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Our route - I:

14.10.04 - 16.10.04:
  • Buenos Aires

    17.10.04 - 18.10.04:
  • Zarate

    19.10.04:
  • Gualeguaychu

    20.10.04 - 22.10.04:
  • NP El Palmar

    23.10.04:
  • Concordia

    24.10.04:
  • Federacion

    25.10.04:
  • Posadas

    26.10.04 - 02.11.04:
  • NP Iguazu



    Our route - II:

    30.11.04 - 01.12.04:
  • Gualeguaychu

    02.12.04:
  • Zarate

    03.12.04 - 04.12.04:
  • Buenos Aires

    05.12.04 - 07.12.04:
  • Carmen de Patagones
  • El Condor
  • La Loberia
  • Viedma

    08.12.04 - 12.12.04:
  • Peninsula Valdes:
  • Puerto Piramides
  • Puerto Madryn

    13.12.04:
  • Trelew
  • Gaiman
  • Camarones

    14.12.04:
  • Cabo dos Bahias

    15.12.04:
  • Comodoro Rivadavia

    16.12.04:
  • MN Bosques Petrificados

    17.12.04:
  • San Julian

    18.12.04:
  • NP Monte Leon

    19.12.04:
  • Tierra del Fuego:
  • San Sebastian

    20.12.04:
  • Tolhuin

    21.12.04 - 05.01.05:
  • Ushuaia
  • NP Tierra del Fuego

    06.01.05:
  • San Sebastian



    Our route - III:

    22.01.05:
  • El Calafate

    23.01.05 - 27.01.05:
  • NP Los Glaciares:
  • Glaciar Perito Moreno
  • Lago Roca

    28.01.05 - 29.01.05:
  • El Calafate

    30.01.05 - 02.02.05:
  • El Chalten
  • NP Los Glaciares:
  • Fitz Roy sector

    03.02.05:
  • Bajo Caracoles

    04.02.05:
  • Perito Moreno



    Our route - IV:

    14.02.05 - 16.02.05:
  • Trevelin
  • NP Los Glaciares

    17.02.05 - 20.02.05:
  • Esquel

    21.02.05 - 03.03.05:
  • El Bolson

    04.03.05 - 13.03.05:
  • Bariloche
  • Colonia Suiza
  • Pampa Linda
  • Villa de Angostura



    Our route - V:

    13.04.05:
  • Aconcagua
  • Puente del Inca

    14.04.05 - 21.04.05:
  • Uspallata
  • Mendoza

    22.04.05 - 26.04.05:
  • San Juan
  • Vallecito

    27.04.05 - 28.04.05:
  • NP Ischigualasto
  • NP Talampaya

    29.04.05:
  • Chilecito
  • Cuesta de Miranda

    30.04.05:
  • Catamarca

    01.05.05:
  • Tucuman

    02.05.05 - 03.05.05:
  • Tafi del Valle
  • NP Los Menhires
  • Quilmes

    04.05.05 - 09.05.05:
  • Cafayate
  • Queb.de Cafayate
  • Cuesta del Obispo
  • NP Los Cardones

    10.05.05 - 12.05.05:
  • Salta

    13.05.05 - 20.05.05:
  • Jujuy
  • Yala

    21.05.05 - 26.05.05:
  • Purmamarca
  • Maimara
  • Tilcara
  • Humahuaca
  • La Quiaca



    Our route - VI:

    08.06.05 - 09.06.05:
  • Q.de Humahuaca

    10.06.05 - 14.06.05:
  • Jujuy
  • Yala

    15.05.05 - 16.06.05:
  • Paso de Jama



    Our route VII:

    30.12.05:
  • Zapala

    31.12.05 - 06.01.06:
  • San Martin/Andes

    07.01.06:
  • Lago Lolog

    08.01.06:
  • Junin de los Andes

    09.01.06:
  • Lago Huechulafquen

    10.01.06 - 12.01.06:
  • Lago Paimun

    13.01.06:
  • Junin de los Andes

    14.01.06 - 16.01.06:
  • San Martin/Andes

    17.01.06 - 18.01.06:
  • Lago Lolog

    19.01.06:
  • San Martin/Andes

    20.01.06 - 23.01.06:
  • Ruta de 7 lagos
  • Lago Hermoso
  • Lago Falkner
  • Lago Correntoso

    24.01.06 - 10.02.06:
  • Bariloche

    11.02.06:
  • Villa la Angostura



    Our route VIII:

    14.02.06 - 15.02.06:
  • Villa Angostura

    5.02.06 - 23.02.06:
  • Bariloche
  • Colonia Suiza

    24.02.06 - 26.02.06:
  • Lago Guillermo

    27.02.06 - 28.02.06:
  • Bariloche

    01.03.06 - 02.03.06:
  • Rio Manso

    02.03.06 - 05.03.06:
  • El Bolson

    06.03.06:
  • Bariloche

    07.03.06:
  • Neuquen

    08.03.06:
  • Bahia Blanca

    09.03.06:
  • Monte Hermoso
  • Tres Arroyos

    10.03.06 - 20.03.06:
  • Claromeco

    20.03.06 - 03.04.06:
  • Necochea

    04.04.06:
  • Mar del Plata
  • Mar Chiquita

    05.04.06 - 06.04.06:
  • Villa Gesell

    07.04.06 - 02.05.06:
  • Buenos Aires

    03.05.06:
  • Frankfurt
  • home



  •   Argentina
    On this page, we (will) describe our experiences in Argentina. Apart from the travelogue for this country you will also find a number of links to useful sites, ranging from general information to embassy homepages.

    Content:
  • Part 1: Entre Rios and Missiones (14.10.04 - 02.11.04)
  • Part 2: Eastcoast (30.11.04 - 06.01.05)
  • Part 3: the Andes - I (22.01.05 - 04.02.05)
  • Part 4: the Andes - II (14.02.05 - 13.03.05)
  • Part 5: the Northwest (14.04.05 - 26.05.05)
  • Part 6: Los Lagos - II (30.12.05 - 11.02.06)
  • Part 7: Saying goodbye (14.02.06 - 02.05.06)


    Part 1: Entre Rios and Missiones (14.10.04 - 02.11.04)

    Written by: Coen

    During her stay in Buenos Aires Dorrit had spent much time with Noemi, a friend of Marcel. So after leaving the port, my first stop in South America was Noemi and Sergio's house, where we went with Marcel. We ate empanadas and chatted a lot. Noemi is Brazilian and fortunately spoke English. The next day I had to say goodbye to Marcel, whom I met as a stranger and parted from as a friend.
    Dorrit and I stayed another two days in Buenos Aires, visited the city, enjoyed the outdoor cafes, strolled through the shopping areas and spent the evenings with Noemi and Sergio. The next morning we said goodbye and drove our first kilometres through Argentina.

