A Travellerspoint blog

Torres del Paine


View Around The World on manolo84's travel map.

Happy new year and all the best for 2014!! It's been now a bit more than 7 months that I have started my travelling quest and I have to say that I have never seen the time flying so quickly... There is so much to discover in this world and I have only started to realise that probably a whole life is not enough, so my advice for this year to all of you who are reading me, is to get out and do things you've never done before or go where you've never been, should it be 10km from your house or in an exotic location! There is little chance that you will regret it and who knows, it might convinces you to keep on trying new things or start travelling? ;)
Anyway I wish to all my friends (old and new) as well as to my family, all the happiness possible for this new year! Some people already told me that my blog (especially the pictures taken) really gave them new ideas for future travels so thank you, it really makes me happy when I hear that! Keep on reading, there is more to come! :)

---------------------------------------

When it comes to Patagonia and its national parks, Torres del Paine in Chile receives a lot of praise. Praise which is really well deserved as the landscape can definitely blow your mind off. Besides, add extreme weather conditions and you will understand why hikers from all over the globe come to challenge themselves here.

There are two main ways to walk Torres del Paine (unless you only want to do a day-hike and therefore only seeing a small part of the scenery), the famous W trail or the full circuit. The W trek, as its name suggests, has a shape of a W and can be walked in 4 to 5 days, in opposite to the full loop "the circuit" which will take an average of 8 to 9 days to be completed.

With my new friends Matt and Gerry we decided to opt then for the W trail, not that the idea of doing the full circuit wasn't attractive but we all didn't have enough time to do so. I just had a bit less than 3 weeks left to spend in South America and I still had to go down to Ushuaia and then go back up to Santiago. We then packed up our food for 5 days, rented the camping equipment, and set up early morning for the bus which would take us to the start of the trail.

Torres-Del-Paine-W-Trek.jpg

And this trek really didn't deceive our expectations, on the first day we set up for a gentle walk, a bit windy sometimes but totally bearable and arrived in mid-afternoon to our first campsite, next to the glacier Grey. This allowed for a bit of time wandering around and taking a few shots of the second glacier I was seeing in my life, after the Perito Moreno. I also realised pleasantly that compared to the long trek I had done in Peru, the sun here sets very late, which allows for late cooking and especially allows you to start walking later in the morning as you have more daylight.

The following days would see us walking a bit more, through rain or really windy conditions (a few times the wind was so strong that we were blown away into the bush or pushed to the side of a mountain!), but always allowing us to see amazing mountains, rock formations, forest, glaciers, sunrises, etc... The nights were also actually quite cold, definitely colder than we expected, with a +3 degrees being recorded the last night and forcing us to sleep in our thin sleeping bags with all the clothes we could possibly wear....

But at the end of the fifth day, we had to recognise that we had been lucky with the weather and that the whole trek had been really smooth (maybe at the exception of a dodgy knee for Matt and the oat meal and tent pegs we had forgotten along the way...). There were also definitely more trekkers than in Peru and the last day was a bit of a motorway because of all the day-trekkers who took the opportunity of the nice weather to climb up to see the "towers". Therefore if you are thinking of trekking Torres del Paine and enjoy being alone in the nature or with very few other trekkers, I would definitely recommend doing the full circuit which receives less attention from the hordes of tourists.

Anyway to sum up, great adventure with great people! Patagonia rocks!

large_Torres_del_Paine__21_.jpg
Glacier Grey in sight!

Glacier Grey in sight!


large_Torres_del_Paine__42_.jpg
Backpacks really loaded!

Backpacks really loaded!


Chilean and Patagonian flags

Chilean and Patagonian flags


We can start seeing one of the famous towers...

We can start seeing one of the famous towers...


The water from the streams is so clear that you can even drink it "from the source" ! <img class='img' src='http://www.travellerspoint.com/img/emoticons/icon_smile.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':)' title='' />

The water from the streams is so clear that you can even drink it "from the source" ! :)


One of our "friends" met during the trek

One of our "friends" met during the trek


Weird shaped mountain, which has a volcanic origin I have been told

Weird shaped mountain, which has a volcanic origin I have been told


A rainbow suddenly showing up with the wind gusts blowing the water off the lake's surface... Really impressive

A rainbow suddenly showing up with the wind gusts blowing the water off the lake's surface... Really impressive


More wind gusts, the same ones which will blow us off into the bush a few minutes later

More wind gusts, the same ones which will blow us off into the bush a few minutes later


Waking up at 5am and climbing up to see the sun rising on the famous towers, just incredible

Waking up at 5am and climbing up to see the sun rising on the famous towers, just incredible


large_Torres_del_Paine__125_.jpg
large_Torres_del_Paine__137_.jpg
Our fine team

Our fine team


large_Torres_del_Paine__154_.jpg
The End!

The End!

Posted by manolo84 02:10 Archived in Chile Tagged mountains nature glaciers english treks Comments (0)

The Perito Moreno glacier


View Around The World on manolo84's travel map.

santa_claus_hat.jpg


Merry Christmas everyone!

I know I know I am now quite late behind with the blog... So I will try to catch up as fast as I can in the next days, maybe writing condensed articles with less pictures, but I have been saying this now for a while so I would better not make any promises! :)

After Mendoza and Bariloche, I arrived 28 hours later in El Calafate and with new friends met on the bus. Already the prices for accommodation and food were higher but apparently it is common knowledge that Patagonia is a lot more expensive than the rest of Argentina. Yes you read correctly, I had finally reached Patagonia, the last region on my list in South America! I didn't count all the hours spent in buses but it would be interesting to make some statistics. However Patagonia is a big region, encompassing both Argentina and Chile so a little bit more to go still...

Anyway, in El Calafate the main attraction is the majestic Perito Moreno, a huge glacier which unlike others, is still growing and advancing. I didn't know much about glaciers before seeing one, so I will just provide a bit of information for those who want to know more about this nature wonder.

Basically a glacier is a large accumulation of snow, which forms ice over years and years. The main thing for a glacier to form and grow is that the glacier has to grow larger in winter than it is receding during the summer time (ablation). And finally, because of the gravity, the glacier will slowly move downwards like water and due to the effects of pressure, some parts of the glacier at the front will fall regularly, creating small icebergs and huge cracking sounds.

That's for the very very simplified explanation of what is a glacier and on the right is a diagram showing the different glacier parts.

glaciers_drawing.jpg

The Perito Moreno is quite spectacular and a famous tourist attraction as it is one of the most accessible glaciers in the world, after just a short ride in bus, it is indeed possible to admire it and to be right in front of it. And the difference with this glacier is that the accumulation stage is more important than the melting and evaporation stage happening at the front so that's why the glacier is still growing, by sometimes up to 2 metres a day! And after a bit of thinking, we decided to squeeze some extra dollars in and do a guided tour on the glacier itself, with crampons. I have to say that the money was really worth the trip as you can judge by the few pictures below...

The right side of the glacier

The right side of the glacier


large_Perito_Moreno__5_.jpg
Lago Argentino

Lago Argentino


large_Perito_Moreno__36_.jpg
A bit far away, but I managed that day to capture the ice falling from the glacier

A bit far away, but I managed that day to capture the ice falling from the glacier


You feel very little in front of this wonder of the nature...

You feel very little in front of this wonder of the nature...


large_Perito_Moreno__82_.jpg
The glacier from the "inside"

The glacier from the "inside"


large_Perito_Moreno__92_.jpg
large_Perito_Moreno__101_.jpg
Our expedition

Our expedition


Matt and myself celebrating our day with a glass of whisky to warm us up... <img class='img' src='http://www.travellerspoint.com/img/emoticons/icon_wink.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=';)' title='' />

Matt and myself celebrating our day with a glass of whisky to warm us up... ;)


large_Perito_Moreno__151_.jpg

Posted by manolo84 20:15 Archived in Argentina Tagged glaciers english Comments (0)

From Salta to Bariloche

via Mendoza


View Around The World on manolo84's travel map.

Salta__11_.jpg

After San Pedro de Atacama I decided to cross straight away the border to end up in Argentina, in Salta more precisely. Salta is one of the biggest towns in the north of Argentina and located at the foothill of the Andes, also surrounded by the desert. The architecture is nice, with a colonial style, but I don't know why I wasn't feeling a good vibe there. My mind was probably already thinking of Patagonia and therefore after just a day, I took another bus (22 hours...) to reach Mendoza...

