A Travellerspoint blog

Puerto Varis, Chile

all seasons in one day 13 °C

Yes, we are back in Chile again! After a couple of stunning days in Bariloche (once the rain cleared, we found out why everyone says bariloche is so beautiful), we took the lakes crossing to Chile, not because we particularly wanted to come back to Chile or this little town, but because we had read how beautiful the actual crossing was. And it was! We had the best day, sunny and no wind (which Terry, being prone to seasickess, was thankful for). It consisted of 3 boat rides and 3 or 4 bus rides, all were spectacular. Took over 12 hours so once again, we were eating dinner at 11pm.

Today we took this eco tour which is hard to describe in writing but was absolutely fantastic. Originally we only decided to do it because with my leg, we couldn´t really trek or go white water rafting or canyoning etc and also because they forecast rain and cold and this was something we thought would least be affected by bad weather. But in the end, the weather was fine and the tour was fantastic! It was run by this family who have a property which has an amazing forest and river and also take in injured animals. It ended with lunch and here´s the funny thing. We´ve learnt that in Argentina and Chile, they are quite partial to ham and cheese sandwiches on white bread. Never anything else, just ham and cheese. Whenever lunch is provided, we always know what it will be. Maybe cheese and ham for a change from ham and cheese but that´s about the extent of it. So this tour had ´lunch provided´ and we weren´t hoping for anything much. Boy were we wrong. We had the famous super thick, super huge steaks, salad, bread, wine, pisco sour ... it was all to die for! I had my protein intake for the next two months! And speaking of food, we said we wouldn´t eat any dinner tonight but we got back here and started wandering around and found this place with a menu so extensive, it took us half an hour just to read it (yes, it was in english!!). There were 26 different types of coffee and that doesn´t include the ice coffee, 15 different varieties of hot chocolate, everything from pizza to pastries. Terry got the biggest piece of cake you have ever seen (and we have photos to prove it!). I guess the previous diet I mentioned has gone out the window. I´ll have to rethink it. Weight Watchers doesn´t have any competition to worry about for the moment!

Tomorrow we are going to visit a typical german town about half an hour away. Once again forecast is for rain so its something we can do if it does.

Oh, global warming update from Terry ... he gave his first speech to a group of people the other day in the hostel in Bariloche. Previous to that he´d only told one or two people at a time. Apparently it went well (I´d already gone to bed by that stage so I didn´t hear it, what a shame) and everyone was most interested. Either that or they were too polite to leave the table. Or maybe Terry had them chained to it so they couldn´t move!

Cheers for now,
Sue
PS Leg improving each day so very happy with that. Can walk slowly. And I think I´ll be able to carry my pack next time we get up and move. Since the accident, Terry´s had to deal with both his and my pack. Hmmm...maybe I won´t tell him I´m ok!!!

Posted by SueAttar 18:00 Comments (0)

Bariloche, Argentina

Famous for its chocolate as much as its scenery

13 °C

Once upon a time, in a faraway land, there were two travelling bears, one with a dodgy leg and one with a dodgy stomache. Lets call them Sue and Terry. They left Calafate three days ago for their 12 hour epic journey to Bariloche, usually a 3 hour flight if the airport is not shut for maintenance due to recent volcanic activity! So a shuttle, plane, bus and taxi ride later they arrived around midnight safe and sound, that is to say, as safe and sound as they could be with their dodgy leg and dodgy stomache.

They awoke the following morning to pouring rain, freezing cold and lethal wind, weather they had expected in Patagonia but definitely not here. This lasted for two days. The first day was an excellent excuse for Dodgy Leg to rest up and neither of them left the hostel.

The second day they decided to brave the elements. Off they went after donning their themals, gloves, beanie and wet weather gear - well, maybe just one of them did that! And it was off on a tour of the private hospital. What better way to spend a rainy day after all! Arriving at Reception they gathered what was around and then first stop was the GP, second lookout was the specialist. The views may not have been as spectacular there as the usual sightseeing they'd been doing but the results were great. No DVT, that was a misdiagnosis, now back to a calf muscle tear. The half day tour was more expensive than most but well worth it for peace of mind! Dodgy-leg would much prefer to be limping the rest of the trip than have a potentially fatal blood clot, thats for sure.

