February 26, 2012

From October to December We Went on Holiday.......

One would think that taking a well earnt holiday means lying on the beach, over indulging on all things yummy and slurping on tropical daiquiris and margaritas,  not trekking up to 25km a day with fully laden packs at altitudes of 4000+ meters in South America. What kind of holiday is that??? Well, for Dave and I it was the ultimate holiday with a capital A for Adventure, and like most of our action packed holidays it rated as 'extreme' on our holiday rating scheme.

 On October 30th we left Australia for 8 weeks self guiding trekking and touring through South America. First designation was to be Peru followed by the Southern Patagonia Andes(Chile and Argentina). We had a hit list of treks we wanted to do, and we worked out it would take about  12 months to  work through the list, not 8 weeks. We then developed a  'would love to but not possible' bucket  list...needless to say list grew very quickly.
Part 1: Peru 

Weeks 1-3: Melbourne, Sydney, Auckland, Santiago (Chile), Lima (Peru), Cusco (Peru) = 26+ hours of flying including Qantas going into meltdown the night before we departed and planes delayed from 'space junk' above New Zealand. We eventually arrived in Cusco which is 3,300m above sea level and due to the sudden increase in altitude we had 3 nights in Cusco to acclimatise before starting out first trek. Cusco is an amazing city it was the site of the historic capital of the Inca Empire and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1983 by UNESCO. Many believe that the city was planned as an effigy in the shape of a puma, a sacred animal.

Island on Lake Titicakka 4500m
  •  Exploring Cusco and surrounds, including amazing Incan ruins,visiting museums and eating traditional Peruvian food, including Guinea Pig 'Cuy'.
  • Slankatay Trek: Multiday trek with exposed passes, high altitude and amazing scenery and small villages. Hardest trek I have ever done!!! A great alternative trek than Inca Trail, less people but slightly harder.
  • Finishing the trek at  Santa Terese and soaking our aching muscles in the natural hot springs.
  • Machu Picchu: Amazing, amazing amazing but visited by over2,500 people each day!!!
  • Lake Titticakaka and staying with a host family om the Island of Aramanti. Highest lake in the world 4000m, reaching 4500m with some of teh day treks.
  • The boat ride across Lake Titicakka.......madness with safety not a priority.
Salankatay Trek
Machu Picchu
Part 2: Southern Patagonian Andes (Ushuaia, Argentina)
Week 3 -5: Flight from Cusco, Lima, Buenos Aires, Ushuaia (Argentina, southern most city in the world. Latitude 54 South, same as Macquarie Island)

  • Trekking Lake Caminante, Lake Encanada, Lake Esmeralda, Glacier Vinciguerra,Glacier Martial.
  • Waking up to snow falling on our tent
  • Sea Kayaking the Beagle Channel
  • Staying with a lovely host at a B&B in Ushuaia
  • Finding and sampling the best Argentinian Gelato and King Crab at the numerous restaurants.....well ernt after hard days of walking!!!
Beagle Chanel, Ushua
Glacier Vinciguerra

Part 3: Southern Patagonia, Torres Del Paine Trek (Chile)
Week 5-7: Bus from Ushuaia to Puerto Natales, Chile ( 12 hours). Del Paine Trek is one of the most popular treks in Southern Patagonia. The trek provides 'Refugios' along part of the trek, where you can pay to eat and stay in them and carry very light packs OR you could go for option B where you carry all your own food, sleeping gear and stay at the free campsites....we went for option B.

Galcier grey Torres Del Paine Trek

  • Camping near Glacier Grey, simply amazing!!!
  • Being blown to the ground but the strongest gusts of wind straight from the South Pacific Ocean
  • Camping beside some amazing places
  • Sunrise walk to Del Paine

Part 4: Southern Patagonia, Trekking the Fitzroys from El Chalten (Argentina)
Week 7-9: Bus from Puerto Natales to El Calafate then to El Chalten for 10 days of exploring the Fitzroys, before returning to El Calafate for our flight home.  El Chalten is a must, we could have spent much much longer here, funnily enough many people we met were only spending 3-4 days here and realized  how amazing it is and requires many more than 3 days to explore. We based ourselves in El Chalten and did a multi day trek through the ranges along with several day treks and an ice climbing course.

View from Laguna Torre
  • Day trek to Laguna Torre, a 23km day trek to the most amazing views of ALL the mountain peaks. We had a near perfect day of clear skies and no wind!!!
  • Ice Climbing Course on Glacier Viedma
  • Day walk and picnic at Del Salata, a cute little waterfall.
  • Multiday trek from El Chalten to Laguna Torre, exploring Mirador Maestri and Rio Blancas, amazing views from Los Tres Mirador....simply amazing!!!!
  • Meeting crazy backpackers
  • Visiting Puerto Moreno Glacier for my birthday...playing with ice bergs and watching massive chards of ice plummet to the waters below!!!
  • Eating lamb from the Parilla (Argentinian BBQ) and sampling more fine Gelati!!
Ice Climbing Course on Galcier Viedma

Dave and the Fitzroys
Glacier Puerto Moreno

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