Countries i will visit on my journey

Countries i will visit on my journey

Flags of all countries

Flags of all countries

Saturday, 28 March 2015

In Argentinas "hiking-mecca"

Until we arrived in el Chalten the weather there was awful. And then suddenly sunny nice warm days were for casted. It was some kind of destiny or just luck, but Derek and me decided to take use of it and camp for two days in the Los Glaciares national park:

Fitz Roy
After a 4h hike we arrived at camp "Poincenot" on the foot of mount Fitz Roy. The trail to the camp side was already amazing with nice views of Fitz Roy, Poincenot and all other surrounding mountains...

Once we set up our tents we decided to hike up to the viewpoint of Fitz Roy. It was a pretty narrow an icy path, but once you made it, you stand in front of a small alpine lake with the Fitz Roy mountain range in the background, all covered in snow. Simply too beautiful to be true... :-)
The highlight was the sunrise on the next morning. The peak of Fitz Roy was covered in red sunlight from the first sun-rays of the day. We were stoned by this scene and decided to hike up again. And up there we were almost the only ones. It was so quite and peaceful and we just stopped and stared at the landscapes for more than 2 hours...

In the afternoon we hiked to the camp side "De Agostini", next to the Cerro Torre mountain and set our camp up there.

Cerro Torre
We got up very early so see the sunrise and how the first sun-rays of the day striked the peak of Cerro Torre. It was very spectacular but fu**ing cold. Again we stood at the shore of a small alpine lake and were watching the Cerro Torre and its glacier on the other side of the lake. Occasionally an iceberg calved into the lake and were swimming to the shore next to us.
We relaxed till noon, did some small side trek to a viewpoint and made our way back to Chalten in the afternoon.
In the evening we joined the national trekking festival in town. It is every march and commemorates the first attempt to climb Fitz Roy mountain. A Chilean band were playing in the gym of the school for free, was pretty nice.

Loma del Pliegue Tumbado:
On our last day in Chalten we made a day-hike to the viewpoint "Loma del Pliegue Tumbado".
We climbed a small mountain next to the viewpoint, where an unofficial trail leads to the top.
From there we had an amazing view of all surrounding mountains of Chalten, Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre inclusive.
Every now and then we saw condors gliding on the steep mountain sides, using the thermal winds to getting high in the air. Sometimes they passed us very close and this birds are huge man...!!
Back in Chalten we took the night bus to Los Argentinos, which is on the border to Chile.

My further plans are making my way up to Puerto Montt and Bariloche in the lake district.
Visit some more national parks on my way up, climb a vulcano or do some wild water rafting... :-)

Thursday, 26 March 2015

At Perito Moreno glacier

Spent two days in El Calafate in Argentina to see the famous Perito Moreno glacier, which is 78km away. El Calafate is a typical touristy town with one big main street where lots of restaurants, souvenir shops and tour agencies are located. But once you left El Calafate on the way to the glacier you are in the wilderness of Patagonia in the Los Glaciares national park... :-)
The Perito Moreno glacier is located at the lake Argentino, is one of the less glaciers which is still expanding and is about 75 meters high! Fu^^ing amazing, eh?
Sometimes it can happen that the glacier totally splits the lake Argentino into two lakes. Then the difference of the water-levels between the two "lakes" can reach up to 30 meters, until the pressure of the water is so high that the ice finally breaks and the 2 lakes reunite to lake Argentino. This phenom happens all 4-5 years and the last one was 2012.
When Derek and me arrived at the glacier, unfortunately the weather was awful. It was raining and freezing cold. But because of the rain I think we could see more often than usual big parts of the glacier calving into the lake...

You also have options to do some ferry ride or some trekking on the glacier. But both options were too expensive for poor backpackers like us, so we did the free boardwalk instead.
It was damn amazing and the boardwalk, to be honest, takes you closer to the glacier than the ferry ever can do. (And who wants to hike on the slippery icy glacier surface on this rainy and cold day...?) :-)

In the evening I went out with 3 girls and had an amazing lamb with red wine for dinner. And guess what, as desert I had a lamb-cake filled with lamb meat. Tasted very weird, sweet and salty at the same time...

The waitress was pretty surprised that I ate the whole cake. She told us afterwards that this cake is normally ordered, tasted, decided as "not eat-able" and left over... :-)

On the next day I made my way to El Chalten, which is said to be the "hiking-Mekka" of Argentia...

