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Showing posts from January, 2018

30/1/2018 Failed excursions to Vulcan Villarica due a bad weather

Day 45 We had every ready from the evening, so even we had to get up at 5:30am, it went well and at 6:10am we were already in Pucon Aventura office waiting for instructions. 
For the volcano, we only needed to bring comfortable sports clothes, food and water. 
Notes:

Got there, came back, bus ticket check if we can change, coffee, hostel check if we can change, added one more night, went to change bus, waited for agency to open, full for the next day, cannot return money yet, another agency (Florencia), another agency Trancura holding places, still no money back, another agency Politur booked with deposit 70000 (price 100k pp including los pozones thermas), gift for Annie, kuchen through hostel owner, strawberries 1k per kg, smoothie with milk, went for money, paid the difference, dinner with Annie, La Manga.

29/1/2018 Pucon lazy day

44th Day We decided to not do much as we are going to the volcano tomorrow. Got not a cheapest breakfast in La something and then walked to the beach. Met few nice blocks of flats looking as expensive properties and then finally ended up on a beach. 
The Villarrica lake has two beaches in Pucon. The main one is parallel with O’Higgins street. It’s black “sand” beach. The sand is quite gross and gets hot under the direct sun. The beach is not so busy, few people sunbathing close to the lake and mainly kinds in the water. We tried our feet and the lake was cold. 
It was lazy day, walked through the town, went to nice and big supermarket Lider and then cooked pasta for dinner in the evening. We also had to go to try on shoes and then prepared breakfast and lunch for tomorrow’s excursion to the volcano. Back in Prague, we bought shoes which are compatible with crampons, so we preferred to use our shoes than theirs. 


28/1/2018 hitchhiking from Puerto Varas to Pucon

Day 43 Quite slow morning, backpacks ready and we have to walk to the other side of the town to try to hitchhike to Pucon. We got on Avenida Gramado (which is joining Ruta 5 to north) and just right behind the railway we started hitchhiking. It wasn’t even 5 minutes and around 11:30am someone in very nice truck Ford F-something stopped. 
Pelipe is really nice and welcoming businessman who established his company about 25 year ago. He started with his wife from scratch and now they have around 100 employees and successful business in salmon industry. He speaks English and he is going to Pucon! I think we got really lucky. Pelipe dropped us at a hostal he got recommended by his friend on the way to Pucon and I asked him for his number to buy him beer in the evening because he saved us a lot of hassle getting to Pucon. 
The recommended hostal was unfortunately full so we started going one by one, trying to find a room with private bathroom for reasonable price. I had some hostels preselecte…

27/1/2017 Puerto Varas and Chester Beer brewery

We had our yoghurts for breakfast in our room and the walked to the town centre. Did few photos around the lake and the went up the hill to park and viewpoint. Not many people up there, it’s sunny and feels nice. The park works as a mountain bike park too.
Once we reached the top, I checked maps.me where else we can go, as it was still early. I found that about 3km away is a Chester Brewery. That could be a good walk with beer at the end, no? We both agreed and wanted to descend the hill to a footpath near the railway. Unfortunately we took a wrong misleading paths down the hill and reached just bush and very steep downhill we couldn’t pass. Took us a while to get to the park entrance and we needed some water (forgot in the hostel). The nearest shop/coffee is on the same street and water costed 1500 pesos. Then seemed shorter to walk on the road then get back to the footpath. The only issue is that we are not sure if we can get there using the road I can see on the map. The road is mar…

26/1/2018 Bus from Chiloe Castro to Puerto Varas

Surprisingly good breakfast in this hostel Macho. And around 10am heading back to Castro to return the car. We rented with full to full tank, so having to fill up near the Hostal Cordillera (the rental place). There is Copec petrol station. Our first in South America, so I’m not sure how it works here. As in different countries is the system different too. Here in Copec, there are Copec employees and they ask what type and how much petrol you want. I just said Super 95 and full. Then they the guy asked me to open the fuel tank and he ensured me that the display on the pump shows zeros. Then he started filling the petrol in and in a meantime he washed the rear window. I told him that it is not necessary as this is not my car and he just replied: “Es Copec service”. Once the tank was full, he showed me how much I need to pay and I said by card. Right next to the pump is a card payment terminal where I did the payment with the guy. It was quite nice. I wish this to be in the UK or in the…

