A Travellerspoint blog

Os Foz do Iguazu

sunny 30 °C
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Back to tropical temperatures and humidity! The waterfalls of Iguazu are just amazing and although most people as well as most travel-guides state that the Argentinian side is nicer, I found them both very worth visiting. The Argentinian side might be a bit more spectacular but the Brazilian side has better views on the waterfalls as a whole and hence better picture opportunities.

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Although the national park has much of an amusement park and it is packed with tourists, well, too many tourists except for me, it is a must for everyone travelling to the northeast of Argentina, the south of Brazil or to Paraguay. Not only are there the spectacular waterfalls, but if you keep your eyes open a little bit and if you have a bit of luck, you will see a bunch of tropical animals.

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The most spectacular part of the national park, 'La Garganta del Diablo (the devil's throat)':

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Posted by Gitan Jean 12:51 Archived in Brazil Tagged backpacking Comments (7)

Puerto Madryn, Península Valdes, Trelew y Punta Tombo

sunny 22 °C
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Puerto Madryn is a good city to take a rest, it is frequented much by Argentinians on holiday. Except for sun, beach and coast, there is not much to see. Well, there is the écocentro which is a nice building but, in my opinion, the museum itself was not very interesting.

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But, Puerto Madryn is the perfect base for daytrips to Península Valdes where loads of sea animals spend the summer. Unfortunately, we were a bit too early to see killer wales and it was not the wale season at all, but we saw a lot of seals, sea-lions, birds, ñandus, guanacos and sea-cows. Although the tour was very touristic and we spent too much time in the bus, I enjoyed it because of the amount of animals we saw and because I met Sònia, a lovely girl from Barcelona. Next day we went to the beach and for lunch together before we left in different directions.

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Bueno, next day I took the bus to Trelew, one of the Welsh towns just south to Puerto Madryn. I went to a hotel that was in the Rough Guide and I have to say maybe I should inform David Lynch about it, although it did not have any ironing rabbits in it. Trelew depressed me a bit at first, but the people playing percussion and dancing in a park just in front of the hotel at night and the fact that I had a room to my own, so I slept a lot, made up a bit.
In Trelew, another tour was arranged, to Punta Tombo, the biggest penguin colony in the American continent. Although I asked for the tour just to Punta Tombo, the bus took a detour to Rawson and its picturesque, that is what the guide said at least, harbour and to finish with we were dropped of at a 'typical Welsh tea-house' in Gayman where we could enjoy a tea-session for a ridiculous price. I went for a walk instead, not much to sea. But Punta Tombo was nice! There are between 1.5 and 2 million penguins and you get about two hours to walk between them. You can really approach them very close and when you stick your camera in their face to take a picture, they really start looking at it and moving their head around in a ridiculous way, quite funny!

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Los pingüinos kwekwekwek

Posted by Gitan Jean 14:49 Archived in Argentina Tagged backpacking Comments (4)

Ushuaia, el Fin del Mundo

sunny 18 °C
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It took me 33 hours to get to Ushuaia from El Chaltén! We were supposed to arrive at the end of the world on Thursday evening 9pm and we finally arrived on Friday morning 4.30 am! To get to Ushuaia, you have to cross the Chilean border twice, which means you have to get out and into Argentina and into and out of Chile, which means queueing four times! Moreover, the wind at the stretch of Magellan was so strong that the ferries could not sail out and so we had to wait for hours. Our conducter was a very funny person and every time we got to another border crossing, he put on this very popular Argentinian cumbia song 'Bombon' and would start flickering the lights to wake everyone up. The song will always remember me of that trip.