After that a slow walk into town and there we were surrounded by chocolate shops! Dodgy-leg thought she'd died and gone to heaven, pain in leg forgotton. They went into the most famous one and took a ticket, much like a bank and waited and waited until finally their number was called and lots of samples were bought. How long they will last is going to be interesting. Whilst there they bumped into an Irish couple they' previously met so all sat at the cafe attached to the shop and spent a few hours eating and drinking whilst looking out the window and the rain pounding down. This was an even better way to spend the day than the Hospital tour! And slighly less expensive.

Luckily the next two days were clearer so they made the most of them. Shared a hire car with 3 other people one day and drove out to the Black Glacier, nice trip. Some lovely waterfalls as well. Next day spent in the most beautiful scenery EVER. The water in the lakes is crystal clear and a deep blue, and the lakes are so vast. The houses are mostly wooden and gorgeous shapes, there's forests and beauty everywhere you look.

So, all in all, they decided Bariloche was a brilliant place to be and they lived happily ever after ... until the next blog.

The End

Posted by SueAttar 17:13 Comments (1)

El Chalten, Torres Del Paine, El Calafate

Argentina and Chile

sunny 19 °C

Hola!!

Finally I have found the time to write, an internet connection that is fast and a computer that is free..three commodities quite difficult to come by, especially all at once! It feels like weve been away for months, maybe due to what we somehow manage to pack into each day. We are usually up by 7am and not in bed before 11 or 12. Sometimes we are not eating dinner until 10 or 11pm but this seems the norm in South America as the restaurants are totally packed. Its quite good for us actually because if we arrive late to a place by the time we've organised ourselves to the hostel etc, its that late anyway!

So back to where I left off, our second day trekking in El Chalten was even more spectacular than the first. We did an 8 hour hike to a mountain peak, so four hours was UP, gradual at first with the last 45 mins to an hour being very steep. But when we made it to the top the pain was worth it (I imagine much like child birth!). Words can not describe the magnificence of the view , we were surrounded by snow capped mountains, glaciers, and forrest. 360 degrees. Had lunch up there to recover our bodies and our appetites before starting back down. The other thing that made it so ´fantastico´ (getting into the local language) was that the day was crystal clear blue sky, not a cloud to be seen. This is extremely rare for these parts so we were very very lucky. Actually the Lonely Planet book says about El Chalten something like: You need to pack for wind, cold and rain even in the summer, however if you happen to get a sunny day, El Chalten is paradise on earth. I couldn´t put it better myself.

The following day we went rock climbing. Me for the very first time, Terry for the 2nd or 3rd time (but he only did indoor climbing before). I absolutely loved it!! It was very challenging but such a good feeling to get to the top! WE had the best guide ever who told us what we had to do and would go up first with a rope to mark the path and then we´d go up and see if we could make it to the top. It took him about 2 mins to get up, secure the rope and the hooks and get back down for us to start. It took us around half an hour for each climb! We did four or five climbs in total, ranging from easy to more difficult (tho lets face it, the easy for us was difficult). My new claim to fame is that I managed a climb and Terry didn´t!! He got stuck half way up and just could not find a foothold or handgrip so after about 20 minutes not moving, he finally gave up and came back down. I assumed I'd have no hope after that but I managed to make it. Pure elation! THat may well be the first time in 7.5 years Ive been better than Terry at something physical! Tell you what though, it is SO much harder than indoor climbing where the grips are there for you. It was crazy, the guide would realise we were stuck so he´d yell up 'up your foot' or 'try to the left' or 'try to the right' and we´d look and still couldn´t find anything! One time he yelled up to Terry 'Follow the line in the rock' and Terry yelled back 'can you give me a pencil then'!! (so he could draw a line to follow). The guide was so cool, we bought him lunch and a beer afterwards.

