A Travellerspoint blog

Land of the Tango

Ushuaia, Buenos Aires, ARGENTINA

sunny 32 °C
View Map 2 - 27 Buenos Aires to Montevedio & Map 2 - 26 Ushuaia to Buenos Aires on krystalmat's travel map.

- Krystal typing -

Sunday the 1st of February (my bday this month yay!)

Today was a very productive day. Not because we did a heap, but because we managed to get a 3050km bus ride under our belts in a day - by flying! We flew from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires. Matt had booked a flight for us months ago, managing to get an awesome deal, and lucky he did as we were not so keen on getting the 60 hour bus back up.

We arrived in Buenos Aires around 5pm, jumped in a cab with a German guy and headed into to town to our hostel. We dumped our bags, and headed straight for the hostel bar. I was on the vodkas as they didnt have wine, and matt as usual on the beer. 3 vodkas in and I have no memory of the rest of the night! The guy behind the bar was more than generous! Probably not the best person to be doing the blog for this day! As far as I know we hung around the hostel bar for the night!

Monday the 2nd of February

We woke up today after hitting the snooze button a few times, before deciding we´d better get down to the Brazilan Embassy sooner rather than later to sort out our visa for entry to Brazil. We were a little nervous about having to organise our visas in Argentina as we´d heard stories about the processing time varying from 30 minutes to 10 days. And as you can imagine we didn´t have 10 days to waste in Benous Aires, and needed to be in Rio in time for carnival - especially since we´d dropped a bomb on our accomodation for that week aswell.

When we arrived we were relieved to see a sign in english (yay) saying proccessing time was 2 days! It was just after 12 and we had til 1pm to get our application submitted. We filled our out form lined up and were knocked back because we were missing our accomodation details. After a mad dash to find an internet cafe, we came across a lady on her laptop in a coffee shop who let us borrow her computer. We found the details and then headed back up and submitted our forms and could stress less!

After that we headed for some lunch and then wandered around for a little, before heading back to the hostel. Matt had a few drinks, I read my book for abit before we headed back into town to see La Bomba, which is an open air concert of about 12 guys playing the drums. It was a hot clear arvo/night, kind of gave us the feeling we were at st kilda festival or something similar. We grabbed some beer and wine and stood their in the crowd for the next 2 hours listening to these guys drum out some tunes. Was pretty impressive.

Earlier on in the day we had decided (well mainly Matt) that we slurge on dinner at one of the most famous steak houses in Beunos Aires. We attempted to walk there but decided Matt´s thoughts of steak were getting the better of him and hailed a cab.

The steak house did not disapoint! We ordered one steak (they said you normally have one between two people), which started with some breads and dips and baked garlic. Next 12 little side dishes camed out and then a huge chopping board with an equally big steak on top. Biggest steak we´d both ever seen, kid you not it was bigger than Matt´s head which is quite big (as Amy has pointed out to me!)

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It was cooked to prefection too. After eating everylittle bit of it - too good to waste, and feeling very satisfited we grabbed a cab with two australian girls that sat next to us and headed back to our hostel for some drinks.

Will be visiting this place again for sure!

Tuesday the 3rd of February

Woke up this morning is search of some tango lessons. After finding a place an american girl had recommended to us in Ushuaia, we sussed out the class times and booked in for a night class.

We decided to go for a walk down to the water to check out another side of town. We thought the green area on the map meant park land where we could relax but was a natural reserve so had to settle on a cafe with air con for our resting place.

After our huge walk we headed back to our hostel, Matt to the bar and me to my book that I couldn´t put down.

We then made our way down to our Tango class in our very professional foot wear of thongs. We were a little early and watched the end of the class before us, getting quite scared at what we´d gotten ourselves into!

Our teachers were really nice though, they seperated the girls and boys, taught us what we needed to know and then let us practise together. It was actually easier than we thought, although we did do the same 8 steps for over an hour, wasn´t actually a challenge. But still it was dancing and Matt suprised me and was actually pretty good!

After class, with steaks still on our mind from the night before we thought, when in Rome... and decided to go sample another steak house!

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It wasn´t quite as good, but was still really nice. Headed down the street for some strawberries and cream before heading back to the hostel and calling it a night as we were really tired - our hostel is a party house and is hard to get a decent nights sleep.

- Matt typing -

Wednesday the 4th of February

After a pretty sleepless night, we got oursevles up and out of bed to begin another day in the sun. We grabbed some lovely bread and jam for breakfast (the usual thing which we are well and truly over!) and headed out into town and made our way to pick up our passports from the Embassy. To our delight it all ran smoothly and they were back in our trusty little hands within 20 minutes of arriving there.

We walked slowely back to the hostel and grabbed some much required icy poles along the way before jumping on a local bus and heading out to a suburb in BA called La Boca. La Boca is a small region in BA that hold a strong European hold as many early settlers from there set up here upon arriving in Buenos Aires. It is also known for the world famous La Boca Jrs who are one of the worlds strongest football teams and also the home club of Maradonna!

Once we arrived we headed down one of the famous strips there where there are many restraunts on offer that also include free (donation of course) Tango shows during your meal. This worked out perfect because we wanted to see some Tango while here but all the packages we saw around town was far to expensive.

We had some food and then went for a walk around the region and did a little shopping before making our way to the La Boca football stadium, of course this being Krystals idea! Once happy with a couple of pics we headed back to the main drag and ended up sitting back in another restraunt with some much better Tango on offer and relaxed over some beer and wine! a couple hours later we were Tango out and we caught the bus back into central.

We made our way back to the hostel and I headed out onto the bar for a drink when I noticed that Liverpool was playing live on TV against Everton. Perect for me so that killed the next couple of hours only to see Liverpool lose with 1 minute to go in extra time before we headed out for some dinner locally and back for an early night!

Thursday the 5th of Febuary

Again another shitty nights sleep (our hostel is a very very busy place after dark) we packed up our gear, checked out, and checked into a hotel down the road for tonight. Originally we had planned to leave today but due to this place being pretty cool and there being planty to do we decided to stay on for another evening. We accidently on purpose fell alseep in our room for an hour before getting our butts into gear only to be disappointed upon walking outdoors into the rain!!!

We powered on and walked through the weather for a while before stopping for some lunch and some thinking about how we should attack this day. We had wanted to see a couple of sights but are not keen on walking hours in the rain so we thought better give the blog an update.

- krystal typing -

By the time that was done, we walked across to the ferry terminal and booked some tickets to Uruagay for two days time, and by the time that was done we had blue skies above us.

We headed towards the main tower of BA hoping we could climb it but it was closed for maintance works so instead we caught a train out to the steak restaurant, but it was fairly earlier still so we went to a bar for a few drinks. We arrived at the steak house just after 9pm but were told there was a 30minute wait for a table. After an hour and abits wait out the front - was like lining up for a night club, we were finally in. We did get given 3 glasses of champange each a few bits of juicy sausage, so it wasn´t too bad!

The steak was beautiful again, but have to say the time before was better. After downing a few glasses of red we headed back to our hotel and fell into bed.

Posted by krystalmat 09:32 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Any further south from here and we are talking Antarctica!

Puerto Natales Chile, Ushuaia Argentina

overcast 14 °C

Matt typing

Monday the 26th of January

Happy Australia Day!!!

Ok so we all slept like babies after the previous few days we encountered and were all up bright eyed and very happy with the decision to come back a day earlier!

After getting ourselves sorted out and into our new hostel for the evening we headed into town to do a little shopping and see whats around. I can tell you one thing that is around Puerto Natales...........Wind! It blows out of control here and I can only imagine how cold it must get in the winter time! We soon realised that there is very little going on around Puerto Natales so we headed to a little cafe that we read about in our Lonely Planet that had peanut butter and banana sandwiches on offer. I opted for something different buy Mon and Krystal both went for the sandwiches and Mon even managed to order another and get that one down her also!

From here we decided that we should celebrate Australia Day in Chile and we headed to the supermarket for a drinks run before heading back and relaxing for the afternoon in the hostel. After a few hours of cards and drinks we headed out to grab some cash when we bumped into an Aussie couple who we had met on the 40 hours bus ride from Bariloche a week or so ago. We all headed out for some drinks and chatted for a while before getting some details off them (we will be catching up in Rio) and heading back to the hostel to do some cooking.

We had some left over food from the hike so thought rather than waste it we would cook up a spag bol and finish what we had left in our pantry (bag). Once full Mon called it a night, Krystal went and backed up our pics, and I went out with a few people from the hostel to a bar and managed to roll back to the hostel around 3am.

Tuesday the 27th of January

Up and 6am and boy was that fun! One thing I always wanted to try and not do and that was not getting hammered the night before a bus ride. I was doing very well up until today!

We headed to the bus terminal (10 metres from the door of the hostel) and hopped on our bus for a 12 hour ride to Ushuaia. Worst bus ride ever as the seats we on top of one another, the tv again didnt work and I was hungover as hell!

Managed to finally make it to our final destination and the lowest part of our trip possible, Ushuaia! We could go lower but that would cost us about USD10000 for a trip to Antarctica! We didn´t quite budget that one it so will have to give it a miss this time round!

