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Showing posts from December, 2015

Ushuaia

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Situated on the southern side of the island of Tierra del Fuego along the Beagle Channel, Ushuaia, Argentina is the southernmost city in the world (although the town Puerto Williams Chile across the channel is further south). We arrived from Punta Arenas, Chile on an evening with heavy clouds, which made it appear much darker than normal still relatively early in the evening around 7:00 pm. The bus terminal is along the coast whereas our hotel, Hotel Ushuaia, was located up the hill several blocks north of downtown, so a taxi was in order.


By the time we'd settled in to our rooms it had largely stopped raining save for a few occasional drops. It was a fair but not difficult walk to the downtown area from the hotel, and that night we had dinner at a restaurant on the eastern side of town, but I can't recall the name or what I had. The next morning the clouds and rain were gone, and we were presented with mountains freshly covered in snow and the incredible landscape surroundin…

Torres del Paine

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Upon leaving Puerto Natales, Chile on the morning of December 18, we retraced part of our drive from the previous day towards the Rio Don Guillermo border crossing before turning and continuing on towards Torres del Paine National Park. As we approached the park, the distant mountains came somewhat into view, but they were fairly obscured by clouds. We stopped at a viewpoint along the eastern end of Sarmiento Lake before continuing on past large herds of guanacos to the park entrance. Las Torres hotel area, which includes campgrounds and other facilities, was the starting point for that day's hike.




It wasn't until around 11:00 am that we started hiking, at first across flat land to the first of several footbridges with capacities of two people at a time. After the bridge, the trail turned uphill for the first of two long, steep climbs. The views to the south gradually improved and became more expansive as we climbed, but once the trail crested, we turned into a valley with a …

Puerto Natales & Punta Arenas

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We boarded a bus and departed El Calafate, Argentina on the morning December 17, 2015 bound for Puerto Natales, Chile. The ride was somewhere in the 3-4 hour range, and much of the ride up to the border on National Highway 40 was not very scenic as the bus crossed the Patagonian steppe. There was one small town, Esperanza, and a few estancias along the road, but not much else. We passed through one of the estancias right before we arrived at the Argentine border crossing at Paso Rio Don Guillermo.


This area was a little more scenic as we were entering the mountains, and we had a few minutes to enjoy it outside as we waited for everyone to pass through the checkpoint. We then boarded the bus, drove a few miles, and arrived at the Chilean border crossing. Both of these border crossings are not directly on the border, and there's nothing between them. We were warned to not have any fruits or nuts when entering Chile as they would be confiscated and possibly delay our passage. After …

Viedma and Perito Moreno Glaciers

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On the last morning in El Chalten (December 15), I opted for an all-day ice climbing excursion on the Viedma Glacier. The much less physically demanding ice trekking is also an option, as is a boat ride to the glacier. But having chose to do ice climbing, it was strongly recommended that I wear hard-bottomed boots, which I didn't own and rented from a shop in town for the day (regular hiking boots are not sufficient). We boarded a bus in El Chalten, which took us to a boat on Viedma Lake. We met our guides before getting on the boat, and it turned out that there were only five of us in the ice climbing group for the day.



The boat departed almost immediately after we boarded it, and the ride took about an hour to get to the point where we disembarked. Before we got off the boat, it traveled along the face of the glacier, allowing us and those who had only booked the boat ride trip to get a relatively close-up view of the glacier. There's no dock at this end of the lake, so upo…

El Chalten & Fitz Roy

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After a few days in Buenos Aires, on the morning of December 13th I boarded an Aerolineas Argentinas Boeing 737 at Aeroparque Jorge Newbery (the primarily domestic airport in Buenos Aires) for about a three hour flight to El Calafate, a city in the southern part of Argentina. The view from the plane window gradually changed from the flat, moist subtropical land around Buenos Aires to the arid steppe in the south all while roughly following the Atlantic coastline. As we approached El Calafate, the white caps of the distant Andes came into view, then Viedma Lake appeared, and finally Argentino Lake appeared just before the plane landed on a runway along its southern shore.


They cool, dry wind was a pleasant change from the heat of Buenos Aires, but I had a another three hour ride, this time in a van to El Chalten, before I could enjoy it. Not long after departing the airport we stopped briefly at the eastern end of Argentino Lake to take in the views of the largest lake entirely within…