25/1/2018 Cucao beach, Huentemo, then Ancud and curanto

Late morning seems to be a rule last few weeks. It changes only when we have to get on a bus early morning. This day, we had a breakfast downstairs in our Hospedaje. Very simple as always when included in the accommodation. Bread and butter and some jam. There is someone else having breakfast with us, tall white man, clearly not Chilean. He starts speaking with us and we find out that we have a similar goal what to see here. His name is Patrik. Hes is from California and he is quite nice. So we offer him to go with us by car to the end of the road and then hike together toHuentemo.
Last maybe 1 or 2 km were pretty rough road and it ended in sand on the wide massive beach. I didn’t want to go on the sand with this tiny car and we asked in a campsite if we can keep the car there. A lady from the campsite house asked for 3000 pesos to park in their garden. It wasn’t really a campsite. It was just a garden of a remote house with a sign saying Estacimiento y Camping. 
From there it was only …

24/1/2018 Chiloe Castro, car hire, Teneun, Dalhacue, Cucao

We woke up around 10am, Denisa went to buy something for breakfast and we ate in the hostel. Then we packed all things and left to the tourist information centre, where young English speaking girl gave us a business card of local car hire place we headed to straight after.
The car hire place we used in Castro Chiloe is called Hostal Cordillera. They asked us what type of car we want (no English speaking) and what the prices are. We chose the smallest car Kia Morning (3 cylinders) and the lady told us we need to wait until 12 as someone will return the car to use for us. So we walked to see the main church (UNESCO) on the main square and we bought some really tasty potato bread, or something, filled with minced meat. And also kuchen with special local berries called makui (they grow only on Chiloe). Each was only 1000 pesos and it was amazingly good (we ate the kuchen later on the road). 
At 12, we were back in the car hire place. Jorge spoke very clearly Spanish and slowly and describin…

23/1/2018 Ferry from Puerto Raul Marin Balmaceda to Quellon

After our breakfast, we went to wait for our ferry. In the ferry office Naviera Austral they told us to be there one hour in advance, so we came to the port at 10:40am. Few people already waiting.
We waited until 2pm. We saw few dolphins, some of them even jumped above the sea. 
After the ferry to Quellon arrived, we got in, left our rucksacks in a luggage storing area (they take their time to put them in, they give you a sticker like at the airport and they never use the sticker later) and then we looked for our seats. Someone sitting on them. So we found another ones. 
It was lovely sunny and not windy weather, so shortly after we sat in the main area, we went upstairs to the upper deck to sit there in the sun. We stayed there all the time, playing games, slept, etc. Also as we were sitting there, I could see Aimee (we met in Coyhaique) going to the upper deck as well. So cool coincidence. They took this ferry from Puerto Chacabuca a day ago. We had a nice chat. 
The ferry arrived to Qu…

22/1/2018 Bus from La Junta to Puerto Raul Marin Balmaceda

We got to the plaza at 6:50am. The white minibus is leaving at 7am. Already many people waiting outside and a lady loading the back of the minibus with all the luggage. We gave her our rucksacks and paid 2500 clp per each of us to get to Raul Marin Balmaceda. Some people came late and didn’t fit to the bus. Now also inside of the bus is full of rucksacks and one Asian guy got an extra spot sitting on a rucksack next to the door. 16 people + one driver + one extra seat in the floor.
It’s sunny and me met many cyclist on the way to Raul Marin Balmaceda. The road is very bumpy unpaved dirt road and it is very hot and humid inside of the  bus. Also the driver is playing some crazy shit and loud music and I’m feeling sick. 
At 8:45am we are getting on a ferry to cross the river Río Palena and around 9:15am we got off at a supermarket in the middle of the Raul Marin Balmaceda village. There we bought some simple breakfast and walked to find our accommodation. We couldn’t find it for a while. …

21/1/2018 Bus from Coyhaique to La Junta

Right after 11am, we got to coffee Holzar. This time just for a coffee, as we had some bread left from yesterday. Around 12, Annie, Andres, Vagia joined us. When the waiter came to ask us where we all are from, and we said República Checa, a young guy sitting nearby came over to our table. Michal, his name. A Czech guy from Sydney, enterprise IT consultant who is trying to run a camp site with his Czech wife for climbers about 2 hours away from here. We all had a chat together and then we went to catch our bus. 
The bus left at 14:00, full mostly with locals. It’s Sunday and we bought the bus tickets in the bus terminal on Friday afternoon for 10000 clp each.  On the way, the bus stopped around 15:30 for refreshments at Mañihuales.  Around 17:15 serpentines close to Puyuhuapi, 18:00 stop at camping Valle Los Coihues. All the way dirt unpaved road and time to time we met cars or other buses. There were also some roadworks. At 19:00 we stopped at Puyhuapi for 10 minutes and then at 20:00 we…

Delayed with posts...

