Friday, 30 April 2010

The Chilian Lake District

Three people in the city of Osorno, Chile. Oren, Lilya & Me.
A large and busy city. None turistic. Our goal is to find a car-rental agency as soon as possible, and go see as many lakes as we can manage, in few days as we can plan it.
Looking at the maps, we thought we would be able to make it in 4-5 days. Looking at the city, we barely found a car-rental agency.
Finaly, we did. And after spending 1.5 days in the city, we started to drive south in our little Kia Morning.
First stop, Frutillar. A small town on the large lake of Llanquihue, which welcomed us with the most beautiful rainbow I have ever seen!
That night we slept at the larger, and more turistic town called Puerto Varas.
When we look for a place to stay, we usually look for the writings 'Hostel' (youth-hostel) or 'Hospedaje' which means a hostel, runned by a local family. Both are the chipest, but 'Hospedajas' are a better option for those who want to see the 'real' South America (like us).
Looking for a place to spend the night, preferring Hospedajas, we found a sign with the word 'Hospedaje' on it.
It turned out to be a labyrinth-like hostel in which you had climb very steep staircases and be very aware to where you were going, otherwise, you'd be lost forever. Nothing like a hospedaje.
From Puerto Varas, we drove to the small town called Ensenada. Up the road from the town stands the dreadful Volcan Osorno. Ensenada didn't want us to be scared, so she was kind enough to cover the scary volcan with clouds. We went to see the near 'Saltos Todos los Santos' instead. In one word, WOW! In more:
Imagin a black volcanic-rock plato, a pipe-like pathway, carved by the water just about 2-3 meter wide, and gallons of water just rushing through it in a stream as hard as Chuck Norris.
All that should have been with the view of the volcan. (We returned day next day, just to see the full picture).
From the Saltos, to the lake with the same name. Same story I'm afraid... great lake - no volcan.
Gathered info for the next day, and went of to see what we could see from the top of the road on the volcan. Nothing.
Returning to the town, to look for a host for the night, knowing it would be a better day tomorow. After a long search, and a lot of closed places (the end of the turist season), we found the perfect Hospidaje which this time stood by its name. A semi-grandmom señora (Silvia Aburto), a nice quiet, chilian home (Hospedaje Escala II).
Waking up, in a warm home, through the windows we could see we made the right choise. Three volcanos in sight. Which Brought up the question: Would you build your home where you can see three volcanos??
In this perfect day, we wanted to go for a long, 8hr, walk. after 5 hours of looking for a track, we thought we can try and see (again) what there is to see from the volcano. Beating the fog this time, we saw the sunset from the top of the road.
A night in Puerto Octay. Driving north, and Finaly (after cicaling around it), leaving lago Llanquihue. This day, seeing Volcan Puntiagudo in the morning, lago Rapunco at noon, lago Puyehue at the afternoon, and lago Ranco at sunset.
After a long drive, find a place to sleep in another perfect, and probably the only hospedaje in Paillaco. Owned by a very nice middleaged men, Breakfeast and everything!
On the last 'lakes' day we saw lago Panguipulli in the morning, but mainly drove around lao Calafquen. On the east coast of lago Calafquen, and on our way to lago Pellaifa, we checked out another place that said 'saltos' on the map, which turned out to be a river with 3 waterfalls near the road (but we were forced to pay an entrance to the national park up the road). The first waterfall is quite similar to the one we saw near Ensenada, but just as pretty. The second we did not manage to get to, because the trail somehow didn't lead us to it. And the third was about 70 meters high, and magnificent.
Farther up the road, caught us by surprise, a hotel from the fantacy world. Again, Wow.
By the time we got to lago Pellaifa, it was to dark.
Drove 2 more hours, till we got to Valdivia. Slept in a dirty hostel.
In the morning, we went for a walk around what was supposed to be a German, university city, as we were walking, we entered the Tourist-Information building.
Filled with what turned out to be the most useless info I ever got from anyone, we kept on walking in the general direction of the local fishmarket. Entering the fishmarket, Suddenly, we heard a strange sound/roar. A Sealion? The Tourist-Information didn't say anything about any Sealions in Valdivia?!
Walking closer to the giant animal, we were amazed to see more and more of them (atleast 20). This and more! Small vultures flying around the sky! Kormorans? Seagoals? lots of them.
We ended up ''wasting'' 2-3 hours around the fishmarket of Valdivia taking pictures, and animal watching the surrounding area.
With those amazing views, ended a 5 day drive around the Chilian Lake District.

