A Travellerspoint blog

Torres Del Paine

all seasons in one day 10 °C

The name of this national park in southern Chile is aptly named! After a long journey to get down there, Zac and I were off on a five day trek. We hired all our camping gear from the hostel we were staying at and were all prepared with our water proof gear and I had my new ugly but very comfy hiking shoes (I resent having to fork out so much money for shoes that aren´t pretty!) We walked for five days through some pretty rough terrain in some of the most stunning scenery I have ever seen - mountains, rivers, lakes, glaciers - really beautiful. We had about 20 season changes every day. It would be hot one minute, raining the next, hailing and then hot again! Crazy.
There´s a reason I haven´t been camping in 8 years - that´s because it sucks! Well at least it does when it´s freezing cold and raining. And you´ve been walking for hours on end to get to the campground with all your camping gear. (Although, I have to admit, Zac did carry pretty much everything - nice brother!)
We managed to walk all the distances well under the time they suggest you need, so we were pretty happy with ourselves. Zac has some sort of super fitness thing going on, he was always way ahead of me!
The hardest part of the walk was our last night at the "three towers". You literally have to climb over big boulders, sometimes scrambling on your hand and knees. But it was one of the most spectacular sights I have ever seen. I was speechless, it was so beautiful. Zac managed to get up early the next morning to see it at sunrise...I stayed in bed!
It was pretty interesting sharing a tent with my brother for four nights. Yes, apparently 30 year old men still find it funny to fart in confined spaces. I think it was all the dried fruit we had brought along...
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The spectacular setting for our first night camping. We managed to pack a "box" of wine, so we would settle in each night with a mug or two and some lovely pistachio nuts!!
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Zac and his "wide load"!!
A Chilean cowboy - they all wear berets and scarfs!
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the three towers
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The sight I missed, the three towers at sunrise
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We were pretty damn happy to finish, I´m suprised we even had the energy to do this photo!

Posted by zedgee 09:35 Archived in Chile Comments (1)

Puerto Varas

sunny 25 °C

What a cool little town. We only had three nights here unfortunately, as we both fell in love with this little place and could have easily spent a couple of weeks here just hanging out with all our new amigos! We stayed in a really cool hostel called Casa Margouya run by a french guy, Nicolas. So there was lots of french guys staying there, a couple of Chileans and us. There was a really cool bar called the Garage that plays live music. We had two very large nights there. We also managed to get some white water rafting in - yep, have spent half the holiday in a helmet so far! I´ll let the photos tell the rest of the story...

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This band is called "Tommorrow, I will stop" as in, tomorrow, I will give up...smoking, drinking etc. They were really good, a bit like the cat empire, so naturally, I loved them!
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Our white water trip. It was quite mellow, but beautiful surroundings. The rafts flipped before we even made it to the water! On the way to the river, the trailer flipped over, it was almost a disaster as there was a car right behind.
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Alfonzo (an argentinian we met at the hostel who used to live in Sydney) me and Zac at the Garage.
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Attempting to salsa with Alfonzo, he was very good, me not so good!

Posted by zedgee 09:20 Archived in Chile Comments (1)

Pucon and Valdivia

sunny 28 °C

Pucon:
Pucon is a lovely little touristy town and adventure mecca. Reminded me a lot of New Zealand. The scenery is similar, lots of mountains! And also had the same sort of feeling. You can do it all here - rafting, hydro speed, canyoning, canopying, kayak, hike, climb volcanos and relax after it all in the hot springs! We spent 6 days here in all. Most of our time revolved around climbing the volcano - finding a company to take us up, resting up for the volcano, actually climbing the volcano and resting after climbing the volcano. In between all this we did manage to see a few sights around the areas (lots of waterfalls!), visit some hot springs and do hydro speed down the rapids. This was really cool. I don´t really know how to describe it - it´s kind of like a kayak that´s been cut in half, or like a big, hollow plastic boogie board. You basically just hold onto it and ride it down the rapids - serious fun! At one point I was vertical on a wave. Zac was behind me, wishes it was him that caught the wave! Pretty cool stuff.
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Valdivia:
Valdivia is a cute little university city. It´s very European with a strong German influence. Their pride and joy was South America´s largest brewery, Antstwerp, until it was destroyed (like most of the city) in an earthquake in 1960. They are still very much into their beer though and there was even a small beirfest on when we were there...we had to go along of course!
The university here is amazing. It´s pretty much is built in the botanical gardens, which are really beautiful. Nice for your breaks in between classes!
Another attraction of Valdivia is the fish markets and the sea lions. There is small colony of sea lions that live in the river that backs onto the fish markets and they pretty much just laze around taking handouts - nice life. Apparently a few years ago they were coming up to the side walks at night and scaring the shit out of tourists,so they had to build a fence to keep them at bay! They are pretty big, so I can imagine it would be a bit intimidating to come face to face to one of them in the middle of the night!
There are also a handful of spanish forts to go and see. We only stayed two nights here, which was ample time to see it all.
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Posted by zedgee 13:49 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Pucon