Next day was travelling and nursing sore muscles. And then finally we got to Torres Del Paine. Very lucky we only had to camp out once, the other 3 nights we got dorms in what they call Refugios. Once again more trekking and more splendid views. I think I accomplised the hardest thing I've ever done there by doing an 11km walk with full pack! The next day we set out for a trek just with our day packs and I felt as light as a feather. This hike was probably my favourite one yet as it was always either by an aqua blue glacial lake, or a waterfall or forrest or high mountain peak.

We did have a couple of problems on this hike though, one being that we somehow managed to lose each other. How is this possible you may well ask. Well somehow we found a way. There was a particularly steep part so Terry went ahead of me (he walks faster than me uphill and then I usually catch up to him on the flat). I got to the top and didn´t see him so kept on going. I walked for ages, expecting to see him around a corner but after ages I started to get a bit mad at him for not waiting for me. Anyway I finally reached the first look out point maybe an hour or more later, all ready to yell at him but he was not there! I sat down for a couple of minutes and then I saw him coming up behind me. Before I had a chance to yell at him, he starts yelling at me! Turns out right back at the first steep hill, he had waited and had just stopped to get the camera out to take a photo of me struggling up the hill. I must have walked past at that moment, head down. He then waited for ages for me to come up but of course I was gone. Finally he runs back down the hill, asking everyone if they had seen me, then back up the hill again, then ran for ages to this rangers station, not knowing if Id fallen or god knows what. Luckily he found someone who spoke english who said he had seen me and that I was ahead of him. So there we were, on the top of this serene beautiful lookout, screaming at each other, him for me not waiting and me saying, why would I wait when I thought you were ahead. After about 5 minutes this french woman who was sitting up there, turned to us and said SSSHHHHHH really crossly. Then she said 'You should just be grateful you have found each other'. That put us in our place, though at that exact minute I don´t think either of us agreed!!

Another funny story is Terry's shoes. Every day after the long hikes our feet just stink but this one particular night his were really bad. We couldn´t figure out whether it was his socks, his shoes or his feet so by process of elimination we figured out it was his shoes. Even if he stuck them right under the bed they were still so bad that the whole room would have had to be fumigated if we left them there. So he goes outside and puts them up a tree and that is where they remained all night! Funny. We were just glad to see the tree was still standing the following morning.

The other problem we had on the abovementioned walk was that all of a sudden I had an extreme sharp pain in one of my calfs. Thought it was a bad cramp at first. Nothing much we could do about it as we were in the middle of the hike so we walked back to the refugio at an extremely slow pace arriving there after 9pm, 3 hours later than expected and after 7 straight hours walking. Following morning I couldn´t walk and leg was swollen so we thought I´d torn a muscle. Problem was, this was the day we had to walk the 11kms back with our packs and it became apparent that I could walk nowhere, pack or no pack. So we booked a horse to get me and my pack back. While we were waiting for this horse, this guy comes and asks me if I want to go back by boat instead. Sure! Turns out it is a cargo boat that carries supplies an porters with heavy packs between the points. So off I go in this dinghy along with 10 guys and masses of equipment. It was fun and much better than the walk, almost worth the pain! Terry set off on foot as soon as he saw me off on the boat so with the hours I had to kill before he got back, I found that a nearby hotel had a spa service so I ended up getting the full works, massage, sauna and jaccouzi, It was expensive but worth every last pasos I can tell you. And second best option to a Doctor which they didn´t have. I thought it would free up my calf muscle.

Got back to El Calafate the next day and did a 7 hour boat trip to a very large glacier here, spectacular, icebergs along the way. I imagine it similar to what Alaska would be like. Then went to Doctor after that to be told I didn´t have muscle problems after all, I had deep vein thrombosis (DVT). I guess that would explain the size of my leg from ankle to knee. Now I have pills and must lie still for 2 days. This is the first day of that while Terry is off doing this brilliant Ice Walk tour on Perito Merino glacier. Very frustrating. Tomorrow we are meant to be flying out but may have to postpone flight, will see what happens.

So that´s about it I think. Oh, have to say the weather this entire trip has been unbeleivable! We wake up to blue skies and no wind or rain and just can´t believe our luck, esp in these parts. It is unprecedented the locals say. Of course we all know what Terry says....global warming of course! He´s having a great time talking to everyone about it and to his surprise mostly everyone here is very aware of it. Maybe because they are surrounded by all the retreating glaciers so they see it with their own eyes.

