24 March 2012
Today I decided to do a day trip to Chile. It meant a 5am start for breakfast with the bus picking me up at the hostel about 5.45am. Needless to say, I dozed on the 5 hour drive there – however I did notice the amazing stars – had forgotten how fantastic a night sky can look when there are no street lights or anything. We also had an amazing sunrise, and drove through so much SPACE – the estancias of Argentina go on forever! I think living in London I had forgotten what it is like to see nothing for miles.
After crossing the border to Chile – which meant leaving Argentina and then 7 km later, entering Chile (not sure what that middle ground was), our tour guide joined the bus. From this point, the roads were gravel again – quite bumpy.
We passed the local wildlife even before entering the park – a local type of ostrich and llama (forgot to write the names down)
Glimpses of the mountains started before we arrived in the park – and the landscape was stunning!
Once we entered the park we had a number of stops for small walks to see different views of the towering mountains – the different lakes – both rain and glacier water – and the damage done to the park about 3 months ago by a huge fire that claimed hundreds of hectares. It must have been a really different place before the fire – though still stunning.
We passed flamingoes on a lake and got lots of photos. It was funny – the guides seem to like taking photos until you got one that was just right – but he did know the right places to sit to get the good ‘panoramas’. After a number of short stops, we were then able to do a longer walk – about 2 hours. The wind was sooo strong – we were actually struggling not to be blown over at many points. However my Antarctic jacket cut that out. Apparently we had the perfect day – with lots of sun.
The second last stop was an incredible waterfall – apparently 10,000 litres of water flow through it per minute – beautiful, and then we had one more stop to see final views of the towers and pick up some passengers who had spent time in the park hiking – that is on my list for next time!
The drive back was about another 5 hours (well one hour was the border again – interestingly, coming back to Argentina there was n customs – whereas going in to Chile they had scanned all of our bags for fruit, meat etc – a bit like Australia).
We then had the most stunning sunset I think I have ever seen – the sky changed colours and it was beautiful to watch it change for about an hour! Shame I was on the wrong side of the bus as the picture above doesn’t do justice. The sky went from blues and purples through orange and pink – incredible when the only thing for miles is land. I guess this is one of the benefits of the long bus trips in Argentina (though I am not doing so many).
Arrived back here at the hostel about 9.30pm and decided to do the hostel thing and cooked a packet of soup here. Not sure I want to cook in a hostel ever again (or at least not this one), but it was easier than walking in the dark to the town.
Loved my taste of Chile – as that is all of it I will see this time, but it is on the list for future travels.
Tomorrow am heading further north to El Chalten for a couple of days.