And I think Mendoza is probably a more familiar name as this town (and region) is the centre of the Argentinian wine industry, for which it is world renowned. It is also located near the Aconcagua, the highest mountain outside of the Himalayas, just a few hours away by car (or bus....). The weather is good, not too hot (at least when I was there) and it seems to be a lively city where it is good to live in. And there are a few things to do when you come to Mendoza, the first one being to visit as many bodegas as you can! :) Be careful though, sun + good wine (+ food) is a lethal combination which can send you to bed by mid-afternoon! It definitely felt like being in the South of France....

large_Mendoza__5_.jpg
large_Mendoza__30_.jpg
large_Mendoza__48_.jpg
View to the Andes from the vineyards

View to the Andes from the vineyards


large_Mendoza__59_.jpg
large_Mendoza__63_.jpg
large_Mendoza__65_.jpg

The next day, I packed my small backpack and took the bus in direction of the Aconcagua National Park. We were the 14th of November and the park officially opens the 15th of November for the summer season so I couldn't get very close or even reach the first base camp of this enormous mountain (almost 7000 meters) but it was enough to have a glance at it and to tell myself that I would come back one day and make it to the top! I also had the chance to meet a nice french couple who offered me a ride back to Mendoza (and thus avoid waiting hours for the bus) and on the way we couldn't resist but to stop in a typical Argentinian restaurant to eat the local parrilla (meat grill). I think I easily ate at least 500g of meat that day...

large_Aconcagua_park__14_.jpg
Condors circling in the national park

Condors circling in the national park


large_Aconcagua_park__36_.jpg
bridge formed by thermal waters and minerals near the Aconcagua national park

bridge formed by thermal waters and minerals near the Aconcagua national park


large_Aconcagua_park__52_.jpg

But time was running short once again and once back in Mendoza I decided to take a bus for my next stop in Argentina, Bariloche.
The bus ride was quite long (22 hours) and the landscape changes drastically between the two cities, but for the best I should say. Bariloche is a little jewel of a town which reminds a lot of several ski resorts in France. The main reason why people stop there I think is the amazing landscape as the town is located on the shores of the lake Nahuel Lapi and inside the National Park of the same name. There are a lot of outdoors activities available like hiking, horse riding, biking, kite-surfing, etc.. and I really felt it was a good place to relax and spend a few days...

Lake Nahuel Lapi

Lake Nahuel Lapi


large_Bariloche__29_.jpg
Stream inside the Nahuel Lapi national park

Stream inside the Nahuel Lapi national park


View from the Refugio Frey

View from the Refugio Frey


A weird shaped tree

A weird shaped tree


More waterfalls...

More waterfalls...

Posted by manolo84 00:58 Archived in Argentina Tagged mountains lakes cities wine english treks Comments (0)

The desert of San Pedro de Atacama

sunny 40 °C
View Around The World on manolo84's travel map.

After a few days spent in the Salar de Uyuni and the desert around, in Bolivia, we ended our 4WD (4x4) tour by crossing the Chilean border to arrive in San Pedro de Atacama. This little oasis village, located in the centre of one of the driest deserts, with its narrow dirt streets and attractive adobe houses, has transformed itself, since the 1990s, into the tourism centre of Chile. Sitting at an altitude of 2400m between the desert and the altiplano, or puna (the high basin connecting the two branches of the cordillera), this has been an important settlement since pre-Hispanic times, originally as a major stop on the trading route connecting the llama herders of these highlands with the fishing communities of the Pacific.

But because of its proximity with Bolivia and Argentina, and the amazing landscapes the desert nearby has to offer, this little town was literally full of Chilean tourists and gringos, and prices for accommodation and food come quite as a shock, overpriced and with poor quality.

But anyway, as I wasn't going to stay too long, I booked in the cheapest place I could find (about 14$ US...) and went to admire the Moon Valley and the sunset in the desert, as well as going to an observatory to look at the stars, the desert being one of the best places to watch them as there are no clouds and very few city lights.

After this, I spent some time struggling with my guidebook trying to establish an itinerary which would take me to Ushuaia by doing some kind of zigzag between Argentina and Chile, whilst seeing the more I could, all that in one month. Basically what I needed to do was to follow the Andes but with looooong bus journeys...

Salt caves in the desert

Salt caves in the desert


El Valle de la luna (the moon valley)

El Valle de la luna (the moon valley)


large_Moon_Valley__29_.jpg
large_Moon_Valley__32_.jpg
View of the Licancabur Volcano (5916 m) from the Valley of the Moon

View of the Licancabur Volcano (5916 m) from the Valley of the Moon


Salt rock formation, "Las 3 Marias"

Salt rock formation, "Las 3 Marias"


large_Moon_Valley__60_.jpg
The Valley of the Death

The Valley of the Death


large_Moon_Valley__67_.jpg
large_Moon_Valley__75_.jpg
large_Moon_Valley__93_.jpg
With the stars...