    NP El Palmar First we stayed two days on a beautiful camping site at the Rio de la Plata to spend some quality time together. From Zarate we drove to Gualeguaychu to buy a car insurance. The landscape was nice, but not very impressive. Sloping green landscape with many huge haciendas full of cows. Every now and then we saw an Argentinean cowboy ('gaucho') on horseback who herded his cows.
    Next station was National Park El Palmar, beautifully situated along the river Uruguay where the original covering with palm trees is preserved. In the park were ruins of a Jesuit monastery. The Jesuits were the first "Freedom fighters" who wanted to convert the original inhabitants to Christianity. Furthermore we saw small crocodiles, a wild ostrich and foxes and we had some nice walks with the dogs.
    A beautiful spot on the banks of the river Uruguay Via Concordia and Federacion, where we enjoyed a hot thermal pool, we drove the 1300 kilometres to the waterfalls of Iguazu. En route we found a fantastic spot on a wild shore of the river Uruguay with fringes of reeds and a fantastic full moon scenery.
    First thing after arriving in Puerto Iguazu was to buy Argentinean steaks for the bbq. In Argentina a kilo of sirloin cost 3 Euro per kilo so we adopted an Argentinean habit and started to eat a lot of meat.

    In Puerto Iguazu there was a fantastic camping site in the forest with a swimming pool, a shop and many other facilities. Here we spent three lazy days after driving so many kilometres.
    The third evening we visited the waterfalls at full moon. Being able to see the most spectacular waterfalls in the world at full moon is being really lucky…Wet to our bones but very impressed we got back to the camping site late at night.
    Devil's throat, Iguazu The next day we picked up Ulrich at the Brazilian border. Ulrich lives in Curitiba in Brazil for half a year and we had agreed to meet at the waterfalls of Iguazu.
    We chatted, bbq-ed, went to the border point Argentina-Brazil-Paraguay and we visited the beautiful waterfalls of Iguazu. The most beautiful was the "devil's throat" (Garganta del Diablo) where a broad river abruptly ends in a sort of bowl and the water crashes down from three sides. 40000 m3 of water per second, amazing! Another trail went above the endless row of waterfalls and offered some amazing views. At night we practiced our Spanish with a group of Argentinean youngsters with whom I had played guitar the night before.
    Ulrich had to go back to Brazil the next morning and Dorrit and I spent another day in the national park. We walked the trail that went underneath the waterfalls and stood on a platform just in front of the crashing waterfall. We were barely able to stand upright because of the storm of the falling water and the damp.

    Coen


    Click here to read about our experiences in Brazil first before continuing with the next part of our Argentina travelogue.


    Part 2: Eastcoast (30.11.04 - 06.01.05)

    Written by: Dorrit

    We cross into Argentina via a very high and 3 km long bridge (General San Martin) over the river Uruguay and spend the night once more in the small town of Gualeguaychu, where the people are friendly and buying groceries takes a long time because everyone is in for a little chat. On we go to Buenos Aires to celebrate Noemi's birthday. On the way there we intend to spend the night on a small camping place in the delta of the rivers Uruguay and Parana - a beautiful area of swamps, creeks and woods - but have to flee from a mosquito swarm in the middle of the night. We hold out for a couple of hours, but when the roof is black with hundreds of mosquitoes and the dogs start howling we take the hint and leave. We end up spending the night at a petrol station, after spraying the car with mosquito repellent.
    Noemi's birthday is celebrated with a huge Argentine "asado": half a cow and half a pig are grilled on an enormous grill for hours on end. Assisted by Coen's guitar and a karaoke programme, we sing the night away until 4 am.

    Beware of nandu's From the border of Buenos Aires, Argentina's completely paved coastal road Ruta Tres (R3) runs all the way to Tierra del Fuego, 3,063 km in total. On and around this road we will spend the next three weeks. The first days we pass the famous Argentine "pampa"; miles of grassy flatland and grazing cows. It looks like Holland multiplied by 100 or like the Hungarian puszta. Slowly the area gets dryer and dryer, changing into a scrubby and arid heath plain. Villages are getting scarcer and further apart and become smaller and more insignificant the further south we go: this is where the endless plains of Patagonia start. In this area live even less people per square mile than in Australia.


    Bird spider (?) Our first stop in Patagonia is the twin city of Viedma / Carmen de Patagones. At the seaside resort of El Condor the coastal cliffs drop abruptly into the sea and its steep walls rise at least 100 m out over the clean and quiet strip of beach below. Over a length of at least 30 km a colony of parrots have nested in the walls and burrowed thousands of small holes in the cliff faces, making it look like a giant Emmenthal cheese. The parrots, beautiful birds with blue wings, green bodies and bright yellow breasts, fly to and fro in huge flocks, all the while screaming at the top of their voices.
    Further down the coast the observation balcony "La Loberia" offers a good lookout to view a colony of 2000 sea lions, that lives on the rocks and the beach underneath the cliffs. Here we see how the sea lions fight, mate, play, swim and laze in the sun, we hear how they bleat, roar, moo and burp and we smell their pungent fishy smell. A male sea lion weighs about 300 kg, a female 100 kg. When they mate, the male lies on top of the female, nearly crushing her to death. It does not look as if the female is really enjoying it...
    On our way back to Viedma a huge spider crosses the road. We jump out of the car to get a closer look and see that it is a bird spider (dunno if that is the right translation, but I included its picture, so you can see for yourselves) . BRRR, it makes the hairs in my neck stand upright! Later we see more of them, but we'd rather stay in the car now..
    At night we have filet mignon ("lomo") on the BBQ again, as that is cheaper than minced meat in this country!

    French kiss On we go through the endless heath plains with its dark green and brown scrubs, golden grasses and pink and purple thistles. We see our first guanaco's (the wild ancestors of the domesticated llama) and nandu's (small rheas/ostriches) that live here on the Patagonian plains, as well as our first fox. A couple of days we stay in the national park Peninsula Valdes, where we try for days on end to book a whale tour. A persistent storm makes it impossible for the small boats to sail out though. Together with the Dutch couple Nander and Jolanda we tour the peninsula, seeing loads of guanaco's and nandu's and every now and then a large bird of prey. At the sea lion colony Punta Norte we even see a small grey fox flitting by. At the beach a few sea lions lie in the sun and among them we see one or two sea elephants. Sea elephants are a little bigger than sea lions and the males grow a kind of small elephant trunk for a nose. The animals laze about in the sun, scratch themselves every now and then with their "hands" or lie in the water, admiring their toe flippers, while cormorants and albatrosses are circling around them. In a few weeks, orcas will come here to hunt; they let themselves be carried onto the beach by the tide and there they feast on the young sea lions. Although we hear the orcas (a park ranger draws our attention to the high squeaking sound) we do not get to see them. Magellan penguins What we do see is penguins; a whole colony is nesting on the peninsula. They waddle along the coast and bring food from the water to their fluffy babies, that sit squeaking in the little nests under the scrub. It stinks ferociously and there is bird shit everywhere. Every now and then one of the penguins bends forward and shoots off a straight stream of yellow fluid, caring not a bit if there is another penguin standing behind him.
    We nearly gave up on the whale tour, but just before we intended to leave a boat did sail out. We hopped in and drove out of the bay at full speed to "hunt" the whales. Every time anyone saw a fountain coming out of the water, the boat raced at it so we could see the whale before she and her baby submerged again. To prevent "disturbance" of the whale the motor had to be turned off 100 m away from the whale. However, I still got the impression that the whale was pretty much disturbed anyway, she made sure to get away from us as quickly as possible at any rate. During the mating season the whales are not so shy and play around much more, but now the baby had to be protected.

