Thursday, September 27, 2007

I've been robbed!

I now truly feel like I've had the full on South American experience, after 11 months on the road, I've finally had some stuff stolen.

On the bus down from Puerto Madryn someone went through the luggage compartment and took anything that looked valuable from our bags, so I'm now minus a mobile phone (though apparently I'm due an upgrade anyway so will get a free new one when I get home), an old broken camera, my pen knife, and for some strange reason, my wash kit - I ask you, who steals a toothbrush??

So anyway, I'm now in Puerto Natales in Chile, quite far down south in Tierra Del Fuego! It's cold, very windy and in the next few days we will be going for a 3 day walk. Time to break out the thermals. After this I'll be heading further down south to Ushaia in Argentina, the worlds southernmost city - from there it is possible to catch boast to the Antartic, but it's a bit early in the year for that so I'll be heading up north to find some nice beaches in Brazil!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Whale watching in Peurto Madry

Went on a tour to a place called Peninsula Valdes which is an hour or so drive from where we currently are in Puerto Madryn.


First stop was to visit some elephant seals. It's currently mating season, so there are a few bulls on the beach with their harems

and a few pups.

But the highpoint of the day was going out on a boat to do some whale watching.

You can find some more photos here.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Left Bariloche to go to Angostina a nice village down the road that has some good trekking.

The first day was pretty easy, we took a walk down to the port to take some photos of the lake which is absolutely stunning.

Woulnd't mind having a boat here.

The next day we set off for what was billed as a short walk up to a mirador and a some waterfalls. Turned out to be a bit of a mammoth trek up snow covered paths.

The paths were actually quite hard to follow, but fortunately a couple of dogs that had followed us from town seemed to know where they were going so we followed them. Eventually we reached the mirador, it was a bit misty so the view was hard to capture on the camera.

Fortunately there was somewhere to sit down and have a bit of a break.

Next stop were the waterfalls, here the path seemed to disappear completely and we were completely in the hands of our guide dogs.

The following day we jumped on a bus to Peurto Madryn, tomorrow we're off to see some whales and other bits of wildlife, I've already seen one whale out of the cafe's window. Should be a good day.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tornedro Glacier

Off on a tour today to see a glacier.

Lots of nice views on the way

a few cautions

and lunch...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Skiing in the Andes

I wasn't going to bother going skiing here as I'll probably be going when I get back anyway, but how many times are you going to get to go skiing in the Andes?

It's been a couple of years since I last went skiing and that was the first time I'd ever strapped on a pair of skis. So I decided to do a few practice runs down the nursery slopes to see if I could still remember how to snow plough.

All proceeded well so it was time to head up the mountain to try some of the green runs.

All was proceeding well down the run, I was even starting to think - this is a bit slow, maybe I should try a blue run, when my wish was granted abruptly our nice easy green run disappeared and was replaced by a hard blue. It was carnage, children screaming, women crying, grown men taking their skis off and walking down. Terrible...

Despite this, a splendid day. I am now exhausted.

Monday, September 17, 2007

First day in Bariloche

Bus journey was not too bad - though I still can't understand why wehave to woken at 7am to loud rock music and really bad coffee...

This is the view from my hostel room:

Will be here for a couple of days - can't decide if I should go skiing or not. The weather is a bit misty at the top of the mountains.


Quite a nice city, It was rebuild after an earthquake wiped it off the map and it has very nice wide streets (so you can avoid the falling rubble when the next big one hits).

Lying in my bunk having a quick rest after I arrived I felt my second earthquake of the trip. After pretty much all the places I visited in Peru were destroyed by the earthquake there I'm starting to be quite glad there's only 6 weeks left!

Anyway, Mendoza is the big wine growing region of the country, so it's off on another wine tour.

Can you tell that it's winter time? It's fricking freezing.

Here we can see some oldie world wine making equipment. The grapes would be put into the cow skin and then some slaves would then jump up on down on them to squeeze out the juice. The big earthenware pots would the be used to ferment the wine. Apparently the taste would approximate a good vinegar.

Here we see some nice wines stored in French oak barrels

Apparently the combination of the completion of the railway link to Buenos Aires and a wave of immigration from France, Italy an Spain led to a massive modernisation of the wine industry and a massive jump in quality.