Zo and the Volcano...

sunny

Why is it, that when we go travelling we do things that we would never usually do? Usually, on a hot summers day, I can be found lying in the sun by the pool or in a beer garden. Climbing a 2840 metre high active volcano covered in snow and ice is generally not on the top of my list of things to do. But that´s exactly what I found myself doing in Pucon, on Volcano Villarica.
Zac and I headed out early in the morning to join our group and get kitted out with all our gear. The group was fairly large and there appeared to be only two other english speaking climbers, a couple from London, Simon and Carly, so naturally, we became instant buddies! After the drive to the volcano we caught a ski lift a short distance up the mountain (not nearly far enough up, in my opinion!) and from then on it was 4 or so hours of climbing to get to the top.
Not being that fit and more than a little afraid of heights, I found the climb pretty challenging to say the least. I developed a technique of putting one foot in front of the other, followed by the ice pick, and keeping my eyes firmly peeled down. Looking up was far too depressing (really, i have that far to go?) and looking down was down right scary (holy shit, if I fell, I´d have that far to fall?) Luckily one of the guides, Jose Carlos, took a shining to me (at least he was making fun of me the entire way, but I prefer to think of it as one of those primary school crushes where boys make fun of the girls they like!) so he was always close at hand to help me whenever I needed it!
When we eventually made it to the top, I have to say I felt pretty happy with myself and extremely proud/stunned/amazed that I had made it! For those of you, like me, have no concept of how high 2840 metre is, put it this way, we were literally in the clouds about 3/4 of the way up. It was pretty cold and windy up there (glad i was wearing my thermals!) and because of the cloud, we didn´t have the best view, but it really didn´t matter that much by the time I reached the top, I was just damn happy to get there!
The way down was a whole different story. You slide down. This was more my style. I had one scary moment where I had to do an emergency ice pick stop, but other than that, it was a total blast. Because a lot of people climb, by the end of the day, there are a whole heap of ¨slippery slides¨going down the volcano, you just get on one and slide on down. So much fun!
Have to say, I have always thought of people climbing mountains as total nutbars/crazy bastards, but I have to give them extra kudos now - i still think they are loco, but I can see how someone can become addicted to that sort of achievment.
Have been in pain ever since, but reckon it´s worth it, not many people can say they´ve climbed an active volcano!!DSC01025.jpgDSC01035.jpgDSC01041.jpgDSC01123.jpg

Posted by zedgee 16:49 Archived in Chile Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Santiago

sunny 30 °C
View South America on zedgee's travel map.

After some pretty gruelling air travel (using frequent flyer points seemed like such a good idea at the time!) I arrived in Santiago. Headed straight to the hostel, La Casa Roja, to meet up with Zac. The hostel was pretty nice, in an old mansion, very big and noisy! But with nice common areas and a pool out the back, it made for a good stay. I walked into our room to be greeted by four naked English lads asleep in our room - I´m sure there must be some sort of "don´t sleep/walk around naked in a mixed hostel dorm room" etiquette that someone had forgotten to tell these guys about!!
Not that many people speak English so it´s been fun and games trying to get things done! It will be good when I get to Buenos Aires and do a course, my aim is to speak fluent Spanish by the time I get back home - well at least as good as someone with my total lack of talent in the area can be!
Everything is incredibly cheap here - it´s appealing to Zac´s tightarse ways and to my spendrift nature quite well!
Can´t say that I thought that much of Santiago, it´s a big city, dirty and not that nice to look at. A few good places to check out, but didn´t need more than a day to do it, which turned out to be just as well, because i spent most my days here asleep and all the nights out - they sure know how to party in this part of the world! I seem to have lost all concept of time here. It gets dark quite late and you wouldn´t even bother going out for dinner till at least 9! So after a few beers at the hostel, we headed out with our new found friends - Darren and Rod from Australia and Matt and Louise from England. After a bite to eat it was off to do more drinking and we didn´t roll into the hostel till about 6am. No one arose that day, except for Zac who doesn´t seem to need as much sleep as a normal person! The next night we did pretty much the same, except Zac stayed behind for a good nights sleep in anticipation for our long bus journey to Pucon the next day. We went to a restaurant that Rod had been recommended in a pretty groovy part of town and then onto a nice bar after that. I was supposed to go out for just dinner but it didn´t quite work out that way - ended up getting on our bus at 08:45 without having gone to bed!
To sum it up: Santiago - not that pretty, but sure was fun!DSC01074.jpgDSC01075.jpg

Posted by zedgee 13:04 Archived in Chile Comments (1)

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