Saturday, April 4, 2009

Torres del Paine, part 1

OK, so back to when we were in El Calafate, Argentina. After having to dodge thousands of rabbits on the way to El Calafate we made our bus to Puerto Natales. On the way, we saw some nandu, which are South American ostriches. Anyway, after a 5 hour bus ride that included the biggest waste of time border crossing I think I´ve ever seen, we made it to Puerto Natales:

The town is not the most attractive one, but it isn`t horrible either. It certainly is in a beautiful location and is well setup for people planning on hiking in Torres del Paine National Park.
After a day to rest and get our stuff together for hiking, we headed up to the Torres.

It is about a 3 hour ride to the park. Once there, we caught a boat that took us to our starting point on Lake Pehoe.
When we got there, the weather was horrendous. We had the pleasure of setting up our tent in driving rain and about 48 degrees.

That night there were about 100 people in the cooking hut because of the terrible weather. After we were done, it was still awful out, so we had a drink in the bar there. They have bars and little restaurants out in the middle of the wilderness in South America. Chilean wine is really good and really cheap too.

The next day, the rain had let up somewhat, but the wind was even worse. There´s the forecast for that day:

We started up our 22 km hiking day to Glacier Gray and back in just ridiculous winds. A couple times it just about blew us over.

The lake is probably 15 miles long, and once you get to it from Pehoe, there are icebergs that have floated all the way down there.

It was pretty cold, so we made pretty good time up to the glacier.

Once you are up there you can walk right up to some icebergs in the end of the lake.

You can walk up to the glacier as well, but it is another hour or two one way and we were freezing, so we headed back.
The wind didn´t stop, but on the way back it actually started to clear up:

The next morning it was much much nicer. Mostly clear and pretty warm. Compare this picture to the other one of the campground. It is the same place:

Our walk from Pehoe to Campamento Italiano was really pleasant (and flat).

We made it to Italiano, left our heavy packs and headed up towards Campimento Britannico:

When you get to Britannico you can see the back sides of the Torres and the Cuernos. You probably have seen pictures of the front sides of both. But I´ll get to that part on the next post.

In real time, we´re heading to the beach tonight and will be hanging out there for several days. We´ll have time to update blogs and apply for jobs there.

Movie Review
Forget Paris: 0
This is an old Billy Crystal movie they played on a bus ride. It is just supremely bad. I am not sure I´ve watched a more irritating movie. Ghosts of Mars and Ghost Rider are bad, but I´d rather watch them back to back (by far) than watch Forget Paris again. Super stupid, super irritating, super pointless, not funny. It kind of makes me mad just thinking about it.

It looks like kids in Chile have moved on from drugs to harder things:

From where I left off in Buenos Aires

We were in Buenos Aires for most of 2 weeks except for 4 days in Uruguay.

Uruguay (well, Montevideo and Colonia de Sacramento) is nice and very European like, like Argentina.

Our hostel in Colonia had free bikes to take around, but they were also the most uncomfortable bikes EVER:

After Urugay, were were back in Buenos Aires. We were going sailing, but first we helped Maxi´s friend Juan move a little.
Moving by pulling a couch up 3 stories with straps and ropes to a balcony:

How do you like that method Annemarie?

Sailing with Maxi and his friends on the Rio Plata.

Maxi bargaining for fishing poles:

Plata is silver, but it does seem a little brown to me. It was an awesome time though and it was super nice of Maxi´s friends to take us out on their boat and then we sailed over to an island and camped there.

Then we flew to El Calafate, Argentina. They have some big glaciers there:

The Perito Moreno glacier is really cool. Huge, house sized chunks of ice break off all the time and drop into the water. It is really loud and makes pretty big waves in the lake. A few years ago, a big chunk of ice fell into the lake and the wave from it killed several tourists. Now they don´t let you get as low down to the lake level near the glacier.

Here´s a video of some ice falling (well, some falls about the 1 minute mark... sorry Samoa):

We camped at a really cool campground nearby that night. It was definitely one of the best private campgrounds I´ve ever been to. A fox ran through our campsite too.

The next day we had to get up really early to head back to El Calafate to catch a bus to Puerto Natales, Chile. From there we´d be backpacking in Torres del Paine National Park.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Today we´re in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

It has been impossible to find a computer that is capable of reading a SD card. Finally I found one in probably the smallest town we have stayed in the whole time.

So, I´ll update what we did earlier later when I have my other chip with me. I just had my camera with me, so I´ll put a few recent things on here.

How´s everyone doing?

OK, here we are by Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the world outside of the Himalayas:

We were at about 10,000 feet here.

We went to Barreal, Mendoza, Salta, and Cafayate after that. I´ll get to most of that in more depth later.

We had a really nice time in Cafayate for a few days.

Then onto Salta which is (along with Cafayate and Bariloche) probably the nicest place we´ve been.

Some Cafayate:

Then today we went over the Andes. The road was just ridiculous. We were over 15,000 feet for a long time. Usually when you go over mountains, you kind of go up, over and then back down. Today we went up, then stayed up for about 5 hours. It is just crazy how big the mountain range is and how weird looking it is. A few examples:

Tomorrow we have to start a geyser tour at 4am so I need to get to bed, but I wanted to at least get some pictures up here while I can.

Hopefully I´ll get a chance to update further while still here.

Passing a gas truck in a no passing zone on a corner, on a cliff, at 12,000 feet is a great decision: