A Travellerspoint blog

Getting into a National Geographic movie

or .. just smile and wave.. just smile and wave.

sunny 15 °C

Pegnuins everywhere, thousands of them.
Returning to Penninsula Valdes, I returned to visit a penguin colony and and did I ever see penguins.
Funny thing when I tell Argentinos that I saw penguins, they all say the same thing.. small ones...
Well for me watching nesting penguins is a rush. There were thousands of penguins, all of whom were completely unpreturbed by camera toting gawking tourists.
It was amazing. For sure if this "penquineria" was in Canada there would be fences, limits, restrictions, probably for the better, considering. However, the magellanic penguins seem to be doing fine.
Some interesting things about these fellows; they swim ( or is it fly) in the water at 70 kilomters per hour... amazing huh! and once breeding is done, parents an chicks swim about 6000 kms to and from their breeding grounds. They breed for life.
However, if something goes wrong the female will look for another male with a better nesting site.. ahhh it's all about the home security.

Posted by Suraza 18:34 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Little Italy, Little China... and now LITTLE WALES...

sunny 18 °C

Well guess I might have been to them all and NOW I can add Little Wales to the have visited list.
YES!!! little Wales, who would have guessed that in Argentina there is a village ( and area) where wels is still spoken, and in fact signs and restaurant menus still have Welsh (OK OK a tourist gimmick of course).
The little village I speak of is Gaiman, which is in the province of of Chabut.
All this started in the late 1800{s when Welsh immigranst arrived in Patagonia with promises to work the land and obey the laws in exhange for land, leaving behing their homeland, Cymru.
One of the villages they established Gaiman is now famous for its tea houses, serving Welsh akes and tea.
However, when I got there, by public transport from Puerto Madryn, everything was quiet, leving me to wonder the streets admiring the quaint little housese, Rose gardens. It is such a quiet place after the vibrancy of Buenos Aires.
Loved the little village but didn't stay long... well not after having a .. get this a hamburger and beer and then a 30 minute wait for the bus and I was gone.

Posted by Suraza 18:12 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Cow Calf operation, Whale style, pouring rain

and horrendous pecking seaguls.. unintended consequence

rain 16 °C

So today was an exciting day. ... even though I got soaked, literally that is.
The day started with a typical Argentine hotel breakfast buffet. That is instant coffee, white bread for toast, and a few cakes or something really sweet, maybe some rolled thinly cut processed ham and cheese. Thank goodness I brought packages of instant oats with me. Oh! YES I forgot the efficient German Tourists. They arrive at breakfast at the same time. Eat and then leave at the same time, then all are gathered promptly to catch the bus for their excursion. and all is good.. just DON¨T get in their while during this process and everything is fine.. one poor soul this morning... gobbled his breakfast as fast as he could and he was still the last to leave.
So off to the bus station I cycled and when I was cycling in rain showers.. I shoulda known something was afoot.. actually I did as I checked online and the forecast was for rain.
Caught the bus for an uneventful ride to Puerto Piramides, on the Valdes Penninsula. Well eventful except for the school outing, making me realize kids are the same all over the world.
Puerto Piramides is basically a four block town whose main industry is catering to tourists interested in whale watching.
Arriving at about 11:00 pm I was advised by the operator I chose to wait until 3:00 as the 12:00 tour was full of school children.. good Idea.. sat around in their coffee room and ate my grocery store bought lunch of buns cheese and apples.
So at three in the rain we were off.. It is very efficient. They have boats on huge trailers that are on the shore, once loaded the boats are pushed out to sea using a large tractor.

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Off we went with the tour guide promising we would see whales. I knew we would at this stage as I had seen a few just from the shore with my binoculars.
So after a tense 15 minutes or so we saw our first whale.. a cow and her calf.. then another and another and so on...we saw huge quantities of whales sometimes about 6 or so at a time.

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So some interesting stuff that came out of this was that there were sea lions swiming around the whales. Apparantly females off to the breeding grounds where males were already staking out territory.. they were being playful..
The other was the seagulls. Apparantly the area has a growing population of seagulls. They have started pecking at the calves as they surface, taking advantage of their thin sking to peck at the blubber below the skin surface.
This in turn causes infections in the calves which are sometimes fatal.
The cause of the huge seagul population is the large landfill used to accomodate the thousands of tourists who come to see the whales... weird huh!!
So much for unintended consequences...

Posted by Suraza 17:22 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

The Great Steak debate..

It´s important... make no mis-Steak about it....

sunny 8 °C

So because I am from Alberta, Canada I hear so much about Alberta steak.. and of course I do my own research... using simple tools like salt pepper, garlic and charcoal ( YES I am the old fasioned kind when it comes to a really good steak).
So how good is Alberta beef.. really?????
Well the Europeans, especially the Germans, Belgiums and Swiss I have spoken to have waxed rhapsodic about Argentine beef.
As I am in the buses, peering outside while travelling accross the vast Patagonian steppe, miles and miles of nothing but grazing, I see thousands of hectares of beef country. In this land the average size ranch is about 50000 hectares with larger farms around 70000 hectares.. IMAGINE that!!!. All the beef here is produced on grass fed land.. yup!!! there is no nasty smell from feedlots here!
So what do I think you ask?
Well let´s say and I think I´ve said this before.. I might have to declare the extra er.. midriff weight to the customs officials.. so when I give my opinion.. it is not without some significant research. OH!!!! no I have just realized I am flying with Continental Airlines too.. and they charge for each piece of baggage.. OH NO!!! if they find out I am heavier now than when I left... or paid for my ticket... yikes!!!!
SO what is it_ well in my unbiased opinion... it´s steak knives down to Alberta Beef.. yup.. despite the beauty of grass fed beef and it´s leaner qualities.. ALberta beef is tastier and much more tender... it sure is....
So there it is.. I just said it.. so what is your favourite beef.. and that is beef on a plate..

Posted by Suraza 12:52 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Torres del Paine and foot pain

or how seven days became 3... and how it was a success anyway...

all seasons in one day 5 °C

After a four hour bus ride ... where I saw condors feasting on a dead sheep... you have NO idea the size of those birds... the largest flying bird.. they are themselves the size of sheep... even saw one hovering over the road and it looked to me the size of car... also saw great flocks of Chilean Flamingos. What a strange sight, these huge pink tropical looking birds, and behind them the Andes and glaciers.. what a land this Patagonia is.
The landscape is huge. Living in Alberta which can seem huge is small compared to this. The Andes rise above the Patagonian steppe like monsters. The steppe is so much like the desert around Osoyoos and area.. but huge.. alsmost as far as one can see in all directions.. this scrubby land filled with sheep.
So after arriving in Puerto Natales.. withing the space of a 30 minutes, in a strange town I got to a bank machine, withdrew money, found a bus to the Torres del Paine Park and was on that bus.... phew!!!!
So 2 hour bus ride to the park and then straight onto the Catamaran that takes passengers accross a lake and to the trail head of the W hike... amidst the most astounding scenery... the photos will tell all when I upload them.
So I arrive at the trail head at 6:45 in the evening with a far too heavy pack.. and off I go... hoofing it as fast as I can with a 20 kg pack.

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The scenery and multitude of birds though kept me stopping to take photos.. then the sun started to get lower.. and faster I tried to walk.. lower sun faster walk.. then the pains in my legs started.. .
Luckily I had bought these energy gel packs from the outdoor store. SO realizing that in my rush the last meal I had was breakfast. Now let me tell you about Latin America.. breakfast is wonder break sweet jams and cake. Nothing that sustains...
So I guzzled an apple and cinamon gel followed by a mocha gel with 25 gms of caffeine.. and on I press.
My legs were really getting crampy.. and finall I had to stop and get my headlamp out of my pack.
On my own all I could do is think when I set up my tent I will get out the katmandu chicken curry.... that was my mantra in the dark.. chicken curry.
Anyway in the pitch dark, I arrived at the Refugion Gray. I have to say the most welcome lights I have ever seen..pitched tent and ate the MOST delicious curry ever.. even though it was freeze dried.....
The next day... I felt better.. but my right foot had a few blisters.. not bad.. so Off I went on a short 2 hour hike to the glacier..I can´t say how incredible it is to be in the wild.. harldy anyone around and sit and have my bagged lunch supplied by the lodge and sit meters above a glacier... part of what is the largest ice field outside of the poles... yes everything in Patagonia is HUGE...
So when I got back made myself some coffee and had some snacks from my pack including an apple cinnamon crisp made in my fry pan.
At dinner... I sat in the lodge.. at a table for four.. and as luck would have it made some new friends... one an Arizonian who is studying spanish in Chile and a German couple who live in Munich. Over a half bottle of wine ( it is incredibly expensive in the remote lodges as you would expect) we had a great coversation..
Furthermore.. I got so lucky.. as my Arizona friend could not hike out as he had pains in his legs.. he found a boat that came at 1 in the afternoon and he said he made a reservation to get on the boat.. I nearly screamed with joy as at this time my feet were hurting really badly.
So after a great sleep, which made buying a super air mattress style hiking bed and a great down filled bag so worthwhile. During the night a windstorm came off the glacier, and as the lodge is situated right at the foot of the glacier I felt the full brunt of the windstorm in my tent.. we are talking some serious wind and rain.
Anway got up and made coffee, twice in my portable camping espresso machine.. and then went to breakfast.. again bread and jam and instant coffe... hung out waiting for the 1 pm boat.
IN the meantime I gave my German friend my tensor bandage as she had sprained her ankle on the hike.
Made me think of how people who travel stick together.. almost like people who do this from all over the world are much of the same mindset. Almost makes me think that there is a huge ground swell of people who have the same desires for life, who want to live in a sustainable world without war and hunger... idealistic I know but I do know there are a huge silent community out theres that want that....
So I got on the boat despite a huge walking tour that showed up with pre-arrangements. Luckily my Arizona friend talks great spanish.. and arranged for us to get on the boat.

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So I get on thinking.. great now I don´t have to hike out.. and well a boat ride.
HOW WRONG I was... the boat then went right up to the glacier and just then after the wind from the previous night the sun came out...all I can say is for about an hour I never stopped taking photos.. blue icebergs... monster sized floating jewels.. mountains reaching the heavens with perched glaciers and razor jagged peaks...

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Once we landed.. we were on a huge beach .. and had to find transport. Luckily with my spanish speaking companion we hitched a ride with one of the tourist vans onto the park gate where we got our bus into Puerto Natales.
SO here I am with my hike I was so looking forward to shortened.. but I have to say it was still incredible.. and I would not have missed a minute of it.
Today I have a steaming cold.... so being on the trail wouldnot have been that great.
So off ot supper at a great place I found here in Puerto Natales where seafood rules, specifically King Crab. The place I am going to I had lunch there today and the chef recommended the king crab raviolli.. which I will have.
More to follow soon as I get really excited to travel to Puerto Madryn to see whales and penguins.. The Magellanic penguins and the Southern Right Whales are breeding now and dont leave the area until December when the young can travel.
What a continent.. and how huge.

Posted by Suraza 13:19 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

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