Rafting near Bariloche

San Carlos de Bariloche in Patagonia,(in the Argentina part), is a great place for rafting, kayaking, skiing, depending on the season. Having previously tried rafting when I was in Cusco, and, having to cancel a trip in Arequipa after being delayed on my journey, I was keen to have another go, before returning home.

The Cusco rafting was quite tame, levels 2 and 3, although a great experience. Bariloche was said to be mainly rapids of levels 3 and 4. That sounded good. Within my insurance cover. The site was located over 100kms from Bariloche and was close to the border with Chile.

There were 2 rafts with 8 of us in each and I was with a very friendly family group who came from Buenos Aires. I volunteered to go in the front and my new friend Tito, was opposite me. All went well, until the most demanding of the rapids. We got a bit out of shape and seemed to be stuck, just being spun around. We lost one person and then Tito became dislodged and was sat on my leg, the raft tipped over and we were all thrown into the water.

Leaving a boat and entering cold water is not a new experience for me. Having said that, when entering the water, I usually have a moment to adjust, as the cold water on my face usually makes me feel nauseous. On this occasion, whilst feeling the nausea, I also felt a sickening blow as I was hit full in the face by someone’s  safety helmet, with all of their body weight plus acceleration, behind it.

I was stunned and sank like a stone. I have to say, I thought that this could be it. I have had a few underwater moments previously but on this occasion was not even able to take a deep breath before going under. The water was deep and cold and I was being spun around. We had been well equipped, with wet suits and life preservers and I was able to suppress the urge to take a breath long enough to get to the surface. My nose was bleeding and I was still a bit stunned but the water temperature helped to keep me focused. It was bloody cold.

The other raft also had problems so there was quite a bit of recovery work to do. I was towed towards the river bank by Martin who was in the recovery kayak and left there while he was busy chasing others. Eventually we were all picked up and the story had a happy ending. We all posed for photos on the Argentina/Chile border. I had thought until now that it was Tito who had crashed into me but after reviewing the photos, it is inconclusive. However, I am looking forward to meeting Tito for a drink in Buenos Aires before I return to the UK.

Click on photos to enlarge or for a slide show.

Lago Viedma and Glacier

As well as visiting as many places as possible during my visit to south America, I am also enjoying new experiences. Whilst in El Chaltén in Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina, I managed to go ice trekking on the biggest glacier in Patagonia. I have now seen a few glaciers close up but the experience of trekking across one is something not to be missed.

First we had a close look at the glacier from the boat.

Then we disembarked and made our way across the worn rock which used to be covered by the glacier. We were put into groups and assigned to guides and continued to the edge of the glacier, where we put on crampons and had a briefing, before making our way on to the ice.

Juan, our group leader, was pathfinder and checked each part of the route before showing us how to proceed.

After a well conducted tour we had a celebratory drink of Tia Maria with fresh, glacier ice, followed by a walk through an ice cave before doffing our crampons and making our way back to the boat.

A great experience!

Click on photos for slide shows or to enlarge.

 

 

Perito Moreno Glacier

The Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina is just stunning. About 250 square miles of ice, tinted blue and standing proud. It extends from the Andes into Lake Argentina and can be accessed from the town of El Calafate. There is not much else to say about it, except, if you are coming to South America, you have to visit it. It is awesome!

Because the tour was booked in Chile before I left Puerto Natales, Iwas unaware that tickets for the boat trip were not included. The tour guide, Marianna, asked which of us would like to go on the boat. The answer was most of us. However, after visiting the office at the entrance to the park, she told us that there were no spaces left.

I was not happy. I made my feelings known, as did a French couple. The rest of the party just accepted it. Marianna, bless her, when she realised just how disappointed we were to travel all that way and not get what we thought we had already asked for, went off to see if she could get us some places on one of the boats. Fortunately, she was successful. The boat trip was well worth the effort.

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Puerto Varas and Petrohué

From the lovely island of Grand Chiloé, in the Patagonia area of Southern Chile, I made my way back to Puerto Montt. I was hoping to get a bus to Punta Arenas and from there to Puerto Natales. Unfortunately, I had misjudged the timings of the buses and had to wait almost 2 days for the next bus. I decided to put the time to use and booked on a tour of the local area.

First stop was at Puerto Varas which is very close to Puerto Montt and situated beside Lago Llanquihue.

From Puerto Varas we went to La Poza for a short boat ride in a sheltered lagoon. This was followed by a lunch break and then, another boat trip at Lago Todos Los Santos, which took place in the pouring rain. Up to this point there was nothing really inspirational, in spite of it being in the beautiful region of Los Lagos.

Things took a positive turn when we visited, Saltos del Rio Petrohué, less rain, yet still lots of water. Although, not much still water.

Finally, before returning to Puerto Montt, a brief visit to the Laguna Verde.

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Chiloé

The Chiloé Archipelago is a large group of islands in the Patagonia area of South America. I decided to spend a couple of nights in Castro, a small town on the island of Grand Chiloé. It is a beautiful island with lots of green vegetation and a national park.

However, I was really only interested in one thing, sea kayaking. Ever since I arrived in South America, I have been trying to get in a kayak. Finally, I had the opportunity and did not waste it. I quickly located a company specialising in kayaking and made arrangements to go on a 3 hour trip the following day.

The weather was not great, it rained at times. The experience was terrific, though and I look forward to the next time. My thanks to Claudio of Chiloexpediciones for a great day.