Flashback to Patagonia

April 17, 2017

This is why I love being on the road

 

 

 

 

Perito Moreno

March 12, 2017

One of the few glaciars in the world that is actually expanding.

Named after the explorer Francisco Moreno, a pioneer who studied the region in the 19th century and played a major role in defending the territory of Argentina in the conflict surrounding the international border dispute with Chile, Perito Moreno is deffinitely worth a trip.

To get there book a ticket for bus in Puerto Natales, Argentina a day in advance. At the moment it is not possible online, but don’ t worry there are many companies that go there, so you should be fine.

Patagonia, South Argentina

 


Disclaimer: I am author of this text, but most of the trip ideas and ways to get around the reservation system are not mine. Credit goes to my friends, who have more balls than i do 🙂

Foto by BART, thank you :)

Since the new reservation system in Torres del Paine, the main tourist attraction in Chilean Patagonia, it is very hard to do the famous W track and nearly impossible to finish the O track. These are the two ways how to access Torres del Paine. We tried to get to see as much as we can without a reservation, as there were no spaces left for us. And this is how we did it:

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In the end we took a catamaran to PAINE GRANDE and managed to persuade the staff in the  camp to let us  stay there for one night. We had to pay, of course (6 000 CLP). The first day we hiked all the way up to Refugio and cap Grey and back. It is long, but worth it.
At the bottom of the trek there is a ranger who controls reservations. We were not able to pass him without a paper  (everything here seems to be based on little papers) with a booking to the next camp. However, we met people who managed and then they could stay in Camp Grey for the night.

After a windy night in camp (you can buy food for 21 USD beer for about 6 000 CLP and also some small supplies from the local shop.) Credit card is accepted sometimes and everything, including the bar, closes at 10 pm! WE went to the other side to camp Italiano. The whole track is totally worth it. Not even so steep and you get close to another glaciar.

In the evening there was no other option than to take the catamaran and go back.

Ah well, ADIOS, Torres ❤

 

This is a situation in 2017, everything may be different in the near future as the amount of lost, angry, unhappy tourists with outdated – so a year old – guidebooks (including Lonely Planet), who couldn’t get to Torres, as they didn’t know about the reservation system  was incredible. And they did complain. 

Disclaimer: I am author of this text, but most of the trip ideas and ways to get around the reservation system are not mine. Credit goes to my friends, who have more balls than i do 🙂

This is Torres
So, turns out that going to Torres del Paine is not possible without a reservation. So of course, we found out only when we were in South America already. To our defense, I must say that this is a recent think, so your Lonely Planet from 2013, or even a friend who went there a year ago won’ t be too much of help. Unfortunately nor would be the lady at information desk at local bus station.
Well, better have a coffee and cake and go to El Chalten.

And a week later we attempted gain. You just can’t be in South America and not see the freaking Torres Del Paine, right?

So here is how we did it for 3 days.

Night one: we stayed in a town Puerto Natales in Josmar Hostel + camp.
http://www.josmar.cl/

For 10 000clp per person we got a bed, warm living room and a breakfast at 6:30! (we cold arrage the time when we wanted the breakfast which was super convenient as our bus was leaving at 7:30 in the morning).

at the end of the world

Prices of the buses to Torres del Paine are pretty similar, as well as the departure time. We went with Juan Ojeda, which was alright. Booking in advance is highly recomended.
All buses take you to Laguna Amarga, which is the entrance.
Here is …ehm…a queue, which kind of temporarily spoils your sense of adventure. But don’ t worry, these crowds will eventually spread across the area.

queue for Torres

Nearly with your own blood you have to sign a contract that you are not going to cuddle animals, set Torres del Paine on fire, throw rubbish or you will go to prison.
Well, fair enough, there was a huge fires in 2005 and then 2001/2012 and and one of them was started by a Czech guy (more: http://www.thetravelword.com/2012/02/06/irresponsible-tourism-and-the-forest-fire-in-torres-del-paine-national-park-chile-2/), so I guess we were even lucky to be able to go 😀
And after paying the entrance fee of 21 000 clp per person you are ready to hike.

Good idea is to keep the ticket as the fee is valid for more days.

Torres del Paine

We then took a quick 3000 pesos ride to Las Torres Hotel Lodge and camping zone (yes, booking required, no, no free spaces). You can also go horse riding here and there is a coffee shop.
And for another 5000 clp the horse riding center store our bags for the day.
Oh and there is this amazing looking eco camp. However their website doesn’t even have prices, so I figured out that if you have to ask for price, you can’ t afford it. Looks amazing tho. Check it out: http://www.ecocamp.travel/en#

We then hiked up, up up to Base de las Torres lookout. The it the famous photo you see everywhere and yes, it is impressive. It is slightly crowded up there, but well, it is the most famous tourist site.
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and of course I had to dance here 🙂

We then run down as Pierre had to catch a shuttle bus back to Laguna Amarga as he was leaving earlier from Pataonia. We didn’ t quite get the return times of the red shuttle bus. It seemed the driver is either really late for his schedule or we don’t understand Spanish numbers, both is equally possible. However and never the less, the buses seemed to be waiting for each other. So the departing buses at the bottom will wait for the last shuttle. At least i February 2017 they did.