And the production of lots of lovely wine:

Catching a bus to Bariloche tonight, leave at 8pm and get in at 1:30pm - a nice quick 17 hours or so...

Friday, September 14, 2007

Off to Mendoza tonight

Home to many vineyards. I may be out of touch for a while...

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Machu Pichu

So the day started with a typically early tour start time of 4 am! It was actually quite interesting being in the hostel lobby meeting all the reprobates coming back from their all night drinking sessions in the local bars and clubs. ..

There were six of us in our group heading up to Machu Pichu, a Canadian couple, a German couple and a guy from Holland. To get us up the trail we needed 9 porters, a cook/porter, an assistant cook/porter and our guide (Ramirez, a very hard name to say without a sneer on your face and a dodgy accent).

The night before myself and the dutch guy had been given a duffel bag to stuff with a maximum of 7kg of stuff - we had chosen to be especially lazy and hire half a porter each to carry our stuff, a bargain at only $30 for the entire trip. In the end I only had about 4k including my sleeping bad. So the guy got off lightly...

After a couple of hours on the bus we arrived at a place called Piskacucho where we stopped for a bit of breakfast, shopped for walking sticks and bought some coca leaves for the altitude.

After this quick stop off we were back on the bus to drive to kilometre 82 which is where the trail starts. Here you can get your passport stamped to prove that you are crazy enough to start the trail.

The trail starts at the refreshing low altitude of 2720m (8923ft) by crossing the Vilcanota river.

We left our porters packing away the tents, food, table and chairs (I kid you not) and all the rest of the stuff to support our trip. They were soon finished with this and chasing after us along the path:

These guys were quite amazing, carrying a load of 25kg they pretty much ran down the path. Each day they would pack up everything whilst we set off walking, they'd pass us after about 20 minutes and we'd arrive at the next camp site to a cold drink, dinner almost ready and the tents all set up. Quite incredible.

As we walked along the path, we caught a glimpse of the lazy gits going up there by train.

The first day was pretty easy on fairly flat terrain and we got some great views of the Inca Fortress (‘Huillca Raccay'), the vast and incredible Inca site ‘Llactapata' (officially called ‘Patallacta').

After a pretty easy walk we arrived at our first campsite at around 3000m:

The night was damned cold, my sleeping bad is only rated for a -5 freezing point.

The next day the cook made us pancakes and porridge for breakfast. Fantastic. On this day we would climb to 4200m to cross "Dead Womans Pass" descend back down to 3550m for lunch and then climb again upto 4000m to cross another mountain pass!

Luckily there are some ruins on the insane day of walking to keep you entertained.

We made it to the next camp and pretty much collapsed into bed. This night was also very very cold.

The third day was very easy, not very much walking to do at all - only a climb up to 3680n meters. And some more ruins - Sayacmarca and Phuyuptamaca. Campsite for this night for called ‘WiƱay Wayna’ (‘Forever Young’) at a comfortable 2680m/8792ft.

Near this campsite is another nice Incan ruin.

That night it was too hot.

The fourth day we had all agreed (well, kind of) to get up at 3:40 to be first at the entrance to the path to the sun gate - not entirely sure why this was necessary, but apparently it's good to beat the crowds. So, we got up crazily early and sat in the darkness by the gate waiting for the park wardens to open up. We were the second group to arrive there - not bad really. It frightens me to think what time the first group must have got up...

We had a very brisk walk up to the sun gate, sadly the sun was not cooperating, but we did get some nice photos of the site. Our guide gave us a 2 hour guided tour, and then it was time for a coffee break and a rest while some of the more keen members of the group climbed another mountain (nutters).

It was then time to jump on the train home and get back to the hostel for a bit of well deserved sleep.

I'm now in Buenos Aires, various people from the travels seem to be converging on the town in the next couple of days.

You can find all the Machu Pichu photos here. - there's a lot of them.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Back from Machu Pichu

Sorry for the lack of posts. Yes, I'm still alive. Will be getting a bunch of photos from the past few days tonight and will update the blog.

Cusco seems to encourage laziness in people, not much gets done here. Will be booking a flight to Buenas Aries in the next couple of days and getting out of here!