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  • Day12

    Estancia Harberton

    March 25, 2019 in Argentina ⋅ ⛅ 8 °C

    The tour bus picked us up from the hotel at 830. With about 12 other tourists, we set off for a 2 hour drive, much of it down a gravel road, to estancia harberton. Half the group hopped off the bus and kayaked (rafted) the last part of the trek to the ranch. The other half, which included us and the 'Irish team' took the bus to the ranch to take a tour of the grounds.

    After the tour we loaded up onto a pontoon boat and jetted over to an island that is a home to a huge colony of penguins. The boat ride through the beagle channel was rough with plenty of wind and white caps. Penguins migrate to warmer climates (Brazil) during March and April so we were lucky to see the few remaining penguins. We couldn't get off the boat because the tour company didn't have the rights so we jetted the boat on the shore and all 14 of us jostled for the best view of the creatures. We saw three types of penguins as identified by their markings. I didn't know that theyade sounds or had the ability to swim like a duck but they do!

    After the visit to the island we headed to 'the restaurant' a shack with a smoker adjacent to the outside. We ate a delicious smoked meal of chicken and beef. The meal was followed by a 3 mile hike on the island which I named the 'patagonian death march'.
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  • Day10

    Cerro Fitz Roy & Cerro Torre

    March 23, 2019 in Argentina ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    22 kilometers. It goes quick when there is beautiful scenery. Our guide met us at the hotel at 9am and we drove 30 minutes to the trail head. It was a beautiful morning and Fitz Roy was visible from the hotel. We were warned that it could change in a matter of seconds. I was anxious again. Right from the trail head we could see Fitz Roy in all it's glory. Stopping multiple time we took as many pictures as possible. The guide mentioned that he had done this hike around 100 times this year and this is the best weather he has seen. When the guide stops to take pictures you know it's something special.

    Before long we had a choice to make, head up the steep trail to Lago treat Fitz Roy or head to see Cerro Torre. The guide suggested Cerro Torre and the trail to the Lago looked crowded. We followed his guidance. He mentioned that this was the first time he took this trail this year and that seeing Cerro Torres was special as its usually covered by clouds. We took a gamble and it paid off. Equally as beautiful as Fitz Roy, Cerro Torres was fully visible when we first saw it. We sat on a rock and the guide shared his experiences rock climbing.

    Back on the trail we stopped at a couple more view points including one where you could see Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre at the same time, Cerro Torre was already covered up by clouds.the second stop included an alternate route back to El Chalten which took us for an amazing view of the city. The guide dropped us off at our hotel. We cleaned up and headed out to dinner.

    The dinner was great, Ashley to fill in the rest here!
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  • Day8

    Pierto Moreno Glacier

    March 21, 2019 in Argentina ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    We met our guide at 730AM for the 1.5 hour drive to the glacier. We were treated to a beautiful sunrise and learned a lot from our guide during the car ride.

    At 9 am the boat crossed the lake to the other side where we got a close up view of the glacier. We landed, found a cubby to hide our lunch and walked towards the glacier. Our guide helped us put on crampons and then we headed towards the glacier. We walked on a well worn path for 1.5 hours in a single file line of about 20 people. A little black cat kept us company on our journey, luckialy no on stepped on it. At the end of the trek they offered whisky over ice from the glacier, Ashley partook and immediately regretted it, hopefully she doesn't get sick!

    We took our crampons off and headed to have lunch with a nice older couple we met who were from Toronto. The boat ride back had beautiful, sunny weather and we met our guide and driver at the dock. We then set out to see the other side of the glacier and wait for the ice to fall! The top of the glacier is approximately 200' above the surface of the water and when the ice falls is makes a huge splash and a very cool, very loud cracking sound a few seconds later.

    Glaciers are like very slow moving rivers which are constantly falling off into the lake below and being replenished up top by snow. Scientists think that the leading edge of the glacier is snowfall that landed between 200 and 500 years ago. Pierto Moreno glacier is one of the only glaciers that is not currently in decline, it is in a sort of stasis, not getting any bigger or smaller.

    On occasion the glacier slips further down the mountain and comes into contact with the land mass on the other side. When this happens the water from Lake Argentina (the biggest lake in the country) cannot get out and the level of the lake rises. In the 1950s the water level rose over 23 meter and was stuck there for over a year.

    On the car ride back from the glacier our guide talked more about the floura and fauna of the reigon and explained the term Massif. Cerro (C°) or Mt. Fitz Roy has a Massif which refers to how the mountain is made. Some mountains are made by volcanoes and some are made by erosion, the later creates many peaks, such as Fitz Roy and Torres del Paine, and are said the have a Massif.

