LASA Tour 2009-10
Fri 12 Feb 2010 - Fri 26 Mar 2010
A few days after we arrived we found out that Margarita wouldn't be able to complete her studies here so we would eventually have to return to Bogotá. That was bad news for her and even worse for me as I wouldn't be able to get to my 100 grounds target for Argentina.
We decided to apply for a visa for her to come back with me to England and then she could return to Bogotá by August to complete her studies. For some reason the decision is made in an office in New York and takes a month. We decided to do some more travelling around the country in the meantime. But before that I got a game of football or ten in!
I think I can just about pronounce this place now. We came here to see the carneval. We got some of the best seats available so that we could see the show. All I can say is WOW! Sooooooo many shinny nipples and butts and that was just the men! It was absolutely amazing. Unfortunately most of the pictures are blurred. Was it because the dancers wouldn't keep still or I couldn't keep still through getting too excited? Who knows? Let's just say it was a crap camera. Anyway, an excellent reason to come back. Please enjoy the video, for the record, it is not me dancing.
This town also has some amazing variety of birds, the feathered kind. Actually that still applies to the ones from the carneval. Ummm ok the type that can fly. And the river Parana runs through it. Definately a great place to visit.
It was during the 24 hour trip to here that I first noticed my feet would double in size during the coach ride. Not sure how long it's been happening for but my feet looked like they belonged to the elephant man.
I have been to this place before and know it's great. We got a great deal renting a house just one block from the beach. Although the season had just finished so it was a bit too nippy for sunbathing. We hired a car and one day drove up to the Valdes Peninsula. From here, if you're lucky, you can see killer whales (orcas) come a shore and eat sealions (Sealions eat penguins before you feel any sympathy for them). There was an Attenborough documentary on it many years ago, this happens in just two places in the world. Unfortunately we didn't get to see this happen. The best months for this are March & April so I guess we were unlucky and will try again next trip. The sealions and elephant seals are still interesting to observe and there are a handful of penguins too. I love penguins.
Next day I drove to Punta Tombo, this is a new place to visit. It is a huge penguin colony, during peak season there are over 250,000 of them. Just my luck to get a cold this day so we didn't stay too long as I had major man flu. Love those penguins though, even more than the Gualeguaychu dancers!
This place was recommended to us by the car hire man in Puerto Madryn. An it's a great place. We got a great deal on a house again. The first couple of days I was sick in bed, but at least there was six games of football on TV. Gotta love the time differences, three premiership games watched before end of lunchtime.
We visited the nearby Parque Nacional Los Alerces a couple of times. I would like to do a longer trek there in the future. During a boat trip on one of the many huge lakes there we saw the Glacier Torrecillas which is high up between two mountains. By luck, I took a photo just as some huge sheets of ice crashed down from it. This is quite a rare occurrance.
Esquel is also a good place for a skiing holiday but I think I will stick to summer holidays here. Definately need to return and explore more of the surroundings.
While here we also got a reply from the visa application. It was denied So we headed back to Buenos Aires to pick up Margaritas passport and see what excuses they had given for denying it. Actually the reasons weren't too major and we are confident we will be successful when we try again in January. We also decided to head back to Colombia.
This was on the original plan but we missed it out after our bag was stolen in Salta. Now we were heading back north we got to visit here. I have been here before and it's so great that you will never get bored of returning. The whole region has amazing mountain ranges of many different colours due to minerals. There is hardly ever a cloud in the sky and also the Laguna Brava is in this region.
We went on a two day tour, the night before we left our guide we hired told me his 4x4 was damaged but not to worry as he will arrange alternative transport. On the first morning we got a lift with another tour to Talampaya National Park and done the Arco Iris tour. I probably mentioned this after I first visited but you feel like you are walking on another planet with the multi coloured rocks and mountains.
Then we had to wait a while but eventually got a lift to the next tour in the National Park. On this one you go through a canyon then see different rock formations, my favourite is the Dog & Pig in caps (look at photo). There are also some ancient carvings in some rocks.
Afterwards we had to wait ages until our guide got us a lift on the staff bus to our next town Villa Union. It was really embarrasing especially as we had our luggage with us and my Spanish was good enough to know that they were making fun of our guide for arranging transport like this for us. We dropped him for the next days tour and easily managed to arrange another which had the appropriate 4x4 transport. The drive to the Laguna Brava has amazing views, you end up going as high as 4,600 metres. At the Laguna there were some flamengos. The surroundings are breathtaking. I'm glad I have done this again, what a great day.
We got a bus back from Villa Union to La Rioja but then had to wait six hours through the night at the station, after arriving in Salta we discovered that there were no buses to northern Chile available for five days. After reading about a minor earthquake in the Atacama region we decided to head to the Argentine border with Bolivia instead and head north that way. So once again another throught the night bus journey. This would be a regular occurance as we made our way back, but I'll tell you about that in my next blog.