Friday, October 12, 2007

Hi all,

so south america! Me and pete spent a week in Santiago staying with my friend I met in Aus, Paulina. Her family were so great and took us under their wing. They showed us all the sights in Santiago, San Christobel (a big hill in the centre of the city with a big statue of Mary at the top) and they also took us out drinking to experience Pisco (a bit like tequila, i loved it!)

Paulina and her dad took us to Vina del Mar, the beach an hour from Santiago, it was a bit cold, but very beautiful, a bit like miami tho! We then drove to Valpariso, a pretty port town with acsencores (rickety old lifts that take u up the hill to the old town, which is very old fashioned and beautiful, and has great views over the ocean.)

We also went up the slopes for a day, the snow wasn´t in great condition, but was good fun, and great views.

We then had to say bye to our free food, accommodation and sky TV (it was a sad day) and got on the bus down south. We caught the Pachamama backpacker bus, which had a suposedly enlgish speaking guide (more like bob marley reincarnated, who only could say "thats pretty pretty nice!", but it was amusing!) Had a good bunch of people too, some aussies and our current companion, Ze German, Manuel. Our first stop was Pichilemu, a small surfer town, but was a bit too cold for surfing, altho the aussie guy did it!

(Pete and Manuel)

We then went on to Pucon, a very beautiful town on the edge of a volcano (Volcan Villarica), which we decided to climb. Was bloody hard as it was still covered in snow, and 2800m to the top, but well worth it, the views were amazing, altho we didn´t get to see any of the magma!

after the long hike, we all relaxed in the hot pools!

We then left Pucon, and headed to Valdivia on the coast again, a suposedly beautiful port city renowned for its fish. We did have some great fish, but it was a pretty ugly city. We saw some fat seals, and spent the afternoon in the Kuntsman brewery (a german influenced chilean beer, v good!) we drank lots of rockets (what the call them) and continued drinking into the evening back at the hostel.

We then went down to Puerto Montt, the gateway to patagonia. Its a very busy city, but not very welcoming, we went there for the afternoon, walked along the markets and had some seafood, and then headed to the smaller Puerto Varras, a very beautiful town 20 mins away. The next day we did a tour of Puerto Varras, to see the volcano - volcan orsono, and the national park.

We then got on a bus and a ferry over to the small Island of Chiloe, just off Puerto Montt. An Island famous for its penguins and its Palafitos (houses on stilts over the water). They were pretty delapitated, but cool. The weather was too bad to go see the penguins. But we spent the day in the capital castro, and mooched about.

We then headed back to Puerto Montt, and stayed the night in a house with the cutest old lady with a hip problem, who cooked us fresh bread for breakfast, and then got a flight down to Punto Arenas, Patagonia. The flight was very strange, as we stopped off to pick up and drop off passengers on the way!

When we arrived in Punto Arenas we jumped straight on the bus to Puerto Natales, the closest town to the national Park Torres del Paine. We met back up with Ze German here, and did a day trip of the national park (the lazy way, in a van!). It was so beautiful! We saw the Torres del Paine (how the park gets its name, the towers:)

The many beautiful lakes:

and waterfalls:

lots of llama´s (i think we´re all llama´d out already!)

Glacier grey:

(Nikea, Rachel, Manuel, Micheala and Pete)

and lots more:

We then crossed the boarder over the the Argentinean side of Patagonia to El Calafate. Again another beautiful town (similar to a ski resort in europe in feel) and an hours drive away from the fantastic Pedro Mereno Glacier. We hired a car and I managed to get everyone there and back alive!

Now in Argentina we caught a bus all the way to Puerto Madryn on the west coast of Argentina, to see the whales and the penguins. We did a tour to Peninsula Valdes, where we caught a small boat. We saw loads of Southern right whales, they were so big, and came so close to the boat it was amazing, so friendly and curious, you could almost touch them! Didn´t get to see any orcha´s tho, not quite the season yet! We also saw some elephant seals (which didn´t do a lot buy lie, funny to see them try to hobble along the sand tho!) and some cute penguins.

We then got on another long bus ride to Bariloche, on the east of Argentina, still in Patagonia. This is a popular ski resort town, unfortunately the end of the ski season, but a very beautiful and vibrant city. We took a 30km bike ride around the lake to see all of the sights, was bloody hard work, but worth it, it was so beautiful. It also makes up for all the steak and wine we´ve been having! The steak is fantastic out here, so is the dulce de leche (boiled condensed milk, i forget what we call it!). We also took the chair lift up to the top of Cerro Camparino, to see the views over the lake.

Wow i´m up to date, its a miracle! We are now heading on another long bus ride to Buenos Aires!!

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