    Jurassic park In Trelew we visit the prehistoric museum (Museo Paleontologico Egidio Feruglio), one of the best in the world according to our travel guide. We at least are quite impressed. In Patagonia a lot of fossils and dinosaur skeletons have been found and the best are on show here in a way that prickles your imagination. Among them were real creeps, like a spider whose body alone, without legs, measured 30 cm in diameter and a carnivore whose thigh bone alone measured 2,5 m, meaning he had to be as big as a house. We drink a high tea in the Welsh village of Gaiman and then continue to Camarones, a small coastal village with white wooden houses and a Scandinavian feel about it. The small road through the Patagonian scrubs allowed us to see a lot of birds (partridges, owls etc.) and a number of "mara's", a sort of rabbit on very high legs. Ánd our first skunk, which we indeed smell before we see it. In Trelew we had met Daniel, Ines and Ines' sister Anne again and had agreed to celebrate Coen's birthday on the next day together. In the morning we drive to Cabo dos Bahias, where a colony of 30,000 penguins is already waiting for us, as Coen wanted to celebrate his birthday with a lot of others. Feliz compleanho Coen! The penguins share their reserve with a couple of guanaco families, which graze their with their cute fowls. Pairs of penguins waddle to and fro between the beach and the plain where they dug their holes. Parents busy themselves around their fluffy babies, cleaning bits of dirt from their shoulders and straightening little feathers. In the mean time, Adi and Tanja, a young Swiss couple that spent the last two years driving down from Alaska, also arrived and together we drive to a nice place at a little bay to put on the BBQ. We spend a nice evening eating, drinking, chatting, singing and playing guitar. The next morning at breakfast two seals swim around in the little bay in front of us. One of them catches a fish and tries to eat it while he is still swimming, but the fish has no interest in being eaten and flounders wildly. Two sea gulls see it and race to the scene, each one in turn trying to pull the fish out of the seal's mouth, while we watch with fascination. Definitely beats breakfast-TV.

    Jurassic park II We say goodbye and leave for the Monumento Natural Bosques Petrificados, where we promptly run into Daniel and Ines again. It has been storming for days now and the further south we go, the stronger the winds. This seems to be typical for Patagonia, where nothing grows that is higher than 20 cm and consequently nothing stops the wind from roaring all the way from the Andes over the plains. The landscape around the Bosques Petrificados (petrified woods) is bizarre; the sandy soil keeps changing its colour, from the common beige to bright white, yellow, orange, pink or bright red. Puddles on the side of the road have taken the colour of the sand and thus it happens that I see three ducks swimming in a bright pink pool, or a goose standing at the side of bright yellow water. The plain that has accompanied us from Buenos Aires makes way for a landscape of table mountains that are either white or nearly black. The further we get away from the Ruta 3, the more desolate the landscape becomes. The Bosques Petrificados are petrified tree trunks of some 40 metres long, the rests of a huge forest that occupied this area some 200 million years ago, before the super continent Gondwana split up in Australia, Africa, India, Antarctica and Patagonia. A volcano breakout covered the forest in a thick layer of lava ashes, that in combination with the following rain petrified the woods. In the centuries that followed the trees were covered by layer after layer, until they were pushed up to the surface again during the creation of the Andes, some 16 million years ago (to compare: the first humans are estimated to have emerged some 1.8 million years ago). It is a very bizarre idea that these trees are older than any mountain range on earth and that parts of this petrified forest have also been found in Australia, Africa and even Antarctica! Deeply impressed we leave this fairytale area, after having admired a piece of clay with the imprints of 150 million year old rain drops and even the rain drops themselves (that have gathered lava ash while they rolled down the hill and have thus been petrified themselves) in the small museum.
    bird-pubers Although it is midsummer and the days are endlessly long (after all the seasons in the southern hemisphere are inverted to those in the northern hemisphere, so December = June) we experience maximum temperatures of 7°C only and on our way to the National Park Monte Leon we even had a couple of snow- and hailstorms. In Monte Leon we admire a large cormorant and penguin colony, as well as some 100 sea lions that played wildly in the water and made somersaults as if they were dolphins. We spend the night in a field full of guanacos and near a tree where two young birds of prey are sitting at the brim of their enormous nest and seem to be trying to find the courage to make their first flight.

    With a small ferry we cross the Magellan Strait to (Chilean) Tierra del Fuego (Fire land), where the Patagonian steppe goes on relentlessly. In small ponds we see pink flamingos and through the fields a gaucho (the Latin-American version of the cowboy) rides his huge horse, wearing a big woollen poncho and a beret. Tierra del Fuego is called Tierra del Fuego because the indigenous inhabitants kindled fires wherever they were (even in their canoes!) to keep warm, as they wore nothing but loincloths despite the bitter cold.
    Back in Argentina, we continue south over a bumpy gravel road. All of a sudden, without any transition, the steppe disappears and we drive through a thick, green forest. At first the trees are leafless, gnarled and covered in mint green strands of moss, but they soon make way for dark green pine wood. That is to say, those parts that have not been ruined by beavers and are left as barren plains full of dead tree trunks (the North-American and European beavers that have been set out here have no natural enemies and have become a real plague, just like the rabbits that are now endangering the indigenous mara). The hills are becoming higher and higher and slowly make way for the snow capped mountains of the Fuegan Andes. We spend the night in Tolhuin at the Fagano Lake, a beautiful blue lake surrounded by the mountains, where cute wooden houses with wood-carved ornaments stand at the shores. The last kilometres of the Ruta Tres pass along deep blue lakes surrounded by hills covered in dark green pine forests. Not quite the landscape you would expect after all these hundreds of kilometres of dry and barren steppe!

    Ushuaia We stay fairly long in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world (1000 km further south than New-Zealand, 2000 km further than South-Africa). It is a friendly town with cute wooden houses and a nice little harbour in the bay where we spend a nice evening with a Dutch couple that sails around the world with their yacht. We work at the website, walk in the National Park Tierra del Fuego (without the dogs, since they are not allowed in the park, but Daniel and Ines baby-sit them), go to the local cinema, located in an old airplane hangar and spend the rest of our time eating, drinking and chatting with Daniel, Ines, Anne, Adi and Tanja. At Christmas Eve several campings offer a Christmas Dinner, where people who travel the continent gather. A long night of eating, drinking, dancing and feasting follows, which only ends at 5 am when it gets light again. Christmas Day is consequently spent in bed recovering. Boxing day (exactly a year after the devastating earthquake in Bam, Iran) we heard the terrible news of the earthquake in Indonesia and the following tsunami in South-Asia, every day the number of victims seems to double.
    Between Christmas and New Year we do a few hard, but very rewarding day hikes to glaciers, mountain lakes and glaciers descending into mountain lakes. To celebrate new years eve we go to another camping, where we meet other travellers like Udo and Birgit from Osnabrueck (Germany) whom we had met before in Zarate. Here we have a luxury dinner and feast the night away with karaoke and Latino music until dawn. New Years day is once more spent in bed for recovery, but when we are fit again we start our first multiple-day trek of South-America: in two days we walk to the "Paso de la Oveja", a beautiful walk through the forest to a broad mountain pass and from there on through an impressive canyon back to Ushuaia. The canyon has marvellous high and steep walls, completely covered with bright green mosses, along which several waterfalls come crashing down. Together with Susan and Robin from San Francisco we manage to find the path back, which is more than once overgrown or simply missing. After a day of recovering and especially warming and drying up we leave Ushuaia and drive back to San Sebastian with its beautiful broad bay, where the difference between high and low tide is no less than 11 km! From here we leave beautiful Argentina ... for now.

