Sunday, October 23, 2011

Patagonia- The 'W' Trek, Torres del Paine

We've just got back from doing the 'W' hike in Torres del Paine National Park, which was really beautiful, and lived up to its reputation of crazy weather- on our first day it was so sunny we got sunburnt, then we
 walked over a hill and almost got blown away by wind, then further up the hill it started sleeting, by which time it was so freezing cold it was ridiculous- then on the way down we had torrential rainfall! And this pretty much went on for the whole 4 days we were walking, so it made a relatively easy walk a lot more difficult!

I think more than anything though, it was the wind that  made things difficult for everyone- at one place we stayed, a French couple's tent got blown over and ripped apart while they were sleeping, so we were pretty happy we stayed in a Refugio that night! The walk was really well set up- if you wanted to camp you could, or there were guest houses and refugios along the way, with bars and food for sale- although some had more character than others.

 These guys were all over the road on the drive up to Torres del Paine, they were so cool, apparently pumas eat them, and leave the rest for condors though so I guess thats why they hang out in packs... On  our first night we had dinner a restaurant and I thought that some chairs looked cool because they had furry backs, and Sam pointed out that they were made out of the guanacos...
 Most of the walk was around these incredible glacial lakes, they were aqua blue, and the colour just doesn't seem to come out properly in photos- has to be seen to be believed I guess! Anyway, you could drink the water straight from the streams, it was so icy and fresh...

 So did I mention that it was really really cold and usually really really ridiculously windy?

Thats because there are glaciers everywhere- so so cool to look up at snow-capped mountains and glaciers...

 Anyway, we are doing a group tour with G Adventures called 'Essential Patagonia' and Sam has managed to find another person as crazy as he is to hang out with.... see this beautiful snow-capped mountain? Remember how I mentioned the wind? well, it has been between 30km-100km an hour at stages, and maximum temperatures have been about 5 degrees, so it is cold cold cold....
 Anyway, apparently in the USA, they have this thing called the polar bear dip- it's when you go for a swim before breakfast- so Sam and 'Mas Alto' decided they would have the ultimate polar bear dip and swim in the glacial lake!
 They didn't last very long, but I did film it so that make may it up here at some stage- but did I mention how cold the water is? the next lake over has icebergs!!!!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Navimag- Chile

After Osorno, we got on a cargo ferry called the Navimag from Puerto Montt.  It was 3 nights in bunks in a 42-berth cabin (which actually wasn't as bad as it sounds!). This is where the group started to get to know each other a bit more, because it was 4 days on a boat with not much to do but look at the scenery, play cards and laugh at people who got sea-sick... There was one night in particular that really got to some people, but we thought it wasn't much worse than a bad ferry trip from Manly... We got off the boat at a tiny fishing village called Puerto Eden, which was really, really isolated- no roads to the town at all, and extremely wind-swept and cold- beautiful to visit, but pretty hard-going if you lived there I guess.  The poverty on this island was really stark, especially after the Lakes District which had been populated by German immigrants who drove around in their expensive cars....


Hello everyone!
Sorry we have been out of touch for so long, but internet has been hard to come by, and very slow!
Anyway, basically we've been in Chile for the last couple of weeks, and have seen some beautiful places, eaten some terrible food (being a vegetarian here SUCKS), drunk lots of beer (its CHEAP) and have met some hilarious people along the way so far...  We spent a couple of days in Santiago, catching up with a friend from Newy, and almost getting caught in a Chilean riot- apparently getting tear-gassed is common these days, but we decided it wouldn't be the best way to start a holiday!

After Santiago, our first stop was the Chilean Lakes District, where we hiked up a snow-capped volcano called Osorno...