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Torres del Paine trail

Returned from the famous Torres del Paine hike, located on the Chilean side of Patagonia.
Did the "Q", which is the longest hiking route with about 130km in this park.
Before I started hiking I went to the free 3-o-clock-talk @ Basecamp next to erratic rock hostel.
There you get a bunch of information about the trail, what to bring, the possible trails in the park, how to get there and the available camp sides and Refugios. It is totally worth it to go to the talk because you also meet other hikers who want to do the trail and if you keep asking around you will find someone who wants to do exactly the same route like you. So I met Derek, a guy from the USA and we did the hike together...

On the first day we had awesome weather and started hiking around noon from the bus stop at "Administation" to "Campamento Italiano", 24km away from the trail-head. It was pretty tough and we hiked for 8 hours but we passed some really nice view-points, where you can see the emerald colored lakes and snow covered mountains of the national park.

In the morning of the next day we hiked with our day packs into the valley "Frances" and "Britanico", then back to "Italiano". There we shoulder our big backpacks and headed to "Campamento Los Cuernos". During the night it started heavy raining, and on the next morning we packed our wet stuff and started our hike through the rain and heavy wind to "Campameneto Torres".

But we did not make it to "Torres", because half way up to the camp side we heard that it was closed due to bad weather. So our only option was going down the valley and stay at the camp side "Las Torres" at the foot of the mountains next to the the only hotel in the park.
From the sunny camp side there, we could see the famous Torres-mountains covered in dark rainy clouds. Those mountains are the highlight of the park and we really wanted to see them, so we spent one more day at the camp, waiting for better weather. During that time we met another couple from USA (Chris and Trisha). We spent the rainy day together in the hotel next to the camp side, playing cards, domino and drinking red red wine... :-)

On the 4th day the weather was getting better, so we decided to hike up to the towers. When we arrived there, they were covered in fog and clouds, so that you barely can not see them... We were very upset and already made plans how to get back here on another day, as suddenly the sun burned through, the fog vanished and it became a very nice day. And then we could see the mountains and it was amazing. I can not really describe it, you simple have to be there on your own! :-)
On the same day Derek, Chris and me hiked to "Campamento Seron," which is already on the backside of the mountains.
For me this was the nicest part of the whole trail, because you hike through a spectacular lost valley (like in a fairy tale) with rivers forests and mountains in the background.

On the 5th day we were again lucky with the weather. It was very sunny and you could hike in short pants and shirts. It was a very nice hike along the Rio Paine to "Campamento Dickson". Which is located next to Lago Dickson, where you can see a glacier coming all way down from the mountains to the lake. Every now and then small icebergs passes by the camp going down the Rio Paine. Looks very spectacular!! :-)

On the next day two girls from Denmark (Heidi and Line) joined us and together we headed to "Campamento Los Perros" on the foot of the John Gardener Pass, which we had to pass on the next day. It was a pretty relaxing hike, so that we could rest for the next day...
But the camp side was very muddy and it was pretty cold on that day. We made a small fire
in the Refugio, dried our wet clothes, warmed up a little bit and played again cards... ;-)

I remember asking Chris on the next morning if it is raining outside and he responds, "No, not raining but snowing!". I got out of my tent and saw a winter-wonderland. During the night it snowed a lot and our tents were covered in snow. On this very cold morning we packed our stuff and together with a guide we made our way to the John Gardener Pass.
Because we were a big group of hikers, we were very slowly and at one point somewhere on the way up, we left our group to find the way over the pass by our own. It was a very cool experience. Due to the lots of snow and very strong wind you barely can not see where the trail is going to and you have to cross icy rivers and big snow fields...
Somehow we made it over the pass and on the top we had an amazing view of the glacier "Grey", spreading down in the valley in front of us. It looked very bizarre, like a big frozen ocean...
Without waiting for the rest of the group we went down to the valley and slowly the snowfields turns into green forests and the path from an snow-field to a muddy narrow and steep trail.
Once we arrived at the camp side after the pass (6hrs) we had a cup of Whiskey, Chris brought for successfully passing the most difficult part of the Torres del Paine trail.:-)
We decided to carry on to the next camp side ("Campamento Grey"), because there it is warmer and dryer than staying on the foot of the pass, so we hiked for 4 more hours and were totally done when we arrived there.
At "Grey" I met David and Anne (Portugese and English couple i stayed in Buenos Aires with) again and at that time I thought, "Oida, the world is small!". It was so nice to see them again!! :-)

On our last day Derek, Chris, Heidi, Line and me finished the "Q". We ended at "Campamento Paine Grande", from there we took the catamaran back to the bus stop and then back to Puerto Natales.
We ate lamb and pizza that evening and I think we really deserved it after having just
fu^^ing noodles and soup for 9 days in one of the most beautifully national parks I have ever been...

