Chile and Patagonian Argentina: (Belated) Photos and Notes

A backfill entry and not really “photos and notes”, more of a summary of the four weeks when I caught up with Hazel on her South American adventures, travelling south from Santiago to Patagonia and back again in November/December 2003 – three weeks in Chile, one in Argentina.

The detail comes from the photos in my Chile & Patagonian Argentina, November – December 2003 Flickr album and my emails-home-turned-blog-posts.

Friday 07 November 2003 / Saturday 08 November 2003: LondonSantiagoValparaíso (photos)

I flew Varig via São Paulo:

  • Fri 07 Nov: RG8757 LHR – GRU (SAO) dep 22:00 arr 07:40 + 1 day
  • Sat 08 Nov: RG8920 GRU (SAO) – SCL dep 10:35 arr 13:35

Having landed in Chile in the early afternoon, I was met by Hazel and we took the bus to Valparaíso where we settled into the hostal and then did some exploring on foot in a (vain) attempt to beat jetlag. Beautiful colours – sunset and structures.

See my Drying off and warming up in Chile blog post for more detail about today.

Sunday 09 November 2003: SantiagoValparaíso (photos)

More exploring, featuring the famous funicular and the faded tea rooms of Café Riquet; more colourful buildings, plus the “amazing glass office block built inside an old bank” (which Google images has revealed to be the CSAV (Compañía Sud Americana de Vapores) headquarters, which Wikipedia tells me is a fine example of façadism.

Valparaíso: architecture
CSAV (Compañía Sud Americana de Vapores) HQ, Valparaíso

See my Drying off and warming up in Chile blog post for more detail about today.

Monday 10 November 2003: ValparaísoPucón (photos)

A long day travelling with TurBus, leaving Valpo at 6.15am and arriving into Pucón on the shores of Lago Villarrica at 8.30pm, seeing (but not stopping in) the fabulously fertile Central Valley en route. Approximately 870 Km covered all told.

See my Drying off and warming up in Chile blog post for more detail about today.

Tuesday 11 November 2003: Pucón day trip: Huerquehue National Park (photos)

Volcán Villarrica proved elusive, hiding in thick cloud, so we opted for a day hike in Huerquehue National Park.

It was beautiful….

Day hike in Huerquehue National Park
Huerquehue National Park

…but wet…..

Back in our lovely hostel in Pucón we emptied our daypacks and laid out everything to dry:

Drying off after our day hike in Huerquehue National Park
Drying off my stuff after our day hike in Huerquehue National Park

Wednesday 12 November 2003: PucónValdiviaPuerto Varas (photos)

Another day covering large distances by bus, this time the 303 Km from Pucón to Puerto Varas via Valdivia.

Thursday 13 November 2003: Puerto Varas day trip: Los Saltos del Rio PetrohuéVolcán OsornoLago Todos Los Santos (photos)

An excellent day trip from Puerto Varas took us to Los Saltos del Rio Petrohué (Petrohue waterfalls), with glimpses of the snow capped peak of Volcán Osorno then on to a stunning afternoon’s cruise across Lago Todos Los Santos to (the slightly touristy) Puerto Peulla then back to Puerto Varas.

Los Saltos del Rio Petrohué: Volcán Osorno
Volcán Osorno from Los Saltos del Rio Petrohué

Lago Todos Los Santos: blues
Lago Todos Los Santos: blues

Lago Todos Los Santos: monochrome
Lago Todos Los Santos: monochome

Friday 14 November 2003: Puerto VarasPuerto MonttIsla de Chiloé, Chonchi (photos)

A short hop (20 Km) from Puerto Varas to Puerto Montt courtesy of Empresas Cruz del SurLa Flota Amiga de la Xa Region – where we booked onto Monday’s Navimag ferry from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales. A busy time of year meant we had to change from our original plan to do the four day/night ferry trip from P. Montt to the San Rafael Glacier.

Thence across the Chacao Channel by flat bed ferry to reach at the haunting Isla de Chiloé. Small towns full of old, wooden houses and churches, with miles of green fields between. We spent the night in an old fishing village (with lots of old shingle houses) – Chonchi I think.

Saturday 15 November 2003: Isla de Chiloé: ChonchiAncud (photos)

A basic bus took us from Chonchi to Ancud on the north west coast of the island, where we managed to find some sun and a great hostel – Hostal Mundo Nuevo and had tea and cakes at the Pasteleria Pedersen, Salon de Te.

