Very very dangerous
13/01/14Grave danger is a recurring theme as we continue our journey south through Chile and Argentina. With police advisories against courageous assaults on maritime museums and stifled attempts to valiantly trot through tussocked hillsides, it´s a wonder we´ve got this far. Heaven forbid, next I´ll be telling you we´ve been ice climbing with no ropes.
Our journey south began in sunny San Pedro, where we unfortunately missed our 23 hour bus to Santiago, the hot and steamy capital of Chile. Once there however, time permitted a quick day trip to Valparaiso, an enchanting graffiti-clad city clinging to the hillsides above the windy Pacific Ocean. The Lord Cochrane museum sounded like it was right up our street so we scaled one final Ascensor (lift) and began the short walk to geekville. But we were soon stopped in our tracks by a stern looking policeman telling us that we must go no further as the neighbourhood was "very very dangerous". What, no Lord Cochrane Museum? Disgusted, we headed straight over the border into Argentina.
First stop, Mendoza for a Malbec-filled New Year´s Eve and a fabulous scenic horseride. I´d like to report galloping on horseback through sun-baked Andean foothills, but alas any attempts to trot were thwarted by our jovial (but highly sensible) gaucho Alejandro. Cycle helmets were firmly donned for our wine tour the next day.
Then onto Bariloche for some more cycling, a spot of fondue, lots of Steak -surely the best in the world- and copious amounts of chocolate. Here we were lucky enough to stay in an Airbnb with Paola and her lovely family. They made us feel most at home in their cottage, perfectly situated for exploring the mountains and lakes of this beautiful region. Then south to Trevelin, a tiny Welsh colony with excellent tea houses. Most welcome after nearly three months without proper tea! Ruddy 'ansome my 'ansomes.
Continuing south through Patagonia, we spent two days walking in the mountains around tiny El Chalten, where the clouds briefly lifted for a glimpse of the majestic granite spires of the Fitzroy Range. Finally, we arrived in El Calafate, our last stop before heading back into Chile. No stay in El Calafate would be complete without a trip to the dynamic Perito Moreno glacier, and blimey, what a sight! Even in the pouring rain, it was a humbling experience to stand opposite this giant, listening to the thunderous crashes as bergs calved into Lago Argentino below. Ok, so ice climbing was a slight exaggeration - waddling across a postage-stamp sized corner of the glacier with crampons over our trainers would be much more accurate.
Perhaps southern Chile will be less extreme.