The rest of us wanted to stay and see if we can somehow stay in the area.
Apparently at border of the park there is a camp where you don’t need a reservation. Information about this place were mysterious. Some of the tourist information centers said it was a place, other said they didn’t know and others said this place didn’t exist. We also couldn’t find the camp online. But guess what!
No more than 2 km down on the dusty road (just follow the river) IS a camp where you don’t need a reservation. Price is 6 000 clp per person. It is a bit windy, but who cares! This is Torres and literally the first think I saw when I opened my tent in the morning. This is the proper hidden germ of Torres.

Foto by BART, thank you :)

DAY 2 GOMEZ DRAMA
In the morning we took a bus from Laguna Amarga. We had the ticket from yesterday and a smily driver from Buses Gomez company promised to take us with the bus to the pier, the boat station. A kilometer later he stopped and asked additional payment 5 000 clp per person to take us there, but in my amazing (non existing Spanish) I argued with him that he should have asked us at the start of the bus journey, not one kilometer later when we don’ t really have much of an option.
We refused to pay and I was loud enough to maintain status quo even at the arrival to the Pudeto Cafeteria, a departure station of the boat. Like sorry Gomez, but we have already payed our bus ticket!

A catamaran arrived and after paying another ….we were taken to the Paine Grande Lodge and camping station.

…to be continued. HOW WE DIDN’ T GET PAST THE RANGERS

Patagonia. My new love

February 19, 2017

This is not a one night stand (or “one holiday stand” by that matter). This is a love for life. Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego is just magical. I am having shivers just looking at the photos.
So here is a little taste of our little afterchristmas adventure:

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…getting to Torres del Paine, the main main tourist attraction in Chilean part of Patagonia was not the easiest. The nickname we gave it – Torres del Pessos says a lot, unfortunately. It is quite pricey to get there. You also need bookings for the camps, if you are trekking for more than one day, which you probably do as it is so huge.
The booking systhem, where each camp is owned by a different company is a recent thing that makes life more complicated for travelers.

HOWEVER. Once you are there, this all is forgotten. And it is all definitely worth it.
In one of my next posts I ll tell you how we managed without the bookings 🙂
…so yes, it is possible 🙂

To Torres del Paine you’ll get from Puerto Natales by bus. There are many companies that operate and buses leave from 7:30 in the morning. Day tours leave also from Puntas Arenas or El Clafate, but that is much further. It is better to book the bus ticket at least few days in advance.

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Tierra del Fuego and Stepanka. My companion in rolling naked in the snow and bathing in ice-cold rivers and heaps of other, sometimes unpublishable, adventures. Since we were kids, pretty much.

To get to Tierra Del Fuego get a 11 hour bus from Punta Arenas (or a flight, if you can afford it) to Usuhaia. Book at least a week in advance, ticket sell out quickly.

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…after a week of uncooked instant noodles (I needed to economize with the gas bomb we were using for cooking, you know. I had to make sure i can have a coffee in the morning, otherwise I am the worst person in the world, trust me), this already felt like a food porn….and the steak was yet to come.

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…views like this. If it seems to you that it is burned in some places you are right. Few years ago a Czech tourist set a part of the national park on fire. At that time he got out with a little punishment, however he volunteered to plant trees and even payed $$$ as he was sorry..Well you would be, wouldn’ t you.

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Omnia mea mecum porto.
i just love the freedom of carrying stuff with you and then sleeping in the nature. It may not be easy, but it is rewardig. BTW. This is the most common sigh I had of my friends, as i am …ehm….a bit slow 🙂

Sleeping in the national park in Tierra del Fuego is for free. You just need to pay the entrance fee to the park.

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Perito Moreno. Glacier that is 74 meters high on average. The ice time to time breaks off and falls down with this great sound similar to thunder. Named after a pioneer who was discovering the area, Perito Moreno is unique, because, unlike most glaciers, it is advancing. Why is that remains a mystery.

Located around 80km from El Calafate in Argentina, serviced by regular buses leaving El Calafate in the morning and returning in the afternoon.

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do i need to comment on this one?
Just maybe that it is in beautiful and magical Tierra del Fuego, near Usuhaia.

To get there you can take a bus from Usuhaia to the national park. Buses and shuttels leave regularly, we high hiked :). Then the hike takes about 3-4 hours one way and is not advised to do in bad weather.

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…so yeah. This was Patagonia. #takemebacknooooooow

Patagonia

February 17, 2017

…I found heaven on Earth (…ehm, another one)

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