We had many days with rubbish or none internet and I’m now many days behind with my blog posts. I’m just finishing up the 13th Jan and then will slowly continue to today’s date. I though I can do a lot here in Coyhaique, but needed to backup my photos (not done yet) and I cannot use my phone while it’s backing up to cloud. Plus I had to do my self assessment, since I’m not sure when I get internet fast enough to open a page.

20/1/2018 a lazy day in Coyhaique

Not much to say really. Jochen and Chiara left to catch their flight. For the breakfast, we found a nice coffee place called Holzer. Had good breakfast with coffee for about 4900 pesos each. I decided to buy ferry tickets to get from Raul Marin Balmaceda to Quellon. I bought the ferry tickets online using Naviera Austral website, 7300 pesos each. For some reason, I didnt get any confirmation email, but I took a screenshot with the transaction number. It was 11:30am and I didn’t have any email, so checked if they have an office here. Naviera Austral has got an office in Coyhaique and closes at 12:30 on Saturday and is closed on Sunday. I went there and put what I needed to a translator and came back with the ferry tickets. Quite a lot of people were in their office, I had to wait for about 20 minutes in the queue.
Then we went to withdraw money - found one bank which charges fee only 4000 pesos for the withdrawal - ServiEstado. So we took 300000 pesos out to have a stash for a while. We…

19/1/2018 Bus From Puerto Rio Tranquilo to Coyhaique

We had some simple breakfast on our cabana (not that simple like in hostels), packed and Annie came to pick us up. We all then went to a bus stop an at 9am bought tickets to Coyhaique for 10000 clp per person (there were last 6 tickets remaining to sell, we were 5 people). And we were waiting outside of the shop/coffee place.
The bus arrived at 10:20am. There were many people waiting for this bus. We put our rucksacks inside and the drive asked only some people for the ticket and some not. I don’t know why. Seemed so random. The bus then left at 11am. 
The road was unpaved all the time, the views were there only sometimes due to forest and rocks. But around 13:30 we were passing through Cerro Castillo and it looked amazing. Massive Valley and mountains. I think after that the road became paved. 
Just before reaching Coyhaique, Jochen and Chaira got off the bus for the Airport Balmaceda. Then we were slowed down by roadworks and we arrived to Coyhaique at 15:30. 
On the bus, an Austrian gu…

18/1/2018 Puerto Río Tranquilo marble caves and glacier view and valley Exploradores

After breakfast, we went to the beach together with Chiara and Jochen and got there on time at 7:50am. No one was around the stall we bought the trip yesterday (20000 pesos per person, English guide, 3 hours long, caves at puerto Sanchez as well as marble cathedral, paid by MasterCard debit card).
Just before 8am, Annie came and send the retired couple from the USA. The guides cane to pick us up and we went to a boat parking place at the beach, put the floating vests on and sat in the boat. It is a small motor boat for about 15 people, it is 7 passengers and 3 guides including the driver. Once we left the coast, we could feel the strong wind and waves were building up. I’m sitting on the left side of the boat and one of the guides gave me a rain cover because the waves are a bit stronger. We see speeding up to the other side of the lake, cold water is splashing on me and soon we reach a small bay with an old shipwreck. We take few photos there and then we continue to the caves. The boa…

17/1/2018 Bus from Los Antiguos to Puerto Rio Tranquilo Marble Caves

My alarm went off and I can see it’s nearly 7am. I feel a bit cold, Denisa is still sleeping in the other bed and Annie is already awaken in the opposite corner of the room. We have to get up and get ready for the minibus to Puerto Río Tranquilo. Simple breakfast and just before 8am we are awaiting Daniel to pick us up.
Daniel is arriving ten minutes after eight and I can see that his minibus is already nearly full. We loaded back seats with our backpacks and all 5 of us took the last remaining seats. 
Same as in other border crossing, we first got off the bus at he Argentinian border and got the exit stamp. Then we drove 16km to the Chilean border. This time we had to unload our bags and provide completed customs form. We got Chile entry stamp and then put our rucksacks onto X-ray. Me and my wife were without any issues. On my customs form, I had checked that I have some animal/herb products (just in case - we had some sandwiches, and biscuits). We were done around 9:10am and continued…

