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Saturday, March 12, 2011

PATAGONIAN PARCQUES

After Antartica it was great to get back into GR2 and return to our travels. We had a string of Nat Pks to visit. The first being Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego about 30kms west of Ushuaia. It was a lovely spot to camp and hike in through the lenga forests. Then we retraced our steps north until we could turn off the main road, and follow some back roads. We left Tierra del Fuego via the cute little windswept town of Porvenier by ferry to Punta Arenas - the biggest Chilean city in the area. Then north to our next park, the wotld famous Park National Torres del Paine, stopping on the way at Cueva del Milodon to look at a huge cave where remains of a really old 4m high sloth was found. It was raining as we arrived at the park, but we started our hike to Lago Gray anyway. It cleared and we had great views of a huge irridescent blue iceberg floating in the lake, with the glacier in the distance. With good weather we enjoyed lots of hikes and fabulous scenery. Even the famous "torres" cleared for us to see. We finally pulled ourselves away after taking way too many photos and crossed the border back into Argentina and heading north.
After overnighting at the very touristy town of El Calafate we headed out to Parque Nacional Los Glacieres to see the Perito Moreno Glacier. We camped in the viewpoint carpark so in the morning we had the whole place to ourselves. The glacier was best enjoyed in before the busloads of tourists arrived. The glacier was calving (breaking) right in front of us. A truly amazing sight and sound show.
To visit the north section of the park we had to backtrack, bypass a few lakes and then head west to El Chaitan. The main star here is Mt Fitzroy (famous for always being shrouded in mist) - we had 2 perfect days with hardly a cloud in sight, it's towering rocky peaks visible from every direction.
Our next Nacional Parque is the little known Perito Moreno where there are very few tourists and gorgeous aqua lakes surrounded by a huge circle of mountains. There were lots of hikes and an abundance od wildlife. It was a perfect destination for GR2 with dirt roads & great camp spots.
Our last destination in Argentina is Cueva de los Manos - an ancient site of hand painting, incredibly similar to Aboriginal sites in Australia.
This section of our trip has included 100's of kms of dirt road, a chance meeting with GR2's big brother Bodo (owned by Leslie & Bruce), 3 more border crossings, a great meal of BBQ Patagonian lamb, and practically NO mobile phone range (as in outback Australia.)
We are now crossing back into Chile via Paso Roballos to start our drive on the Carreterra Austral.
Adios Amigos.

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