The bay of Ancud: shoreline
The bay of Ancud: shoreline

See my Amazing Ancud blog post for more detail about today.

Sunday 16 November 2003: Isla de Chiloé, Ancud: day trip to the Islotes de Puñihuil (photos)

See my Rain rain rain rain rain blog post for more detail about today. The title says it all really. Our penguin spotting day trip to the Islotes de Puñihuil wasn’t entirely in vain, but it was entirely spent in the rain.

Monday 17 November 2003: Isla de Chiloé, AncudPuerto MonttNavimag ferry from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales day 1: Reloncaví EstuaryGolfo de Ancud (Gulf of Ancud)Golfo de Corcovado (Gulf of Corcovado) (photos)

Saying au revoir to Ancud and the Isla de Chiloé, we took the ferry back to Puerto Montt where we pottered and prepped for our four day Navimag cruise down the Zona Austral coast from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales…. and Patagonia.

The Navimag website describes day 1 of the route as follows:

“Check in Angelmó # 1735, Puerto Montt, from 9 AM to 12:30 AM. The crew members will welcome the passengers and give them some information for an entertaining and safe sailing. Then we will set sail through the Patagonia fjords, to Puerto Natales city as our final destination. We begin sailing in Reloncaví Estuary, Ancud Gulf and at sunset, we enter Corcovado Gulf. We have just started a surprising adventure.”

We set sail in the lovely early evening light. NO RAIN! Wonderful views of the snow capped peaks of Chilean Patagonia. Beautiful.

Departing Puerto Montt on the Navimag ferry
Departing Puerto Montt on the Navimag ferry

Tuesday 18 November 2003: Navimag ferry from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales day 2: Moraleda Canal (Moraleda Channel)Golfo de Penas (Gulf of Sorrows / Bay of Sorrows) (photos)

Day 2 on the four day Navimag cruise down the Zona Austral coast from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales. More marvellous scenery, getting increasingly fjordlike.

The Navimag website describes the route as follows:

“We start sailing at dawn by the Moraleda channel, which is one of the deepest we sail on the route, later we sail Errázuriz and Costa channels. Then we enter Pelluche channel, the most abundant in vegetation (Cypress and Lengas forests) if we are lucky enough, we could even see “toninas” (a kind of dolphin), seals and wild birds. At sunset, we start sailing the ocean in gulf of Penas area, which lasts 12 hours approximately and here is possible to see Humpback Whales.”

Patagonian fjords
Patagonian fjords

Wednesday 19 November 2003: Navimag ferry from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales day 3: Golfo de Penas (Gulf of Sorrows / Bay of Sorrows)Messier channelAngostura Inglesa (English Narrows)Puerto Edén – “Iceberg Inlet” (photos)

Day 3 on the four day Navimag cruise down the Zona Austral coast from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales. More marvellous scenery: icebergs, inlets and fjords.

The Navimag website describes the route as follows:

“We wake up sailing between fjords and crossing the Messier channel, which is 1,270 meters deep. This characteristic makes it one of the deepest in the area; here we will also be able to see a cargo ship “Capitán Leonidas”, which is aground since the 70s in a semi sunken islet called “Bajo Cotopaxi”. Nowadays, it is used as a lighthouse and as a point of reference for sailors. Shortly after that, we will cross “Angostura Inglesa” to arrive to Puerto Edén (Only high season), which is located in Wellington Island, one of the biggest in Chile. It is part of Bernardo O’Higgins National park, which is the vastest in Chile, it has Magallánicos forest and Southern Patagonia Ice Field. This area is full of glaciers and, if weather and itinerary permitting, we will come and we can see some of them .*

*Glaciers possible to visit on day 3 in Puerto Montt – Puerto Natales Route are: Amalia Glacier, Glacier Skua, Estero de las montañas, Iceberg o Brujo”

We didn’t see glaciers, but we did see beautiful small pewter and blue icebergs in a glowering grey inlet (which I christened Iceberg Inlet), and we did call in at the incredibly isolated Puerto Edén.

Islands and light house, approaching Puerto Edén
Islands and light house, approaching Puerto Edén

Iceberg inlet
Iceberg inlet

Iceberg inlet
Iceberg inlet

Thursday 20 November 2003: Navimag ferry from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales day 4: Canal Sarmiento (Sarmiento channel) – Angostura White – Canal Unión – Canal Señoret (Señoret Channel)Puerto Natales (photos)

The final day of our four day Navimag cruise down the Zona Austral coast from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales.

The Navimag website describes the route as follows:

“We wake up sailing Sarmiento channel, and then we arrive to the narrowest path of the route, Angostura White, which is only 80 metres wide. Later, we sail the Union small bay and then we enter the channel to access Puerto Natales city where our great adventure ends. “

Our Navimag ferry, docked in Puerto Natales
Our Navimag ferry, docked in Puerto Natales

On arrival in Puerto Natales we and most of the other ferry passengers hot-footed it to the Torres del Paine National Park tour office, where we booked ourselves onto a DIY reverse-W route a few days hence.

Friday 21 November 2003: Puerto NatalesEl Calafate (photos)

To pass the days until our departure for Torres del Paine, we decided to head over the border into Argentinian Patagonia. Our first stop: El Calafate. Hello Argentina!

See my Snow at the border…. blog post for more detail about today.

Saturday 22 November 2003: El Calafate day trip: Perito Moreno Glacier (photos)

We did a day trip from El Calafate to the Perito Moreno Glacier, which included a boat trip cruising along the face of the glacier.

Perito Moreno glacier
Perito Moreno Glacier

See my Snow at the border…. blog post for more detail about today.

Sunday 23 November 2003: El CalafateEl Chaltén: Sendero a Laguna Torre (photos)

From El Calafate we took the bus up to El Chaltén.

Snow capped peaks of the Patagonian Andes, and Lago Viedma (?)
En route to El Chaltén – snow capped peaks of the Patagonian Andes and Lago Viedma (?)

We spent our time in the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares on day hikes: today, the Sendero a Laguna Torre up towards the superb Cerro Torre.

Snow capped peak, on the sendero a Laguna Torre - today's hike
Snow capped peak, on the Sendero a Laguna Torre

See my Snow at the border…. blog post for more detail about today.

Monday 24 November 2003: El Chaltén: Sendero al Fitz Roy (photos)

We spent our second day in El Chaltén hiking along the Sendero al Fitz Roy up to the fantastic Mount Fitzroy aka Cerro Chaltén or Monte Fitz Roy.

Mount Fitzroy
Cerro Chaltén (Mount Fitzroy)

It doesn’t look quite real…

See my Snow at the border…. blog post for more detail about today.

Tuesday 25 November 2003: El ChalténPuerto Natales (photo)

A long bus journey brought us back to Puerto Natales, with snow at the border… horizontal snow….

Au revoir Argentina, it’s time to get ready for Torres del Paine trek…

See my Snow at the border…. blog post for more detail about today.

Wednesday 26 November 2003: Puerto Natales (photos)

A day biding our time in Puerto Natales… mainly in the rain. Thank heavens for the marvellous El Living…. “Great food, the odd glass or two of chilean red wine, and The Guardian Weekly, courtesy of the Croydonese-owner.”

See my Snow at the border…. blog post for more detail about today.

Thursday 27 November 2003: Torres del Paine “W” trek, day 1: Puerto NatalesLago del ToroLago Grey – Refugio Grey (photos)

We spent 5 great days in Torres del Paine National Park walking the “W”.

Day one saw blizzards, hail and force 12 gales (it felt like force 12 anyhow…. and we both almost got blown over despite large rucksacks) en route to Glaciar Grey and its refugio, which made it worth the 4 hour hike from the ferry drop off.

Torres del Paine "W" trek, day 1: me on the path alongside Lago Grey
Me on the path alongside Lago Grey

See my Four seasons in five days in Torres del Paine blog post for more detail about today.

Friday 28 November 2003: Torres del Paine “W” trek, day 2: Refugio Grey – Lago GreyLago PehoéLago Nordenskjöld – Refugio Los Cuernos (photos)

We spent 5 great days in Torres del Paine National Park walking the “W”.

Day 2 was better – no wind, and we saw our first condors as we backtracked along the shore of Lago Grey to Lago Pehoé and skirted the north shore of Lago Nordenskjöld under the vast bulk of Los Cuernos. Stayed 2 great nights in Refugio Los Cuernos.

Torres del Paine "W" trek, day 2: Los Cuernos
Los Cuernos

See my Four seasons in five days in Torres del Paine blog post for more detail about today.