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We grabbed our gear and headed into town to find a internet cafe (we forgot where we were staying) and after being kicked out of the shop twice by a knob of an Argentinian because we had backpacks we finally found our hostel and were ready to dump our bags! We cheacked into a cool hostel called Freestyle and I would have to say its up there with the best I have seen yet. It was modern, clean, great staff, and had plenty of room for all to enjoy. Once sorted in our room we headed out for some dinner, had some steak then headed back and crashed out for the evening.

Wednesday the 28th of January

Today was to be an explore Ushuaia and get a boat trip out on the Beagle Channel day. After a lazy start we headed out and down to the docks to see what we could get on for that afternoon and what cruise options they had on offer. We quickly had to re adjust our plan when we were told how expensive it was to go out on the channel! We finally opted for a 3 and 1/2 hour ride that left at 3pm and went to numerous points in the area. You soon realise that with all the cruise boats coming in here with the hoards of tourists that the locals know what to do with the price of things! Deano you bucks booze cruise was cheaper than this one and we got hammered and fed on yours!!! The only thing this one gave was some stale cake, a glass of shitty wine and a view of some sea lions!

Still it was a pretty good afternoon and was nice and relaxing out there enjoying the sun, and getting driven around shown some of the fauna in the channel.

Once back on land we headed to a local supermarket, stocked up on drinks and went back to the hostel with pizza and empanades in hand for an evening in the hostel. The 3 floor of this hostel has a magic view of the entire bay and also a pool table, numerous couches and a great place to chat with the others in the hostel.

Thursday the 29th of January

This morning we woke up to the sound of rain coming down which made our decision to try and horse ride 100% final. It was pretty well made when we heard the prices and have decided to wait until home and Krystal and Mon can find somewhere to gallop around. As the rain got heavier we got ourselves more settled in the common area and read and relaxed for the morning.

Finally the rain stopped so we headed out for lunch and then went for a walk around town and the bay for a while before the clouds rolled in and we were forced to go back to the hostel and to where we began the day!

We had a few drinks and chatted with some of the guys until 8pm or so before heading out for an early dinner (9:30pm is about the time to head out here) to the same place we went the first night. This little place has great food and is pretty cheap for the area so we filled ourselves up again before heading back to the hostel and to where we have spent most evenings. Managed to get ourselves pretty full here and Krystal and Mon called it a night about 12am and I headed out with some of the others to an Irish bar for a while which I really didn´t need to but hey, what do you do!

Friday the 30th of January

Mon´s final day with us. It has flown around and crept up on us so quickly! We got up and got all of our gear sorted and checked out of the hostel (me and Krystal are staying at another one for a couple of days) before heading back into town for one final milkshake. Once filled with banana milkshake we headed back up the hill and called a taxi to take us to the airport and see Mon off.

2pm came around and Mon gave us a final wave before walking through immigration and on her way back to Santiago to meet Sharon and Ted. The past 3 weeks have been a lot of fun and we will miss having Mon around with all of her jokes and smiles. Another part of the trip that we will remember without photo´s!

Krystal and I caught a taxi back to our B and B and we had a little sleep as my poor little head was suffering form the numerous glasses of wine that I consumed the night before. We then headed out across the road and grabbed some food as we wanted to cook a fed again for ourselves and the B and B we are staying at was perfect for that.

Once back we cooked some dinner, relaxed and then called it a night.

Saturday the 31st of January

When we woke up this morning we soon realised that 5 nights, 4 days was too long in this place unless of course you had Antarctic plans that is! The most exciting thing about today was heading down to town for a casual stroll, picking up some ID photos for Krystal for our visas into Brazil and another great dinner at our local restraunt.

Other than that the day consisted of us reading, relaxing, and playing the Nintendo DS. A Perfect day before the chaos of BA.

See you all in 1 month!

M and K

Posted by krystalmat 08:24 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Glaciers, glaciers and more glaciers!

Bariloche, El Catafate, Puerto Natales, Torres Del Paine, CHILE & ARGENTINA

semi-overcast 17 °C
View Map 2 - Bariloche to Punerta Natales on krystalmat's travel map.

- Krystal typing -

Sunday the 18th of January

We woke up this morning with mighty sore legs from our mighty long walk the day before (doing a triathlon when we return with Amy is going to be quite a challenge!). We had booked a bus south along the famous route 40 to the town of El Chalten, but the bus wasn´t leaving until 9pm so we had the whole day to waste. It was a pretty uneventful day, Matt hit the internet cafe to update the blog while Monique and I went for abit of a window shop. We grabbed some lunch and then went for a stroll and played some cards on the grass in front of the lake. We treated ourselves to a huge argentinian steak that night, before braving ourselves for the 32 hour bus trip!

