For this year's trip we began in Buenos Aires, home of the tango. After a quick look around town, we headed for the Andes. We flew 3 hours to Bariloche which is a ski town, European in flavor. In Bariloche we took three excursions. One, we took a cable car up a mountain overlooking the lake district and then hiked down. The other two were boat trips to parks where we hiked amidst Sequoias and waterfalls.
Next we took a bus south along the Andes to Esquel and Trevelin, and then a taxi to the border of Chile. We then started to hitch-hike to the town of Futaleufu. We were picked up by a busload of female tourists after walking about a mile. Futaleufu is the heart of kayaking and rafting in Chile - the best white water in the world. The small town is ringed by snow-capped mountains and is breath-taking. One day we kayaked the Espolon River on sit-on-top kayaks. The first section was very gentle and we paddled with a family with 2 boys on their maiden voyage. The second section (class III) was just Chuck, I and one guide, Henrico Oyen (former olympian). After which we had tea and toast and freshly maid jam (yum!) in a quaint tea house not far from the river. The next day we hiked seven hours (20 miles?) along the Futaleufu. At one point we crossed the river on a wood suspension bridge, also used by the horses. The next day we returned to Argentina.
An overnight bus took us to Trelew where we saw elephant seals, Guanacos (llamas), cormorants, and penguins. We then flew to Calafate (near the tip of Argentina) up in the Andes. There we took a tour to the Moreno Glacier(Parque National Los Glaciares). Awesome experience! Icebergs calved off every 10-15 minutes with a thunderous roar and spectacular visual. The blue ice was eerie and beautiful. Next we took a 4 hour bus ride farther into the mountains to a little town (El Chaltan) that was just founded 15 years ago. Here we took three mountain hikes with scathing winds which sand blasted our faces. On one hike the wind actually knocked me over and was reported to be near 100 mph. The views were worth it though, including the one condor I spotted. The alpine flowers were colorful and abundant, as this was spring/summer time there.
At this point, I had to head for home, as Chuck headed to Ushuaia, and then Antarctica. The Andes certainly have a rugged beauty. I found Argentina to be very European, very friendly, and very expensive.