Jonathan Worthington :: jnthn.net

Argentina

This was not only my first visit to Argentina, but also my first time in South America and even my first time in the southern hemisphere! And what a country to start out with in this part of the world. A very pleasant capital, beautiful mountains and lakes, incredible glaciers - and then there's all the stuff I couldn't capture in photos, such as the lovely people and great food. Yup, it was a good trip - and the weather was nice for a lot of it too.

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Buenos Aires

The warm and sunny capital of Argentina, with - as the name hints - a nice breeze that makes the heat a little more manageable, has plenty to see and do. There's no shortage of nice architecture - not just the landmark buildings, but also those you see wandering through certain districts. The traffic is busy, but a nature reserve lies within the city limits, an easy stroll from various central areas and a nice sanctuary when the city life gets a bit much. Then there's the restaurants. Hundreds of them. All over the place. Buenos Aires is, in general, just a very pleasant city to be in.




























































































































































































Buenos Aires to Bariloche

I did this part of the journey by sleeper bus. From the city until nightfall, there wasn't a great deal to see; just endless mostly flat plains stretching to the horizon. The sunset was pretty, however. Come morning, things were different. The journey was mostly a steady uphill, climbing up towards the Andes. The terrain was much more rugged, with hills, lakes and even the odd snowy peak off in the distance.






































Bariloche

The main reason to visit Bariloche is not so much for the town itself, but to get out to the surrounding countryside. That said, it's a very pleasant base, on the shore of the Nahuel Huapi lake and full of good restaurants and chocolate shops. It caters a little less to the English-speaking tourist world compared to some other places in Argentina, so it's a nice escape in that sense too (provided one speaks at least some basic Spanish!)









































Nahuel Huapi National Park

These photos are from my first day trip into the National Park - and what a day it was! I joined a small minibus tour bright and early, quickly discovering that neither the guide nor anybody else on the tour spoke much in the way of English. That was fine...my Spanish was enough for basic communication, and I could follow some of what the guide was saying. The sky was a prefect blue as we drove towards the national park. The first set of stops were at various points by the lake shore, then later looking down on the lake from a slightly higher viewpoint. After a little more driving, the incredible Tronador peak came in to view! I was happy to just stand for a while in a field with a clear view of it, taking a few photos, but mostly just being taken aback by its beauty. If the Tronador was beautiful, though, what came next was jaw-dropping: the Black Glacier. The color is due to the ice it is made up of being "recycled", and thus having become a little dirty in the process. High above the glacier, a thick sheet of snow and ice sat on the rock, like perfect icing on a cake. Finally, after a mid-afternoon snack, there was time for a short walk up to a waterfall. It felt simple after the mind-blowing sights that had come before it, but was decidedly pretty; I was happy to walk it with Istran from Columbia and Victoria from Chile, who I managed to get to know a little bit over lunch, with my very broken Spanish. A wonderful day - and a perfect introduction to the scenic wonders of this part of Argentina.



































































































Cerro Catedral

The Catedral mountain is popular for skiing in winter, and thus has quite a network of cable cars and lifts. I wasn't there in the ski season, but thankfully they still run some of the lifts for those who wish to go up the mountain and take a walk, or just enjoy the views. I was happy to see that the Tronador was once again in view, but even more magical was the view down to the lake. I climbed up a very loose and steep path (actually, the way down was harder due to the terrain) to a peak where it was possible to scramble onto some rocks and get a really wonderful view in all directions.



































































Cruise to Puerto Blest

It's always good to see places from different perspectives - and taking a boat trip is one of my favorite ways to do that. I decided to spend my final day in the Bariloche region taking a day cruise down one arm of the Nahuel Huapi lake, towards Puerto Blest. This started out taking the public bus to the port on the Llao Llao peninsula, which is almost excessively pretty. I spent much of the cruise outdoors, enjoying having the wind in my face and taking in the views and seeing the birds flying overhead - with a few passengers on the boat even trying to feed them! Just ten minutes from Puerto Blest itself, we docked at the foot of a large walkway that led from the lake, up past a cascade, all the way to another, higher-altitude lake. After some nice lunch in Puerto Blest, I joined a short trip to Lake Frias. Its water is a very different color due to the minerals deposited in it by a glacier - you'll easily be able to distinguish the two lakes in the photos. Then go back and look carefully at the photos near Puerto Blest; some of them show how the water is a strange mixing of two colors. This is where a river from Lake Frias is bringing its water into Nahuel Huapi!



















































































































Flight Bariloche to El Calafate

Normally, I'm only too happy for a flight to be over and to leave the plane. Not this one. On a clear day, this flight headed directly south, from one town in the Andes to another. I had a window seat on the right hand side of the plane, meaning...views of the Andes all flight long! I was especially happy to see the Tronador from above.


















El Calafate

Like Bariloche, I primarily came here to get out and see the places in the surrounding area - but found myself in a town that was overall very pleasant anyway. Once again, it was set by a lake. My hotel this time was not at all central, but a good 30-40 minute hike from the real center. Thankfully, the walk was at least pretty, with nice views down towards the lake. The other benefit was that the view of the stars on a night was simply incredible; I never appreciated just how bad the light pollution is where I live until I was in a place with so little of it.