One thing I forgot about travelling is all the fascinating people you meet on the way as well as the beauty of the scenery. We have met some brilliant people, everyone is so friendly and since my leg problem, people have been so helpful and lovely and kind.

We also have some great videos as well as still photos to show you all (well, those of you at home). Some great ones of the rock climbing!

ciao for now,

Sue

Posted by SueAttar 10:06 Comments (5)

El Chalten, Argentina

all seasons in one day 14 °C

So here we are in El Chalten, down south of Argentina and known as the hiking capital of the country. It is surrounded by snow capped mountains and there are many different treks you can do.
Of course we decided not to do what normal people do..ie do one day trek in one day. Noooo that would be too easy! We decided to incorporate two day treks in the one day, thereby having more time to do other stuff here in our limited time.

So off we went..at 6.30am, with all our thermals on, raingear, sunscreen, food for the day, you name it we had it. It was amazing. But boy we were stuffed when we got back, about 12 hours and about 30km later. Terry has pulled up worse than I have (hahaha, how cool is that!). He could barely walk last night after he´d had a shower. Our feet were throbbing. And he´s still in bed now, even though he wanted to get up just as early today to do another trek! We will still do it but later on in the day. It doesn´t get dark here until about 11pm so we have lots and lots of time.

Tomorrow we booked this tour to do rock climbing. I´ve never ever done it so that should be interesting! We did check it was for beginners though so that is a relief...I won´t be left hanging.

Our plan was to go to Torres Del Paine after this for 4 or 5 days, however we are not sure we´ll be able to do that anymore because it looks like it is full, even camping. They did say in all the guide books that you had to book ahead during peak season but ... well ... as most of you probably know, trying to get Terry to sit down and do some advance planning is like trying to persuade him not to try to do a 2 day treks in 1 day!!! It is taking all of my self control not to say those words ... I told you so!!!! Anyway, I´m sure we´ll find something else to do if we can´t get there though it will be a shame because it is suposed to be spectacular. Mind you it isn´t as spectacular now as it was 3 weeks ago because it turns out a very stupid Israeli tourist decided to ligiht some toilet paper and ended up burning 15000 hectares of the park! They had to close the park for a week and get all 400 tourists out of it when it happened. There are still hostels and hotels there that are closed due to it.

OK girls, I think I´ve discovered a brand new diet, guaranteed to lose weight. Move over Weight Watchers and Atkins, this is called the South America Travel Diet. It goes like this..

Day 1 Bfast... Anything you want.
Walking walking walking walking walking walking walking
Mid morning snack .. nothing, too busy walking.
walkng walking walking walking walking walking
Lunch... Anything you want.
more walkng walking walking
Mid afternoon snack .. apple or cracker
more walking walking walking
Dinner. We have two options for dinner.
Option 1...too buggered from all the walking to have dinner so go straight to bed.
Option 2...go to restaurant and spend half an hour trying to decipher the menu with the phrase book out. Then order. Then wait for an hour for service by which time you give up and go home and go to bed.

Now I think the only problem with this diet will be the maintenance programme. Once the walking walking walking is replaced by eating eating eating and drinking drinking drinking, it may be hard to continue. But hey, I didn´t say it was perfect. I´ve devised the first week or two, the maintenance is up to you... GOOD LUCK!

And now Id better go and wake Terry up, he´ll freak out when he realises how late it is (9am) Both of us are still jetlagged and have been surviving on so little sleep, I´m not surprised it has hit him finally. Im just waiting for it to hit me.

Cheers for now
Sue

Posted by SueAttar 03:36 Comments (1)

On our way down south

I spoke too soon about jet lag! Both of us are waking up in the middle of the night for ages. Right now its 4.30am...but no, I didn´t get up just to write this! Off to the airport for our next flight down south.

And yes, we tried an Earthquake drink ... boy oh boy... now I know firsthand why they call it what they do - the after effects are pretty shattering!

Posted by SueAttar 23:28 Comments (0)

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