Archive for April, 2013

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Iguazu Falls

Posted: April 10, 2013 in Argentina, Photos, South America

Iguazu National Park

Posted: April 10, 2013 in Argentina, South America

Three weeks after leaving the southernmost city in the world, and after travelling 5,700km on some of the world’s most comfortable buses, we arrived at Puerto Iguazu, a small town close to the Brazilian and Paraguyan border.  The city was our penultimate stop in our adventure in Argentina, and was driven by Mirella’s passionate desire to see the waterfalls that are just 20km from town.

The waterfalls, over 270 of them, are of course Iguazu Falls, and are found inside an amazing national park in northern Argentina.  We spent the first afternoon in town wandering about, having a late lunch, and then deciding that dinner would be some of the best ice-cream we have ever had, which is saying something in a country where the locals are fanatical about ice-cream!

The next morning we were up bright and early, as we wanted to beat as much of the crowd as possible (it is a park that deservedly is packed most days).  We were the first people in to the park, and we headed straight for “the Devil’s Throat”, the most popular view of the falls in the park.  Along the way, we were lucky enough to see some guinea pigs and a capybara.

The Devil's Throat

The Devil’s Throat

After a quick train ride, we walked out across a series of metal boardwalks that take you over the river for over a kilometre to get to the photo above.  The power of the falls was incredible, and we both got completely soaked by the spray coming off the thousands of litres of water that poured over the edge of the cliff.

The next few hours were spent walking around more metal boardwalks viewing many of the falls in the park.  The infrastructure was excellent, and made viewing really easy.  We were stalked by coati’s for our lunch, whilst they look cute, they had some serious claws!

Coati

Coati

After lunch, we headed down for another must-do whilst in the park, a 12 minute boat ride that gets you up close and personal to some of the falls.  This was Mirella after the boat tour:

Soaked!

Soaked!

Boat tour done, we decided to squeeze in one more walk before calling it a day, and I am so glad we did.  We headed out on the only nature trail open to the public, a 3km walk to a small waterfall with no boardwalks, and therefore much less people.  And we were lucky enough to spot one great bird, and a big troop of monkeys.

Toucan

Toucan

Black-Capped Capuchin

Black-Capped Capuchin

A really great day in one of the best parks in Argentina, we returned back to the hotel exhausted after plenty of walking, and are now looking forward to our last long distance bus ride in Argentina, from Iguazu back to where we started over two months ago, Buenos Aires.

Iguazu

Iguazu

More photos in the gallery above!

After a great bus ride with Crucero Del Norte (including dinner with whiskey and champagne!), we arrived in Cordoba for a couple of days, as we make a bee-line for Iguazu Falls from Patagonia.  We had thought this city would be a good midpoint for our long journey from the South of Argentina.

Cordoba

Cordoba

The city is the 2nd largest in Argentina, yet it feels far more relaxed than the distant capital.  Surrounded by mountains, it had a great vibe, and has a world heritage site in the centre, a set of Jesuit buildings that are approx 500 years old.

We spent the first day chilling out after our overnight bus ride, enjoying Easter Sunday with a big lunch and dinner.  The next day we jumped on a bus for an hour out to a small town called Alta Gracia, famous for housing another world heritage site, a Jesuit church.

Alta Gracia

Alta Gracia

Alta Gracia

Alta Gracia

Wandering around the church and surrounds was a great way to spend half a day,  and then we headed back to explore the 2nd world heritage site of the day.

The Jesuit quarter in Cordoba was also excellent, and we took in old buildings and churches over a four hour walk around town.

Cordoba

Cordoba

The next day we got on another long distance bus, heading overnight from Cordoba to San Ignacio, in the north of Argentina.  As an aside, the bus system in this country is phenomenal, every bus we have taken has been on time, clean, super comfortable (equivalent to business class on a plane!), with movies in English, simply brilliant.

We arrived in to San Ignacio the next morning, and the temperature change was dramatic.  We were now in the jungle, and the humidity, heat and mosquitos were testament to weather that could not have been more different from just a few days ago on top of the mountain range in Bariloche!

Our reason for stopping in San Ignacio was to take in another world heritage site, San Ignacio Mini, a Jesuit ruin from the 1600’s.  The ruins are spread over Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, and Mini is the best preserved in Argentina.  Unfortunately as Aussie’s we need a visa for the other two countries and we did not have the inclination to go through the visa process.

The town is super sleepy, which suited us down to the ground.  We headed straight for the ruins as the weather was great, and they were a fantastic site.

