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I travelled through Patagonia, the region containing the southernmost portion of South America, in November/December 2007. Starting in the Argentinean capital, Buenos Aires, we went south along the eastern shore line to Ushuaia. From there up north again along the western part of South America to finally end in the Chilean captial, Santiago.

After a quick plane transfer in Paris we flew in about 13.5 hours to Buenos Aires, arriving in the morning. The rest of the day was the only time we had to see the sights of the Argentinean capital. A great way to see the city is by bike. There are not many people riding a bicicly in BA, but there are guided tours organised that show you the city by bike. You get to see the city from a different angle and cover lots of ground at the same time. One of the areas we visisted was La Boca, with its famous coloured houses and ofcourse the Boca Juniors Football Stadium. Another famous place is the Plaza de Mayo, where the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo gather every Thursday to walk around the park. Still asking for answers about their children that went missing during the military dictatorship between 1976 and 1983. A surprising part of the tour was cycling through the Reserva Ecologica Costanera Sur, a nature reserve on the shore of the Rio de la Plata river, just outside the city. Estancia Rio Verde

An early moring flight took us from BA to Trelew. A town about half way between BA and the southernmost point of South America. We visited the Penquin colony of Punta Tumbo and watched the sea lions and sea elephants on the Peninsula Valdés. The absolute hightlight here was however watching Whales from a Zodiac. We saw lots of Whales and once came very close, about 10 meters, to these masive mammals. A truly magical experience.

Another flight took us to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. The weather was not at its best, but still good enough to hike through Tierra del Fuego. Tierra del Fuego actually is an island, separated from the mainland of South America by the Strait of Magellan.

From Ushuaia we crossed the border to Chile, a ferry across the Strait of Magellan brought us to Punta Arenas. The next morning a bus took us to Estancia Rio Verde. A big ranch where sheep are still being kept and just a great place to relax and get some energy for the next tough days ahead. Torres del Paine

From the Estancia we headed north to Puerto Natales, the last place to stock up on food and drinks before we went hiking in Torres del Paine. The first hike took me about 9 hours, but it was all worth it. The view you get up there of the three 'Torres', la Torre Sur (2650), la Torre Central (2600m) and la Torre Norte (2500m), is absolutaly amazing. For me this was the best hike ever. The base for this hike was the Las Torees campsite. The next day we set up camp at Pehoé, to get there we had to take ferry accros Lake Pehoé. After setting up camp our first trek was to see the Grey Glaciar, not as long and hard as the first trek, but still about 7 hours I think, but my feet were killing me. To mucht blisters. The last hike was again longer then the previous day, this time we went to the French Valley. Also a beautifull hike, we saw and heard sevaral avalanches when sitting on Mirador Frances overlooking a breathtaking scenery.

After all that physical activity we headed up north again and into Argentina for the second time. We stayed in El Calafate, a touristy town near one of the major attractions of Argentina, the Perito Moreno Glacier. This is the most beatifull glacier I have ever seen. In the moring we walked the glacier with crampons on, and in the afternoon we went to another lookout point over the Glacier. You could see some big pieces of ice would be falling into the water, but when ... Everybody had their camera's ready for this moment ... suddenly a few small pieces of ice started falling before a giant piece of ice fell into the water, only to rise to the service about half a minute later. The sound of the ice breaking of is chilling and loud!

After a few days relaxing there was more hiking to be done. For this we went to Chaltén, a small town in the Los Glacieres National Park. The first day only a few hours hiking, but the next day another big hike to Laguna de los Tres. A small glacier lake with views of the Fitz Roy and Cerro Torres mountains. That is if the weather would have been good. Unfortunately it was to misty at the top to see anything of the mountains. On the way down the wind gained strenght and big rain showers came down. The next day weather was still too bad to do another hike.

After spending anohter night in El Calafate we flew north to Bariloche. From there a bus drove through the beautifull scenery of the Lake District to San Martin de los Andes. Our own bus broke down, so our group was split up between several other busses that were passing with lots of Argentinean elderly people on holiday here. The Argentinean tour guide of the bus I was dropped in could talk a lot, we did not understand a thing, but it seemed like 100 words a minute. In Sam Martin we could make an easy hike up a small mountain to have a great view of the landscape. Also an afternoon of mountainbiking, going uphill was verry hard. Downhill on the other hand was great. Some big crashes, but I managed to stay on my bike on the way down at least. Uphill was sometimes too hard. Santiago

We crossed the Argentinean/Chilean border for the last time this holiday. A border that proved hard to cross this time, it took several hours and lots of bagage checks before we where finally allowed into Chili again. In Pucon I went for a canopy tour, going fast from tree to tree hanging on a steel cable ... great fun! The next day I went for a hike on snow shoes on the flanks of the Villarica volcano and in the afternoon some horse riding. I did ride a horse once in Cuba, but this was an animal programmed to do the same round every day of his life. This was something else. After a bit of familiarisation we went into gallop for the first time, I was just very happy not to have fallen of. After a few times riding fast I actually enjoyed it.

Finally a very comfortable night bus took us to our final destination, Satiago. The capitol of Chile. Just like Buenos Aires a big town with lots of old buildings. And after dancing the night away in a club in Santiago the holiday came to an end.

Patagonia is certainly one of the most beautifull regions of the world. The rough nature and mountains are fantastic. A great place to hike and enjoy nature.



© 2002-2017 Jacques Herman, All rights reserved.