Saturday 29 November 2003: Torres del Paine “W” trek, day 3: Refugio Los Cuernos – Valle de Francés – Refugio Los Cuernos (photos)

Having two nights at Refugio Los Cuernos meant that on day 3 we could walk up the stunning Valle de Francés under clear blue skies, getting amazing 360 degree views out over the lakes, of Los Cuernos (from the other side) and the avalanches coming from glaciar Frances. Amazing.

Torres del Paine "W" trek, day 3: Lago Nordenskjöld
Lago Nordenskjöld

Torres del Paine "W" trek, day 3: snow capped mountains, and blue skies
Cirque at the head of the Valle de Francés

See my Four seasons in five days in Torres del Paine blog post for more detail about today.

Sunday 30 November 2003: Torres del Paine “W” trek, day 4: Refugio Los Cuernos – Refugio Chileno (photos)

Day 4 we hiked onwards in light drizzle to Refugio Chileno, which lies un the valley leading up to Los Torres del Paine themselves, and as we whiled away the afternoon under grey skies, the clouds lifted enough for us to see them…

See my Four seasons in five days in Torres del Paine blog post for more detail about today.

Monday 01 December 2003: Torres del Paine “W” trek, day 5: Refugio Chileno – Mirador Las Torres – Laguna Amarga park entrance – Puerto Natales (photos)

On day 5 we woke to clear blue skies again and marched off double quick along the 2 hour return path to the Las Torres lookout … making it in under 3, including the vertiginous bouldering section to reach the lake at the base of the Torres. Lovely.

Torres del Paine "W" trek, day 5: Las Torres Lasses
Las Torres Lasses

We were picked up from the luxury hotel at the Laguna Amarga entrance to the park and a couple of hours later we were back in Puerto Natales…..

Once clean and fresh we headed across the Plaza to El Living, ready to meet up with Nodoka and Choko and Simon who we met on the trek, and to celebrate with pisco sours. And do you know what? Puerto Natales wasn’t too bad in the sunshine…..

See my Four seasons in five days in Torres del Paine blog post for more detail about today.

Tuesday 02 December 2003: Puerto NatalesPunta Arenas (photos)

After a leisurely morning in El Living, we caught the bus from Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas – we’d not quite enough time left to make it all the way down to Ushuaia and the Tierra del Fuego before our long-ago purchase flights from P. Arenas to Santiago…

Nothing much to do in Punta Arenas apart from visit the Magellanic penguins at the Monumento Natural Los Pingüinos on Isla Magdalena, which we did today on an afternoon/evening trip, under big blue skies which lasted long into the evening.

Magellanic penguins, Monumento Natural Los Pingüinos, Isla Magdalena
Magellanic penguins, Monumento Natural Los Pingüinos, Isla Magdalena

Wednesday 03 December 2003: Punta Arenas (photos)

After a morning pottering around the cemetery, which Punta Arenas does in some style, by a total fluke H and I bumped into Nodoka and Chako again – or rather they came flying out of Lomit’s to catch up with us walking past after an hour in the Swiss style cake/chocolate shop. The four of us had a nice final meal in La Luna, preceded by Patagonian strength pisco sours ….

Cemetery, Punta Arenas
Cemetery, Punta Arenas

See my Chile adventures complete: Back in Blighty! blog post for more detail about today.

Thursday 04 December 2003: Punta ArenasSantiago (photos)

We flew LAN Chile from Punta Arenas to Santiago with a touch down in rainy Puerto Montt.

Santiago was hot-hot-hot in comparison to Patagonia, and we spent Thursday afternoon seeing the City centre sights, primarily the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, and people-watching from a pavement cafe whilst struggling through mammoth ice cream sundaes…..

See my Chile adventures complete: Back in Blighty! blog post for more detail about today.

Friday 05 December 2003: Santiago (photos)

On Friday we headed out to the craft shop village of Pomaire (where I bought a Pomaire Piggy bank each for Barney and Rosa – the type you have to smash to extract your pennies), and returned to Santiago to take the funicular up Cerro San Cristóbal where we sat in the shade and wrote post-cum-Christmas cards to all and sundry.

View from Cerro San Cristobal, Santiago
View from Cerro San Cristóbal, Santiago

For our final dinner we took the metro to Providencia and ate in “Santiago’s best veggie restaurant” (Rough Guide) – El Huerta – I had Thai green curry…… not an egg or an omelette in sight.

See my Chile adventures complete: Back in Blighty! blog post for more detail about today.