With the stars...


large_Tour_astronomico__6_.jpg
large_Tour_astronomico__9_.jpg
large_Tour_astronomico__12_.jpg

Posted by manolo84 13:09 Archived in Chile Tagged desert english stars Comments (2)

Salar de Uyuni


View Around The World on manolo84's travel map.

Uyuni_map.jpg

Following Potosí, I decided to head off straight away for the south again, skipping cities such as Sucre or Santa Cruz (once again, this will be for another journey...) and ended up in Uyuni, which only purpose or so it seems is to serve as a springboard for tourists who want to explore the legendary salt flat Salar de Uyuni and the amazing landscapes the desert nearby has to offer.

Salar de Uyuni is the world's largest salt flat with 10,582 square kilometres and at an elevation of 3,656 meters. The Salar was apparently formed as a result of transformations between several prehistoric lakes and is covered by a few meters of salt crust. The best way to visit it is to book a 4WD tour for 3 days and to end up in Chile, in San Pedro de Atacama, after having crossed another national park full of coloured lakes, flamingos, alcapas, volcanoes, geysers, etc... I am not going to talk about it for ages but instead will let you admire the different pictures I took during these 3 days. A truly amazing tour...

As we were leaving Uyuni, a small sand tornado appeared...

As we were leaving Uyuni, a small sand tornado appeared...


A graveyard of trains near Uyuni

A graveyard of trains near Uyuni


Actually the next edition of the Dakar is planned to come here too

Actually the next edition of the Dakar is planned to come here too


large_Salar_de_Uyuni__46_.jpg
Our vehicle for the next 3 days

Our vehicle for the next 3 days


The salt crust can be seen clearly

The salt crust can be seen clearly


The Salar allows for funny pictures... <img class='img' src='http://www.travellerspoint.com/img/emoticons/icon_smile.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':)' title='' />

The Salar allows for funny pictures... :)


large_Salar_de_Uyuni__59_.jpg
large_Salar_de_Uyuni__61_.jpg
large_Salar_de_Uyuni__89_.jpg
large_Salar_de_Uyuni__112_.jpg
Picture taken from the Incahuasi island in the middle of the desert

Picture taken from the Incahuasi island in the middle of the desert


large_Salar_de_Uyuni__145_.jpg
So flat...

So flat...


Sunset on the Salar

Sunset on the Salar


large_Salar_de_Uyuni__173_.jpg
large_Salar_de_Uyuni__174_.jpg
Funny thing, the hostel were we would sleep was entirely made in salt, from the floor to the walls, beds, tables, etc...

Funny thing, the hostel were we would sleep was entirely made in salt, from the floor to the walls, beds, tables, etc...


Leaving the desert, we would arrive in the National Park Eduardo Avaroa

Leaving the desert, we would arrive in the National Park Eduardo Avaroa


Flamingos

Flamingos


El increible árbol de piedra (the stone tree), a volcanic rock formation shaped by the strong winds

El increible árbol de piedra (the stone tree), a volcanic rock formation shaped by the strong winds


Coloured lake, with flamingos, the colours are amazing

Coloured lake, with flamingos, the colours are amazing


Mummy and baby alpacas

Mummy and baby alpacas


Who's tickling me??? <img class='img' src='http://www.travellerspoint.com/img/emoticons/icon_wink.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=';)' title='' />

Who's tickling me??? ;)


The desert by night

The desert by night


Geysers at almost 5000 meters high

Geysers at almost 5000 meters high


large_Salar_de_Uyuni__313_.jpg
large_Salar_de_Uyuni__331_.jpg
And we would arrive around 7am at a lake with thermal waters...

And we would arrive around 7am at a lake with thermal waters...


Where there was a small swimming pool! Temperature outside: <dfn title='32°F'>0 °C</dfn>; Temperature inside: <dfn title='95°F'>35 °C</dfn>!!

Where there was a small swimming pool! Temperature outside: 0 °C; Temperature inside: 35 °C!!


large_Salar_de_Uyuni__345_.jpg
large_Salar_de_Uyuni__356_.jpg
On the left, the road to Argentina, on the right, to Chile

On the left, the road to Argentina, on the right, to Chile


Our fantastic Brazilian/French group!

Our fantastic Brazilian/French group!

Posted by manolo84 09:43 Archived in Bolivia Tagged animals desert volcanoes english salt Comments (0)

(Entries 26 - 30 of 69) « Page 1 2 3 4 5 [6] 7 8 9 10 .. »