ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Posts tagged “Argentina

AFTERTHOUGHT – South America

Before the trip, we have read and heard so much about other travelers’ awful experiences in South America: pickpocket during street events, robbery under gunpoint in broad daylight, caught in gunfire between guerrilla fighters and the military, tricked by dishonest tour operators, frustration over bus and flight delays, bribery demands from border officials, nasty storms in Patagonia, high-altitude sickness on the Andes, travel disruptions caused by violent protests and civil strikes, etc.  However, except for a protest at the border crossing between Bolivia and Argentina, and a 28-hour flight delay in Ushuaia caused by a strike at the Buenos Aires airport, we can hardly recall any notable trouble or dodgy moment during our 3-month journey.  After a few days into the trip, we began to shed off many of our worries, and started to enjoy ourselves in this diverse continent.  We consider ourselves fortunate for meeting many kind people along the way, from honest taxi drivers, environmentally conscious tour guides, encouraging fellow trekkers, young fisherman showing us photos of his catches, skilful and responsible jeep driver, talented musicians on local buses, to a generous driver willing to take us along for an 1.5-hour free ride back to the city.

Many have asked us what was our favourite destination.  This is a question perhaps we can never answer.  There are simply too many lovely memories from almost every stop in our journey.  All these amazing experiences together have become an incredible episode in our lives.

For Argentina, we will always remember the joy of tasting the juicy steaks and irresistible helado (ice-cream) in Buenos Aires, coming face-to-face with the Iguazu Falls on San Martin Island, wine-tasting in the mountains of Cafayate in Northwest Argentina, listening to the rumbling roars of ice carving at Perito Moreno Glacier in Patagonia, upsetting our knees to get a close-up view of the majestic Fitz Roy Mountain near El Chalten, and sailing in the pristine water of the Beagle Channel in Ushuaia.
Argentina

For Brazil, we will never forget the moment we braved the thundering water at Devil’s Throat in Iguaçu National Park, the instant we spotted a magnificent jaguar in the distant bush at the Pantanal, the time we dwelled in the utopian dream of Modernist Brasilia, the evening we wandered aimlessly on the steep and winding streets of Ouro Preto, the hours we stood under the shadow of Christ the Redeemer to share the unbeatable view of marvellous Rio with hundreds of other tourists, the night we spent pacing the flooded cobblestone streets over the splendid reflections of colonial Paraty, and the day we hustled ourselves between cultural institutions and design exhibitions in the hectic metropolis of Sao Paulo.
Brazil

For Bolivia, we will forever cherish our experiences of hiking the Jurassic fern forest near Samaipata, admiring the white colonial architecture of Sucre from the rooftop of Convento de San Felipe Neri, absorbing the tragic history of Cerro Rico while acclimatizing to 4000m high altitude in Potosi, and confronting the Andean volcanoes, surreal deserts, and colour-changing lagoons on the Southwest Altiplano.
Bolivia

For Chile, the vibrant colours of its landscapes and cityscapes will live long in our heart, including the starry night and crimson sunset at the Atacama Desert, the vividly painted facades of the fairytale-like churches on Chiloe Island, the spring palette of wild orchids and glacial lakes in Torres del Paine, the black and white happy feet of Magellanic Penguins in Patagonia, the eye-popping display of some exotic catches-of-the-day at Mercade Central in Santiago, and finally the wonderful show of New Year’s fireworks in Valparaiso.
Chile
Many thanks to all the readers of the Blue Lapis Road.


DAY 81 (1 OF 1) – EL CALAFATE (ARGENTINA) TO PUNTA ARENAS (CHILE)