Monday the 19th of January

After a fairly decent nights sleep sitty upright (no semi camas - bed seats on this bus) we woke to the view of the flat plains of Patagonia with almost bare vegetation, which would be our view for the next day and abit. The dirt road we were on is known as route 40 and is the longest road in Argentina, stretching for about 5000km (which is about the distance of driving from Melbourne to Perth and half way back again), fortunately we were not covering this whole distance!

With all our spear time on the bus we decided that we didn´t actually want to stop at the town of El Chalten but wanted to continue on for few hours to the town of El Calafate, so at the next town we stopped at we quickly jumped out of the bus and arranged our tickets.

Night time came and we fell asleep in the same seats again!

Tuesday the 20th of January

After 38 hours on the bus we finally arrived at El Calafate!!! Yay! I went on a scout to find some accomodation, we booked our bus trip out to the Perito Moreno Glacier, and booked a bus out of the town the day after. Everything was organised so we headed back to our hostel, had a shower, finally grabbed a decent feed and some beer wine and vodka, headed back to hostel and cooked up a feast - first time we have cooked for the trip, was sooo good to have a home cooked meal!

Wednesday the 21st of January

To Monique´s delight we made some porridge, wandered around town and then caught our afternoon bus ou to the Perito Moreno Glacier in the glacier national park.

The Perito Moreno Glacier one of the earth´s most active glaciers, and one of the very few glaciers that is not retreating, infact advancing! What happens is the glacier advances over the lake Lago Agentino, which seperates the lake into two smaller lakes, kind of forming two natural dams. With no escape route for the water in one of the two smaller lakes, the water level can rise by up to 30 meters higher than the other (when we were there they were level though). The emormous pressure produced by the mass of water finally breaks the glacier barrier, so you can see huge bits of ice breaking off! It happens pretty often, as in a fair few times a day! It was an awesome site to see, you hear the ice cracking and then see massive chuncks of the glacier collapse, it sounded like thunder when the ice hit the water.

The site of the glacier was also pretty amazing, it´s about 30km long, 5km wide and 60m tall. It rises over a mountain valley to come down into the lake, so it sort of looks like a stream of ice coming towards you. Very impressive!

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We hang around waiting for ice to fall and admiring the few for a fair few hours waiting for our return bus back to El Calafate. We cooked up some left overs from the night before, had some more drinks then hit the hay.

Thursday the 22nd of January

We grabbed a morning bus that crossed back into Chile to the town of Punerta Natales, which is a good town to bus yourself at to tackle to the Torres Del Paine national park. We arrived late arvo, dumped our bags and then went out in search of a company that would organise a trek to the national park for us. All the guide books we´d read say that you should book months in advance, as its holiday period for the Argentinians and they love to come out here and hike. So we were quite nervous as to whether or not we´d be able to get out there - as we (well I to Matt´s annoyance) hadnt organised anything!

Luckily enough we found a little agency that spoke english, and the lady was brillant, she organised everything for us. We planned and booked a 3 night trek with transfers, doing what´s known as the "W" trek, as it´s in the shape of a W.

After that we went to the supermarket and loaded up on food, as it was much cheaper to cook yourself then eat in the refugee. We grabbed some dinner and then called it a night.

Friday the 23rd of January

Up early, caught our bus out to the national park. To get to the starting point of our trek we had to catch a ferry across lake Lago Pehoe, which had spectular views of the towers (the major site at the park) and neighbouring mountain with glaciers on top.

We were off the boat by 1pm, walked about 50m to the refugio, which was more like a huge hotel! We were in a 6 man dorm, we dumped our bags and then headed out for the first peak in the "W" to the grey glacier. 11km out there and 11km back! We were ruined! The view of the glacier was pretty good though, we walked along a lake for most of the way and had some awesome view out over the surronding mountain ranges.

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We stumbled back to the refugio at about 8:30 (it gets dark here at about 10:30 so that was no dramas). We headed to the kitchen and after a little wait for the stove we cooked up some hot dogs, drank some wine a french back packer gave us, showered and then fell into our nice comfy beds - glad that we were not tenting it like most of the others!

Saturday the 24th of January

We woke up like old man and woman with our sore legs! We had a campsite booked for that night, but decided wed splurge and stay in the refugio again if we could, we asked the lady at reception to radio through and books us some beds, headed out front had some breakie in front of the lake and began our next day of hiking.

The trek started out pretty easy, well for the first couple of kms until we reached the bottom centre bit of the W if you like. From here we had a little rest before heading up the centre bit to the second peak of the W, and from here it was all uphill! We scrambled up rocks and walked for about 3 hours before finally reaching the lookout point. The walk was abit of struggle but again the views were amazing, better than the day before. We had views to our left of a huge hanging glacier coming down the side of the mountain and to the right we had clear views of the parks famous rock towers.

