Buenos Aires, Walking, Dancing and Culture

Buenos Aires is somewhere I’d really been looking forward to visiting on this trip. The capital of Argentina, it is a huge, sprawling, vibrant and interesting city. It was also quite warm, high twenties/thirties most days we were there and pretty humid! I’m going to describe our experiences in one blog post, although in reality we visited BA in three separate trips, using it as a base to leave some of our baggage, whilst we explored further afield to Iguazu and Uruguay.

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Thoughts on Uruguay

Uruguay was just a ‘maybe’ on our original rough plan for travelling, but we’re really glad we went. This little country sits between Argentina and Brazil on the Atlantic coast of South America. The main tourist attractions are along the coast, but we also managed to see a small part of the interior of the country. It is an interesting country, with a pretty liberal government and a more European outlook.

Birds taking flight over the sea by Cabo Polonio
Birds taking flight over the sea by Cabo Polonio

Uruguay is short of ‘must do’ attractions but the countryside and coastal scenery are beautiful. We enjoyed a week with a hire car exploring the coast, from the wild and rugged beaches in the north down to the more manicured beach resorts in the south. A real highlight was staying out in the sierra at Caballos de Luz, getting to really enjoy horse-riding and experience life off-grid.

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Uruguayan Road Trip

Hiring a car is not something we’d thought we’d be doing when we left the UK, South America not being somewhere known for great roads, and backpackers not tending to hire cars on a budget. However, we’ve really enjoyed our road trips, we found them a not too expensive alternative to public transport, and they were all a great way to see the countries outside of the main tourist hot spots. Our fourth and final road trip, despite a few car problems, was no exception.

Day 1: Montevideo to Punta del Este

Our little Geely
Our little Geely

We left our flat in Montevideo and stood in the sun at a bus stop, we’d crossed that road quite a few times in the last few days and pretty much always had to wait for buses to pass. This day however there didn’t seem to be any around. One came past but we checked and it didn’t go near the main bus station so we kept waiting. We got chatting to a guy at the stop and he said there was some kind of strike on. We waited a bit more but in the end, after almost an hour, we decided to use Uber and get a taxi all the way to the airport where we were picking up our hire car. Eventually we made it and were sitting in our hire car and ready to go on road trip number four!

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Colonia and Montevideo

After Iguazu falls we spent a few days in Buenos Aires before heading off to Uruguay. At this point we had just over two weeks of our trip left, time for a little exploration of Uruguay before heading back to Buenos Aires for our final weekend.

Crumbling colonial architecture in Colonia
Crumbling colonial architecture in Colonia

We started our Uruguayan travels in the town of Colonia-del-Sacramento, known locally as Colonia. It’s a small town with a beautiful historic centre, a nice place to spend a bit of time relaxing after hectic Buenos Aires.

We arrived by boat from Buenos Aires on the Colonia Express ferry, covering the 27 miles of the Rio Plata between Argentina and Uruguay in about an hour and a half. We arrived at a fairly run down looking port, heading through old shipping containers made into a makeshift walkway and past some sad looking buildings. Then suddenly we came into a new terminal building, very smart but unfinished and not quite connected to the port just yet! From this arrival we weren’t quite sure what to make of Uruguay yet.

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Iguazu Falls

It’s now been just over a year since we returned from South America and as the last few posts are nearly ready to go and we’re about to start a new chapter in our lives we thought it was time to get a move on closing out the last one………..

After returning from Antarctica we had a couple of days of transit right up to the north of Argentina. Having spent about two months travelling down Chile and Argentina from San Pedro in Chile to Ushuaia in Argentina and then down to Antarctica, it was surreal to travel so many thousands of kilometres in just two flights. We arrived to a warm and humid day in Puerto Iguazú, the main town for access to the famous Iguazu Falls on the Argentina-Brazil border. Continue reading “Iguazu Falls”

Antarctica – a trip of a lifetime!

Today marks one year to the day that we embarked on our journey to Antarctica. Life and work have kept us very busy since we’ve been back in the UK, but we’ve got our act together and here is a mammoth blog post on what was our most amazing adventure.

When we left the UK in September 2015 this was not a post I ever expected to write. Our extravagance for this trip was our visit to the Galapagos islands, which was an incredible experience that we’ll never forget. At the back of our minds however was something that we’d read suggesting that it might be possible to go to Ushuaia on the southern tip of Argentina and get a last-minute trip to Antarctica.

Magical scenery in Antarctica
Magical scenery in Antarctica

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Thoughts on Chile

Being back home and back at work has both given us a new perspective on our travels but also severely limited the amount of time that we have to reflect on our trip. The next major post, Antarctica, is a big one and it’ll be a little while before we’ve gone through all the photos and videos to pull out something to illustrate this incredible continent. In the meantime, in our last post we left Chile for the final time so here are my thoughts on Chile.

Time for a little recap and summary of our thoughts on Chile. We really enjoyed our time in Chile, and it is somewhere that I would love to return to and explore further one day. Even though we spent around a month there altogether, I feel there is a lot more we can come back to. Chile is the long thin west coast of South America, it has a huge range of landscapes and some really interesting cities too. Continue reading “Thoughts on Chile”

Tierra del Fuego, the Land of Fire!

The 'Fin del Mundo' road
The ‘Fin del Mundo’ road

After spending five days hiking the W-trek we had one final day with our Wicked van Amanda. It was time to drop her off in Punta Arenas, a small town only a few hours drive south. It was a pleasant, uneventful drive, listening to music and driving down a road signposted as the route of the end of the world! The landscape was huge and open and really did feel like the very edge of the world.

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The W Trek

The W trek is a five day hike through the Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia. It is the most popular of three hikes known as the W, Q and O named after the shape that they form on a map. Compared to hikes in some other areas of South America these are popular because they are easy enough to be tackled by people with relatively little long-distance hiking experience and they can be completed relatively cheaply as they do not require a guide. However probably the biggest reason for their popularity is the variety of scenery that can be experienced along the way.

The view from the Catamaran whilst crossing Lago Pehoé
The view from the Catamaran whilst crossing Lago Pehoé

We opted for the W trek in 5 days (the most common choice) and chose the West to East direction of the walk.

Our itinerary for the walk and preparation was as follows: Continue reading “The W Trek”

The Patagonian Wilderness – Road Trip Part 3

This post is the final part of our road trip, picking back up with us in the Patagonian wilderness of Argentina. This was probably the most difficult but also exciting section of our road trip with petrol strikes, broken cash machines and a lucky escape from a small electrical fire in the van, in the wilderness, at speed. Sound scary? it was…….

Day 15: Patagonian Steppe and Ruta 40 to El Chalten (365km)

I woke up at about 6am freezing cold in the van, although we’d parked somewhere with some wind shelter it had still become pretty cold overnight. At around 8am we gave up trying to sleep and got up to a sunny but freezing cold morning.

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