Roaming Through Retirement



April 2018

Mid-March to May--Roaming through South America

On the first day of Spring, we left Ajijic and arrived near the tip of Chile on the second day of Autumn on a ten-week, five-country tour of South America. Our goal was to tour and enjoy some of the major attractions that make this continent unique.

The links below will be a "work in progress," as we only post pictures and text as we complete our travels.  Click on the flags to see the exciting things we did and saw in each of these countries. 

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Patagonia
Argentina
Chile
Uruguay
Peru
Ecuador


Patagonia--To the ends of the earth!

Our first three week, were spent touring this distinct region encompassing the southern parts of Chile and Argentina.  With the Andes as the dividing line, the region spreads from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean from the tip of South America to an ambiguous border on the north.

April 2018
April 2018
Punta Arenas, Chile is located on the Strait of Magellan that connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.  Prior to the Panama Canal, it was a major seaport but now it is mostly a tourist town for cruises around the tip of South America and to Antarctica. Serendipity or Divine Intervention?? We met Jorge standing in line to board our plane in Santiago.  The next day Larry had lost his Chilean Visa and we accidently bumped in Jorge who spent an hour shuttling us to different people until he got Larry a new one.  A true blessing!
April 2018
April 2018
The cemetery was noted as a must see and as we toured it found out why.  It is filled with what we would consider as "tiny houses" as final resting place for entire families of affluent pioneers and immigrants.  On March 23, Glorine turned 70 years old and we made it a grand celebration at this fine restaurant in the Dreams Casino.  We were hoping to win enough money to pay for the meal, but no such luck. 
April 2018
April 2018
Punta Arenas is where we began our five-day cruise around the tip of South America.  The blue lines indicate the route we took. This ship is a 200-passenger cruise liner designed for tight passages and rough sea, which we encountered a couple times during the trip. 
April 2018
April 2018
This was  the view from our berth, a cozy room with two comfortable twin beds and a private bathroom.  At times, the waters were so calm and the room so quiet, it was hard to believe we were on a ship.  We took two excursions on each day of our trip.  The man in red, William, a young German who spoke five languages was able to cater to the diverse tourist on board.  He was an awesome tour guide. 
April 2018
April 2018
On one excursions, we learned that when the glaciers receded 12,000 years ago, lichens and mosses began to form which later evolved into the rich flora of the area that later attracted the animals that could survive this hostile environment.  We were fortunate to take a picture of one of those creatures--Andean Condor, the largest flying bird in the world by combined weight and wingspan.  The largest wingspan measured nearly eleven feet.  It is the national symbol of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador and Peru. 
April 2018
April 2018
Each execution gave us a different perspective of the region. Off in the distance is the Andes Mountains.  We learn that this part of the Andes is the only region where the mountains run east and west. We used these onboard Zodiac boats to get from our ship to the various excursion destinations.  They held 14 comfortably, along with the driver and a guide.  We made sure we paired with William as our guide. 
April 2018
April 2018
Yes, in this area the world is "COLD!"  Maybe one reason these glaciers still exist.  This is Pia Glacier, a huge glacier that resides inside one the many fjords that make up this part of the Andes.  We sailed 150 miles along the Beagle Channel to an area known as  the Avenue of the Glaciers where we saw a string of glaciers along the Darwin Mountain range on the southernmost range of the Andes. 
April 2018
April 2018
We were the last cruise of the year, thus the last people to see these penguins until next season.  There were hundreds that hung out while we sat and took pictures. One of our goals on this trip was to step foot on Cape Horn, Chili. We trekked to the Memorial erected in honor of the thousands of mariners who lost their lives sailing in the waters at the "end of the world."
April 2018
April 2018
The winds were whipping at 80mph which cut our stay on the island shorter than expected.  We missed the light house and a tiny chapel for the poor naval officer and his family who is assigned this post.  Over Glorine's shoulder, is Antarctica about 600 miles away. Our last stop was dedicated to Ferdinand Magellan, Charles Darwin, and Captain Robert Fitz Roy and the roles they played in shaping the history of this part of the world.  The home in the distance was once a ranch house, now turned a museum.
April 2018
April 2018
We missed our "regular" tour guide, but instead got the Director of Excursions, Mauicio Ruiz, a native of the area and an expert who shared the fascinating history of the area.  An awesome tour!  This replica teepee, was home to the Yagans, who once numbered over 1,000 residents of this area and date back to 8,000 b.c.   How did they survived this brutal climate?  Within 50 years, they were driven into extinction.  Sad!
April 2018
April 2018
At the end of each excursion, we received a Hot Toddy, a cup of hot chocolate with as little or as much rum as we cared to have.   A new meaning to all-inclusive tour. Our table mates during this cruise were Gabby and Vincentz, a German couple spending five weeks touring South America.  She spoke fluent English and served as speaker and translator during our meals. 
April 2018
April 2018
At the end of the cruise, we were presented with a Diploma, stating we reached Cape Horn, the world's southernmost point and signed by the Captain of the Stella Australis.  After disembarking, we spent a couple of days in Ushuaia, billed as the southern most city in the world.  It  began as a penal  colony for hardened criminals, who provided the man-power for public works projects.
April 2018
April 2018
Since the prison closed in 1947, Ushuaia is home to European immigrants who have transitioned this town into a tourist center, with a Swiss/German feel.   Tierra del Fuego National Reserve is located near Ushuaia and where we decided to take a 12-mile hike through this dense forest. 
April 2018
April 2018
The hike also treated us to some grand views of the Andes along the waters of the Strait of Magellan.  Hard to believe we put on that many miles.  At the end of the hike, the National Reserve housed a small museum featuring the now extinct indigenous people who were hunted and gathered in this area. 
April 2018
April 2018
Thanks to the cruise ships that sail around the tip of South America, day trips through the Strait of Magellan and tours to Antarctica, Ushuaia has become a popular tourist destination. From Ushuaia, we flew to the city of El Calafate to tour the National Park of the Glaciers, the largest in Argentina, covering nearly three million square miles.  It  is the home of Perito Moreno, one of South America's most popular tourist attraction.
April 2018
April 2018
As we entered the Park, we stopped for this photo op by Lake Argentina, the largest lake in Argentina, with the snowcapped Andes in the background. We caught this picture of a Southern Crested Caracara, a bird of prey that is a cousin to the Falcon and only found in southern South America.   
April 2018
April 2018
These pictures will not do justice to how overwhelming this glacier truly is.  It is larger than the city of Buenos Aires, nearly 100 square miles, 560 feet thick, 20 miles long and three miles wide. Click to view.  
To give some perspective to how large this glacier truly is, we took this picture of a 200-passenger boat on the lower right, moving toward the glacier.  We took a boat cruise to get a close-up view of the glacier. 
April 2018
April 2018
We used our zoom lenses to get a closer view of the glacier. These columns will soon be calves floating in the lake.  We heard many smaller calvings, but by the time we turned to view it, it had already hit the water.  The national park was kind enough to build miles of walkways and balconies for us to view the glacier and its surroundings.  Note this is the beginning of April and the trees are turning colors.
April 2018
April 2018
We took this 200 passenger tour boat to Los Glaciers National Park.  Together with its sister park in Chile,  Torres del Paine makes the South American ice field, the third largest in the world, behind Greenland and Antarctica.  Spegazzini Glacier is one of several glaciers we sailed by.  It is not as large as Moreno, but its sheer size of the wall which is 440 feet above the water line, make it so impressive.  
April 2018
April 2018
Our tour included a secluded farm house.  When the Park was created 80 years ago, farmers had to move off, but some of their cattle were left behind.  Now numbering over 3,000, they have become a serious problem and will be removed. The enormous iceberg behind us is one of hundreds floating in Lake Argentina.  Many are larger than the ship we are on.  And the interesting thing we learned is that 90 percent of the icebergs are below the water line. 
April 2018
April 2018
We were astonished by the number and the size of icebergs slowly floating downstream.  This is Perito Moreno.  The cruiser behind us shows the unbelievable size of that glacier.  Awesome!!
April 2018
April 2018
The next day we took this bus to El Chalten, to tour Mount Fitz Roy, which shares a border with Chile.  Picture perfect.  But that is because it is a picture of a picture.  Later you will soon learn why.
April 2018
April 2018
As the bus got ten miles from the mountain, we took this picture and had our fingers crossed that the storm would blow over.  At the office of El Chalten National Park, we grabbed this picture of the face of the mountain and began a four-kilometer trek to get a closer view. 
April 2018
April 2018
When we got to the viewing point, it was pouring down the rain and we took this picture of Glorine soaked to the bones.  And we had 4KM to go to get back to town.  We sat in a bar, next to a Laundromat waiting for our clothes to dry and laughed at this wall hanging with their version of evolution.  From here took bus back to El Calafate and flew to San Carlos de Bariloche, Arg.
April 2018
April 2018
San Carlos de Bariloche has a German and Swiss influence as they were the first settlers to arrive in the late 1800s. The Festival of Chocolate coincides with Easter.  Signs and decorations of the Festival were all over the plaza.
April 2018
April 2018
Giant bunnies painted with different colors and patterns were placed throughout the plaza.  The city even has its own Chocolate Museum.  Larry, thinking his name came from Saint Bernard which this dog is named after, couldn't resist paying to have this picture taken.  Note the large lake in the background.
April 2018
April 2018
And chocolate stores were located all over. Everyone living here must have a sweet tooth to keep these businesses open year-round. Bariloche  is home to the Catedral Alta Patagonia Ski Resort, one of the countries largest.  While already cold, the snow is not expected until late-April.
April 2018
April 2018
We used this 1937 vessel for our tour of Lake Nahuel Huapi that has a national park.  This crystal-clear lake is about 200 square miles and an average depth of 500 feet.  This National Park is dedicated to preserve the Arrayanes Trees, which is a unique tree that only exist in this part of the world. 
April 2018
April 2018
While touring the park, we learned that they also transplanted trees from different regions of the world including this Sequoias Tree from California.  Two things that made this tree so unique was the color and the fact that it has no bark.  This fence is made from the wood of the tree. 
April 2018
April 2018
An awesome border crossing over the Andes Mountain range from Argentina to Chile, leaving Bariloche at 7:00 am and getting into Puerto Varas at 6:00 pm. This trip required us to take a bus, boat, bus, boat, and bus.  The scenery was spectular on both sides of the border.
April 2018
April 2018
This is one exciting way to expore this lake districts on both side of the Andes. The waters were prestine and the snow capped mountain spectacular.
April 2018
April 2018
Getting from boat to boat was by bus, but through the jungle one dirt roads.  Their were two bus loads of adventures on voyage.  After a half hour of bumpi 1/2 long bus ride, we arrived at our boat
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How many rhubarb pies do you think this Chilean Prickly Rhubard plant will make?  Locals use the stalk for jam or they eat it with salt. Text
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Introduction to Argentina--coming soon!


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Introduction to Chile--coming soon!


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Introduction to Uruguay--coming soon!


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Introduction to Peru--coming soon!


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Introduction to Ecuador--coming soon!


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April's web page includes March 21 through May 31.