Saturday 06 December 2003 / Sunday 07 December 2003: SantiagoLondon (photos)

We mooched around the City centre again for a couple of hours in the morning, before many people were up and about, taking in the Plaza de Armas, the Post Office, the Cathedral, La Moneda and the Central Market (cast iron structure made in Birmingham at the end of the 19th century and shipped out to Chile) before I headed to the airport for my return flight with Varig, via São Paulo (GRU) again:

  • Sat 06 Dec: RG8921 SCL – GRU dep 15:00 arr 19:40
  • Sat 06 Dec: RG8756 GRU – LHR dep 23:00 arr 12:20 + 1 (Sun 07 Dec)

Back in London, Phil and mince pies were waiting for me.

See my Chile adventures complete: Back in Blighty! blog post for more detail about today.

Chile photos finished

… as in I’ve finally got them all up on http://photos.sparklytrainers.com (aka the fantastic fotopic).

The main reason for the delay (unusual for me I know!) is that I had to resize some of the larger ones I took in Chile. Over-enthusiastic use of all the Ixus’ maxumum settings for dimensions and resolution/smoothing meant that I had pictures that were 1+MB in size…. waaaaaaaaay too big to do anything useful with. So I used a batch process in Phil’s Photoshop to scale down all the ones taken after 21 November, and then had to file them in amongst the full scale photos, and then select the ones to upload to fotopic. Except that I wimped out on that last step and just uploaded everything! As you will see if you look at the El Chalten / Fitz Roy collection …………..

December 2012: Following Fotopic’s demise, I’ve uploaded the photos onto Flickr – Chile & Patagonian Argentina, November – December 2003

Four seasons in five days in Torres del Paine

We’ve just returned from a great 5 days in Torres del Paine National Park:

Day 1 saw blizzards, hail and force 12 gales (it felt like force 12 anyhow…. and we both almost got blown over despite large rucksacks) en route to Glaciar Grey, which made it worth the 4 hour hike from the ferry drop off.

Day 2 was better – no wind, and we saw our first condors as we backtracked along the shore of Lago Grey to Lago Pehoe and skirted the north shore of Lake Skotendbild (?) under the vast bulk of Los Cuernos. Stayed 2 great nights in Refugio Los Cuernos, which meant that on day 3 we could walk up the stunning Val de Frances under clear blue skies, getting amazing 360 degree views out over the lakes, of Los Cuernos (from the other side) and the avalanches coming from glaciar Frances. Amazing.

Day 4 we hiked onwards in light drizzle to refugio Chileno, which lies un the valley leading up to Los Torres, and as we whiled away the afternoon under grey skies, the clouds lifted enough for us to see them… and today (day 5) we woke to clear blue skies again and marched off double quick along the 2 hour return path to Los Torres… making it in under 3, including the vertiginous bouldering section to reach the lake at the base fo the Torres. Lovely.

We’re now clean and fresh and will be meeting up with Nodoka and Choko and Simon for pisco sours at El Living in the not too distant future! And do you know what…. Puerto Natales isn’t too bad in the sunshine…..

Off down to Punta Arenas tomorrow, hopefully to see the penguin colony on Isla Magallena before flying back to Santiago.

Snow at the border….

We arrived in Puerto Natales last Thursday, and took the bus over to the eastern side of the Andes on Friday, and have spent the past few days exploring various sections of Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park, which rivals Chile’s Torres del Paine, our destination this coming Thursday.

The 4 hour bus ride from P.Natales brought us over the border at quiet Cerro Castillo, and as we descended from the high plains we had fantastic views of the milky blue, glacier-fed waters of Lago Argentina. Two nights in the Argentinian metropolis of El Calafate (well, in comparison to P.Natales, it has much more to offer the visitor, from delicious ice creams at pavement cafes, to souvenir shops!) allowed us to enjoy pizza and a parilla grill as well as the Perito Moreno glaciar, which was our first encounter with the amazing blue skyscrapers of ice (or, more accurately, compacted snow). The northern part of Los Glaciares is home to El Chalten, and we had a fantastic couple of days there, hiking amidst spectacular scenery under blue blue skies.

In contrast, today’s return to Chile featured a 6 hour bus journey, with horizontal snow at the border…. still, back here in P.N. we have spent the afternoon chilling out in El Living, a cafe-bar which would not be out of place in Hoxton Square. Great food, the odd glass or two of chilean red wine, and The Guardian Weekly, courtesy of the Croydonese-owner.