San Ignacio

San Ignacio Mini

We spent a few hours wandering around the ruins, and then had a siesta before returning for a light and sound show that is displayed on and around the ruins each night, it was very cool!

San Ignacio Mini Light Show

San Ignacio Mini Light Show

The next day we chilled out, as it poured down with torrential rain, and all that remains now is a quick 4 hour bus ride to Puerto Iguazu, the jumping off point for us to see one of the seven natural wonders of the world, Iguazu!

More photo’s in post below from the Jesuit trail…..enjoy!

Esquel to Bariloche

Posted: April 7, 2013 in Argentina, South America

After drying out from a huge soaking in Los Alerces NP, we left Esquel and headed north to a small town called El Bolson.  We went primarily to see the market that is held three times a week, and to take in the scenery of the surrounding area.

El Bolson

El Bolson

The market was similar to many hippy markets around the world, for those that have seen Nimbin in Oz, it was a carbon copy halfway around the world!  Replete with many dreadlocks and food stalls selling the cheapest food in the country, and the smell of a certain herb prevalent, it was a fun way to spend an hour, for the people watching value alone.

We then went for a walk out of town, and the picture above shows the scenery we were immersed in.  A good day in Bolson.

The next day we moved on to Bariloche, a city I had never heard of prior to arriving in Argentina.  A quick cursory read on the Internet quickly brought me up to speed.  A city sandwiched between a beautiful lake and towering mountains, a massive ski field just 20km from town, some of the best hiking in northern Patagonia, and a town famous for its chocolate, ice cream and gnomes.  Sound good?

It was AWESOME!

We spent a week in and around Bariloche.  Unbelievably, we had fluked the timing so that we were there the week before Easter.  What better place to be then the capital of chocolate in Argentina?

Oh, and this is a sample of how the Lake District looks:

Bariloche

Bariloche

The first few days were spent in a gorgeous four star hotel overlooking Lake Nahuel Huapi.  Finally, after the challenges of a very expensive Southern Patagonia, we had the Flashpacking back on track!  For the same price as a hostel in Ushuaia, we had a gigantic room with slate floors, a huge King size bed, a bathroom about the size of the aforementioned double room in Ushuaia, and the hotel had a swimming pool, sauna and gym!

So, a few days of rest and relaxation ensued, and we discovered that Bariloche is indeed very good at making some of the best chocolate in the world, and the ice cream is to die for….

We spent a day on top of Cerro Campanario, renowned by National Geographic as having one of the best ten views in the world.

Cerro Campanario

Cerro Campanario

After a great few days in and around Bariloche, including the best steak we have ever had (sorry Mr Bates!) at Alto el Fuego (twice!), we rented a car and headed north.  We primarily thought of renting the car to do the Seven Lakes route, a famous drive past some incredible scenery north of Bariloche, to a small town called San Martin de los Andes.  A bit of internet research led me to believe that there was something even better just past San Martin, in Lanin NP…

Seven Lakes Route

Seven Lakes Route

The Seven Lakes route lived up to the hype, as around every twist and turn on the road there were stunning vistas.  We did a hike in Los Arrayanes NP along the way, famous for one of the last surviving tracts of the Arrayanes tree, only found here in Argentina and in Japan.

Arrayanes NP

Arrayanes tree

We pushed on from San Martin de los Andes, to a small town called Junin de los Andes, and had a great lunch of fresh river trout.  We then headed along a very long, dusty dirt road to Lanin NP, home of the Volcano Lanin.

Lanin NP

Lanin NP

Absolutely amazing scenery, and at the end of the road a great campsite for the night, with a great view from the tent.

Lanin NP

Lanin NP

After some great hiking and scenery, we drove back to Bariloche, and headed out for a hike to Refugio Frey.  Considered one of the best hiking areas in all of Patagonia, it did not disappoint.

Refugio Frey

Refugio Frey

We took a chairlift/gondola combination from Catedral up to 2000m above seal level, and then hiked for a few hours through some amazing alpine scenery.

Refugio Frey

Refugio Frey

We then made our way to the campsite, for an amazing sunset (and pizza at the Refugio, how good to get a cooked meal in the middle of nowhere!).

Refugio Frey

Refugio Frey

The next day we hiked down to Catedral, and hopped on a quick bus to Bariloche, and ate far too many Easter eggs and ice cream for one last time!

We head to Cordoba next, a short 1500km away on an overnight bus, photos of Bariloche and the Lake district in the post below…