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We sat up top for awhile eating our tinned tuna and mayo bickies before reluctantly turning back around for the trip down! We got to the bottom bit of the W and then headed east to the next campsite, arriving at about 8pm.

We walked into the refugio and soon discovered they didn´t have or camping or lodge reservation on record. To make things just a tad worse they were totally full and had no spear tents to rent! After good 20 minutes or so of us anxiously waiting, the guy behind the desk finally came back and said he had managed to get us a tent. Which was a relieft, as after walking 25km that day we weren´t that keen on even walking a 1m further, especially at that time!

We cooked our dinner while the staff set the tent up for us. We headed over and soon discovered it wasn´t exactly the Tadj Mahal, it was a two man tent with a heap of holes in the bottom, set up over rocks! But hey, we had a place to sleep! We managed to get an extra sleeping bag for monique (Matt and I were carrying our own) as we were wondering how the three of us were going to fit in 2 sleeping bags zipped together! We also managed to get out of him a foam sleeping matt which we layed across the bottom of the three of us, layed out on rain jackets to stop the water coming up through the holes just incase it rained and then settle into bed snug as bugs in a rug - was a bit of a tight sqeeze, all 3 of us couldn´t lay on our backs at once!

Suprising we all slept pretty well (after matt rearranged the rocks below us) anddd it didnt rain!

Sunday the 25th of January

We said goodbye to our trusty little tent and were on the track just before 9, we had a huge day of hiking ahead of us, even further then the day before! 2 hours in, and after the weather started to turn a little (this national park is known for it´s notoriously bad weather, wed been blessed so far with blue skies and no raing - quite rare), Matt had the brillant idea of walking to the next lodge and not completing the 3rd peak of the W, and catching a bus back to town. We all decided we were done, and monique was over losing her stepping and falling in rivers knee deep!

We saw some amazing views but too much walking in one day for the all of us! We got to the lodge just as the weather started to looked very ordinary! got back to town, had a scrub headed out for a nice feed and a few drinks before falling asleep on some nice comfy mattresses!

Posted by krystalmat 06:14 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Climbing Volcano´s and the Lake District

Pucon Chile, Bariloche Argentina

semi-overcast 20 °C
View Map 2 - Bariloche to Punerta Natales & Map 2 - 23 Pucon to Bariloche & Map 2 - 22 La Paz to Pucon on krystalmat's travel map.

Matt typing

Tuesday the 13th of January

For the first time in the entire trip since we started we cooked ourselves a meal! Yep Krystal made all of us some porridge and we all sat around enjoying a nice warm breaky.

After breaky and getting ourselves sorted we headed into town to try and organise some stuff for the following couple and days. After checking out a few travel agents we opted for one that our accomodation gave us as they seemed like they hade their sh%t together which is always a good thing when you are handing over your money. We booked for a trek up Volcano Villarrica the following day and then some hot springs the day after. Once happy with our schedule we headed for some lunch and then to a bus terminal to arrange our tickets out of Pucon and into Argentina. Again this is a time when I will say to everyone who may be heading to South America, learn some Spanish! We booked our tickets and once given to us we realised that she had booked them for a week later than what we asked for. After some please´s and sorry´s she fixed them up and we were back on track. 5 seconds after she printed them again Krystal looked at the diary and realised we booked it a day earlier than planned. This time the please´s and sorry´s didn´t work so we had to take what we were given and leave 24 hours earlier than planned. Since that happened we had to then run back to the travel agent and fix that part of the saga. All´s well that ends well though and we were back on track with a big day now planned for tomorrow!

With the sun beaming down on us from above we headed to the shorefront of Lago Villarrica which was filled with many holiday makers relaxing in the sun and swimming in the lake. We relaxed for a while, had some ice cream and a drink then headed back into town for some internet action before heading out for some dinner. Had some great Mexican food (cheap cheap too) then dropped by the supermarket for some supplies for the climb tomorrow before heading back for some relaxing and rest excited for the next day.

Wednesday the 14th of January

When putting our heads on the pillow we went to sleep confident that the sun would be rising and the day would be great. Usually you think that when you are treating to a beautiful sunset and cloudless sky the night before anyhow.....WRONG!! The day was ordinary and our hearts sunk knowing that the chances of us heading up would be slim due to the danger of it if the weather is not kind. We packed our bags anyhow and headed to the travel agent to see what the verdict was going to be. Upon arriving a couple of the others in our group said they would cancel and try for a better day tomorrow, an option we no longer had due to the bus stuff up by us the day before. So the guide said to us that we could take a drive to the base (at a cost of course) and make a decision form there. There was no yes no maybe about it and we hopped in the mini van and the 4 of us headed to the base about 30 minutes away, the 4th being an Irish fellow with the same idea as us. After 20 minutes or so our van popped its head above the clouds and straight into a beautiful blue sky with only a couple of clouds stopping it from being perfect! ¨Lets do it!¨our guide said. We were pumped and Krystal had a smile from ear to ear on her face as climbing a volcano had been one of the things she had wanted to do in South America.