16/1/2018 Arrival to Los Antiguos

...around 7:40am we stopped at a bus terminal in Perito Moreno. We though by this time we should be in Los Antiguos already. But we reached the bus terminal in Los Antiguos around 8:40am. The last part was on normal paved road.
I could see that the Chaitén travel bus is already in Los Antiguos. And another bus just reached after us. 
The Los Antiguos bus terminal is similar size to that one in El Chalten. Has toilets inside and few travel offices. It is Tuesday, but most of the offices are closed. Since about 3 full buses just arrived here, it’s is quite busy, on the floor with people sitting and in the toilets too. We are waiting to get it more quiet here and asking about how to get to Chile Chico. 
We were told that there no service to go to Chile Chico anymore. The travel office is closed. And the only way is to walk or to hitchhike. It is nearly 20km from here to Chile Chico center and of it 16km between the border controls. As we are standing here, a Scottish woman Annie joins us an…

15/1/2018 bus from El Chalten to Los Antiguos

I feel awful after the heavy drinking. And we have to pack and last till the evening to get a bus to Los Antiguos.
I stayed in the hostal lobby pretty much the whole day. We spoke with another Czech couple traveling the world and Denisa went for a hike to Mirador del Torre. 
Around 18:00 we left the hostal and stopped in a small coffee place. The bus Cal-Tur is scheduled for 7:30pm, we got to the bus terminal at 7 and the bus left at 7:50pm. There were another 2 buses (Marga Taqsa, Chaitén travel) leaving around the same time. We had no seats numbers and the bus was full. Around 15 loud girls from probably Israel held many places to their group, so we could not sit together with my wife. It is a normal bus and there is a small toilet with a big sticker saying “the toilet is for liquids only”. And a big sticker at front, saying “please don’t take your shoes off”. 

At 21:20 we stopped in a village called Tres Lagos and people could go to buy some drink or food to a supermarket next to the …

14/1/2018 El Chaltén lazy Sunday

After the long hike yesterday, we wanted to have quiet day. So didn’t do much, only the small viewpoints at the ranger station - Mirador de los cóndores and Mirador de las aguilas. Started at 2pm. Because we bought some bread and cheese yesterday, we didn’t have to spend any money for lunch today and ate in our room.
The two short hikes to the viewpoints take about 30 minutes each. From Mirador de los cóndores is nice view of the Fitz Roy mountain and view of the village. On the way to Mirador de las aguilas, we met few cows with kettles and an angry bull walking towards us and making very loud noise. We got scared and went off the path far from that noisy animal. 

The second viewpoint was not so interesting, so we went back to the hostal, where I could see a message from Rainer already drinking at B&B burger place. So we joined them, had burgers (135 pesos each) and fries (55 pesos) and 4 beers (total 240 pesos in happy hour). And then we continued to another place (the same as on …

13/1/2018 El Chalten hike to Fitz Roy

It’s 9pm and I’m ready to fall asleep. My phone says I walked 30km today and did 40000 steps. Obviously it’s not true, it usually over-counts by something like 2 kms...
We got up at 7:30 in the morning, had our breakfast and headed to the trailhead for the Fitz Roy Lago de los tres. The mount Fitz Roy is 3359 m height (or 3405 m) and it is visible from pretty much all El Chalten. The trail is supposed to be 10 km long. But our hostal is about 1.5 km from the trailhead and I forgot my jumper in the room, so had to go all the way back to take it with me. 
So I think we started hiking at 9:30am at the end. The trail is quite busy, we met people coming back and also quite a few people were faster than us. The day was sunny and mostly not windy. Only some parts were windy. First 3 km going up the hill, then mostly stable, and the last 1 km was really steep. There is many places where we could take water from the river or streams and drink it, and many spots from where we could take some phot…