    Once we got back to the hotel we headed to the city to get dinner. Ashley was awesome and used Spanish to hail a cab to and from the restaurant and order dinner!
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  • Day7

    Singular 'Down Day'

    March 20, 2019 in Chile ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    Decided to take it easy today and stay close to the hotel. We did a city tour which included some shopping in the morning, had lunch, took a nap and then went horseback riding, for the second time in our trip, in the afternoon. It was a different ranch but was still beautiful. We were joined by che-chin as the guide again and a couple from Mexico City. This trek was up narrow trails and was next to cliffs. After a bit of a climb we were treated to a great view of the valley including a lake. Ashley and che-chin again went off on their own to do a little galloping while the rest of us stayed behind. I made sure to take a bunch more pictures this time!

    After the horseback ride we got back to the hotel and set off to find dinner. We had made reservations at a special restaurant on the hotel grounds called El Asador. Roger helped us find it and we set off knocked on the unmarked door 3 times and were greeted to an exceptionally special dinner. When we arrived we could feel the warmth from the wood stove and could smell a slight hint of the smoke as well. The wood stove was used to create the coals, the chefs transferred the coals under the grill they used to cook our food right in front of our eyes. We were given menus which were no use because it was a fixed meal. Then the food started rolling in.

    We had two appetizers, several side dishes, three cuts of meat and two desserts in the course of 2.5 hours. Everything was delishious and there was way too much food. Ashley and I did our best to eat it all as to not offend anyone. There were only 11 customers in the restaurant so we had to put up a good showing!

    We headed back to our room to find a gift of sweets from our friend from conciege, Roger! After eating that huge meal we made additional space in our bellies for the sweets. They were great as well.
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  • Day5

    Torres Del Paine

    March 18, 2019 in Chile ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    What an amazing unforgettable day! The 2 hour drive to the park from the hotel was filled with nervous anticipation... Were the could going to hold out to give us a sight of the famous towers or were we going to get skunked?

    On the way to the park we saw some condors, guanacos and a fox. At the 1m5 hour mark the mastiff became visible and was sadly the towers and much of the mountain was covered by clouds. We drove around a bit taking pictures and miracously the clouds ending up clearing enough to see all three towers!

    Once we saw the main attraction we stopped and saw some guanacos fighting. Apparently the alpha male has to run competitors out of his area by chasing the Challenger. He runs with his head low to the ground to try to castrate the other male.

    We stopped by a waterfall with another great view of the towers which was still visible and then headed into the park. We drove around the backside and got an amazing view of the mountain which I would say was even more amazing than the towers. We stopped for lunch where the guides set up an assortment of meats and geggies for us to enjoy. Red wine was the popular choice for the group.

    After lunch we headed to grey laka and the grey glacier. Once you see one glacier, you have to see them all! The glacier had a piece that had just broken off and turned into an iceberg. The iceburg was so blue and we had to go in for a closer look! The wind was whistling during our whole trek but we finally made it to take some more pictures. The blue come from the lack of oxygen in the ice. After the grey lake trek we headed back to the van and took the long drive home.
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  • Day4

    Cerro Glacier

    March 17, 2019 in Chile ⋅ 🌧 9 °C

    We got up early in the morning to head to our excursion to the glacier and ranch only to find out that it was too foggy to head out at 8 AM. We were instructed to come back at 9 and we we're lucky enough to take the 1.5 hour boat ride to the glacier. Ashley loaded up on Dramamine and breathed through her mouth to avoid getting sick. The boat was a comfortable ride and we were at the glacier in no time.

    We saw several ice fields on the way but got out of the boat and did a mini trek to get closer to the star of the show.

    After we left the glacier our tour guide, chin-chun, grabbed some of the ice from the glacier. While on the boat they offered drinks made with glacial ice and served a variety of snacks. On the way back we saw some baby sealions and the elisive condor and also stopped at Estancia.
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  • Day4


    March 17, 2019, South Pacific Ocean ⋅ 🌧 13 °C

    After the trip to the glacier we stopped at the Estancia del xxxx. We arrived to a vast valley that met the water with a house situated in the middle. They offered us refreshments and we then headed out to see the lamb roasting over the fire. They removed the lamb from the fire and carbed off a couple pieces for us to try. Ashley doesnt usually like Lamb but even she enjoyed it. After the cutting, we want back to the house to enjoy a lamb and potatoe lunch accompanied by some delicious bread and veggies.

    Druing lunch we met met families that were on the trip with us who were very nice and had good stories to tell. One of the guys said that there was a super exclusive dinner at the hotel that was by invite only an do you had to knock on the door three times to get in.

    After lunch we were shown a demonstration with some sheep dogs who would her a group of sheep around as the owner commanded with short whistles. Easch one was indistinguishable to me but the dogs knew which direction to take the sheep anyhow. The dogs hearded the sheep the a remote building where a rancher demonstarted how to sheer a sheep. In Australia the average sheep sheer time is about 1 minute and in Chile 1 minute 30 seconds, while the world record is 16 seconds. The goal is to get the whole coat off in one piece as quickly as possible. There are 4 different grades of sheep wool based on the color and amount of curls in the fur.