Once we had our gear we began the climb up. The first hour was up (well the whole time was actually) and on dirt and was pretty tough going as 2 steps up meant 1/2 a step back with the slding that was going on. We finally made it to the beginning of the snow and were given our ice picks and a quick demo on how to use the things. Another hour and we were ready for our first break.

The weather was beginning to turn on us and the wind was ripping across the volcano but it was still ok to carry on as long as we moved on it. We all geared up with our pants, jacket, gloves, helmet, and we were back on the move. The track became pretty slippery and some parts got rather steep but the 4 of us powered on for another 2 hours before reching the final rest spot before the summit. By now the wind was galing and and our guide told us to continue on or we risk not getting to the crater so up we went for another 45 minutes before we finally made it to the top. What we were greeted with was the worst smell you smoke straight in the eyes! Toxic burning sulpur and what ever else volcano´s produce was pushed into ur face, up our nose, and down our throats but hey who cares we made it to the top!!! We hung around for 30 minutes or so then our guide said its time to begin the decent as the weather has closed in and we need to get moving ASAP!

We headed off the summit thinking that visibility was so bad due to the smoke but it was actually the clouds that had swamped us! We could see about 2 metres in front of us and not a thing more. The wind was blowing us from our feet and it was freezing!! One good thing about going down a mountain that is covered in snow is there are a couple of options. 1 is to walk and fall on your butt every step or the other is to put on a nappy (thats what they called them) and slide on your butt in man made tubes that have been formed on the mountain. Much better and quicker! So we set ourselves up and jumpe din the tubes for a slippery slide down the hill. One of the important things that we were told is to use the end of your ice pick as a brake as it can get very dangerous and you cannot control yourself once you begin sliding without it. So whats the first thing I do when I get into the tube. Lose control and lose my stick!!! I picked up pace like a drag car at the Thunderdome and began flying down the hill! Past Krystal I went and on my way to what I was sure was a certain broken bone! Now it sounds funny and fun but I can tell you its far from it!! I was shitting myself (not as bad as Egypt in 2007 for fellow blog readers!) but I finally managed to stop myself and get by breath!!! Finally the others caught up to me and we all managed to safely get to the base alive and very very cold and wet!!! We drove back to town, said our goodbyes and headed straaight back for a shower and some dry clothes!! After we were back on track we had a few drinks before heading out for dinner and then onto our night excursion to the hot thermal springs to sort out these aching muscles and bodies!!! We were pretty tired so we called it a night around 11pm before heading back to town and to bed for a good night rest!! All in all a great day that finished up not as bad as what we orginally thought!!

Thursday the 15th of January

Today was all about us getting from Chile to Argentina. So up nice and early and we packed our bags, had some more porridge (good stuff Krystal) and everything seemed under control. All was until Krystal runs out and says ¨Matt the bus is at 8:10, not 8;40!!!!¨¨Whats the time now?¨¨8:10!!!¨¨$&%$&%¨what my response. So we grabbed our gear as quick as possible and booted it ot the bus termianl hoping to get lucky. We were lucky and we saw our bus as we approached the terminal...............saw it driving away!!! We ran to the counter explained the sitaution with our skillful Spanish and were told get a taxi to the next terminal 30 minutes away. We ran to a cab and told him the deal and he did what was needed. He floored it and chased the bus! 20 minutes later and many speeding fines for the driver we ran to the terminal and managed to snag our bus and get our gear on and our butts in our seats. Just a nice and relaxing start to the day!!!

The next 10 hours was busing it down and then across the Lake District of South America. It was a beautiful drive and we mad eit to our destination around 8:15pm which was Bariloche, Argentina. There waiting for us was a familair face that due to the bus stuff up with the days worked out quite well and Ted was there smiling and greeted us in Argentina. Their tour was actually leaving the following morning and due to us coming a day early we managed to bump into them along the way.

From the terminal we grabbed a cab and headed into town only to spend the next hour trying to find a place to stay that wasn´t going to smash our bank balance! Finally found something half decent (still expensive) dumped our bags and headed up to ted and Sharon´s hotel for dinner with their tour group. Was a great night and Krystal and I both had our first Argentinain Steak and wine which were both fantastic before again saying our goodbyes to T and S and headed back to call it a night.

