Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chile and Patagonia

Starting December 11 through then end of December I had a whirlwind tour of all of Chile.
Starting in Valdivia I explored the city. Its a college town that is nice to walk around and has lots of parks and situated on a river.  I walked around the square and went down to the river and watched the rowers as well as the large sea lions.  Then I walked over to Isla Teja across the river and walked around the campus and parks including the botanical garden. 
Then I went to Isla Chiloe where I had an amazing time and got the chance to walk around and go scuba diving with a fisherman who was gathering seaweed that is used for cosmetics.  He was hooked up directly to a compressor and used a semidry suit.  People were also gathering this seaweed from shore.
Then from Chiloe I took the ferry to Chaiten which is an interesting town covered in ash.  I took a bus from Chaiten which stopped at the airport.  The airport uses the street as the runway and only small planes come to this airport. 
Then off to Futaleufu where I had some nice hikes around the small town.  Most people go whitewater rafting here but I decided to just head on out to Coyaique.  I spend a day walking around Coyaique and then crossed over to Los Antiquos in Argentina.  The carreterra austral was fun but busses were too unreliable.  In Los Antiquos I went to the mirador and to many different orchards where they are famous for their cherries and I bought some jams.
Next stop was El Chalten which I loved.  I did the popular route and wish I had camped in the park to see the sun rise as I saw the sun rise from the road it looked stunning but at a very far distance.  Fitz Roy is quite stunning and the park has very easy well marked trails.  From there I went to Calafate and took the bus to Perito Moreno which I found disappointing as it was so touristy and crowded and a bit of a let down after the amazing hike in El Chalten.
I finally made it to Torres Del Paine.  I hiked the famous W and thought it was an amazing hike.  Probably the best I have ever done.  The park was very well kept and the trails were easy to follow.  I hiked alone and with a pack full of my food for the hike a camping stove tent, sleeping pad, sleeping mat and clothing etc.  There were so many people on the trail I hardly felt like I was hiking alone and the scenery was stunning.  The park is setup so there are only certain areas to camp.  Some camp sites are much better than other with nice indoor cooking areas and bathrooms and other campsites were overcrowded but overall an amzing experience.
From Torres I took the famous Navimag Ferry to Puerto Montt.  I wouldnt recommend the ferry as it the weather was raining and one day most people were sea sick and the day of the glacier viewing it was foggy and raining.  But it was OK and probably faster and more convienent than taking a bus.  Then buses all the way to peru

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