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Huayna Potosi

Tuesday, 26 June 2012 23:38

The mountain Huayna Potosi is with 6088 meters sea-level one of the ice castles of the Cordillera Real. This mountain range is the eastern boundary of the Altiplano, the 2nd widest plateau on earth after Tibet, with about 4000 meters altitude. On the east side of the Cordillera Real follows the Amazon basin, with vast amounts of clouds, rain and snow in the Bolivian winter period (December to April). Consequently the glaciation of the Cordillera Real is enormous.

Graveyard of Milluni with Huayna Potosi


Life on Altiplano is hard and tough with very cold nights, excessive sun burning during the day and heavy precipitation in the rainy season. The indigenous tribe are the proud Aymara people. They achieved that their tongue is the second official language of native people in South America (after Guarani in Paraguay). The Aymara new year, Willkakuti is celebrated on their sacred place Tiwanaku in the longest night of the year at June 21st, when the sun turns. 

 

Iquique and Arica

Thursday, 14 June 2012 14:56

Iquique and Arica are with approximately 150,000 inhabitants each, the two biggest cities in the far North of Chile. Both are located beautifully on the Pacific Ocean surrounded by the pristine Atacama Desert in the back. This part of the desert is famous for its nitrate cities and geoglyphs, which were built between 1000 and 1400 BC by the local tribes. Most of the nitrate cities were established during the nitrate boom, which started mid of the 19th century. Most of them are abundant now, because the development of the artificial fabrication of nitrate mid of the 20th centuries stopped the boom.

Pelican on the beach close to Iquique

 

When we came back to Mendoza on May 24th 2012 from our second return to Germany, we wanted to head as fast as possible in the North of Chile because the climate there is much more reasonable in late fall. But first we had to cross the Andes. The only possibility in this season is the tunnel Christo Retendor, the direct connection between Mendoza and Santiago de Chile. 

   

Volcan Tinguiririca

Sunday, 27 May 2012 17:57

Volcan Tinguiririca is with 4280 meters sea level one of the most dominant mountains 200 kilometers South of Santiago de Chile and 50km East of San Fernando. It is located in an extreme remote but beautiful environment. An aircraft crashed on its slopes in the early spring of 1972. One of the survivor went down after 72 days (!) to get help. Earlier rescue was impossible due to enormous amount of snow and bad weather. Some passengers survived because they had eaten the dead people. This touching story is described in the book "ALIVE".

There are the superb hot springs Termas del Flaco on the base of Volcan Tinguiririca. Few kilometers South is the bustling city Talca with approximately 200,000 inhabitants. Paso Maule or Pehuenche leads to Argentina via a pristine and marvelous landscape. Highlights are the hot springs Termas Campanario, the waterfalls Cascada del Arco Iris and the incredible blue lake Lago Maule. When we came to Talca we could watch an exciting event. 

World Motocross Championship 2012

   

Chiloe and Valdivia

Friday, 20 April 2012 17:42

Chiloe is with 9,600 sq km the second biggest island of South America, located more than 1000km south of Santiago in the Pacific Ocean. It is a hilly and green but harsh land with more than 2200mm precipitation per year. Most of its population live in the two bigger towns Ancud and Castro, which have about 20,000 inhabitants each. Many descendants of the native tribe Huilliche live in its smaller villages and settlements. Thanks to its isolated location, Chiloe suffered less from the mainstream of Spanish colonial development.

Chiloe is famous for salmon farming, its fine wooden churches, picturesque Palafitos (houses on stilts above the water), pristine beaches, dense cold rain forests, abundant fauna and flora. Huge areas are protected by national, regional or private parks.

250km North of Chiloe is the city of Valdivia, which has with more than 120,000 people approximately the same population like Chiloe. We came March 12th 2012 to Chiloe via the Panamericana (Ruta 5) and the usual ferry from Pargua. Close to Pargua is the pretty fishing port Maulin.

Boys of Maullin with Bernardo O'Higgins, the Chilean National Hero

   

Volcan Chillan and Volcan Antuco

Friday, 16 March 2012 23:48

The twin Volcanoes Chillan Viejo (old) and Nuevo (new) are 80 kilometers East of the town Chillan and the hot springs with the same name. This region is famous for its ski resort, the largest in Chile. Both volcanoes are active with some smoking rocks as well as the neighboring Nevados de Chillan. Besides their relatively low height of approximately 3200 meters the glaciation is quite big. 

Volcanoes Chillan Nuevo and Viejo

 

50 km South of the Volcanoes Chillan is the Parque Nacional Laguna del Laja. The lake Laguna Laja originated in the year 1873 due to a heavy eruption of the Volcan Antuco. This mountain is also a perfect black and / or white cone of close to 3000 meters height dominating the landscape of the national park. But it is excelled by the rough Sierra Velluda with its huge glaciers.

