Steaks, long treks & face to face with penguins
Trip Start Dec 21, 2009
43Trip End Jul 17, 2010
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The next major stop for us was at Puerto Madryn where we set up camp and made our way to the Valdez Peninsula to see some elephant seals, penguins and other wildlife. One of the cool things about the Dragoman overland trucks are the roof seats. They’re specially rigged hatches that open up on the front and back of the main cabin. When we’re not on highways, proper roads or travelling at speed , the hatches are opened and we can sit up there and get some sun. Going 80km/h in windy conditions and trying to drink a beer proved challenging but well worth the reward.
The back at the campsite that night, we got back to discover that some of our tents had been slashed while we were gone but fortunately, nothing was stolen. It was possibly the worst timing ever for damaged tents because that night, we had some of the windiest conditions ever. The equivalent of the Sahara blew into our tent that night and we were glad to be out of there in the morning.
We drove to Camarones where we set up camp in one of the most random campsites ever. Now for anyone who knows me, knows that I’m no expert on camping or the outdoors. I mean as soon as I head outdoors, I don’t touch anything for fear that it will sting/bite/kill me and I’m useless at identifying plants by name
1) The site needs to be flat (already discussed in a previous blog post). It seems like a fairly obvious point but needs mentioning because the memo seems to have missed out South American campsites. Even slight differences in gradient will be exaggerated through 8 hours of sleep. You run the risk of either waking up outside your tent, suffering a severe blood rush to the head or lying on top of your tent buddy (lucky for me, Nic’s my tent buddy but imagine sharing with another guy and this becomes a real problem).
2) Big rocks are extremely uncomfortable to sleep on. The less rocks the better, in fact just grow some grass please.
3) Public toilets and bathrooms are pretty festy at the best of times so you can never have enough hooks to hang your clothes, towel and toiletries. If my clothes hit the ground, the next destination for them would probably be the campfire.
4) Showers should drain towards the drain hole, not away. The last time I checked, South American bathrooms didn’t defy the universal laws of gravity.
Our campsite at Camarones met none of these criteria, and to make matters worse, it added gale force winds to the equation. Putting that aside, we went out on a trip to see some Magellenic penguins. They more than made up for any of the shortcomings of our campsite
A few days later, we would make our way to El Chalten, known as the trekking capital of Argentina. The views and trekking didn’t disappoint. We had a spectacular day’s trekking (about 26km in total) with awesome weather and stupendous views. The highlight was a steep climb up to Tres Lagos which has a viewpoint of Mount FitzRoy. We filled our water bottles up at the lake with glacier water then started the trek back down. As you can see in our trip profile, it got pretty steep, pretty quickly and that put the hurt into the trek. Check out the trip profile here: http://www.mapability.com/southamerica2010/pdf/20100316.pdf
The rest of our time in El Chalten was spent eating waffles, drinking microbrewery beer and attending a free concert to listen to an old and much beloved Argentinian ska band. Los Authenticos Decadantes (the band) has a huge fan in our leader Juan so we went along to join the mosh pit and see how Argies have a good time. It was one of those random spontaneous nights that just happen and the memories put a smile on your face when you think about them later on.
Our next blog features a stunning glacier where we get to see large chunks of ice crashing down and I celebrate my birthday by seeing an avalanche. You won’t want to miss that one.