is also devine!). Mental note, visit Bariloche in ski season, it should be brilliant!
15 November 2010
We hoped that Aerolineas could deliver on our first fligth that would work out according to the booking (and yes, it did! Could not believe it). El Calafate is a smaller town than Bariloche, but it definately has more trekking activities than Bariloche. There is just one main street, but the town is expensive for Argentina standards and "tourist" prices are applied to everything. We are staying till Thursday afternoon, so we have the most time of all the cities, except in BA. Tried to book soemthing in the afternoon, but there are not a lot of half day excursions. Most of it is for full days. But in the end, we booked a trip to El Chalten the next day, and then a BigIce trip to Perito Moreno glacier and then a half day 4x4 trip. So we spent the afternoon just exploring the town and walking about. The sun only goes down here at 10pm, so activities can be done till late and dinner normally only starts at 9pm. I booked a dinner through the hostel, 55 pesos, and it was a eat all you can barbecue with side dishes. It also tasted very good and this was the first proper barbecue I have had until now (cant believe it took so long). Just before dinner, we also took a walk down to the flamengo lagoon and we managed to get some great pictures. Met very nice guy from Morocco, Medhi, who was also travelling by himself. Medhi was also going to El Chaltan in the evening, so we decided that we would do the walks etc together for the day.
16 November 2010
Got up early and to take the 3 hour bus ride to El Chalten (smaller town than El Calafate). The town is in the park Los Glaciers (yes, you guessed it, there are numerous glaciers in the park). The bus ride there and back for a day bascially gives you 6 hours to do whatever trekking you please. All of the passes are well marked (or so they say, although the initial to get to the starting point is not) and you can do your own walking, just keeping track of time. Medhi was also doing the day trip, so he walked with us. We decided that we would do the Fitz Roy viw point trek first and if time permitted it, do the Cerro Torre (the two mountain ranges), although everyone said that it will not be possible in 6 hours. First we got lost in town and actually ended up taking the wrong route (like I said, not everything was well marked....). Then we started walking to the view point of Fitz Roy, which one way according to the locals should take 2 hours. It is a lovely walk with nice scenery, and we ended up getting there after 1 hour. I think we were keeping a good pase and we also had the beenfit that we did not have big back packs (which make a big difference). Unfortunately the view to the Fitz Roy mountain was a bit overcast which made it difficult for good sightseeing. We then walked back and decided that we would attempt Cerro Terro as well, giving ourselves a cut off time. The map said 1.5 hours to reach, but I thought that based on our previous walk, we could beat it. We started walking at decided that on this route, no matter where we are, we have to turn around 4.30 pm, which would give us 1 hour to get back and then half hour to get bus back at 6pm. We made the walk in 45 minutes! But again, the view was a bit dissapointing, as it was very foggy, although it did clear up a bit later. All 3 of us were quite tired at the end of the day, and we covered a lot of ground in little time. Bus ride back and we decided to try the famous Patagonian lamb, which ended up being a big dissapointment (again the meat!). The meat was very rough and difficult to chew, and this was suppose to be at one of the better restaurants in town! I was getting desperate for that elusive Argentina steak!
17 November 2010
Big, big day for us! We were going to the Perito Moreno glacier! This has to be one of the most famous sites in Argie, and one of the more famous glaciers in the world! The pictures we have seen are stunning and the stories of people that have been there were even better, with many people describing it as the highlight of their trip. The weather was looking good, so the trip was on and both me and Stephanie quite excited about the trip. It worked it better that we did the El Chalten trip first, as it gets your legs used to the walking that we will be doing. It was a 1.5 hours drive from town to the park with the bus. We were getting very excited in the bus ride, and I have to admit, I just love this Patagonia area (with Torres del Paine in
). We were going to do the Big Ice trip, which would entail walking along the glacier on steps (most of the tourist do this), from one side to the other (only the front part of the glacier, as it stretches for km`s in), then take ferry ride to island which is also basically next to the glacier, and then do some good old fashioned ice walking/trekking on the glacier to the centre spot of it (will be for around 3 hours walking on top of the glacier with crampons on). The first sight we had from the glacier was with the bus ride, and it was amazing! What a sight and one of my highlights of the trip and ranks right up there with Chile ! You will not find anything like this in Iguazu Falls Africa! It is just an endless stretch of gigantic ice with the occasional thunderous sounds of ice breaking off and falling into the lake. We did the walk along the path for about an hour, getting various great view of the glacier from the side, and then the ferry ride was also a good experience, with different views again. Once we arrived on the island, we had to take another hike for about an hour effectively next to or along the glacier, as we walked to get to a point where we could start walking on the glacier itself in order to get to the middle spot to have our lunch. It was very weird at first to put crampons on and walk on it, but as I realized later on, those are essential if you want to do some trekking on the ice. Saying that, once you do a bit of walking and the guides show you some technique, you get the hang of it (sort of). Our group was split into 2, so we had 2 tour guides per group. I am still a bit puzzled about how they actually navigate on the ice, because I could not figure out where we were. But the whole ice walking was pretty surreal and very special, not something a boytjie from Africa or the Caribbean to on a daily basis! It is one of the most dramatic and beautiful sights that I have ever seen in my life. The way you see the ice just for km’s ahead, and then how the scenery changes in front of you as well. And you can also take the coolest pictures as well. All I can say is WOW!!!!! We walked to the centre of the glacier and then turned around and walked a different route back (which at times was quite difficult places to walk on). The lunch in the middle was also great! It was also very nice to take the crampons off our shoes at the end, and suddenly our feet felt so much lighter! We hiked back to the base camp on the islands, and then had the traditional shot of whiskey on the boat heading back to the mainland park and bus. Wow, what a fantastic day and something I would recommend to anybody. I have been pretty lucky with the scenery that I have seen on this trip, but this one was right up there!
18 November 2010
We decided to do the half day trip, just because of the way that our flight worked out and also to keep ourselves busy in the morning (so basically a “time filler”). In the end, the trip turned out to be a bit snorny, but met a nice couple from
Brazil and also saw , which gets a lot of its water from the Perito Morino area. Surprise, surprise, when we got back after the trip, our flight was cancelled (again). Later on it was put back on, but only flying later in the evening, so we actually could have done a whole day trip instead of a half day trip. So the stupid airlines caused us delay again! And to add further insult, our direct flight from El Calafate to BA was late and also flew first toUshuaia (most southern city in the world) and then only to BA. So we got there at 4:30 am in the morning, and then went to bed at 5 am! (man, I hate this airline!!!). The hostel we are staying in, Hostel Milhouse however looks great and the rooms super nice and spacious! Lake Argentina