    Dorrit


    Click here to read about our experiences in Chile first before continuing with the next part of our Argentina travelogue.


    Part 3: the Andes - I (22.01.05 - 04.02.05)

    Written by: Dorrit

    Perito Moreno glacier From the border near Torres del Paine we want to travel up north again along the Andes. In the south of Chile there is no other means of transport than an expensive ferry, since there are no roads. In Argentina however, there is the Ruta Cuarenta (R40) running all the way east of the Andes from here to the northern border with Bolivia. This road we plan to take for several hundreds of kilometres, up to the latitude where the southernmost road of Chile, the beautiful Carretera Austral, commences. Although we have been warned by other travellers, it still comes as a small shock when we see the state this gravel road is in. With an average of 30 km/h we bounce over the bumpy gravel trail to the village of El Calafate, which seems to exist solely of its proximity to the famous Perito Moreno Glacier. Several days we spend admiring this great glacier of light blue ice towers, one of the very few growing glaciers in the world and (also) a finger of the gigantic ice cap Hielo Sur. On the peninsula in the glacial lake, directly opposite of the snout of the glacier, several lookout-balconies have been built. The snout of the glacier looks as a light blue ice wall that juts out of the lake surface to a height of up to 60 m. Frequently, towers of ice break off the face of the glacier and crash down into the water, creating high fountains before they resurface and slowly drift off as blue icebergs. Continuously, we hear the ice breaking and cracking, sounding as if someone is shooting a gun. The blue colour of the glacier is explained by or travel guide as follows:
    "Areas of the glacier that are not compacted have air bubbles into which the long wavelengths of white light are absorbed, thus we see simply white. In the areas where the ice becomes more compact, due to the weight on the top pushing ice particles together, blue light (short wavelengths) is still transmitted. The more compact the ice, the longer the path the light has to travel and the bluer the ice appears."
    Indeed we see a clear difference between the bottom layer of the glacier, which is nearly dark blue, and the light blue tops. We look on for hours, every time something new is happening. With this view we celebrate the birth of our nephew Jesper, the second son of Roos and Roel, with real (Argentine) "Champagne". Congratulations Roos and Roel!

    Perito Moreno glacier Just before leaving for the northern part of National Park Los Glaciares we wanted to get money, but the ATMs are all out of order as the connection to this village at the end of the world broke down. This means we have to wait for a day for the exchange office to open, together with many others that are now stuck here. Then we can bounce on over the Ruta 40 to El Chalten, a hamlet of three farms and a park ranger station at the foot of the bizarre Fitz Roy range, named after the captain of the ship Charles Darwin used for his travels to South-America. The history and appearance of the range are not so much different from those of Torres del Paine, but Fitz Roy is a lot more accessible - unfortunately "no dogs allowed". You can see the range from a 100 km distance, like a couple of flat blocks in a city of low houses. Just like Torres del Paine's, Fitz Roy's lonely height has exposed the range to a lot of erosion, which left no more of the range than some curiously shaped, smooth pins, whose light beige colour contrasts beautifully with the dark grey mountains surrounding them. Over each saddle a glacier comes down, as if the Hielo Sur ice cap is overflowing and the high mountains can only just hold the heavy ice load. On a field with a first class view over the range we celebrate Adi's birthday with a real Swiss cheese fondue. The following days we do some beautiful day hikes to the best two viewpoints of this range: one to the mint-coloured glacier lake under the slim needles of Cerro Torre and one to the dark blue mountain lake at the foot of mighty Monte Fitz Roy. For the latter view we had to climb - just like for the Torres del Paine viewpoint - a 400m high wall of rocks and stones. This so-called moraine wall is created by the glacier as it moves along in its valley and pushes rocks and stones out in front of it. Both hikes were awesome and the views were indescribable.

    Fitz Roy range We say goodbye to Adi and Tanja and move on to the north, over the Ruta 40 that is in some parts relatively good, but usually does not allow speeds of over 40 km/h. Just like around the Ruta 3 this road is surrounded by nothing else than Patagonian steppe. In southern South-America there is an almost constant west wind, that brings a lot of rain from the Pacific, but hardly any rain gets any further than the Andes. Thus Chilean Patagonia, west of the Andes, is extremely wet with precipitation levels of 4000 - 5000 mm a year, whereas Argentine Patagonia east of the Andes has no more than 200 - 400 mm a year. West of the Andes lush rain forests grow, whereas the eastern plain is a brown and dry steppe. Hardly anyone lives here; in 500 km we pass maybe 5 farmsteads and one petrol pump, of which we are very happy that it is working and contains diesel, for we did not meet more than 10 cars on a whole day driving. What does live here are guanaco's and nandu's, that can thrive here without being disturbed by man. We cross the border to Chile at the international lake Lago Buenos Aires (Argentina) / Lago General Carrerra (Chile), to drive further north via the Carretera Austral from Chile Chico.

    Dorrit


    Click here to read about our experiences in Chile first before continuing with the next part of our Argentina travelogue.


    Part 4: the Andes - II (14.02.05 - 13.03.05)

    Written by: Coen

    Welcome back, dear reader. It has been a while since we published our last report. Hope you are all doing fine.
    This part of our travel report starts in Trevelin, a town that is partly inhabited by Welsh colonialists. Valentine's day with a high tea is appropriate here.
    Trees from old times From here, after so many gravel roads, we finally drive on an asphalt road to NP Los Alerces. This NP is famous for it's Alerce-trees that can get more than 4000 years old. There were a couple of daytreks so we walked a few days through bamboo forest and along many araucaria trees. In the prehistoric museum in Trelew, last month, we already saw 40 million year old araucaria fossils and now we saw live ones. The infrastructure in this NP is amazing: free campsites, supermarkets and even a small petrol station.

    Positive vibes Our tour continues on the gradually greener and more hilly Ruta 40 via Esquel, a dusty but cosy town, to El Bolson.
    El Bolson is beautifully situated between wooded hills and is surrounded by rocky peaks. One of these peaks is one of the six energy field on earth and therefore for Indians a holy place. The town's atmosphere is quite relaxing; an artisan market with Indian handicrafts, a huge park and many Argentine hippies. Because the area around El Bolson is a perfect trekking area, we want to walk a five day trekking here.

