An adventure of my life time!

Posts tagged ‘solo travel’

412. SA Trip (12): A Boat Trip to See Glaciers

Recommended by the host of my hostel, I booked a cruise to see glaciers. The tour isn’t cheap, about $150. Most likely I’ll never come back here, so I booked it.

It was as lovely as the lady suggested. A boat took us through the Fjord of Ultima Esperanza. We saw a cormorant colony, a sea-lion colony, many waterfalls, and the majestic Monte Balmaceda Glacier (the mountain is 2035 meter high, and there are only a few cases of its ascent).

After 3.5 hours of sailing, we stopped at Puerto Toro and walked a short distance to the base of the Serrano Glacier. Both Balmaceda and Serrano Glaciers are in the Bernardo O’Higgins National Park.

On our way back, we cocked at a ranch and had lunch there. The food was delicious. This boat trip reminded me of a similar cruise I took in Alaska.

 

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411. SA Trip (11): A Day in Birds’ Paradise

Formerly a fishing port, Puerto Natales is a city in Chile’s southern Patagonia. It’s the gateway to Torres del Paine National Park and the Patagonian fjords.

There are a lot of birds along the shoreline. I spent more than half a day taking pictures there.

(Crested duck)

(oystercatcher)

410. SA Trip (10): Base Torres—A LONG Hike

Base Torres is one of the most famous spots in Chile. It is a 22 kilometer (about 13.5 miles) hike to the foot of the three granite towers, Las Torres del Paine, which rise vertically 1000 meters in front of a small glacial lake.

 A mini tour bus picked me up around 6:30am from my hostel. After picking up a dozen more passengers and driving 2 hours, the driver took us to the park entrance (Torres Del Paine National Park). There was a long line of people from other large tour buses. It took us almost an hour to get the ticket. The driver doesn’t speak any English. He pointed to a guide who can communicate somewhat in English.

It was 10:20 when we started hiking. I asked the guide what time we needed to come back, and he said the hike took about 8 hours. “Turn back from the lake at 3pm.”

Everyone on the bus seemed younger than I am. I was concerned I would be the last one coming back. So I paid attention to time, especially I love taking pictures, which takes time. The first part of the hike was relatively easy, with some uphill. The last hour was a steep climb with muddy, rocky steps (I saw three people fall). I arrived the lake before 2. The view was fantastic, out of this world. But I stayed until 3 and started hiking back. It was 6:20 when I returned, exactly 8 hours from the time we started.

I was the first one. Within minutes, a young couple from Austria showed up. A half-hour later a family of three with a teenage son came back. Then, slowly people returned. But the last two didn’t come back until almost 8:30! They were guys in their late 30s or early 40s. Were they really that slow? Or they didn’t care about other people waiting for them? I don’t know.

Well, maybe I’m just a better hiker than most. 🙂

409. SA Trip (9): A Full Day Tour in Torres Del Paine National Park

It rained/drizzled almost the whole day. Even through the mist, we caught a glimpse of the beautiful mountains, lakes, and glaciers. We also saw lots of wildlife—guanaco, fox, ostrich, pink flamingo, and other birds. Guanaco is a camelid native to South America. They are very cute.  

408. SA Trip (8): A 13.5-hour Bus Ride

I prefer to travel by bus to flight. In this way, I could see a lot along the way.

It’s about 390 miles from Ushuaia, Argentina to Punta Arenas, Chile. According to the website, the drive takes 11 hours. I thought they over-estimated the time. How long would 400 miles take? Thirteen and a half hours, actually.

The immigration took over 2 hours. Lunch for another half an hour. Ferry for about an hour (A fox showed up near the ferry terminal, which made the time flew by.)

Twenty minutes after we got on the bus again in Chile, an Argentinian tour guide for a large group talked to the bus driver, stopped the bus, flagged down a car, and went back with the car. I was sitting in the first row and saw the whole thing. But I had no idea what happened. Did he leave someone behind?

No, he left his teacup behind! It is a special cup for Mate tea. But this is public transportation, not even a tour bus. And no one explained to us what happened while we waited for him for more than half an hour. The bus driver doesn’t speak a word in English. Later I learned the truth from a couple from England who can speak some Spanish. I was quite amazed. I was in South America, not in the US anymore. 🙂

Before the trip, I printed out the maps from all the bus stations to the hotels/hostels. Some of the distances are so short that I decided to walk. Well, if they stopped at the right bus station!

We finally arrived in Punta Arenas around 9:30pm. I took out the map and checked the street signs. I couldn’t find anything familiar. So I went into a little room with a small counter and pointed to the place I needed to go to. The man was really nice. He tried to explain to me, but I didn’t understand a word he said. He took my cell phone and signed in to wifi. The magic of Google map took me to the hostel. It’s about 15min walk. The night was still young and bright enough. Thank God!

 

407. SA Trip (7): Beagle Channel Cruise

(Rock Cormorant)

(Upland Goose)

(Southern Crested Caracara)

(Southern Giant Petrel)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

406. SA Trip (6): Tierra del Fuego National Park

Spent a full day in the national park hiking (Costera Tril) and kayaking.

(Black-necked Swan)

(A family of Kelp Goose)

 

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