End of February 2012 we headed fast to the small village Bulnes to visit our friends Petra and Paddy in the winery Vina Chillan, see www.vinachillan.cl. This is one of the southernmost wineries on earth driven by Ruedi, like Petra and Paddy a Swiss citizen.

   

Volcan Lanin, the king of the lake districts

Friday, 02 March 2012 16:59

Volcan Lanin is with 3776 meters sea level the highest point of both lake districts, Argentina and Chile. It overtowers all nearby mountains more than several hundreds meters, only Cerro Tronador more 200km South achieves with 3478 meters a similar altitude. Volcan Lanin is a perfect cone of more than 2500 meters vertical highness and it is supposed to be one of the most beautiful mountains on earth. 

Majestic Volcan Lanin seen from the ascent to Volcan Achen Niyeu

The access to the summit of Volcan Lanin is relatively easy: First a six to seven hike to the upper hut Refugio CAJA from the ranger's office on the Paso Mamuil Malal or Tromen on its Argentine side, followed by another six hours trip over snow, scree and some rocks to the top. Due to several accidents on the mountains are the rangers very strict; they check your whole equipment like crampons and if you can use them properly.

In Argentina is the marvelous and huge park Parque Nacional Lanin North and South of the volcano with superb hiking capabilities, magical forests and beautific lakes.

   

Volcan Calbuco

Sunday, 19 February 2012 19:53

Volcan Calbuco is one of the most active in Chile. Its last major eruption was in the year 1961. The outburst of 1893 blew up its summit cone. Thus its shape is not so perfectly like the neighboring Volcan Osorno, which is supposed to be one of the most beautiful mountains on earth. Both volcanoes are located close to the lake Lago Llanquihue in the marvelous Lake District, the X region of Chile. Puerto Montt is its capital, a bustling city of more than 120,000 people and situated on the north shore of the fjord Seno de Reloncavi. 20km North of Puerto Montt is one of the major tourist destination in southern Chile: Puerto Varas on the southwest side of the huge Lago Llanquihue. Both towns have obvious Austrian, German and Swiss influence like the whole Lake District of Chile.

Volcan Calbuco at sunset - our route is the ridge on the left


We arrived in Puerto Montt three days prior to Tommy's return fly to Germany in the morning of January 31st 2012 and it was raining cats and dogs. We used the time to visit Nuevo Braunau and Puerto Varas, which have also some beauty at bad weather.

   

Carretera Austral

Thursday, 16 February 2012 22:18

The last section between Puerto Montt and Cochrane of the Carretera Austral (Southern Highway) in the South of Chile was opened foremost in 1988. Nowadays this street leads to Villa O'Higgins close to the southern continental ice-field Campo de Hielo Sur. It is mainly a rough, dirty and dusty road including some sea crossings by ferries.

Driving the more than 1000 km of the Carretera Austral is still an adventure in very dense cold rain forest between steep mountains and vast glaciers in an extremely thin populated environment. Just few settlements with some people are located on this route. There is only one bigger city: Coyhaique the capital of the XI region of Chile, Aysen.

Besides the harsh climate even sometimes in summer, the tourism industry detects more and more the incredible beauty of the landscape. Consequently the numbers of travelers increase from all of the world. A specialty might be the unusual high quantity of people from Israel. Somebody from there told us that this part of Patagonia is the Praised Land and every Israeli has to visit it, ... .

We fully confirm the marvelous and stunning landscape and we were very lucky: January 2012 was an outstanding weather with sun and heat nearly every day thanks to Global Warming! We came to the small and quiet town of Cochrane mid of January from Argentina over the remote Paso Rodolfo Roballos.

Fierce Rio Baker between the northern and southern continental ice-fields

   

Perito Moreno Parque Nacional and Cueva de los Manos

Saturday, 11 February 2012 18:53

Parque Nacional Perito Moreno is with approximately 1200 visitors one of the remotes national park in Argentina. Perito (master) Francisco Moreno explored the geography, fauna and flora of Patagonia at the turn of the 19th / 20th century. Not only this park is named after him, also a small town and the famous glacier (see article Cerro Torre, Cerro Fitz Roy and Glaciar Perito Moreno).

This park is a rough and windswept area decorated with cobalt and aquamarine blue lakes, snowy peaks and glaciers. It is located on the southeast side of Cerro San Lorenzo, which is with 3706 meters sea level one of the highest mountains in Patagonia. The entrance to the Perito Moreno national park is free of charge as well as two basic campsites.

200km northeast is the cave Cueva de los Manos, which had been declared as world heritage by the UNESCO in 1999. There are fabulous and more than 9000 years old paintings, mainly of left hands.

We had some stormy weather, when we came to the lake Lago Burmeister in the Perito Moreno national park on January 10th 2012. The campsite is very nice in forest directly on the lake. Fortunately it provides good wind protection. We walked half the way on the north shore of the lake and we enjoyed the nature besides the hefty wind.