    We park our car at a campsite and the first day we walk up 1000 meters. Along a small stream there is a nice idyllic spot to pitch our tent. We make a warm campfire and stare in the flames for hours. The next morning it is a steep climb up to the glacier Hielo Azul ("blue ice"), then a heavy trek through the forest before we arrive at a beautiful canyon with a crystal clear, deep blue river. We pitch our tent on the property of an estancia (large cattle farm) with cows and horses around our tent. A true shock therapy for the dogs. The owner sells homebrew beer, homemade bread and veggie's from his garden. Hurray! Argentines walk a lot themselves with their backpacks so there is always a good Argentine atmosphere.
    In the morning the Mestizo's (mix between Indians and Europeans) on horses herd the cows together, wearing woollen poncho's and berets. It made me think about the book "house of the spirits" from Isabel Allende which claims that until recently, the staff at estancias were serfs.
    The next days we walked through age-old forest along a river in a broad and shallow riverbed with white pebbles. This river of mineral water meandered through the completely uninhabited forested landscape.
    The last day we have to work hard to get down over a steep and dusty path. Every step we take leaves a cloud of dust so when we finally reach the foot of the hill we are completely yellow of dust. Dorrit and the dogs get a lift in the camping owner's pickup and the same night we drive back to El Bolson because we want to celebrate our 12 ½ year anniversary.

    Travellers meeting point Wow, another 10 days gone, time flies. It started with an email from Marcel with whom I came to Argentina on the ship. He would be around and we finally met again. We celebrated this with a few days bbq, some excursions and of course a good drink or two. Beautiful lakes everywhere Together with Marcel we drove to Bariloche, centre of the lake district. A beautiful tour along deep blue lakes and impressive mountain peaks. In Bariloche we also met Adi and Tanja again, with whom we had been travelling in the south of Argentina. Bbq time…

    Colonial Swiss house After saying goodbye to our friends we were alone again and drove to Colonia Suiza, an old Swiss village at a huge blue lake. We camp at the lakeside and the dogs play with the stray dogs on the beach.

    A dusty road zigzags up to Pampa Linda in national park Nahuel Huapi and passes along the most beautiful viewpoints of the lake district. Blue and green lakes with little islands and surrounded by forested hills.
    At the end of the road we arrived at a magnificent glacier, black from dust that comes from a higher crumbling glacier. We walk around and have a nice view over 7 waterfalls that come from under the ice crust of the glacier.
    In the evening we camp at an estancia that lies in a bowl of rocks, surrounded by poplars, with fences of grey weathered tropical wood. Later on when the sun shines her last orange glow on the mountain peaks, a Gaucho herds his cows together.
    Next day we drive down and continue our tour back to Bariloche. On the campsite we can practice our Spanish with Argentine guests and we eat empanadas, an Argentine national specialty of oven-baked pastries stuffed with ham/cheese or meat/chicken.
    Via the Ruta de siete Lagos (7 lakes), with beautiful views over the seven lakes, pick-nick areas with bbq grills and walking treks everywhere, we drive to the Chilean border. The border formalities are unproblematic again and we are back in Chile before we know it.

    Coen


    Click here to read about our experiences in Chile first before continuing with the next part of our Argentina travelogue.

    Part 5: the Northwest (14.04.05 - 26.05.05)

    Written by: Coen

    Together with the trucks we crawl up an incredible steep switchback road over the Paso de los Libertadores, the border between Chile and Argentina. It snows a little bit and it is cold. But with the heating on, a good cd and a full petrol tank, we have fun.
    On the road again.. When we come out of the tunnel on 3150 meters, the Aconcagua - with nearly 7000 m the highest mountain on the American continent - shows up in front of us. A beautiful walking trail along Laguna los Horcones went through a glacier valley with fantastic views of several Andes peaks and a stunning view of the snow-capped giant Aconcagua, with a clear sky and at sunset. Are we lucky!
    Aconcagua - with nearly 7000 m the highest mountain on the American continent We drive on to the Puente del Inca. This is a natural bridge, created by a moving glacier and part of the old Inca route.
    Under the bridge are the ruins of a former thermal bath. Because of an earthquake the mineral-rich thermal water flows on and over the old bath house and leaves a thick yellow limestone layer. In the old bathrooms the hot water runs along the walls, comes bubbling out everywhere and covers the old tiles, the frames and the ceilings with the yellow crust. A bizarre sight.

    Bubbling thermalwater The next day we drive to Mendoza. A magnificent route through a rough mountain area with grey, pink and beige rocks. Further down, the poplars are dressed in brightly yellow. For the film-fans among you: this is where "Seven years in Tibet" was filmed.
    In Mendoza we stay for a week on a campsite. We celebrate our third travel anniversary, laze around in the hammock, bbq every night with Jimmy and Tascha from the UK, walk with the dogs in the park and there even is a drive-in cinema nearby.
    One cannot leave Mendoza without a tour through the Mendoza wine area so we fulfil our duty and while we are at it visit an olive oil factory.
    In San Juan we say goodbye to Jimmy and Tascha with a big jar of farmer wine and a final guitar session.

    Thanks for a good marriage Our next stop is the Shrine of the Difunta Correa. She is an Argentine semi-saint (not canonized by the church) who, following her conscript husband through the desert during the 1840 civil war, kept on stilling her newborn child after dying of thirst. Nowadays hundreds of pilgrims visit her shrine daily. There are several rooms, full of innumerable objects to thank the Difunta Correa for new cars, houses, family happiness and for everything you can imagine. Somebody even donated an old T-Ford.

    During one of our coffee breaks we meet Armin and Birte with their son Finn, whom we had already met in Mendoza and together we drive on to national park Ischigualasto.
    We drive a tour along bizarre sandstone formations in different colours, worn out through wind and water. In the local museum we learn a lot about excavating and preparing dinosaur fossils and at the end of the day we drive to NP Talampaya.
    national park Ischigualasto For four hours we drive around in a pope mobile through the park Talampaya and pass meters high steep rock walls, cathedral-like formations and marvellous views. Finally we arrive in the "hidden city", a labyrinth of rose-red canyons, covering several square kilometres.

    The road to the town of Catamarca passes the Cuesta de Miranda, a beautiful road through a bright red rock landscape with green cactuses and a sheer blue sky. The dusty red road zigzags up and down to Chilecito. From here we drive via Catamarca to Tucuman.

    A few kilometres before we enter Tucuman we see a huge white cloud of smoke rising up from the city. When we enter we see that the cloud is the result of half a million bbq-ing Argentines who, celebrating the first of May, went to the city park to spent their free day in a typical Argentine way.
    It does not bother us and we spend the night in the park. The next morning we visit the centre, have breakfast in one of the cosy smoky Spanish coffee bars full of men reading newspapers and visit the museum where the independence of Argentina was signed.

    From Tucuman we drive into the mountains again and the scenery changes drastically form dry into rainforest. At 2100 meters we enter the village of Tafi del Valle, surrounded by 4 mountains higher than 5000 meters and completely covered in clouds. When we find a place at a large lake, the clouds disappear and, sitting in the sun, we enjoy the views.
    Next morning we drive through hills with huge cactuses and we visit the ruins of Quilmes. Here the Quilmes-tribe of some 5000 Indians used to live. They were able to resist all attacks to their village but against the Spanish this was impossible. The inhabitants were deported to Buenos Aires on foot and not more than a few of them survived this trip, only to die of the European diseases there.

    Via Cafayate, where we meet up with Jimmy and Tascha and Armin and Birte and where we stay for a few days because it is just too nice, we drive to Salta. But first we extensively explore the Quebrada de Cafayate. We walk around and drive into a dry riverbed to camp between the lovely red, yellow and black coloured rock formations.
    On the Cuesta del Obispo Just before Salta there is a road going up to a pass worth driving; the Cuesta del Obispo. It starts in a green jungle area but as soon as we cross some small bridges, we climb up through a rocky mountain area. On top, we are presented a magnificent view over a décor of surrounding, moss covered mountain peaks.
    With Armin and Birte we spent the night between thousands of meters high cactuses in the NP Los Cardones. A camp fire keeps us warm during the evening.

    The road from Salta to Jujuy goes through a dense jungle area. Arriving in Jujuy everything is closed because of the siesta (usually from noon until 4 or 5 o'clock). Fortunately about 15 km from town lie the Termas de Reyes, a nice outside thermal bad, surrounded by green hills. We can park the car in front of the bath to be able to jump in and out.
    The following days we spent in Jujuy. The export papers for the dogs need to be renewed and we have a repair on the car. Besides we organize and buy some things because this is the last big town before Bolivia. During these days in Jujuy, the thermal bad is our fixed campsite for the night.

    Argentina-Bolivia border crossing The final stretch in northern Argentina to the Bolivian border goes through the Quebrada de Humahuaca, another splendid valley with mountains in all colours. It passes through Purmamarca, a small Amerindian village with small adobe houses and a pink cotton candy mountain in the middle of the village. In this part of Argentina, many people are of Amerindian descent and a lot of Bolivians live here.
    We stop at the Posta de Hornillos, a caravan stop from 1771 and an important post on the old route Buenos Aires - Potosi (Bolivia). It also played a significant role during the war of independence of Argentina. The Argentines could keep back a Spanish attack here because general Belgrano dressed a few thousand cactuses as soldiers, thus making the Spanish forces believe his army was about ten times as big as in reality.
    From here we drive via the adobe village of Humahuaca - where we stay to see the festivities of revolution day - to the Bolivian border.

    Coen


    Part 6: Los Lagos - II (30.12.05 - 11.02.06)

    Written by: Dorrit

    The border crossing takes a long time, they even brought a drug dog in this time. But in the end we are allowed into Argentina and are immediately back in gaucho country: extensive plains, herds of cattle, goat and sheep in the middle of the road, men wearing huge cowboy hats herding gigantic herds in the pampa or driving 30 kmh in age-old Chevrolets or Cadillacs.

    Lago Lolog In San Martin de los Andes we celebrate new year's eve with Fabian, a 22 year old "artisana", i.e. a traveling handworker that sells his craft at markets. The first of January was spent in bed: a traditional start of the new year :o)
    During the next couple of days it rains a lot, which gives us the opportunity to arrange a number of things, like the shipping of our vehicle back to Europe. Two friends of ours are willing to take our car along when they ship back to Hamburg themselves. That means Coen does not have to spend another month on the ship and we can fly back home together. The car will be shipped in April and we decided to book the flight home around the beginning of May. This way we would still be around in Buenos Aires should the ship leave two weeks late like it did last time.
    Also there is still a lot of work to do on the car, we ran out of cooking gas, we have to get a third party insurance for Argentina, travelogues need to be written and with the Latin-American siesta (which makes you stand in front of closed doors so many times) the days just fly by.

    volcano Lanin As long as it rains we stay in San Martin and finally make some progress in our books, but as soon as the weather clears we drive out to national park Lanin. There we visit Lago Huechulafquen, a huge glacial lake surrounded by green forested hills. We drive through fields of flowers, where herds of wild birds graze, to the western end of the lake. Via a river this end of the lake is connected with a smaller lake: Lago Paimun. There we pass a couple of days on a lovely lakeside camping. We take long walks through the coigue forest (a type of tree that only exists in Patagonia; a rough, wrought tree with very small, bright green leaves that turn blood red during autumn), over grass green fields full of rabbits and along dark grey beaches of volcanic sand at the crystal clear water of Lago Paimun. Also we clamber over huge boulders, up to a waterfall in the forest. Via a narrow path underneath the overhanging rock you can get behind the falling water. It's been a while since we've last had that :o)
    The weather has improved that much by now (it will be hot and dry without interruption for the next two months, very unusual in this area) that we can finally unpack our inflatable canoe. We give it the poetic name "Red dragon" after its country of origin (you have one guess) and then it is time for its maiden trip on Lago Paimun. The entire morning we paddle around on the lake and enjoy the great view from the deep blue water over the white, perfectly symmetric cone of volcano Lanin.

    We return to San Martin, where we meet Klaas and Willy (whom we had previously met in Ushuaia and La Paz) and visit the next of the innumerable lakes in this area: Lago Lolog. To get there we have to drive over narrow forest trails and weak, old, wooden bridges, but we get there without major problems and are able to make some extended walks along the border of the bright blue lake. Of course with a view over snow capped Andes peaks... the Red Dragon
    Via one last pit-stop in San Martin we enter the Ruta de Siete Lagos (7 lakes road), a splendid tour that passes a lot more than 7 lakes and that enables you to stop for lakeside camping or pick-nicking every few kilometres. At one of these lakes, Lago Hermoso, we drink Chandon Champagne (the Argentine copy) in our canoe in the middle of the lake to celebrate the birth of my nephew Kasper.
    More canoeing, but without champagne, was done on Lago Falkner and Lago Correntoso. Roughly shaped mountains surround these lakes, that have in times long past been formed by glaciers and are still filled with crystal clear glacial water. We take our time for the Ruta de 7 Lagos, stop at nearly all the lakes, learn Spanish, read our books and Coen practices his guitar. Apart from that the Argentines are always in for a chat about their country and politics, the things you have to see or the specialties that you have to try in any case while you are here. Never a dull moment.

    happy camping Along the northern border of the huge Lago Nahuel Huapi we drive to Bariloche, the epicentre of the lakes district's tourism. There you can get anything you need and after some searching we found a great spot at the border of the lake, directly opposite a little harbour where small yachts are moored (camping Cirse, from Bariloche at km 14,5 on the road to Llao Llao). Here we finally find someone who can fill our gas bottles (although it takes a full day), replace our shock absorbers and a broken brake and do our laundry. We share the place on the camping with Dominik, a guy from Munich with whom we BBQ nearly every day and who takes us to all kinds of beautiful viewpoints and forest roads with his 4 wheel drive.
    Here we also start preparing for our lives at home: we write our CVs and have a look at the job markets. I happen to come across the EU jobsite and are shocked to see that the EU receives on most of their vacancy postings some ten- to twenty five-THOUSAND !! applications. Hmm, if that is an indication for the European employment situation at the moment, we will have a hard time finding a job!
    We are being visited by Dina and Juergen, a Belgian-German couple we met in India before and that is now traveling in South-America.

    In between we leave a midweek for Chile to do a trekking in NP Puyehue. During our trekking last year we had some real bad weather in this park, but as the weather is so great right now we give it another try and want to do a different route in the park. Of course you cannot just get into Chile like that with your dogs, so we first have to pay Bariloche another visit to find the national veterinary service (SENASA) and a vet (we can recommend dr. Fusswinkel, 1 block west from SENASA). On our way to Chile we spend a day on a lovely camp site at the border of Lago Nahuel Huapi. There we park at a bounty pebble beach, where poplar trees grow half on the beach, half in the lake and offer respite from the sun and heat.

    Dorrit


    Click here to read about our experiences in Chile first before continuing with the next part of our Argentina travelogue.


    Part 7: Saying goodbye (14.02.06 - 02.05.06)

    Written by: Dorrit

    El Asador We pass a couple of relaxing days in Bariloche with Guido and Brenda, before they are moving on to Buenos Aires. After they have left we do some beautiful walks in the forests surrounding Bariloche. Here there is a special kind of tree ("arrayanes") that has a red-and-white stem. The next couple of days are spent with Udo and Birgit, the couple that will take our car with them as "hand luggage" on the Grimaldi-boat home. This means our car will not have to be shipped on the freighter deck, where nearly all cars are broken into. We find a great spot at a sandy beach at one of the blue lakes and BBQ for days on end.
    Back in Bariloche we have to bring Shimal to the vet, as he got something in his eye while he was running through the forest that can only be taken out under anesthetics. Out comes a rather large splinter that must have hurt pretty badly. On our own little camping the season is running to its end and the owner is busy chasing the dogs off his premises that have been left there by their owners during this summer season..
    On our way to El Bolson we camp near the Rio Manso, at a sandy beach surrounded by poplar trees. In the whitewater river trout are jumping out of the water all the time, behind it a background of dark forests and white mountain tops.
    In El Bolson we meet Matthias and Melanie and spend a long weekend doing little else than eating, drinking and chatting. We are so busy with that, that we nearly forget to visit the famous local artisan market. When the weather turns for the worse we intend to drive northeast to the coast, where it is a lot warmer than in the lake district. We spend one last night in Bariloche, this time in the harbour with a great view over the lake, which now is lead grey, just like the air. At night the youth of Bariloche uses this part of the harbour to hold races with their 40 year old Chevrolets and of course we are being hit again. One of them reverses and rams his car into ours. We jump out of our bed and the last we see of them is their tail lights disappearing fast. We follow them and see how they halt at the first street light to assess their own damage. Such fools! We threaten them with damage claims and then - after seeing that our damage looked worse than it was and seeing that they would probably not be able to pay anything anyway - agreed to drive to the police station together. Of course they raced away as quickly as possible.
    On our way to the east coast we end up in a huge sand storm in the Patagonian steppe. We could hardly make out left from right or top from bottom: all was brown around us.

    Mar del Plata The province of Buenos Aires (surrounding the country's capital) looks like the provinces in the north of France: endless wheat- or sunflower fields between rows of poplar trees and every now and then a large farm. In this area live a lot of Dutch and Danish people, who must feel very much at home here. In the cute beach village of Claromeco we stop for a week to enjoy the lovely weather and the superb, broad and empty beach. We make extensive tours with the dogs and look for jobs on the internet. The village is quiet and relaxed after the high season and the people are very friendly. One day a sea lion is lying on the beach, it seems old, sick and tired. One of the soldiers at the naval base nearby tells us that every now and then an old sea lion leaves the colony to come here and die in peace and quiet. This one, however, does not get any peace and quiet at all: all day long he is surrounded by people taking pictures from as close as possible. He roars and shows his teeth, but it does not seem to impress the people very much.
    We drive on to the town of Necochea, where we do a Spanish course to give some structure to the Spanish we picked up on the road. For two weeks on end we go to Julieta at 8 am, have classes until noon and after walking with the dogs on the beach or in the forest we spend the rest of the afternoon doing our homework. The beach here is a lot narrower and more crowded than in Claromeco and since cars are allowed on the beach the beach looks rather like a motorway on busy days. But the forest is lovely and quiet. Every now and then we spend an evening in the cinema or have dinner with Julieta and on both Sundays she shows us the highlights of Necochea, e.g. the dunes, the harbour and the river.
    Necochea does not seem very rich, the infrastructure and many houses are in a rather bad state and the bridge that broke down during an inundation 25 years ago has neither been repaired nor removed. Even the wreck of the ship that ran into it at that time is still lying there, slowly rotting away. About 1 km upstream they have started building a new bridge now..

    Mar del Plata After 2.5 weeks we say goodbye to Julieta, who has received us so hospitably and showed us so many things, and move on to the main beach resort of Argentina: Mar del Plata. In this city we visit the city centre and the picturesque harbour that is full of bright orange wooden fishing ships. While the fishermen are cleaning their nets, sea lions swim around their boats waiting for the leftovers to fall overboard. A bit further down the pier there is a colony of some 200 male sea lions on a bit of land behind a fence. The place seems to be far too small for the number of sea lions, and many have biting wounds from the fights for a place to lie down. In the corner there is a dead one rotting away and the stench is horrific. There is a crowd of people on the other side of the fence, shouting, rattling the fence or even throwing things at the animals to provoke a reaction that looks well on photo or video.
    The ship graveyard a bit further down the road is full of rusty, half sunken ships. Some sea lions have installed themselves here on the deck of a partly sunken fishing ship, far from the crowds of people and other sea lions.

    Buenos Aires - La Boca The next station on our coastal road is Villa Gesell. Both the village and the forest surrounding it have been built by a German immigrant named Gesell some 150 years ago and now it is a beach resort for the rich, who build their villas here.
    We do not get to enjoy Villa Gesell very much though, as we receive an email from Udo and Birgit that Grimaldi refuses to take our car!!
    As said before we had agreed with Udo and Birgit - who are going back on the Grimaldi ship to Hamburg as passengers - that they would take not only their own car but ours as well. The advantage of that is that the car would go on board as "hand luggage" and be placed on a special, non-accessible deck (as a service to the car owners that join the ship as passengers) since Grimaldi has a rather bad reputation for theft and pilferages.
    In December we had asked Grimaldi if passengers could also take cars that they did not own and Grimaldi had said this was possible. In January the passage was booked and paid for and all was fully arranged. Now, 8 days before the boat leaves, Grimaldi sends us an email saying that passengers can only take their own cars. And that the passage for our car is cancelled. We jump into the car and drive to Buenos Aires as quickly as possible. Luckily, we can stay with Noemi and Sergio who live in Buenos Aires and from their place we can go to the Grimaldi agent. The agent informs us that the week that follows is Semana Santa (holy week, the week before Easter) meaning there are only 3 working days left before the boat leaves. We place many calls to Grimaldi in Europe, but they won't yield and the agent in Germany starts talking about lawyers and law suits in Napoli (where Grimaldi is based) as soon as he hears our name. Our only chance to get our car out of Argentina before we leave ourselves is shipping it as freight on the same boat as Udo and Birgit are taking. That is not only a lot more expensive, but it also means the car will end up on the freight deck, which is freely accessible. But we have little choice. The days before embarking are therefore dedicated to barricading the windows and doors of the camper van and arranging all the paperwork.

    Sergio We reserved an entire day to check in the car and soon find out that that is only just enough. At 9 am we arrive at the gates of terminal 1 and are being sent to terminal 4. There we are being sent back to terminal 1 and when we finally arrive there the first hour has already passed. Traffic is a nightmare that day, since the underground staff are on strike. After having waited a long time we are finally admitted into the customs office and are able to present the documents our Grimaldi agent had advised us to bring. It turns out the copies of Coen's passport pages had had to be certified, something the agent hadn't told us. We are being sent away to the Dutch embassy, in the middle of the city centre. We take a taxi, crawl our way through the traffic jams and get out at the address the customs gave us. Yes it is an embassy, but the Israeli embassy, not the Dutch. Another maddening taxi drive, to a location near the harbour... aahrg. The morning has passed by now, but the embassy is still open and we are helped immediately. For EUR 30 (!) we receive a letter stating that the copies of Coen's passport are real and we can return to customs. Fully stressed out we arrive at the customs office and face a closed door and a note saying the officers are having siesta until 2:30 pm. Nobody arrives until 3 pm however, and then Noemi has to have some hard discussions with the people waiting before us to convince them our case is very urgent and we need to be treated first. At last we have the customs documents and can finally begin embarking. It is 4:30 pm by now. Checking in is done via innumerable counters and in many cases these counters need just those documents the counter before it did not give us. Finally - at 4:55 - we arrive at the terminal where we can hand in the car. But.. two forms are still missing and the harbour staff are going home at 5 pm. We beg and plead, because this is the last day the car can be checked in and if we do not check in now, the car will not be able to board. The officer in charge has pity on us and promises to wait. At 5:15 pm he and his staff are indeed still there and after a last inspection the car is finally checked in. Hurray!! But what a day...

    Recoleta cemetery The weeks that follow are spent buying the last souvenirs, visiting the highlights of Buenos Aires, looking for jobs on the internet, writing this travelogue and arranging the travel documents for the dogs. At night Noemi and Sergio cook Brazilian and Argentine specialties (Noemi is Brazilian) and Coen cooks Dutch dishes.
    Among others we visit the cemetery of Recoleta. Recoleta is one of the poshest neighborhoods of Buenos Aires and the cemetery is one of the places to show your wealth. One grave monument is more imposing and luxury than the other. Some are no less than miniature temples or churches.
    Very posh as well is Puerto Madero, where the renovated store houses now hold expensive restaurants and hotels. The Dutch embassy is here as well, next to the orange "Plaza de la Reina de Holanda" (Dutch queen square). Isn't that a bit premature? (note from the author: The Dutch crown prince married an Argentine, but the current queen is still going strong)
    With Noemi we took the luxurious coastal train to the river delta Tigre. The stations are well kept and restored and there are artisan markets and expensive restaurants, but between the stations you can see there is a lot of poverty as well. This poverty is also visible in the normal train to the city centre. Entire shows are being held by the lame, the blind and the deaf to collect a bit of money to live.
    La Boca On the weekends we visit the various artisan markets that are held in this city. Especially the one in the old tango area San Telmo is worthwhile. Plaza Dorrego is filled to the brim with little street stalls selling old stuff (a lot seems to come from various European flea markets) and tango-kitsch. The inhabitants of Buenos Aires call this kind of things "porquerias" ("what-for's" :o) But it is very colorful and the tango shows that are being held in the streets around it are an event in themselves. Very colorful as well is the port area La Boca. At least the two tourist streets are, the rest of the area is poor more than anything else. I had visited this area 1,5 years ago, but Coen and the photo camera hadn't, so we spent a day walking around and enjoying the atmosphere.
    Finally, Coen joins Sergio and his nephew Mariano for a football match between their favorite club Argentina Juniors and one of the two best clubs of Argentina: River Plate. A huge stadium filled with over exited fans that are at least as interesting to watch as the match they are watching.

    And then it is time to say goodbye, not just to Noemi and Sergio, but also to Argentina, South-America and... our journey! Tomorrow we take the plane home and from that moment our great, long trip has come to an end! It makes us feel rather sad, although we do look forward a lot to see our family and friends again.
    The last 4 years have been a fantastic time, in which we have gained a lot of impressions, learnt a great deal and met many sympathetic and hospitable people, who made our trip a great experience.

    We hope you enjoyed reading our travelogues and wish everyone who reads this all the best and a lot of fun (travelling)!

    Hasta la vista!

    Dorrit en Coen


    THE END




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  • Our top 6:

    1. Andean Northwest

    2. Iguazu

    3. Fitz Roy

    4. Perito Moreno

    5. Peninsula Valdes

    6. Bosques Petrif.

    TIP

    Although most travel guides claim otherwise, there is no camping in NP Iguazu.

    TIP

    On the nights around full moon there are tours in NP Iguazu to the devil's throat. They are not free however (as claimed by LP), but cost 15 A$ (EUR 5).

    TIP

    If you have your ticket for Iguazu stamped at the end of the day, you can enter the park for half the price on the following day.

    TIP

    Along the R3 between San Miguel de Monte and Las Flores (approx. 1 day south of Buenos Aires) there is a ACA petrol station with a lovely and free campsite.

    TIP

    South of Sierra Grande on the R3 Patagonia begins. From here, petrol costs a lot less, but diesel prices stay the same.

    Chilean Tierra del Fuego

    The main road from San Sebastian to Cerro Sombrero is very bad.
    However, you can take the good road from San Sebastian to Porvenir and turn into the equally good road to Bahia Azul.

    No dogs allowed:

    1. NP Tierra del
       Fuego

    2. FitzRoy (Los
       Glaciares-N)

    3. NP Los Alerces



    Glaciar Perito Moreno:

    You can park directly behind the upper viewpoint if you arrive before 10 am. To spend the night you can ask at the restaurant 2km down the road from the glacier.

    El Chalten:

    Directly behind the park ranger station you can camp for free, with a perfect view over the FitzRoy-range.

    San Juan:

    The museum in La Laja near San Juan is no more, so don´t go looking for it like we did.

    Jujuy:

    Fantastic food can be had at Riky´s in Yala, just north of Jujuy on the Ruta 9 to Humahuaca.

    Jujuy:

    In Jujuy, you can get your gas bottles filled at Gas Fac-Or, Las Heras/Cuyo, Jujuy, tel: 4257855