Sunday, 15 March 2015

En fin el mundo...

Spent 4 days in the southern most city in the world, called Ushuaia.
Traveled there by bus, first from Puerto Madryn to Rio Gallegos and then to Ushuaia.
In total about 1700km by bus... :-) And the bus journey itself is already an adventure, cruising through the windy pampas of Patagonia...

I summarised again my activities in Ushuaia and made for each day a short story. There we go:

Hiking in the Tierra del Fuego national park:
Together with 3 French guys (Johanna and Christoph, a nice couple from Paris; and Sophie) and 1 Polish girl (Natalia) we took the bus to the Tierra del Fuego national park.
You need to buy some entrance fee for the park, but then you can stay for 2 days in the park.
There are several trails you can do and also a very nice small campsite next to the -river to stay overnight.
We did the hike along the coast of the Beagle channel. It takes about 4 hours but it is very easy to go
and you have fantastic views of the landscape like snow cowered mountains, forests and grass land.
At the end of the trail we got to a view-point were you have really a fantastic view of the bay you hiked before and the surroundings. From there the bus takes you to the camp side or back to Ushuaia.
The camping place looked really nice and calm and is located next to a small river. Must be really nice to stay a night there and do some other hikes on the next day. But we went back to Ushuaia and cooked a really tasty steak with vegetables for dinner and this was also very nice!! :-)

On Mount Martial:
On the next day everybody was tired from hiking yesterday, so I decided to hike to mount Martial by my own. It is a mountain very close to Ushuaia, with a small skiing resort, even smaller than the "famous" "Sternstein" back home.
I directly started in front of my hostel, although it is recommended to take a taxi to the chairlift station. After one hour hike i arrived at the station, but the lift was broken down. So again half an hour hiking up to the top station of the lift. From there you can do 2 trails, one is going to the glacier (1h one way) the other one is 15min and leads to an view point were you can see Ushuaia and the Beagle channel.
I did both but was a little bit disappointed about the glacier. Because it is just a small snow-field. And further up, where it starts getting interesting, you are only allowed to go with a guide or "special equipment" (whatever that means...).
On the way back to Ushuaia I lost the path and found myself somewhere in the forest on a mountain bike downhill pist. Stayed on this pist, because it was always going down, so I thought in the end I should be somewhere at the ocean.
Never met a mountain-biker at all the way down, but that does not surprise me, because you must be completely crazy if you want to go down there by bike. A lots of big and wide jumps and narrow passages with lots of rocks and at some passages you can fall 5-10m down if you make a wrong move... :-) In the end i ended up in Ushuaia and then it was easy to get back to the hostel!! ;-)

Hitch-hiking to Esmeralda lake:
Originally I wanted to make a sailboat-turn to the islands and lighthouse in the Beagle channel. Unfortunately the turn was cancelled for this day so I had to look for an alternative. Decided to hike to a small lake called "Esmeralda". It is located 18km outside of Ushuaia and all the tourist buses went there already earlier that day. So I tried myself in hitch-hiking in South America at the end of the world... :-)
It worked out fine and after some time Emilio, a local guy picked me up. Had some small talk conversation in Spanish, was a smart guy... ;-)
The hike back to the lake was very nice and it took me about an hour to get there. Unfortunately it started raining once I was there. The way back was very muddy then and I forgot to put on my hiking boots that day. Was a really slippery hike back in my sneakers with almost no profile... :-)

Sailboat turn in the Beagle channel:
Together with Jolien from the Netherlands I did a 4h sailboat turn to the light-house and the surrounding islands. Unfortunately we had very less wind and therefore the boat was runned by a motor the whole time...
But still it was nice to stay at the sailboat with just 12 people on board rather than being on one of those big tourist ferries with 200 passengers...
We also stopped at a small Island and did a short walk there before we went back to Ushuaia.
In the afternoon Jolien and me went to the museum "Fin del mundo" and after that I packed my stuff to be ready taking the early bus tomorrow to Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales, to do the famous Torres del Paine hike there... :-)