12/1/2018 from El Calafate to El Chalten

Early wake up, 6am, packing last bits we left out from the evening and we are ready at 6:45. Going to get our food from the fridge and the door to the kitchen are locked. They are supposed to be open from 7am. What a pity! No breakfast, no lunch. Okay. Maybe the pickup will be late, so we can still get it. And yes! Pickup is not coming. 7:10am and I’m nervous. Did they forgot about us? So I dialled the bus company office and asked if they are coming. Yes, they are, I was told. 7:20, bus arrived, but the kitchen is still locked! With our food in the fridge. In a meantime another two people tried to get into the kitchen. 
The bus tickets we bought: Marga Taqsa, 480 pesos each, pickup at our hostel. The bus left the terminal nearly at 8am. It’s really cold on the bus, air con blowing freezing cold by the window seat. Views from the bus are nice and we reached El Chalten at 10:10 - first stop in a national park centre, got information about trails and the weather and then the bus continued…

11/1/2018 Perito Moreno Glacier mini trekking

I’m not sure if I mentioned, but in this hostel Las Carretas, the breakfast is very basic. We rather just have coffee and then we use their kettle to boil water for our porridge. So we did today, porridge and then waited for a bus to pick us up at the hostel.
They (Hielo&Ventura) arrived almost on time. We continued to pickup more people on the way and soon the bus was full. The scenery on the way to the national park reminded us USA somewhere around Utah or Arizona. Perfectly suitable for shooting of westerns as well. Wide valleys, hills, no trees, no buildings, no roads. Apart of farm houses (estancias) which are lonely in between fields in a good distance from the main road. Often they have trees planted closely to the houses. We could also enjoy views of Lago Argentino lake and some other lake. Around 10:30am we reached a gate to the Los Glaciares National Park. Two guys from the park boarded the bus and asked about our nationality, we paid 500 pesos each (you can pay only in A…

Getting a taxi (cab) in Buenos Aires using smartphone app

While in Buenos Aires, without knowledge of Spanish language, this mobile app can come handy. I found it when I was browsing app store and searching apps built around Buenos Aires. What made me feel like this taxi cab application can be a good option, is the fact, that it is sponsored by the Argentinian government. They have few more apps available for iPhone as well as for Android. So I felt much safer using this and not knowing Spanish.
The smartphone app is easy to download and you need to fill in few details about yourself after first launch of the app. Then you are ready to get your first taxi. This app also helps you to see the estimated prices before ordering a cab. The interface is very simple even without knowing Spanish and you can order Buenos Aires taxi in few simple steps. 
The prices you see are in pesos and you can access/reject the driver if you don't like him for whatever reason. Paying is in cash to the driver in pesos at the end of your journey. The taxi drive…

10/1/2018 El Calafate

Doing nothing. We just picked our laundry up, dropped it in our hostel and hanged up bits which needed to dry. Then we went to withdraw some cash - found that Banco Santa Cruz charges only 115 pesos for 3000 pesos withdrawal.
Bought two wooden rings, had a coffee with a shot of cognac (95 pesos) and fernet with coke (100 pesos) and pancakes with dulce de leche (120 pesos) in Borges & Alvarez. Then we changed our Hialo glacier trekking pickup to our hostel (instead of their office) and bought bus tickets to El Chalten (Marga Taqsa office in the centre, 480 pesos per person one way, pickup at our hostel at 6:50am). Then we shopped in la anonima for dinner and cooked something simple at the hostel. 

9/1/2018 Bus from Puerto Natales to El Calafate

We got up early, “cooked” porridge for breakfast and went to the bus terminal to catch our bus at 7:30 (Cootra Ltda, 17000 Chilean pesos per person, tickets bought at the bus terminal one day in advance). Our seats were downstairs.
The way to the border is quite short and soon we got off the bus to get an exit stamp from Chilean border. Straight after leaving the migrations office, our driver gave us a customs declaration form for Argentina (the same one as you get on a plane to Argentina). We filled the form in during the way to the Argentinian border and there we got an enter stamp into our passport. Then we waited about 1.5 hours. Someone lost their passport or had an issue with their passport and we were waiting (the whole bus) to get it resolved. After the 90 minutes (around 11am) we finally left (without that person). 
At 3pm we reached El Calafate and asked for a map of the town and then walked from the bus terminal to the centre to book Perito Moreno Glaciar trip. We asked in tw…