Here are a couple more highlights of our trip, combined with some pictures... Enjoy!
Best day of sightseeing - huacachina oasis and nazca lines, peru
We put on 400 kms this day, but also managed to go dune bashing and sandboarding through the desert landscape of Huacachina, and then fly over the world famous Nazca Lines. Totally different experiences, but definitely one of the most interesting days of our trip!
Most interesting landscape - atacama desert, chile
There is desert, and then there is the Atacama Desert; the driest place on earth, surrounded by active volcanoes and lunar landscapes. One of the strangest, most confounding places we have ever stayed. The scenery was so foreign that I wished a had a decent camera to capture the moment!
Most interesting form of transportation - ferry to carretera austral, chile
Hopping aboard a 40 year old cargo ship with a couple of dozen travelers and thousands of tons of freight including semi trailers, heavy construction equipment, and new cars heading for a dealership and then meandering through the fjords of Patagonia was one of the most interesting experiences of the trip. We were aboard the ship for 36 hours and enjoyed the best sleep of our trip ensconced in our tiny bunks!
best setting for a hotel - green baker lodge, puerto bertrand, chile
This area was probably the most inaccesable of any on our trip - it was a 6 hour drive on terrible gravel roads to the nearest airport. However, the Rio Baker and surrounding lakes are the Holy Grail for fly fishermen - most of the lakes and rivers around here have never (or rarely) been fished, and the colour of the river is something I have never seen before. In fact, when you mention the Rio Baker to people as far away as Argentina, they sigh and immediately get excited. Our lodge was beautiful, right on the shores of the river, with a zipline across it and an old fashioned barrel hot tub within a stone's throw of the riverbend.
MOST INTERESTING PORT CITY - PUNTA ARENAS, CHILE
One of the more pleasant surprises of our trip, Punta Arenas is a relatively clean and orderly place (at least for a port town in the middle of nowhere) with good restaurants and friendly people. We enjoyed our three days here, even though selling our vehicle was a bit of a hassle. Our only regret is that our flight to Antarctica, which was scheduled to leave from Punta Arenas, was canceled. Oh well, I hope to be back with my kids in a few years and we will take a cruise to the Antarctic!
HIGHLIGHT OF THE TRIP - PATAGONIA AND THE SOUTH PATAGONIAN ICEFIELD
This was the portion of the trip I was most looking forward to, and it did not disappoint. I was incredibly lucky to be able to have good weather on the most important day of the climb and really got to enjoy the ice cap in a way most people who go on 7 day trips do not.
While climbing big mountains the last five years has been a lot of fun, the scenery here was simply unmatched in my experience trekking and climbing. I would not hesitate to come back to do a full circuit of the ice cap or move further south to Torres del Paine and do some climbing there as well.
Patagonia is an interesting place - it is at a lower altitude and much of the region is arid plain (much like you would see in Montana or Wyoming). However, once you get into the mountains or near the lakes, the natural beauty is absolutely astounding. You can literally walk up to glaciers, see icebergs floating in a lake, and, best of all, hike or climb reasonably close to town to get unbelievable panoramas! Combine this with Argentine hospitality (and best of all, steak), and you have the highlight of my trip (and one of my all time favorite vacation spots!). I will definitely be back to see more of this beautiful, pristine region!
I hope to post all of my photos and some video in a Gallery in the coming weeks.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”
- Mark Twain