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Ushuaia is very touristic with loads of souvenir shops, restaurants, pubs and coffee shops on its main streets but the surroundings are just stunning, all snow-capped mountains and than the Beagle Channel, which makes up the border with Chili. The first day, I did not do much, strolled around the centre a bit, bumped into Lelia, an Irish girl I had met in Torres, went for a few pints with her and we were soon joined by Bernd, a German I had met on the boat from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales in Chile. Lilia had to catch a flight back to Buenos Aires at 8.50 pm and we were chatting and drinking away, when she asked Bernd what time it was. Bernd looked at his watch and went: 'it's 8.10!'. I saw Lilia getting up and she was getting a bit white in the face. Afterwards, I got an e-mail saying that everything went fine and she had taken a later flight to BA, via Calafate. That night, I cooked for Bernd, Beatrice, Doris and Andy, two Swiss girls and a Briton that were on the bus to Ushuaia, too. It was quite late when we finished and we finished all the wine, too. As a result, next day was another easy day. Doris, Beatrice and me walked to the city centre, half-an-hour-walk from the hostel, and went to visit the massive Museo Marítimo, the former prison. It was quite interesting and you can walk around for hours in it.
Next day, I went to the beautiful Parque Nacional de Tierra del Fuego for the first time. I took an easy but beautiful 12-kilometer-walk near the Beagle Channel. It seemed like a beautiful place for camping as well but after about ten days of camping in the cold and sitting on buses, I was relieved to be in a hostel again and to sleep in a bed, to be able to take a shower, to cook in a kitchen and to sit at a table.

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Next day, I did the most amazing walk in the National Park: Cerro Guanaco. The walk is quite though and steep, 970 metres up on a five-kilometer-trail, sometimes through mud and over very slippery tree roots, I almost fell a few times. At the beginning of the trail, there is a sign saying you should not walk it alone, nor when the weather is bad nor without suitable clothing. Once you get above the treeline, the steepest part begins, with the actual Cerro Guanaco. But getting at the top is oh so rewarding! The view over Ushuaia, the Beagle Channel, the National Park, the forests and the surrounding mountains is indescribably breathtaking! I was very lucky with the weather, no clouds, hence a very far view, sunny but windy and cold on the top.

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The last day in Ushuaia, I walked up the hill just behind Ushuaia to get to the glacier. People had recommended it to me saying it was an easy walk, not very long, and with a beautiful view on Ushuaia. I am sure those people had taken the bus and the lift up the hill and had only than started walking to the glacier. After half an hour from the hostel, I got to a path where a sign said it would take 2 hours to walk up. After two hours, there was another sign, for yet another path that would take fourty minutes. I met an English couple on their way back down because it was too mudy further up. At the end of the path, it started raining and of course, for the first time in Ushuaia, I had not taken my rain coat because I had been lucky all the other days and the weather looked good that morning. I found shelter under the little building where people arrived by lift. When it had more or less stopped raining, I went on with the final part, which was quite steep. After a while, it started raining heavily again and even hailing. The view on Ushuaia and the Beagle Channel was beautiful, yes, but not as beautiful as from Cerro Guanaco and on the way back down, it had become so cloudy that I could not see a thing and it rained all the time, so I got soaked.

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It was such a relief to get back to the city centre after hours of walking! I had a nice Completo de Milanesa, a very big sandwich with a thick escalope (Milanesa), a fried egg, cheese, ham, tomato and salad, lovely and very filling. They come with a wide range of sauces you can put on yourself. In the evening I walked from the hostel to the airport to catch a flight to Trelew. Honestly, how many times can you say you have walked to the airport? Although I could have got a lift of somebody from the hostel, I found it a cool idea to walk to the airport and I had the chance to have a last look at Ushuaia and its surroundings.

Hasta prontito, amigos!

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Posted by Gitan Jean 16:17 Archived in Argentina Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

El Chaltén y Parque Nacional Los Glaciares

semi-overcast 15 °C
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In El Chaltén, I was welcomed by the good old Patagonian rain, lovely! But in the afternoon, as the sun came out, I enjoyed a little siesta next to my tiny little tent on free Campamento Madsen and even got burned in the face, yep, the Patagonian four seasons in one day! At night, I was confronted with my new perception of prices again . I went out for a pizza, although I finished it completely it was massive and definetely meant for two persons, a liter of beer, yes Quilmes comes in one-liter-bottles, and a café con leche. When the cuenta came, I found I had spent a lot of money, it was 28 pesos, a bit less than 8 euros. I will have a hard time getting used to European prices again. After dinner, I went for a few beers with Zoe, a lovely English girl I met in Derby who is a guide in El Chaltén now, and her Argentinian boyfriend Leo.
Next day, Zoe and Leo offered me a free guided tour to Cerro Fitzroy, star attraction numero uno in Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. They were guiding a French-Germain couple in their sixties that day. When we made it to Campamento Poincenot for lunch, after a lovely walk with good views on Fitzroy, the couple decided to throw the towel into the ring and head back to Chaltén and thus Zoe and Leo had to go back too. I went on and started the steep, but oh so rewarding, climb up to Laguna de los Tres, at the foot of Fitzroy. It was a beautiful day and there were absolutely no clouds so the view on Fitzroy was just breathtaking.

