Home againJanuary 30 in New Zealand
It almost feels hotter than Rio.
It almost feels hotter than Rio.
So we come to the end. 70 days later, Louis and I are again sitting in Santiago's terminal, this time waiting to fly home. This’ll probably be my last substantive post so we’ve got the inevitably summary and thank yous to dish out.
A Country by Country Review: Rank, Best, Worst, Favourite City, Favourite Memory.
Best: The tropical Galapagos Islands.
Worst: The internet - diabolical.
Favourite City: Quito.
Favourite memory: The football match (Honourable mention to Eyob throwing up on boat).
Best: Local architecture (I’m struggling here) - we didn't do much memorable there.
Worst: Louis flooding the hotel.
Favourite city: N/A - we only went to Bogota.
Favourite memory: Leaving.
Best: Inca Trail + meeting the locals.
Worst: Getting sick there, twice.
Favourite City: Cusco.
Favourite Memory: (D) Standing atop the Andes on Inca Trail days 2 and 3 – I have videos will share when I get back.
Best: Beating the Brazilians at beach football.
Worst: Getting robbed + the price of accommodation (we got robbed twice really).
Favourite City: N/A - we only went to Rio.
Favourite Memory: NYE fireworks.
Worst: BA – stands for Barely Average.
Favourite City: Bariloche.
Favourite Memory: Driving up Patagonia – long roads, no rules.
Best: The bakeries here – nice empanadas.
Worst: The internet - again.
Favourite City: Puerto Natales.
Favourite Memory: Torres Del Paine park – great scenery.
And that’s our trip. I never really had any clear vision for this blog. Entertaining the folks back home, a diary for our experiences, a presumptuous 22-year-old’s review of an entire continent – take your pick. I don’t generally go for censorship or overly cautious speak – it just makes for meaningless writing I feel. Perhaps at times you’ve disagreed with something I wrote (I know I do, re-reading things I wrote only 2-3 years ago). Fair enough, I rely on the critical commentator to keep me honest.
I wouldn’t really take all this too seriously though. I never do. It’s just a story about a few 20-something guys trekking through South America; not really a demographic famed for their sophisticated thought. I’ve really enjoyed trying to condense all that’s happened into a series of nightly 300 word posts and have tried to give a full account as possible. Though some will stay with us haha.
Finally, thank you, the readers and subscribers, for sharing the trip with us – it’d be no fun talking to an empty room. I’ve read all your comments and look forward to showing you more when I get back.
I hear our boarding call, time to go.
A few favourite pics: (1) The tortoise and the other tortoise (Galapagos, Ecuador); (2) McGregor v Mayweather round 2 (Quito, Ecuador); (3) All dressed up (Village, Peru); (4) Machu Picchu (Peru); (5) Fireworks (Rio, Brazil); (6) Glacier (Argentina).Read more
Booked ourselves on a penguin tour for this morning. Every boy has a dream. While it was neither mine nor Louis' to see penguins, we had a spare day so might as well.
Tour takes you to Magdalena Island, home to the Magdalena penguins. Not cheap - around $100 NZ. You spend 2 hours on a ferry there and can stay on the island for 1 hour. Over a $1.50 per island time minute. You do get very close to the waddling penguins however (see photos).
We're back in Punta Arenas by the way. Nothing's changed here and probably won't for the next decade.
I read NZ has been stifilingly hot this week - hear it should hit 40 C on Tuesday! Contrasts with Patagonia's summer highs of 10 C.
Pics: (1) Penguin; (2) Boarding; (3) More penguin; (4) Penguins for miles.Read more
Just got back to Puerto Natales to drop off car. Drive back good. Going to bed now.
Can't post photos at the moment. Internet here (and around the continent generally) is not good.
Glacier Grande (the free one) was a bit of a let down. Stubbornly inactive and you couldn't even get close. 3 hour trek there was pleasantly deserted though (we set out at 6:45 am). Only a woodpecker for company (see photo).
We had planned to return the car to Puerto Natales today. This is a return trip of 600km however and a combination of driver fatigue (i.e. me) and potentially not even making the 8pm deadline has seen us extend the rental for one more day. We're instead spending the night in El Calafate again.
Louis was now keen to see the nearby ... Glacier (the expensive one) so we swallowed the NZ $35 fee and drove over. Much grander than the so-called 'Grande' and you can watch up close as the glacier ice cracks loudly and fall. The glacial ice is still in the same position it was when first photographed in 1901. Conclusive evidence against Global Warning perhaps.Read more
Major tourist attractions can be a major rip-off. Case in point El Calafate glacier, where the Argentine government insists on charging NZ $40 for entry. Not to be fleeced, we've gone up to El Chantel instead where there is a free glacier we'll visit tomorrow.
Instead walked to the bottom of Fitzroy Mountain. Don't know much about it, why it's named etc but the views were nice.
Boca playing arch rivals River Plate tonight, currently losing 1-0. Might try and stream using more cafe WiFi.
Also (somewhat inevitably) every accommodation here is either booked out or priced to the heavens. May be a night in the car..
Pic: Fitzroy (big mountain in the middle).Read more
We have hired a car. A white Geely sedan (never heard of them either) which Louis has christened 'lolly' (!). Runs fine, though she tends to pull right at random moments. Driving on the right also takes some getting used to but no mishaps so far.
Have driven back into Argentina to visit the El Calaphate glacier. Have covered about 250km today through the Patagonia desert. Roads are paved but in complete disrepair. They also get noticeably worse the literal moment you cross the border into Argentina from Chile.
At the border we were subjected to the least comprehensive security search in history. Guy had a quick glance in my bag and decided Louis' didn't look worth searching. Too busy dealing with the other non-existent travelers behind us perhaps.
Currently parked outside the Mako Fuegos restaurant. They have great Wi-Fi and their open network stretches to the car.
Pics: (1) The view for miles; (2) Lolly; (3) The featureless desert.Read more
Torres Del Paine is a national park on the border between Chile and Argentina. This sanctuary attracts thousands of trekkers a year and is supposedly quite famous, though I'd never heard of it. The only Torres I know used to play up front for Liverpool.
We first took a bus up to the nearby Puerto Natales the night before. Yet another town which, if not for a nearby attraction, probably wouldn't exist. There is not much going on here except to get up and get to the park as soon as possible.
The park is large and the landscape windswept. Few trees grow and the ones that do are bent over like hunchbacks. Pumas supposedly roam the hills and we were given safety advice on how to deal with one - something about making yourself big and loud noises. No close encounters on our trip however.
Nice scenery - I think travel bloggers often term it 'dramatic'.
Pics: (1) Scenery; (2) An exclusive lodge inside the park itself - 'muy caro'; (3) Windswept; (4) Waterfall - spot the rainbow; (5) The town - bleak; (6) Louis wrestling with the wind over his poncho.Read more
Southern town, very cold. Probably should buy/rent a parka jacket.
Just finished our bus ride from Argentina. First time I think I've crossed a border by land.
Have just enjoyed another quality lunch courtesy of McDonald's. Highest rated restaurant in town. We're only here for 4 hours before flying out, which is just as well as I think we've seen it all already.
Rural Chile seems about as developed as other rural South American places (and we've seen a lot of them). Banks close at 2pm, roads could use some attention etc. Weird because I thought Pinochet reforms etc had pulled Chile further ahead. Difficult to judge from just 2-3 towns however.
Nothing more to say really, just wanted to say hi.
Pic: (1) The local sights.Read more