Marbles and Glaciers

Trip Start May 12, 2013
Trip End Jul 30, 2013

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Flag of Chile  , Aisén Region,
Saturday, May 18, 2013

Here am I, sitting by the bay of Puerto Rio Tranquilo, busking in the glorious Patagonian sunset. Next to me is Thomas (real name not used to protect its identity), which had been following me round the bay since sunrise.

Got up at 5.40am today, pretty much because it got too cold to sleep, making me wide awake. I took a shower (lukewarm water) and tried my best to set up the fireplace, but to no avail after experimenting with several methods. The rest soon got up, and we still could not get the fire to start, so we turned on the stove for some much needed warmth. We took a stroll by the bay to catch the sunrise. The bay was beautiful (did not catch a good glimpse yesterday as it was night when we arrived). Thomas came along, being rather hyper, for some pats. It was adorable. But soon several other dogs came running towards us, so we decided to head back to avoid being swarmed. Had breakfast with yoghurt and cereal bars, and soon it was almost 9, time where the expeditions booth by the road opens (our kind petrol kiosk uncle next door told us).

Sheila and I walked to the booth to check out the prices, and we saw the same guy who came over to our place to sell his tours last night. We rejected his offer of 25000pesos for 4 last night, but we do know that we don't have much of a choice if he doesn't budge. Luckily, our haggling worked at we paid him 20000pesos ($50) to take us out to the marble caves on his boat.

We set off at 9, and the boat headed south past a few bends. The guy drove us into a couple of marble caves, which were formed by wave erosion over thousands of years. The caves grew increasingly impressive. We could touch the marbles in the caves, real cool. Soon we went through the marble church, which was a isolated rock formation which had a passage created through it by erosion. And at the end of the tour we saw the Capillas de Marmol (Marble Chapel, a spade shaped rock formation. Pretty impressive but the sunlight wasn't cooperating for a good shot. (No shots of marble caves here as I did not bring along my phone on the boat).

We were back on shore at around 1030am, and went around the neighborhood to purchase sauce for our pasta dinner and bread for our picnic lunch. We had a quick lunch and set off at 11.30 for the Exploradores Valley. The road there was gravel and single laned. The landscape was again, nothing short of amazing. Our 56km drive for the glacier Exploradores was filled with layered forests of red and green, occasional horses and cattle, topped with snow capped mountains, and glacier sightings on high grounds. We arrived at Glacier Exploradores around 1pm, and were greeted by the receptionists on site. Paid the entrance fees (3000pesos/p) and went for a hike to towards the mirador (viewpoint) of the glaciers. Took us a short hike (20 mins) to reach the viewpoint, with uphill climbs. There, we could see the glaciers from afar. We were a little disappointed as we were expecting to hike on the glaciers: turned out that would take 5-6 hours and we would have to start at 10am. Another time perhaps.

We spent good time taking photos, and proceeded back down to our car. We took turns to drive back (even L plate Susan drove, scares included), and stopped to take photos along the way. Driving a manual car, on the right side of the road (right hand gear maneuver), and on gravel road, was definitely a challenge. Thankfully not much scares were involved and everyone got back safely at around 4.30pm.

That's where I was, sitting by the bay outside our house, enjoying the natural beauty of Patagonia and it's finest, sunsetting moment. The snow capped mountains on the opposite coast grew orange in the sunlight, setting the scene for amazing landscape photos. I spent some time taking in the scenery, and some photos for that matter, before heading back to our cabana. Pasta and soup for dinner!

Northern patagonia was a pleasant surprise. There wasn't much information available online, thus I didn't make any prior bookings, but I am so glad we took the trip here to witness the less visited paths of Patagonia. Being here in the off season also meant we had the entire place for ourselves. It was a little chilly, but we could handle that :)

Gonna head back to Coyhaique tomorrow. Looking forward to our morning patagonian drive!

Puerto Tranquilo, Chile
18 May 2013, 1932
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