Leaving Puerto Natales for Esquel

11 03 2009

We have left behind the volatile and blustery weather of southern Patagonia and we are headed further back up north to the Argentine town of Esquel. We hope to see the Welsh town of Trevelin and the Alerces National Park in that area. We are headed back out to Río Gallegos, and hopefully we’ll catch a bus up north sooner rather than later. We’ve had to spend two extra days here in Puerto Natales for the next bus out of here and back over into Argentina, so hopefully we can move on without too many more layovers.

Torres del Paine

9 03 2009

Torres del Paine National Park

We did some last minute shopping in Puerto Natales for some extra layers of clothing, a camp stove and some food for hiking before heading off for the park.  We got on a 2 p.m. bus for the Torres del Paine park, and arrived under dark clouds and light rain at the park entrance.   We planned to do the ‘W’, since the weather seemed nasty and we didn’t have much time (you can also do a 10 day circuit around the whole thing).  On the way to the park we saw guanacos (like llamas) grazing on the pampa and some pink flamingos that looked out of place on a lake with snow-capped mountains in the background.  We took a quick shuttle to the first refugio and campground (Hosteria las Torres).

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Southern Patagonia

4 03 2009
The long road

The long road

After a long a bus ride through hours and hours and hours of Pampa we made it to the city of Rio Gallegos. It is a very cold town with not much to do, but we ended up having to stay an extra day because of a lack of buses to Puerto Natales. We are now in Puerto Natales and leaving for the National Park Torres del Paine. We’ll be hiking around in the rain for 5-6 days, and then we’ll return to civilization.

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Puerto Montt to El Bolsón

23 02 2009
El Bolson

El Bolsón

We returned to mainland Chile at the port city of Puerto Montt. We saw the fish markets and markets with smoked oysters and seaweed.  We walked around the docks of the port and considered our options to eventually get to Torres del Paine, way down in southern Chile.  We had considered taking the ferry from the south of Chiloe island, over to Chaiten, then over into Argentina and down to Torres del Paine by bus.  But Chaiten Volcano began erupting again while we were in Castro, so that wasn’t an option anymore.

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National Park of Chiloé

22 02 2009
Alexa at the beach

Alexa at the beach

We took a day trip from Castro over to the National Park of Chiloé, on the other side of the island, exposed to the Pacific.  This area is known for getting lots of rain and the humid Tepú coastal forests.  The coast here is similar to the Oregon coast, lots of rain and fog, which produces thick vegetation and dunes near the beach.  We walked through the tepú forest, then through the thick underbrush and out to the dunes and to the beach for a picnic of wine and empanadas.

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Castro, Chiloé Island

21 02 2009
Island of Chiloé

Island of Chiloé

We took a bus from Puerto Varas (a nice lakeside town with more German architecture, food, beer and immigrants) to the Island of Chiloé, via Puerto Montt.  Chiloé is famous for it’s colorful waterside houses, wooden churches, seafood, liquor de oro, remote rainy coastlines and as the alleged geographic origin of the potato. Read the rest of this entry »

Forest of the Araucaria

19 02 2009
Monkey puzzle

Monkey puzzle tree

The Araucaria District of Chile (just north of the Lakes District) has many volcanic peaks, in addition to ridges of basalt from volcanic activity and hotsprings. The soil is dark and fertile, supporting a diverse temperate rainforest and highland forests. Lower elevations have many types of southern beech (coigue, roble, etc) and canelo (from the magnolia family) trees, which look like hardwood trees from rainforests, and often have vines climbing on them.

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