Tips for the Chilian Lake District:
1. Osorno - A big city, but some places like the market and the Catedral in the Plasa de Armes are very pretty. In the market there are local restaurants you can eat in (Paila Marina is a fine dish).
2. Ensenada - The Homey Hospedaje 'Esacala II'.
3. Valdivia - Go to the Fishmarket! It's full with lots of beautiful animals, as discribed in the post above.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Constant Packing

Ever since you got your first T-shirt, shoes, bike... you own possessions.
You've your own room, your own bed, closet, clothes, books, CD's...
If your lucky, you've got enough space in that room of yours, to arrange it the way you want it. CD's by the stereo, clothes in the closet, books on the shelf, bed...well you got the idea.

Going on a business trip, a trip around the world, a year in south america or even a weekend in Madrid with your wife/housband/friends/family you have to pack. a large ''Muchila'', a suitcase, or just a handbag, maybe even all of the above.

When your moving from place to place, like on my trip, or any Backpacker's trip, as you could have guessed from its name... you find yourself living in a bag.

I my self, carry around 2 bags:
  1. ''La Muchila'': A big (75+15 Liters) rugsack, which has the main purpose of a trekking pack, but also is the large bag that stays behind on one day hikes, or is loaded to the trunk of the bus on a short/long ride to the next stop of the trip.
  2. The day pack: A small (35 liters) backpack. this one should be able to carry equipment good for the day hikes, and should be big enough to gather all the ''leftovers'' you want to leave in the hostels for safe keeping.
After a month or so, one finds himself in an odd place. Thinking back at the trips I've taken, before & after every trek/busride/day hike, you have to pack all your belongings, and decide each time ''what goes where?''. All should fit. It fit before didn't it?

Doing so you find you'rself unpacking and repacking 2-3 times a week. Each time for a different purpose. You even remember all your belongings by heart!

You can get the hang of it pretty fast, but there is no way, you can manage not to be a ''Packulero'' (Packing+Muchilro)...