    Once the sheep demonstration was completed we saddled up and went for an hour long horseback ride. Ashley felt at home and had a huge smile on her face the whole time. The trip leader took her off the the side to do a couple more advanced manuvers including a canter which I was able to take pictures off. Pretty cool!

    After the horse ride we set out on the boat back to the hotel. Once we arrived Ashley and I went for a short trip around the grounds, took pictures of mushrooms and the cool architecture. We then stopped at the bar and had drinks until we were ready for dinner. anshkey had a 1876 drink and I had a ginger honey lemonade, my forth one in 2 days.
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  • Day3

    Santiago to Patagonia

    March 16, 2019 in Chile ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    After our stay in Santiago we were taken back to the airport to get on a flight to head south! We bought snacks at the airport (including Pringles chips, which ended up being a recurring familiar snack during the trip). The flight in was beautiful to see the mountains from the air. We landed in Punta Arenas, collected our bags and gathered for our driver.

    We waited for another couple who ended up sharing the ride with us to Singular Patagonia, Elizabeth and Allen. The driver had croissant sandwiches, snack mix and water for us for the ride in. The weather was certainly different than Santiago-- it rained most of the 3 hour drive from the airport to the hotel. Elizabeth and Allen explained their travel plans, they were originally from LA and were spending a few months traveling in Chile. We would end up later running into them a few times on the Singular property at dinner, so it was nice to have some familiar faces. They shared with us some photos from their African Safari trip.

    During the drive to the hotel we saw flamingos wading around in some shallow marshy water - I had hoped to see more of them up close but they were the only ones we saw the whole trip.

    When we got to the hotel, there happened to be a large influx of check ins all at the same time. Instead of checking in, they recommended we instead meet with the excursion planners to book our adventures for the time we were there.

    Unfortunately the weather was not going to be good and for the effort there was not a high likelihood of seeing as much of Torres del Paine as we had hoped. They talked us into a boat tour to see glaciers and a visit to an estancia for the following day. Once we set up our plans we did a brief tour of the inside of the main lodge (which used to be an old sheep slaughterhouse...bit of creepy history!) and finally got checked in and to our room. The view was amazing - overlooking the water, although very hard to see as it was dark and appeared to be the typical Oregon winter.

    Our meals were included for the entire stay at the hotel so we made our way to the dinner restaurant. I of course had red wine, Trevor had lamb and I had smoked salmon, with a salad and roasted vegetable plate. The meals were very good.

    After a long day we were off to bed to be ready for the boat ride in the morning.
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  • Day2


    March 15, 2019 in Chile ⋅ ☁️ 12 °C

    Our guide Lucy and driver Jorge picked us up from our hotel for the 1.5 hour drive to Valparaíso. To get there we drove through wine country and Lucy explained there are a lot of boutique wineries in this area. She also explained the history of the name Valparaíso, basically they mushed the phrase "go to paradise" or "Va al paraíso" together into the name.

    Lucy explained also that it was at one time a more wealthy city but has over the years become a poorer area. It is a port city, so historically people from Europe came to settle there. Lucy pointed out as we drove through town the many fire houses that were supplied as resources by the French, English and Germans. Apparently the city used to have a fire station every couple of blocks--because of the hills it was difficult to access town in event of fire. You can see the european influence in many of the architecture styles of the buildings.

    Lucy explained that the area of Valparaíso we were going to visit was established as a UNESCO world heritage site in effort to preserve it's character. The buildings reminded me of the houses we saw in Cinque Terre we saw last year in Italy which is also a UNESCO site.

    The first stop after driving through the newer part of town was at a viewpoint overlooking the port. Most of the supplies coming to Santiago arrive there, although more recently another port was built that offset some of the deliveries.

    After this stop we drove by car further up the hillside and began our walking tour. Lucy explained that they believe the bright colors of the houses were a way to communicate to others where you lived, as the streets didn't have house numbers.

    We ate lunch at a hillside restaurant called Fauna. We sat on the balcony and could watch the water as well as see all of the different colored houses. After lunch we drove around to visit several tall murals around the city that were painted by the same couple. There were 4 of them, meant to portray the different seasons. Before heading back to Santiago, we also stopped to see Pablo Neruda's house. We did not go in, but admired it's character from the outside.

    On the way back to Santiago, we drove by a train station that was designed by the same architect as the Eiffel Tower. You could certainly see the resemblance. It also took us an hour and a half to go 5 km in traffic from the outskirts of Santiago back to our hotel. It was a long day! I don't think we have ever been stuck in traffic for that long before in our lives!

    Once we got back and rested, we had dinner at Buffalo Waffles across the street from our hotel. Waffles wrapped like a cone with savory filling! They had crispy potato 'fries' in them. Off to bed, getting back on a plane again in the morning!
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