I figured on a year of Summer for my trip and technically this is summer in Patagonia but it can get a little chilly nonetheless. Penguins live down here in their millions so you get the idea. To be fair it has actually been relatively warm. Occasional hat, fleece and jacket weather but more often like an early spring morning in the Lake District. Not that I have been there recently. It does look a bit different though.
This is one of many similar. Got some with people in them too. With the sun shining and a beer in your hand the 4 day boat ride passed most pleasantly. It wasnt luxury but we got fed and having met Americans, English, Aussies and a few other random sorts we quickly discovered that we had enough booze hidden below decks to kill a small army. Please take a look at what must be a medium sized army.
Quality bunch. They also shared my lack of extreme trekking equipment and my distaste for overly prepared ponces who dress up for Arctic hikes when they are only off for breakfast. "Is that space age looking gore-tex jumpsuit yoghurt proof". "Oh Yes". "Excellent. Fuck off." You get the idea. Check Ecuador for more of the same.
So, all embarked, all disembarked. There was one Scottish dude who apparently described himself as a practising sadist and he did disappear immediately after we got off the boat. Happy trails fella. Anyway, as most of you should know, I come from Portsmouth and we have a degree of Maritime History right on our doorstep. The one thing that the museums generally forget to mention is that people tend to a) get sick when it is rough at sea, b)sitting on a boat for an extended period of time sends you a bit funny and c) there is nowhere to run to so its probably best to get a decent seat and a glass of rum before the rush starts as not a lot happens. Well unless you consider this to be action.
Or 2 drunken Aussies being chased by the same bloke (he appeared to be Barman, Security and potentially was responsible for pointing the ship in the right direction in his downtime) - I should mention that it was 2 am and they were naked - so chased and chastened they were, starting on the top deck and then through the dining area while he shouted that in Chile this sort of thing was really not appreciated at all and that they should cease and desist both the running and the nudity immediately. Some of the vehemence was lost in that particular translation but you can fill in the exclamation marks and asterisks at will. How we laughed.
There was a glacier (rather confusingly called either a "glacier-iceberg" or an "iceberg-glacier" by the tour guide) but compared to the one we cheked out later it was rather distant and unimpressive so I'll save my powder with whatever those big blocks of ice are actually called until a touch later.
So Boat was fun, delayed by a day due to bad weather but we had a very cool bunch onboard and generally got hammered amidships or on the poop deck so good times all told.
Puerto Natales was blah, bumph, blobble. No-one comes down here to see the towns. Its all about the nature.
So having arrived we decided to do something. Most innovative of us I know. Many will not believe this but we went on a 10 hour trek to check out some large upstanding rocks. No more upload space so google / Torres del Payne.
Only pain I had was in my feet. We felt really rather extreme up until we were overtaken by a retired couple who were easily 65. A couple of 8 year olds also completed the same walk but don't tell anyone else.
No normally I try to cover one place or one country per blog. However, this time I shall lump in a bit of Southern Chile and Southern Argentina. For those of you who are British I have a cracking photo of the Argentinian border. Las Malvinas son Argentinos or some combination. Most excellent. No bandwidth so just make a picture in your head and continue.
Probably had forgotten all about that hadn't you? Not down here they haven't. Which is understandable. Wouldn't fancy some jumped up country half the world away invading the Isle of Wight would you.... Come to think of it.... No, wouldn't work, no oil or minerals. Nice idea though.
So getting onto Glaciers. most excellent. This one is actually on the move. 1.5 metres per day. Steady state though as although a fair bit falls off the same amount is added each day at the top. Its bloody enormous. And loud too. Cracks and landslide typ of noises to a quite scary degree. Amazing place though. Its one of 350 locally all in the National Park - which was set up in 1937. It actually blocks off a part of the lake. As a result pressure builds up and the differential in lake levels can get up to 25 metres, at which point the pressure build up is so great that huge (and I mean massive) lumps of ice explode and crash into the water. Well, at least thats what the Guide told me. He could be bullshitting though as all we saw was lumps about as big as a family car fall off. I tried to get some video but failed miserably and almost got egg mayonnaise on my camera at one point. All ok though. Nearest town is called El Calafate for your info.
Not being the trekking type I figured 10 days skipping through Patagonia would be enough. Its the same for most places as it turns out. 10 days is never enough. So much stuff I missed but the stuff I saw was amazing. Patagonia is something else. It'll cost you more than you may expect but no-one I travelled with ever thought it wasn't worth it. The scenery is stunning. The air is really dry and clear so these enormous and imposing landscapes actually look close enough to touch. Takes your breath away. 4 stars.
Enough of that for now. Off to BA. Tour of Northern Argentina. Swapping a fleece and a hat for some rubber ding-dongs (Jamaican for Flip-Flops) and some serious sun screen. Ozone may eventually be missed by us all but during the summer down here you can light a cigarette if you leave it out on the side for 20 minutes. Get a hat. Cover yourself up. Will try to get a Christmas update from BA but not sure I can promise. As such. Cheers.
Have a good one. Drink and eat too much. January is nothing without guilt. Love to you and yours. Smiles all round.
See you in 2008. I have a sneaking suspicion that its going to be a good one. Potentially a great one. Therefore... Jump high fives all round.
Stay classy San Diego.