Monthly Archives: January 2012

Patagonia — a great place to visit, especially in January

It’s Saturday and we’re in El Calafate, Argentina. Still in Patagonia. Still having extraordinarily beautiful weather. Our guide reminds us at least three times a day how lucky we’ve been. We had sunshine in a Chiloe Island, where our guide said it rains “366 days a year”. The volcano took a little rest when we were close to it and allowed the sky to clear so we could see the Andes. The forest fire is Torres Del Paine quieted so the national park and hotels were able to open. We did see a lot of burned area, but it’s a big park and a fire can’t ruin it. The jagged peaks are so magnificent they take your breath away.

When we arrived in Torres Del Paine we had more typical weather — cool, rainy, and most of the peaks hidden in clouds. But the next morning we woke up to glorious blue skies and were able to have a very full day of hiking.

We began the day on Lago Gray and got a close up view of the glacier. You know how happy icebergs make me! I could hardly contain myself in that crisp blue air.

I actually got to wear my sheepskin hat (I’ve packed so badly — it’s really warm down here!).

After our boat ride, we hiked with our lunch. This fox sat and watched us for several minutes before making his exit. We soon saw why he was in the neighborhood:

We rounded a bend and there were dozens of guanacos. As long as we moved slowly and stayed in single file, they didn’t seem to be bothered by our presence.

It was hard to keep moving — I could have spent the afternoon watching them.

Sorry to jump around but I took this one the day before from the road between Punta Arenas and Torres Del Paine. There were hundreds of sheep and all controlled by two guys on horseback, one on foot and about six dogs. I felt a little guilty when we stopped because it seemed like we were stressing the sheep — but you don’t get to see working dogs every day.

We’ve had some very long bus rides. Patagonia is a huge place and the roads aren’t always good. None of the roads in the Torres Del Paine National Park are paved. I’m not complaining — it is so beautiful here it’s worth the effort.

That’s Barn on the trail. Today we spent the morning at the largest glacier in Argentina. I have to go download my photos. Will try to get something together so I can make another post before we leave.

It was so windy — and Barnaby has taken so many pictures of me…. his phone has gotten a lot of use. More later.

Buenos tardes!




Leaving the Lake District — next stop Punta Arenas

We’re flying out in about an hour so I thought I’d upload a couple of photos while I still have internet. One can never count on having fast internet.

Yesterday we visited the oldest national park in Chile — rapids (horizontal waterfalls) and volcanos. It was another gorgeous, hot, sunny day. Yeah — I’m coming home with a suntan whether I like it or not. Geographically we’re in the center of Chile, at about the same latitude as the Washington Oregon border. This area is much wetter though, as it is considered a rain forest (about 75 inches annual rainfall). It doesn’t feel humid though, probably because of its western location (or maybe it’s just drier than Buenos Aires).

After our short hike and fast boat ride on the rapids, we visited a nearby family for lunch. This is the view from their front lawn (you can’t see the volcano from this shot, but it’s there). They live on a lake and ferried us across in their boat. We ate fresh trout (they were caught the day before), potatoes, beets, salad, rice, biscuits and homemade raspberry jam.

This is Tony making friends with one of the couple’s dogs. It seems like all the dogs in Chile are very friendly (if they’re awake).

This is the volcano — also from the couple’s property. They let people pitch tents — talk about idyllic!

Chiloe Island, Patagonia

In my last post I mentioned visiting a family in the country. Several of us rode horses, while others hiked. Afterward we had a traditional barbecue — really a feast. Here’s the family’s stallion coming to the door of the dining room to say hello. It was my kind of place!

This is at the border of Chile. The ground is covered with several inches of ash blown over the past several months from the volcano in the distance. We passed many dead trees as this was relatively close. This border crossing had been closed until recently. We’ve been very lucky to be able to travel to this area at all. And we’ve had incredible weather.

Here we are about to board a ferry for Chiloe Island. This is the place our guide said in a pre-trip email that “rains 366 days a year”. I am happy to say she was wrong. Not only did we have fabulous weather all day (and night) yesterday, it was so sunny and warm today we both got sunburned. Our guide travels with postcards of the volcanos in the background because they are so rarely visible.

Castro, Chiloe Island — this is the poor section. There are no property taxes on buildings that hang out over the water so it’s the complete opposite of home.

These guys were pushed out of the house by a big shepherd dog.

We visited the market.

We bought chocolates.

We visited a school then drove across the island to this lovely house for another home cooked meal.

This is a traditional barbecue on Chiloe Island. A pit had been dug and filled with hot coals, then layers of potatoes, clam, oysters, chicken, and sausages were heaped on top. Leaves were used to divide the sections. The whole thing was then covered with a tarp and turf and left to cook for about an hour.

It was delicious!

The Darwin fox was hanging out hoping for some scraps.

After dinner we spent time in the family’s garden and watched the fog roll in. By the time we got back to our hotel it was quite cool. No stars tonight — but we’re still feeling so grateful to have had so many perfect days. Tomorrow we’ll visit a penguin colony. Ciao! (They don’t use adios in this part of the world — they say ciao — but they don’t spell it like the Italians as I have, but I can’t remember their spelling.) C’est la vie!

Patagonia, January 2012

Barnaby and I arrived in Argentina on Sunday and have been too busy to even think about posting. This morning we skipped a lecture and slept in, so I have a little time. Patagonia isn’t the easiest place to get to — especially when a nearby volcano has been erupting since June. The airport in Bariloche has been closed since June so we had to fly to the nearest town with an airport and take a bus for seven hours. We have an even longer bus ride tomorrow to Chiloe Island — four hours to the border of Chile, then another 6 hours ride. I think we may be on a ferry at some point but it’s become so complicated I don’t even try to keep up. 

We spent the first day in Buenos Aires which is a beautiful city. These photos are from one of the oldest areas — La Boca — which is very colorful.

Barnaby and I wondered around one of the famous shopping streets — Florida Ave (just a little different from the Florida Ave in Hemet).

The Buenos Aires gallería is not so unlike our malls — though the architecture is stunning.

We visited the grave of Eva Peron…..

and learned how to tango.


We have been so lucky in Bariloche. First of all, even though the sky was pretty ashy south of town, it’s been sunny and clear our two and a half days here. Summer is gorgeous here. We have the place to ourselves — the usual Argentine tourists are staying away because of the volcano. It was cool yesterday morning when we rode the lift up to one of the most beautiful panoramas in the world.

We went on a short hike after having a choco-bailey (Bailey’s Irish Cream and hot chocolate). Yes, we are suffering. Some days we don’t even get three square meals! Last night we had fondue at a cute little restaurant “La Alpina”.  Patagonia (and Argentina) have a large immigrant population — the Germans brought beer and the Swiss fondue.

A view from our hike in the Nahuel Huapi National Park

After our hike we toured a local micro brewery (you know how I hated that!!!), had lunch, then went for a float down the Rio Limay. We have been so lucky with weather — we didn’t even have any wind on our float.

This afternoon we visited a family on their ranch about an hour out of Bariloche. We hiked, rode horses, played with their dogs and feasted on a barbecue of beef and lamb accompanied by fresh vegetables, salad, homemade bread and flan. Our best meal yet. I’ll include photos with my next effort — now I have to pack for our early morning call.

We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the forest fire is getting under control in Torres Del Paine National Park, but we will be happy regardless. Here’s a little bathroom wall philosophy that we can all benefit from:

Yes — only this moment! Chow.