Yellow flowers

 

   

Cerro Torre, Cerro Fitz Roy and Glaciar Perito Moreno

Sunday, 05 February 2012 22:49

UNESCO declared the Los Glaciares National Park in the province Santa Cruz a World Heritage Site in 1981. In the southern part it includes the Perito Moreno glacier, a white giant whose 5 km long front rises 60 meters above the lake Lago Argentina, the largest lake in Argentina. Perito Moreno is one of the last glaciers which increases still and it moves more than 2 meters per day. Great masses of ice crash every hour into the lake.

In the northern part of the Los Glaciares National Park are some of the most imposing mountains of on earth. The granite monolith Cerro Fitz Roy is with 3405 meters the highest point of southern Patagonia, which rises which its satellites directly over the Argentine steppe. Behind is a chain of pinnacle, which are the eastern border of the Campo del Hielo Sur, the biggest ice-field outside the poles and Greenland. The most famous, tallest and challenging is 3102 meter high Cerro Torre, both  dream and nightmare of every top climber.

Cerro Torre, Torre Egger and Cerro Standhardt

   

Pali Aike and Torres del Paine - Christmas 2011

Sunday, 22 January 2012 20:58

Pali Aike is a fine and remote National Park in southern continental Chile, located close to the Strait of Magellan and the Atlantic. The name Pali Aike is from the original tribe Tehuelche and means Devil's Country. It is a harsh volcanic steppe decorated with extinct craters, caves and other volcanic formations. Wildlife is abundant, for instance you might see Guanacos, Eagles, Armadillos or Grey Foxes. The entrance to the Pali Aike National Park is free of charge as well as a nice campground. There are several superb hikes.

We came back to the Torres del Paine National Park on December 22nd 2011, because Tommy, Marion's brother wanted to hike the W. This is the most popular part of the Circuito Grande, which we did few weeks ago. There are some "side" hikes at the Guarderia Lago Grey like the viewpoints Mirador Zapata and Mirador Ferrier.

After visiting the cave, we spent the shortest night in the Pali Aike National Park totally alone and celebrated midsummer with some beer watched by some Guanacos.

Our campground

   

Tierra del Fuego - Argentina

Wednesday, 11 January 2012 23:51

There are two bigger cities in the Argentine part of Tierra del Fuego: Rio Grande and Ushuaia. The first one is a military base and famous for sport fishing. The latter one is the perfect synthesis of sea, ice and mountains. Ushuaia is situated on the Beagle Channel with huge, steep and glaciated pinnacles in its background. The natural Beagle Channel connects the Atlantic with the Pacific Ocean. It was discovered by Charles Darwin's expedition in the 19th century and named after the used vessel.

But Ushuaia has more superlatives: It is the main gateway to the Antarctic, 90% of the visitors start from here. It is the southernmost city of the world if you consider the Chilean Puerto Williams as a village (60,000 inhabitants versus 2,500). It is literally the end of the world. It has the most southern ski resort, starting more or less at sea level. It is the main touristic destination of Tierra del Fuego and consequently a little crowded in its seasons.

On the way to Rio Grande we made a rest on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean and strolled a little bit on its beach. Several other people were looking for sea food. Suddenly Marion detected something red under the rocks in the water - two very big sea spiders. She called two girls and they were very exited and happy!

Lucky Argentine girl with two Centollas - Sea Spiders

 

   

Tierra del Fuego - Chile

Tuesday, 20 December 2011 15:29

Tierra del Fuego is with its 47,000 square kilometers the largest island of South America and it is located at its southern end: Fin del Mundo - the end of the world. It is shared between Argentina and Chile, approximately two third belong to Chile. The Argentine part is much more populated, but only a little more than 100,000 people live in whole Tierra del Fuego. Its is a harsh island with two different geographical regions: North and East is the windswept pampa; South and West are the Andes with steep pinnacles, huge glaciers, remote fjords and numberless islands in front.

The first people came 10,000 years ago to Tierra del Fuego and were able to deal with the hard conditions. But the European immigrants exploited and eradicated the native people at the end of the 19th century. Hernando Magellan gave Tierra del Fuego its name - Fireland, because he saw a lot of fires on the island which were used by some of the native tribes for their communication.  

The Chilean part is a little bit sleepy with only one bigger town: Porvenir with just 5,500 inhabitants. Therefore the nature is more or less intact with abundant flora and fauna but non endemic animals like innumerably Sheep, Rabbits or Castors disturb the balance of its nature.

We crossed the strait of Magellan directly from Punta Arenas to Porvenir in the morning of December 4th 2011. This was a pleasant 4 hour trip in calm waters on a sunny day - nobody got seasick.

Our first impression of Tierra del Fuego

   

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