All Glaciers Boat Tour

In short: perhaps the best boat trip ever! It's a long day, spent on a boat, but my word is it worth it for the views. The weather was a bit mixed - dry, but decidedly cloudy, with the odd sunny spell offering up a bit of blue sky now and then. At times, the dark clouds just made for a superb backdrop to the foreground, though. And what was the foreground? Glaciers! A few of them, each of them special in some way. The first - and worth the trip in itself - was the Uppsala Glacier. Ice bergs littered the approach to it, and were all along its front. Due to the way this glacier melts, it was safe to get really close to the ice bergs - in fact, so close that at one point I could almost reach out and touch one! Most surprising was the color; an incredible blue, resulting from the way light is reflected inside of the ice. Next up was the Spegazzini. The river of ice reached high up into the mountains - this is in fact the glacier with the tallest face in this national park. Last but not least came the most famous of the glaciers, and perhaps the most famous one in the world: Perito Moreno. This giant glacier has huge chunks 50-6om tall fall off quite regularly, and thus the boat had to keep some distance!








































































































































Perito Moreno Glacier

The previous day had given me a fair look at the Perito Moreno glacier, but of course I wanted more! And with Perito Moreno, there's plenty more to be had; as well as the opportunity to take a short boat trip to see the other side of the glacier, there are also several kilometers of walkways on the hills overlooking the glacier. For the first time in my trip, the weather was actually miserable. It drizzled for just about the entire time I was out walking - but the views were simply too amazing not to go out and see, and I had a waterproof jacket, so I stuck it out. My reward was witnessing - and photographing - a 50 meter tall chunk of ice breaking off the face of the glacier and crashing into the water below, creating a huge splash. It was a little hard to appreciate the scale, looking on from a distance - but the sheer noise of the cracking and splashing gave a good hint at just how much ice had fallen. There were a few more incidents like this that I wasn't in the right place at the right time to see - so I was happy to catch this one happen right where I had the camera pointing at the time. The autumn colors also added very nicely to the scene, and I enjoyed capturing those in my photos as well as the blueness of the glacial ice.






















































































































Ushuaia and around

You'd think coming from England, I'd be pretty used to changeable weather. Ushuaia takes it to a whole new level, though! Stillness can turn to a gust that almost knocks you down and then back to stillness in minutes, and a torrential downpour can turn to sunshine and a largely blue sky within the hour - and vice versa, of course! Ushuaia is - depending how you choose to define it - the southernmost city in the world. It has a bit of an end-of-the-world feel to it as well, and some places certainly play it up; one pub with some rather pleasant beer had the slogan, "Enjoy yourself; it is the end of the world". The city itself is set by the sea, and some of the nearby islands could be seen by a couple of hours boat trip. Seal Island, Bird Island, Les Eclaireurs lighthouse and Bridges Island - the latter of which I actually walked on a little - are all captured in the photos, as well as the city itself.







































































































Glacier Martial

This was perhaps my favorite day of hiking in the holiday. A chairlift covered the first bit of the climb, but there was still plenty to do! To warm up, I took a trail out to a viewpoint overlooking Ushuaia and the beagle channel. The colors of autumn were more vivid and evident here than anywhere else; being further south, autumn had set in earlier here. The trail had its ups and downs, but wasn't really that steep at any point. After this, I felt ready to take on the more challenging trail, up to the Glacier Martial. This one was decidedly uphill - all the way! In places it was steep, but the odd stop to catch my breath just meant more time to take in the views up towards the glacier and down into the valley. The glacier seemed quite small and simple after the epic ones a few days back - but the journey to reach it was extremely enjoyable and more than made up for that.































































































Trip to Martillo Island

Martillo Island is home to Magellanic and Gentoo penguins, the first being more numerous in number, but the latter looking more like a your stereotypical idea of penguin. Along with a biologist guide, who had a great sense of humor as well as a deep knowledge of the penguins, I visited the island with a small group. No big boat can land there - there isn't even a harbor! Instead, we took a little zodiac over there, having to all sit at one end of it as we arrived in order to beach it! It was amazing to be able to get so close to the penguins, though our guide was happily very careful to make sure we kept sufficient distance so as not to disturb them. There were some nice views on the drive towards the small harbor where we took the zodiac over to the island too, including getting to see a flag tree - a tree that is bent over due to the constant wind!





































































El Tren del Fin del Mundo

My final day in Ushuaia was going to involve a trip on El Tren del Fin del Mundo (The End of the World Train) followed by a walk in the national park that it goes in to. The train runs on a route that was once used by prisoners, taking them into the forest to cut down trees and bringing the wood back. Not so much authenticity is left today though; the carriages are quite comfortable and the locomotives, although steam-powered, are relatively new; only the route is the same. The scenery is quite nice, however. On reaching the end of the line, it soon became clear that this wasn't a day to go for a few hours walking, however. The rain was pouring down, and showed no sign of letting up. I was pretty wet after just five minutes off the train looking around for some shelter. So, I took the train back and had a relaxing afternoon back in Ushuaia.


































All content Copyright (C) Jonathan Worthington 2003-2006 unless otherwise stated.