Friday the 16th of January

Up early and on a mission I was this morning. I had to try and finf somewhere cheap for us to park our butts for the next couple of evenings. After an hour of walking and asking I had little luck and we opted for a hotel that was ok but not great with the price range. Still is was the best we were going to get!

We checked out of the hotel and into our new one then headed to the net to try and work out what and how we were to get down South. Another financial nightmare and options were very limited so after a couple hours of surfing and asking we booked so tickets for a 34 hour bus that was to take place in a couple of days time!!! Once back under some kind of control we grabbed some lunch and then took a stroll around town for a while before deciding that due to the ordinary weather we should get some drinks and play some cards back at the room. 3 hours later we were in fine form and headed out for some dinner and more vino (wine) before heading back and calling a night on a pretty uneventful day.

Saturday the 17th of January

With the sun shining and the wind not around today was a perfect day for us to explore some of the beautiful landscape that makes this area one of the nicest places in South America. We had some breakie then headed to the local bus terminal and onto a bus that headed out to the begining of the Circuito Chico. This is a loop that travels for 27kms through around and past some of the best parts of the Lake District in Argentina. You can bike, hitch, bus, or if keen walk it and take as long as you want along the way while enjoying the scenery around you. We thought we would bike it but we shocked by the price of what they wanted for a daily hire of the bikes! We asked a couple of prices and realised we had no option but to pay the price so we went back and began filling out the forms. After reading the forms we were even more unhappy as we had to sign an agreement saying that if anything happened to the bikes and they were damaged or stolen then we would be up for ARG2500 (about $1200AUD) per bike!!! We handed the forms back and said thanks but no thanks and we will try our luck walking the track.

We took off and straight away we were happy with the decision as the walk was fantastic! We took our time, took many pics and enjoying the sun coming down on us. After 8kms or so we stopped off for some lunch at a local brewery and might of snuck in a sample of their product! Once full and satisfied we took off for another 13kms around the track until finally arriving at Hotel Llao Llao where we decided to retire and hang up the boots for the day! 21 kms is more than enough and we caught the bus for the remaining 6kms before getting back to Bariloche around 7pm. We headed back to the hotel and relaxed for a while before heading out for an earlish dinner (8:30, they eat very late here) and then called it a night as the legs were well and truly done!!!

Take care all

M and K

Posted by krystalmat 06:41 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Would you like some salt with that?

Uyuni, Calama & buses, BOLIVIA, CHILE

sunny 25 °C
View Map 2 - 22 La Paz to Pucon on krystalmat's travel map.

- Krystal typing -

Thursday the 8th of January

Well, we got off the bus in Uyuni at about 8am after approximately 12 minutes sleep due to being shaken around in a bus similar to a blender for the past 8 hours!!! Lets just stay it wasnt the smoothest trip of our lives! Plus Monique was having withdrawals from her altitude pills, so first stop was a drug fix for her! (we were stilll at pretty high altitude, higher than La Paz)

Once off the bus we were relieved to be greeted by someone from the tour we had booked. She took us to the tour office, we dumped our bags and grabbed some breakie before jumping into a jeep and meeting 3 others that would be joining us for then next couple of days - an american couple and a dutch girl.

We headed straight out to the salt flat, which was about an 1hours drive out of town. The salt flats of Uyuni are the worlds biggest, they were created about 40,000 years ago when a giant prehistoric lake dried up and left behind two major salt deserts. On our approach and to our amazement we soon discovered the salt flats were under water (which is pretty common given its rainy seasons!) The horizon looked beautfil, the entire ground was white as far as the eye could see with baby blue colourded water. Every now and then you could see little white domes popping up, where workers have tried to dry the salt to take it away to be filtered and sold.

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Our jeep pulled up just short of the water, we got out, took our shoes and socks off and went for a walk in the shallow water.

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After a few happy snaps we jumped back in the jeep and headed out to the salt hotel, which is a hotel made of salt bricks. Apparently its now a muesum as the building is now deemed unsafe for a hotel (but apparently safe for a muesum?). We stopped here for lunch, where we ate luma (not alpaca which is much nicer but still good) on salt tables and chairs!

Next we headed back past the town of Uyuni to an old train cemetery, where the first trains that ever entered Bolivia have been left to rot. The grave yard was kinda cool, a heap of really old freight trains just sitting there rusting away, if you ignore the rust it was as if wed walked back in time.

The next couple of hours were spent driving to our home stay place out in the middle of nowhere in the desert. We arrived here, some how managed to find a bottle shop which was quite lucky, had some drinks and the 6 of us played cards for the rest of the night. Oh, funny enough we had some really salty spag bowl for dinner (again wasnt as bad as lukes risotto in London though!).

