A Travellerspoint blog

El Calafate, Argentina

sunny 22 °C
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March 7 we arrived in El Calafate and plan to visit the famed 25-km long Perito Moreno glaciar tomorrow. This glaciar is considered stable and is advancing at approximately 2m/day. It calves in spectacular fashion regularly. We hope to get wet! (Not quite... we´ll be quite far away).

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Posted by edenjosh 13:32 Archived in Argentina Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

Torres del Paine National Park

all seasons in one day 17 °C
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On Feb 27 we hopped a bus to Puerto Natales to prepare for our 8 to 10-day trek in Torres del Paine National Park. The ¨circuit¨, which circumnavigates most of the park, is considered one of the premier treks in the MUNDO. The entire park was declared a UNESCO biosphere reserve and is home to guanaco, rhea, huemul (endangered Patagonian deer), puma, and condors. The landscape varies from Patagonian steppe, mature beech forest, hanging glaciers, the massive 17-km long Glaciar Grey, and several milky-blue lakes and rivers, as well as the three famed 3000 m high towers of granite that give the park it´s name

This 150-km long trek was the longest that we had ever attempted so we had to ration our food carefully. On a typical day we each ate 40g of oatmeal with jam for breakfast, 50g of raisins, 100g of peanuts, 2 granola bars, 40g of cheese, and 45g of chocolate for lunch and snacks, and 100g of pasta for dinner.

Hoping to include a few long side trips with the circuit, and thanks to long daylight hours, we decided to hike further each day so we wouldn´t run out of food. We left the park on the 7th day, tired and stinky.

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Posted by edenjosh 13:22 Archived in Chile Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

Punta Arenas, Chile

overcast 15 °C
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On Feb 25 we boarded a 10+ hour bus to Punta Arenas and spent a couple of days exploring the port town. It was once a very important city during the wool boom of the late 1800s and still maintains approximately 150 buildings from that era. The city was once quite grand, and while experiencing some renewal, its glory days are past.

Posted by edenjosh 13:16 Archived in Chile Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Sierra Valdivieso trek

all seasons in one day 16 °C
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After Antarctica, we returned to our campsite in Ushuaia and prepared for the next trek. The following day, Feb 19, we hired a taxi to the Valdivieso trailhead to begin a challenging 4-day journey.

The largely unmarked trail passes through two wild valleys and a number of difficult mountain ¨passes.¨ The passes were almost as high as the peaks themselves.

Some of the sites included peat bogs and moors, beaver dams, meandering rivers, glaciated peaks, alpine valleys, azure-blue lagoons, Fuegian beech forests, and soaring Andean condors.

The difficult hike was a highlight of our trip so far, except for our encounter with an extremely viscious dog at the end.

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Posted by edenjosh 13:10 Archived in Argentina Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Back from Antarctica!

semi-overcast 4 °C
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That´s right, we just arrived back from Antarctica this morning! It was stunning.

The blog incommunicado was not planned, but was the result of being too tired to write after first dealing with banking, accomodation, transport and other issues at e-mail cafes. From Bariloche in Argentina we travelled down to Puerto Montt in Chile. The guide books describe Puerto Montt as a city with a setting similar to Vancouver or Seattle. The weather there is certainly the same, but that´s about where the similarities end. Pleasant enough for a few days or as a transportation hub. A traveller we met from Rome, who was frustrated with southern Italians, said that Puerto Montt was nicer/cleaner than places in souther Italy. We´ll go back there later to hike in the giant larch forests and explore the island of Chiloe but that might be about it.

From Puerto Montt we boarded the 3-night Navimag ferry down to Puerto Natales with a short stop in tiny Puerto Eden. Puerto Natales is the gateway to the spectacular Torres del Paine National Park, the most visited park in Patagonia. However, we were in a rush to get down to Ushuaia to try to get a last minute berth to Antarctica and so caught a bus the next morning.

The landscape through southern Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego was extreme. Windswept, not a tree to be found, only sheep, guanaco (like a llama but closely related to a camel), and rhea (large flighless birds). The ferry across the Magellan Straight was interesting. No pier, instead the ferry had a gate that lowered onto the beach, but it was so windy that the ferry was blown around. When the bus neared Ushuaia, the Fuegian Andes sprouted from out of nowhere and trees returned.

Ushuaia is a pleasant enough city, the southernmost city in the world, nestled between a range of 1,200-1,500m peaks. From here we climbed up the Glacial Martial, spent three days in the National Park, and then boarded our boat to Antarctica.

We were lucky to get a last minute berth aboard the G.A.P. ship the Polaris. If you remember, G.A.P.´s other ship the Explorer sunk in November. For this reason there were a lot of cancellations/refunds and G.A.P. leased this ship from a Russian shipping company to finish the season (most people buy tickets a year in advance). At 65 passengers, the Polaris is much smaller than most other boats out here which allows for more frequent shore landings :)

The ten days aboard the ship and especially the four days in Antarctica were magical. We had two humpback whales swim UNDER our zodiac, saw leopard seals from 10 ft away, and countless penguins, albatross, petrels, fur seals and ice, lots of ice.

Plans for the next week are to trek around in the mountains around Ushuaia and then go back to Chile to trek in Torres del Paine. Hopefully the next blog update will not take so long.

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Some photos posted at http://www.flickr.com/photos/edenandjosh/

Josh and Eden

Posted by edenjosh 03:51 Archived in Antarctica Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

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