At 5:30am, a prearranged bus came to pick us up at Lautaro Guesthouse. The departure from El Calafate concluded our visit to Argentina. From El Calafate, the bus took us to the Chilean border. At about 2pm we were back at Puerto Natales, where we spent our first night in Patagonia three weeks ago. This time, we came just for a bus transfer to Punta Arenas. We arrived at Punta Arenas at around 6pm. Tomorrow, we would take a evening flight to Santiago.
Bagged breakfast prepared by our guesthouse, Lautaro (2 photos below)
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Dawn (1 photo below)
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Christmas decoration at border control (1 photo below)Image
Bus terminal at Puerto Natales (1 photo below)Image
Approaching Punta Arenas (1 photo below)
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Read more on El Calafate & Isla Magdalena in 2013 South America
Day 79.2 – Perito Moreno Glacier, El Calafate
Day 80.1 – Icebergs, Lago Argentina
Day 80.2 – Glaciers, Lago Argentina
Day 80.3 – Glaciarium, El Calafate
Day 81 – El Calafate to Punta Arenas
Day 82 – Penguins Again, Isla Magdalena, Punta Arenas

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 80 (3 OF 3) – GLACIARIUM, EL CALAFATE, ARGENTINA

After the boat tour in Lago Argentina, we decided to visit the Glaciarium (interpretation centre of ice and glaciers).  Located about 5 km from El Calafate, this new museum (built in 2011) uses various interactive media to present the beauty and provide information about glaciers, from its physical properties, formation, to environmental impact of glacial retreat at different parts of the world.  With an additional fee, visitor can also visit the “cool” looking Glacio Bar for a drink in a cup made of ice at the temperature of about -10 degrees Celsius.

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Read more on El Calafate & Isla Magdalena in 2013 South America
Day 79.2 – Perito Moreno Glacier, El Calafate
Day 80.1 – Icebergs, Lago Argentina
Day 80.2 – Glaciers, Lago Argentina
Day 80.3 – Glaciarium, El Calafate
Day 81 – El Calafate to Punta Arenas
Day 82 – Penguins Again, Isla Magdalena, Punta Arenas

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 80 (2 OF 3) – GLACIERS, LAGO ARGENTINA, PARQUE NACIONAL LOS GLACIARES (SOUTH), EL CALAFATE, ARGENTINA

During the boat cruise in Lago Argentina, we visited four glaciers in total.  The first one was Upsala Glacier.  Although being one of the largest glaciers in the park, due to the poor weather and far distance, we could barely see Upsala from the deck of our catamaran.  The next came the small Onelli Glacier on a hilltop.  The real highlight came when our boat approached Spegazzini Glacier, where we could get really close to the face of the ice.  After Spegazzini, the boat moved through the fjord-like waterways for two hours until reaching the majestic Perito Moreno.  When we reached this final destination, there were occasional sunbreaks casting some dramatic lighting onto the blue sheet of ice.  Although touristy, the cruise was a relaxed and only way to reach all four glaciers in a day from El Calafate.

Upsala Glacier (1 photo below)Image
Onelli Glacier (1 photo below)Image
Spegazzini Glacier (3 photos below)Image
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Perito Moreno Glacier (8 photos below)
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Read more on El Calafate & Isla Magdalena in 2013 South America
Day 79.2 – Perito Moreno Glacier, El Calafate
Day 80.1 – Icebergs, Lago Argentina
Day 80.2 – Glaciers, Lago Argentina
Day 80.3 – Glaciarium, El Calafate
Day 81 – El Calafate to Punta Arenas
Day 82 – Penguins Again, Isla Magdalena, Punta Arenas

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 80 (1 OF 3) – ICEBERGS, LAGO ARGENTINA, PARQUE NACIONAL LOS GLACIARES (SOUTH), EL CALAFATE, ARGENTINA

With the rain and cold temperature, today was certainly not favorable to do a full-day lake cruise.  Originally we planned to go ice-trekking on Perito Moreno Glacier.  Unfortunately a few days ago we discovered that all ice-trekking at Perito Moreno was fully booked up in the next few days.  We opted for the alternative of doing a lake cruise to visit the several famous glaciers along the west side of Lago Argentina.  At 7am the tour organizer picked us up from our hostel.  By 8:30am we were among the few hundred of tourists lining up at the dock to pay for the national park entrance admission.  It was the most touristy event we experienced in Argentina similar to the Iguazu Falls.  One after another, about five catamaran left the pier at Puerto Bandera, bringing hundreds of tourists westward to the first glacier, Upsala Glacier.  When our boat entered Brazo Upsala, icebergs of different forms and sizes began to appear.  The translucent blue of the icebergs was absolute captivating that even in today’s poor weather and lighting, the colour seemed to glow in the various shades of grey.  A close encounter of the icebergs was certainly something we couldn’t achieve without a boat.  The icebergs were so beautiful that many passengers, including us, were willing to brave the rain and cold winds to stand out at the boat deck as long as we could endure.
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Read more on El Calafate & Isla Magdalena in 2013 South America
Day 79.2 – Perito Moreno Glacier, El Calafate
Day 80.1 – Icebergs, Lago Argentina
Day 80.2 – Glaciers, Lago Argentina
Day 80.3 – Glaciarium, El Calafate
Day 81 – El Calafate to Punta Arenas
Day 82 – Penguins Again, Isla Magdalena, Punta Arenas