Friday the 9th of January

Today we spent the entire day driving around in the jeep to a few different Lagoons. The scenery we saw while driving around was amazing, it kind of reminded me of wardi rum in Jordan. Anyway the desert was full of different colours, making it look like those coloured sand bottle you can buy.

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The first Lagoon we pulled up to was Lagoona Canapa which is a salt lake at an altitude of 4500m. On the drive towards it the lake and its salt premiter just appeared in the hilly desert out of no where. We were greeted by a huge flock of pink flamingos who were bathing and eating along the lake. It felt as if we were sitting in the middle of one of those wild life documentaries.

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After some free time to wander we drove on and stopped for some lunch along some rocks before being drive to a few more lagoons, each seeming to get better and better! After the last lagoon, the Red lagoon, which was coloured red from the the minerals and had the most amount of pink flamingos, we were driven to a block of buidings made out of mud bricks for the night. The accomodation was pretty basic, there was no town at all, we were smack in the middle of no where with stones holding down the tin roofs above! Again the six of us spent the night playing cards.

Saturday the 10th of January

4am wake up, and by 4:30 we were away in the jeep driving towards the Geysers to catch the sunrise. My thoughts were whats a geyser??? so I guess you are probably thinking the same. As we found out their a type of hot spring, tiny holes in the surface where water bubles and steam is ejected turbulently. Theyre formed from special hydrogeological conditions in active volcanic areas which exist in only a few places on earth, so their pretty few and far between. We got out of the car for a little look and man it was cold! I didnt realise how old deserts get during the night, espeically high altitude derserts! The geysers looked like there were huge boiling kettles beneath the surface with the steam trying to escape from a tiny hole.

We lasted a couple of minutes before jumping back into the warmth of jeep and driving on. While we were driving the sun started to rise behind the huge sandy mountains, was quite a pretty site!

We headed to the last Lagoon, where there was a hot spring at one edge and theyd created a rock pull to you could go bath. We decided it was far to cold - monique and I were marching on the spot to try and keep warm, there was no chance I was stripping down into my togs! Instead we stood (well actually marching) at the edge of the lake admiring the flamingos who were surrounded in mist that was being created from the clash in water and air temperature. By far the coldest all 3 of us have been in our lives (London is nothing!)

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After some very ordinary breakfast we were back in the jeep headed for the Chilian boarder, where we were dropped off at a shack again in the middle of no where with hand written black paint across it saying "Bolivian Migration". We found a small tower nearby that had Chile written on one side and Bolivia on the other, so Monique had some fun jumping from one country to another while we waited for our Chilian bus to arrive.

Our bus arrived, we were driven to the town of San Pedro where were filled in our paper work and then were dropped off at the next town. Straight away we headed to the bus terminal and managed to get a bus to Calama, where we could get a direct bus south to Santiago. We decided to spend the night at Calama to get a decent nights rest before our marathon 30 bus ride to Pucon!

Sunday the 11th of January

We woke up fresh as daisy, all pumped for what was ahead! We had decided we were just going to gun it down south (2170km to be procise) as we needed to make some ground up in order to get to the southern most point of south america for both Monique{s and mine and Matts flights which were booked months ago.

Anyway for the next 20 hours we sat up a double decker bus, pretty well empty most of the time, playing cards, DS, watching movies and sleeping. The bus was pretty impressive, it was like sitting in business class on a plane. The view out our window pretty much didnt change the whole time - desert!

Monday the 12th of January

We arrived in Santiago 15 minutes ahead of schedule, night bad timing, at a huge bus terminal. We managed to find a bus headed for Pucon that departed in 45 minutes but from a different terminal. We raced over to the right terminal, jumped on our bus and thats where we sat for the next 11 painful hours, playing "I went to the milk bar" and sleeping.

The first 20 hours was okay, but the last 11 on the not so comfy bus was a little bit of struggle.

We arrive in Pucon at about 7pm and were pleasantly suprised with the town. Its within the lake district of Chile, sitting on a giant lake with volcano Villarrica rising behind it (which we will be climbing!) with a very austrian feel to it. It feels like we{re in an alpine village but a fair few degrees hotter.

Anyway we found a nice little triple share cabin with our own living area and kitchen, where we will be spending the next coupld of nights.

We headed out into town to have some dinner, enjoying the feeling of being back in civilisation. I managed to convince Matt to eat a chilli, who ended up making me eat some. When Monique returned from the bathroom we convinced her to eat some also, but the thing was she didnt realise how hot it was until it was too late. God it was funny watching her try and cool her tounge down for the next 10 minutes! So there you have it, we were eating chillis in chile!

Posted by krystalmat 11:33 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

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