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Back in El Chaltén again, I went over to Leo's and Zoe's house, well, room and joined them for a wonderful dinner in their shared kitchen. There was about eight people and the Italian cook had made a very tasty sauce of butter, cream, anchoas and garlic (eight teeth a head!) where we could all dip vegetables and potatoes in. After diner, we went to a very nice pub to have some more beers, it was all very cozy.
Next day, I could get a lift of Zoe to get to the far entrance of the park, and I had put my alarm clock at 7am, but when I woke up, it was raining cats and dogs and so I decided to stay in my warm and comfortable sleeping bag, till the rain would stop, sorry for that again, Zoe! When it actually stopped raining, I got up, took my time to have breakfast and pack my tent and then head off for the path guiding to Cerro Torre, another attraction in the National Park. By the time I got to the path, it started pissing out of heavens again and I got soaking wet, but by the time I had reached Campamento De Agostini, it had stopped raining. After putting up my tent, I head off for Laguna Torre and walked to Mirador Maestri, where a beautiful view on Laguna Torre, the glacier just next to it and on Cerro Torre can be enjoyed. Unfortunately, the clouds did not want to reveal Cerro Terro that night, so I went back to the campamento and got into my sleeping bag, it was quite cold when one was not walking.

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That night, it was snowing in the Nacional Park, so in the morning, again, I waited in my warm sleeping bag until all the snow had fallen from the trees onto my little tent. After breakfast, I walked to Mirador Maestri for the second time, and again, Cerro Torres was covered in clouds. I stayed up there quite a while because, although Torres could not be seen, it was still very beautiful up there. In the afternoon, I did the long walk from campamento De Agostini to Campamento Poincenot, put my tent up again, had lunch and dinner together and walked another hour to the Mirador Piedras Blancas and back. When I got back to the campsite, it started snowing again and the temperature had dropped very much so after coffee, I decided to get back into my sleeping bag and read a bit.

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The last day in El Chaltén was really relaxed. I walked back to the village, passing by lovely laguna Capri, in two hours and than went to the campsite I was staying at before to get the stuff I had left there and to take a nice shower. After a few hours in a cyber-café and a nice café con leche, I was ready for the four-hour bus ride back to El Calafate. Around 7pm, we left Chaltén and from the bus, we had a last look on beautiful Fitzroy and as the sun set, the sky changed from one beautiful colour into another.

Posted by Gitan Jean 18:26 Archived in Argentina Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

El Calafate y Perito Moreno

sunny 16 °C
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I feel like almost every new entry starts like what I am going to write next, but in El Calafate itself, there is not much to see. It is a little village with some restaurants, shops, hotels, etc. and above all a lot of tourists. The reason for that is that El Calafate is the starting point to get to the Perito Moreno Glaciar, one of very few moving glaciars on this earth, at about eighty kilometres from El Calafate. Although there is some bigger glaciers in the same Parque Nacional Los Glaciares that Perito Moreno is in, Perito Moreno is star attraction number one. In the village there is a lot of travel agencies offering all kinds of trips to the glaciar but the agencies I have compared offered exactly the same excursions for exactly the same price.

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The excursion I took, the mini-trekking, was a bit expensive, but very good. They picked me up at the hostel at 9 am and we drove to a first view point where everyone could take pictures. Than we drove closer by and we had about two hours to walk to different view points, ever so close to this wonder of nature, and to have lunch. The glaciar is just breathtaking and when the sun shines, you can hear and see parts falling of the front every now and then and you can hear the water from the lake lying above it making tunnels to get its way through the glaciar, it sounds like explosions. Next part was a boat trip to the other side of the lake, again, with a good view on the glaciar of course. Once back on the shore, everyone got crampons and we started a two-hour-walk on the glaciar! It was gorgeous, it looks so blue. The tour was finished with a glass of whisky with glaciar ice. Another unique experience!

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Hasta banana!

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Posted by Gitan Jean 20:01 Archived in Argentina Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

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