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 79 (2 OF 2) – PERITO MORENO GLACIER, PARQUE NACIONAL LOS GLACIARES (SOUTH), EL CALAFATE, ARGENTINA

We left El Chalten in a rainy morning. Three hours of bus ride took us to El Calafate, a small town by the lakefront of Lago Argentina with facilities catered for all types of travellers who come for only one reason – Perito Moreno Glacier. Almost no visitor would leave Southern Patagonia without seeing Perito Moreno Glacier, the most famous glacier in South America. We arrived in El Calafate at about 1pm, just in time to catch the last bus (2pm) to the glacier. Rainy weather persisted well into the afternoon. We knew it would be a wet day for us, but some said a grey day was actually better for photographing the blue tones of the glacier. The visitor centre at Perito Moreno was full of tourists. Everyone was wet and cold from the rain. After having some snacks at the café, we then descended down to the viewing walkways. Nothing could quite prepare us for the first view to Perito Moreno. The gigantic ice wall was full of shades of blue with occasional thunder-like roars of carved ice falling into the lake. There wasn’t enough time for us to fully explore the extensive walkway system. We chose a platform closest to the rupture area of the glacier, set up our tripod and took some timelapse videos in the rain. We stayed for about two hours until it was time for us to catch the bus at 7pm.
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Previous Destination – El Chalten, reading from post Day 74

Read more on El Calafate & Isla Magdalena in 2013 South America
Day 79.2 – Perito Moreno Glacier, El Calafate
Day 80.1 – Icebergs, Lago Argentina
Day 80.2 – Glaciers, Lago Argentina
Day 80.3 – Glaciarium, El Calafate
Day 81 – El Calafate to Punta Arenas
Day 82 – Penguins Again, Isla Magdalena, Punta Arenas

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 79 (1 OF 2) – GOODBYE, EL CHALTEN, ARGENTINA

It’s time for us to say goodbye to El Chalten, a unique mountain village inside Parque Nacional los Glaciares.  Pretty much everything here is catered for backpackers and hikers.  It is hard to imagine that during winter times, this busy little El Chalten would be deserted for a few months.

We had a really good time in El Chalten.  We enjoyed the hikes, the causal atmosphere of the village, and even the ever-changing weather.  Unlike Torres del Paine where we had to rush from refugio to refugio during the W-trek, at El Chalten there was always a temporary “home” where we could return to after each hike.  Considering the remoteness of this mountain village, the food was  great as well.  The Internet was really slow for most of the time, especially during bad weather.  We couldn’t see Cerro Torre during our stay at El Chalten. That might be the reason for us to come back again in the future.
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Read more on El Chalten in 2013 South America
Day 74 – Patagonia Once Again, Ushuaia to El Calafate
Day 75.1 – Laguna Torres, El Chalten
Day 75.2 – Estepa Restaurant, El Chalten
Day 76.1 – El Muro, El Chalten
Day 76.2 – Laguna Capri, El Chalten
Day 77.1 – Laguna Torre Once Again, El Chalten
Day 77.2 – Domo Blanco Ice-cream, El Chalten
Day 78.1 – Sendero al Fitz Roy, El Chalten
Day 78.2 – In-house Dinner, El Chalten
Day 79.1 – Goodbye El Chalten

Next Destination – El Calafate & Isla Magdalena
Continuing on our journey from post Day 79.2

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought