Good morning all, and our apologies that we have not caught up on the blog in a while. Tony and I have been on a rather tight schedule since leaving Buenos Aires for the Patagonia region of Argentina and are just now getting a chance for some catch up.
Our time in Patagonia was an amazing experience-it's a region I have desired to visit for several years now, after reading an article in one of those outdoor magazines a while back. Bus schedules are sporadic this time of year (we are in the dead of the Austral winter, and the low season for tourism), not too mention extremely lengthy, so we booked with a local tour company for regional flights out of Buenos Aires-about 8 days covering two or the more famous areas, Los Glaciares National Park and Tierra Del Fuego (Land of Fire, with the city of Ushuaia being popularly known as the "End of the Earth". In Los Glaciares, we had a chance to visit the Perito Moreno Glacier, which unlike most of the world's glaciers is actually expanding, at a rate of about 2 meters a day. This also means that in the late afternoon when the sun has been shining all day, there's a decent chance of seeing skyscraper sized chunks of ice "calve" off the glacier and crash into Lake Argentina. We were fortunate enough to see this happen several times, and it was quite the sight...and sound-something vaguely like lightning as the ice breaks free and then thunder as it makes contact with the water. The next day, we did a day hike in the Northern Section of the Park with great views of both Cerro Torre and Mt Fitzroy (Chalten)-very fortunate as the entire range is often obscured by clouds. We'll follow up with some pictures, as these words can only do so much to justify the sights. Quite the interesting wildlife as well, including guanacos, rheas, foxes, and the endangered Andean Condor.
After Los Glaciares we spent a couple days around the Ushuaia on the island of Tierra Del Fuego, truly the end of the line. The next stop south is Antarctica. The highlight of our time around Ushuaia was a day of downhill skiing at the island's main ski resort-conditions were a bit icy (not unlike Eastern US skiing) but a unique and enjoyable experience at the world's "southernmost ski resort" (we've had some laughs about every business in Ushuaia being the "southernmost Irish Pub" and "the end of the world bakery" etc etc etc).
We caught a flight back to Buenos Aires and have had a couple epic bus rides-an overnight ride to Mendoza, staying for a night in Argentina's wine country (of course a quick afternoon tasting was in order to sample the region's famous Malbec reds), followed by another bus through absolutely epic scenery in the Andes, crossing the border with Chile. One quick note-Argentinian long distance buses may be the best in the world-with 1st class style seats that recline almost horizontally, full meals, and even bingo (in Spanish of course) with the prize being a bottle of wine. Since our descent into Santiago, we've spent the last 24 hours or so taking it easy and catching our breath. We plan to be northbound through Chile in the near future.