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Living in the Past

Next on my list is to update you all on what has happened in the last two months (it will be as short as possible - but keep in mind - this is a post summering two very intensive months):
some of the dates are approx. because I'm rushing it all from my memory. The future posts, my promise will be more accurate...
Leaving Israel on a flight to São-Paulo, Brasil.
From São-Paulo, Brasil to Ushuaia, Argentina, a short stop to switch planes, in Buenos-Aires.
22.2 - 1.3.2010 - Ushuaia
First three days where a shock! But after seeing the ''National Park Triera del Fuego'' and meeting the great people in ''The Jewish House'', I got the hang of it and went for a two days trek to ''Passo de Oveja'' (the pass of the sheep).
One more week, trying to find companions for a longer trek (''Sierra Valdevicio''), walking along the shore, celebrating ''Purim'' in the Jewish house, and trying to find a hitch to porto williams and the dientes circuit.
Tip for Ushuaia:
1. Hospedaje - The cheapest place to stay in Ushuaia. It is run by a nice & hyperactive lady and her drunk ¿husband?. You'll find it on the corner of 'Roca' & 'Deloqui' streets.
2. The Jewish House - In my time the couple running it were just great... Maybe it´s worth it to check who's there when you get there.
3. Whiskey! Its just so cheap here!
2-10.3.2010 - A Gateway into Chile! Punta Arenas.
A too long, 15 hours, bus ride to Punta Arenas.
Meeting Shachar (a.k.a chachachr) and Michael in the hostel ''Roxana'', the Israeli couple showed me around, and told me where to do the Penguin ride (which was fun, but with not much penguins to see - at the end of their season).
Also in the hostel, meeting Stewart, a pipe playing Scotsman, with whom I've done the Cruz de los Mares trek with.
After the 5 day (exhausting) trek, I continued on to Puerto Natales.
Tips for Punta Arenas:
1. If you like going through freezing rivers do the Cruz de los Mares trek. If not, DON'T!
12-22.3.2010 - Puerto Natales & The great Torres Del Paine
After meeting Oren Sochoy & Lilya on the bus to Puerto Natales, started the gathering of information for my first ''long'' trek - the 7-8 days Torres del Paine circuit.
First ''tenador libre'' (all you can eat) at juan's hostel (5,000 $ch).
Finding Iliya, Boaz & Lior to walk with me in the trek.
Eating with Oren & Lilya Menu del Dia (meal of the day) in different restaurants...
and we're off!
The first two days I've done with Iliya, Boaz & Lior. After that I've gone off alone and with very interesting and fun people from all over the world:
Marcus, Germany.
Tristan, CA, USA.
Scott, NZ.
And much more with whom I spent less time and so don't remember all their names.
Tips for Torres del Paine & Puerto Natales:
1. In Torres del Paine - do the Circuit. It´s worth it! Silent, with animals, and the view of the Glacier Grey from the top of the Passo John Gardner is just AMAZING!
2. In Puerto Natales - Don't eat at Carlitos. My hamburger wasn't fresh. I was sick for 3 days.
3. Hostel Esmeralda. With a nice breakfast, for a nice price and in the center.
23.3.2010 - El Calafate & the Perito Moreno
Just 2 days (rushing to make it to the Fitz Roy), were enough to see the great glacier Perito Moreno. It is told by everyone that this is the most beautiful glacier of all... but I am sorry to say, that I found glacier Grey of the Torres del Paine much more exciting.
I've done the glacier with Iliya, which I met by accident.
Also met Til, the greatest German Shepard ever! he camped with me for 2 nights in El Calafate, and joined the short yet good celebration of Iliya's birthday.
Tips for El Calafate & the Perito Moreno:
1. I saw the Glacier Grey good enough, so the Perito Moreno wasn't such a big deal for me. If it was me again, I would consider not going. It's expensive, and if you saw the Grey in a good day, and don't have the money, its OK to skip it.
25.3.2010 - El Chalten & The Fitz Roy
The very small village of El Chalten, is considered by the Argentinians as ''the capital of trekking'' even though, the only major trek in the area is the 5-6 days (going slow) trek, to the Fitz Roy and the even more impressive Cerro Torre.
Before going of for the 2 day trek, I've Made planes with Oren & Lilya to rent a car together for the Caratera Austral, so they have gone off to Bariloche to rent the car, and I was planing on going on the 29th (my birthday) to the forsaken town called Perito Moreno...
That's why, on the night of the 28th (telling myself that its already my birthday in Israel anyways), I went to eat a very large and good stake at a local restaurant. Of course, who comes in, if not, Iliya! we celebrated my birthday together with lots of alcohol & popcorn at a local brewery.
Tips for the Fitz Roy:
1. See the Fitz Roy at sunrise!
2. See the Cerro Torre.
3. Bring enough money and food to El Chalten. There is just one ATM, and everything is expensive.
30.3.2010 - Ghostown Perito Moreno
Waiting for my pickup by Oren, Lilya & Gabi and Achia.
3.5 days I waited. During Santa Semana (Ester), which means everything is more closed than closed.
2-9.4.2010 - The Caratera Austral
Salvation! they all came, with a big pickup truck.
in the Caratera Austral we managed to do a lot! with a car you can cover a wide route just in few days:
The Marble Caves in Rio Tranquilo.
Horse ride in Cerro Castillo.
Puerto Chacabuco.
The Hanging Glacier.
Hot baths in El Amarillo.
The ruins (from volcanic dust) of the town Chaiten & the south part of Parque Pumalin.
and lots and lots of views from lagoons, lakes, mountains and snow.
Tips for the Caratera Austral:
1. Know the people you rent a car with. A week is a long time. I was very lucky to be with great people.
2. Don't eat the Asado after the horse ride in Cerro Castillo. It sucks.
9.4.2010 - 'till now... Bariloche
Drove all the way (back, for some) to Bariloche (a.k.a almost Heaven).
When in Bariloche, you have to check out 3 things: the meat, the ice cream, and the endless amount of chocolate.
Done a bike ride around ''Circuito Chico''.
Waited 2 days for the weather to get better (and eating too much), then went off, alone again... to do the trek called Nauhal Huapi Traverse, which is supposed to be 5 days.
Rushing the first day and a half, I got to refugio Jakob where I was told it isn't a very good idea to continue on to the pass. Hearing that I felt the exhaustion from rushing all the way... and suddenly really wanted to finish off this trek. That night I slept in a warm bed again.
Tips for Bariloche:
1. The Traverse should be great, just come in the season. If you don't have the time, do a day hike just to Lagoon Frey & Lagoon Schmol.
2. Chocolate, Icecream & Meat.
Still in Bariloche, for 4 days I haven't done much ('cause of bad weather again)... just been with everybody on skype, sent all the pictures from the last 2 months (hopping to erase my almost full memory cards), gone to Cerro Otto (a very good view point above the city of Bariloche), and planed my next moves regarding the last Chile part of my trip - The Lake District & Pucon.
And started a new Blog...hope you like it...
Hasta Luego,

Welcome to my new Blog!

First of all, I'll explain why I started this blog,
After wondering around south argentina + chile for 2 months, I (bit by bit) started getting the filling the maybe I'm not preserving all my memories as best as I should.
Taking lots of pictures is great and all, but I tought i would like to keep a record of the names and places I've met and seen.
The options I've found we´re:
a. start a journal.
1. only I watch and see till the end of this trip at least..
2. is in hebrew.
b. start a blog.
1. friends and family read and post their comments about my progress
2. is in english/spanish/jibrish.

well, here I am, made my decision... hopping you'll enjoy it.