A Travellerspoint blog


Puerto Madryn

semi-overcast 8 °C
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From Bariloche we drove to Puerto Madryn via a small town called Esquel. The long drive took us from the Andes to the Atlantic coast. There has been a marked difference in the scenery in the past 2 days. From the mountains, waterfalls and lush greens to semi arid conditions now we are on the Atlantic.

We have been in Puerto Madryn for the past 2 days. The town was founded by Welsh immigrants. Puerto Madryn is protected by the Golfo Nuevo, which is formed by Península Valdés and Punta Ninfas. The main reason for us being here is the wildlife, in particular the Southern Right Whale which breeds here this time of year.


Yesterday we went out to the Valdes Peninsular to view the Whales and we are still trying to absorb what we experienced. The Whales were amazing. They were so close, so many and so amazing.


After seeing the Whales we drove a little further around the peninsular to see the Elephant Seals.

Tomorrow we start a long slog to Buenos Aires. It is about 800 miles from here and will take us two days. We will be camping along the way which I am really looking forward to. Now we are on the Atlantic and heading back North, it will be getting warmer. ;-)

Posted by The Pratts 13:22 Archived in Argentina Comments (1)

San Carlos de Bariloche

semi-overcast 8 °C
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From Pucon, we drove through a National Park on some not so good roads to get to the Chile-Argentina border. Once in Argentina we continued to drive for 4 hours to get to San Carlos de Bariloche (often referred to as just "Bariloche").

Bariloche is situated at the foothills of the Andes, surrounded by 7 lakes. It is a ski town, home to the largest ski resort in South America (Cerro Catedral). Unfortunatly there hadn't been enough snow and the mountain was closed even though the ski season had started.


Bariloche is also famous for its chocolate and there were chocolate stores everywhere we looked. Our favourite was Mamuschka.

We didn't do a huge amount in Bariloche apart from explore on foot and eat chocolate.

I went out for a day's horse riding. I was the only person from the group to go and was the only English speaking tourist. Even with a severe language barrier, I had a great day. The Estancia (Spanish word for ranch) was about 30km outside of Bariloche and was a sheep farm. They had mainly Merrino for wool, but they also had 1000 sheep for meat. The day started with a mug of mate (a tea like drink they enjoy here), then a quick lesson on stopping and starting the horses and I was given a little pony called Smoking Peter and an argentinian saddle (saddle?)



The morning's ride was up in the hills of the Estancia. We got to see Condors, Deer, Eagles, Hawks and some amazing views of Cerro Catedral.


Towards the end of the ride we were allowed to go for a gallop. Smoking Peter was a super star. He definitely enjoyed the gallop as much as I did and we ended up a long way in front of the others. For lunch we went back to the Estancia for an Argentinian BBQ of beef, lamb and sausage washed down with a few glasses of vino tinto.

In the afternoon we went back out for a two hour ride along the river. The scenery and views were very different than the morning and the ride was a lot faster (maybe the wine!?!?!).


Again little Smoking Peter flew and I giggled all the way. The day concluded with a little more red wine, mate and sore muscles.

Posted by The Pratts 13:01 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

National Parks - Patagonia

Chile and Argentina

We have driven through a few National Parks since being in Patagonia (Chile and Argentina) and we feel they deserve their own special mention.

The scenery in these places is unbelievable, it is far superior to anything we saw in New Zealand.

The drives have been jaw dropping.


We crossed through one of these national parks to get into Argentina.

Posted by The Pratts 12:50 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Pucon and Vineyards

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From Santiago we headed to Pucon, via Miguel Torres Vineyard. We had a tour around the vineyard followed by a little tasting.


Lunch on this day was the most interesting to date. We had some raw ingredients on Carmen for sandwiches and salad, but the vineyard wouldn't allow us to use their carpark for the picnic. Not wanting to be beaten, we hit the road, and had a picnic on the truck while going along! Cutting tomatoes, assembling sandwiches, etc. while travelling wasn't easy and a few people were a little worried about the knives flying around. This was overlanding at its finest.

We got to Pucon at around 9.00pm, making it a very long day as we left Santiago at 7.30am.

Pucon is a great little town, it felt a lot like a small town in New Zealand. The town has a large lake and the back drop was snow covered mountains and Volcanoes. The main activities in Pucon are climbing the active volcano (Villerrica), white water rafting, biking, skiing and hiking. It is a very active place.

Chris and I both went white water rafting and climbed the volcano on adjacent days. The white water rafting was on grade 4 rivers and was so much fun. There were two boats of Dragoman people, which made it quite competitive. We (the boat Chris and I were in) managed to bump and bash the other boat. The other boat also lost 2 members of crew on one evil rapid, whereas we all stayed in our boat. I think we WIN!!

The next day we climbed Villerrica with a few other Dragoman people and 6 guides. We were very lucky in being able to get to the top. In winter, the weather conditions are not always co-operative and many climbs are aborted. The climb was a lot harder then any of us had realised. It was snow and ice all the way and 6 hours of climbing. We had crampons and ice axes, which meant that no one fell on the way up. I will say there were a couple of times I was out of my comfort zone. It was very steep in places and my fear of heights kicked in. Once we got to the top and saw the smoke from the crater it all became worth it. The views were also amazing, we were above the clouds and could see peaks of other volcanos and mountains.


Getting down the mountain was supposed to be easier then going up. We took off the crampons, put on a device that was like a nappy and slid down the volcano on our bottoms using the ice axe as a brake. Well, that was the idea and it would have probably been fine in better conditions, but it was a little too icy for it to be any fun. The first slope was steep and very fast and many of us lost control, ending up tumbling down the slope. It was particularly dangerous losing your ice axe on the way - this means you have no way to stop yourself sliding, and it leaves the axe lying around for others to impale themselves. I used a fellow truck member as my brake, hurtling into her at great speed. After this slope there were a few less steep slopes that were very icy. Crusing along on one's bottom, hitting large balls of ice wasn't too much fun either. The last slide of the day left me pretty shaken up for a while. It was a steep slope and it was more icy then the others had been. My ice axe wasn't slowing me, so I anchored it in for an emergency stop. Unfortunatly I lost grip and left the axe behind. Now I was flying pretty fast with no way to stop. Chris was ahead of me and I caught him up, smashed into him and passed him. Luckily the guide heard me say no axe and instructed one of the other guides to stop me!! I wasn't the only one with problems, so the guides decided it was time to put the crampons on and start walking down. For everyone else walking down was a great relief and fine. For me at the beginning it was terrible. My fear of heights made me tremble. Luckily one of the guides picked up on this immediately and told me I was going to go down the volcano with him. So for the rest of the hike I linked arms with a young, good looking Chiliean guide ;-)

I learnt alot about myself on that Volcano. I would do it all again tomorrow, if I knew I had someone to hold my hand on the way down!!

Posted by The Pratts 13:37 Archived in Chile Comments (0)


-17 °C

A 2 hr drive from Valprasio took us to the Capital of Chile Santiago.

Chris and I had a little siesta on arrival before tackling a reasonable walk from the Hotel to San cristobel Park. We took a asensor to the top of the hill to get great views of Santiago (or so we thought!!). Santiago is extremly polluted and our view of the city was spoilt by the smog.


The second day we took a walk around the city, but it started to rain. We chose the indoor activity of looking around the Pre Columbian Art museum. The museum was great and had artifacts from all over South America.

I will not lie. I was not a fan of Santiago, hence a rather small blog!

Posted by Mrs Pratt 12:58 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

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