01.12.2005 8 °C
Getting close to the end of our travelling around however things are still enjoyable. Had a enjoyable bus trip from Mendosa to Bariloche, travelling semi cama class where the seats lie back at about 45 degrees and there is a leg section that comes back from the seat in fron, to the front of your seat. The seats are quite wide and allow you to lie on your side although you are not flat - still managed to get a few hours sleep. Woke in the morning to find the weather changing and it is becoming a lot windier and colder, and as we continued south it really changed. It really started pouring just as we started travelling in the mountain region so although we saw some of the scenery we didnt get the distane view. Arrived in Bariloche to find it raining really heavy and 6 degrees and after Mendoza it was a bit of a change where it was 35 degrees. arrived at the hotel that had been booked for us by the hostel in Mendosa to find that they had no record of our booking and they were full. So off to another hotel that they found and it was a real dump but as it was pouring rain, and freezing cold we elected to stay there for one night and look again in the morning. Changed our minds and looked for hostels in the town, and found one right on the edge of the lake, for the same price as the dump so moved. The new room was on the top floor, 9th, and we had great views over the lake to the mountain ranges on the other side of the lake.
Got the bus the next day up to the local mountain area where there are some mountain walks, and met up with two alaskans who were there to do some mountain climbing. When we got to the mountain it was pouring with rain and again freezing so we had lunch and went back down again. The girl is the base camp manager at Mt MCKinley in Alaska which is one of the worlds best climbing area, and he goes up there ice climbing. The girl told some pretty amazing stories of the life up there and dangers that she has been exposed to by the climbers trying to get off the mountain when they want not when they can. She said that every year someone dies on the mountain during the climbing season which is only for three months or so. she actually lives in a tent, on the glacier, and manages the arrival of the planes bringing up the climbers, and mans the radio for the climbers 24 hours a day. The next day we got the local bus out into the National Park, and then walked around to the other side of the park and got another bus back. The scenery was pretty amazing with incredible mountain ranges right alongside the walk trail, and deep gorges - it again was ok weather wise just sprinkling and just as cold as previous days. Had lunch at one of the lookout areas and met up with an aussie girl from Orange who was returning to australia after working in london - surprising the people you meet in the strangest places. On the way back we stopped at the oldest, and poshiest, hotel in Argentina and had a coffee. Before we could get in the security guard had to ring and see if it was OK for us because we didnt have a booking. We mixed in very well with the other patrons with all their best clothes and us in our walking clothes. Couldnt guess what the price was but it would have been pretty high considering the hotel ambience, position, and appearance.
Bariloche was another one of those special places that we have been to, you can see the german influence with the design of the buildings and even in the name of buildings and restaurants, and in the name of food at the restaurants. Lots of really good steak, great chocolate, more chocolate, and more great steak. In a restaurant a 300 gram steak would cost around A$3.00 - not bad. Although we arrived for the first two days with rain and really cold, the last few were really great with no rain, although still cold with maximum temperatures of around 9 degrees and it seemed to stay like that all day.
The next day the weather had changed for the better so we got the bus up to the mountain and climbed up to a place called refugio Freye, a climbers and mountainering hut at 1700m. We went up there as the alaskans had gone up there the day before to do some climbing, and a couple that we met in Mendoza that we met up with again in Bariloche had done the walk and said it was really good. It was a four hour walk up from around 760m to 1700m, around the mountain ranges, through very pretty forrest, and then up through the tree line and across snow to the refugio. The refugio is in a pretty place surrounded by steep scraggy rocky faces right outside the door. The weather was also very kind to us with blue skies and just a gently but very cold wind blowing. The refugio is an alpine hut where the climbersand hikers can stay at all year round and there is a caretaker who does cooking etc if needed for a small cost. Whilst we were having lunch, pasta and sauce and two coffees each A$7, we watched the guys on the rock face climbing and it was amazing to watch them moving up these rock faces that seemed to be really smooth. As we started our walk back down we were ccompanied by 4 dogs that seem to have made the national park their home. They seemed to be strays as there are no homes around the place but they were all in pretty good condition. They were really friendly and ran around you all the way down, then out into the bush and then back again. After walking for around two hours down, we met two blokes walking up the mountain so the dogs turned around and took off with them. Both of us ended up with sore shins after the walk down, but it was a really great adventure.
Next day saw us leaving Bariloche on the bus and boat trip across the alps to Puerto Varas in Chile. Again we were lucky with the weather and woke to find clear skies and no rain forecast. After a nervous start as we didnt get picked up by the bus at the time we were told, and trying to communicate with the night porter at the hotel, but when we got on the bus it soon transpired that everyone was told that they were getting picked up at the same time. Anyway after that we had a really enjoyable journey across the alps with great weather the whole way. Teamed up with another couple or ages, who it turns out are doing a trip to the Antarctic around the 15th December on a smaller type trip and they are doing kyaking down there. They live at Clareville on Pittwtaer / he is starting a new job when he goes back as the general manager for LJHooker in New Zealand. Also met another American couple, climbers, who knew of the girl at the base camp as he is a climber and had been there last climbing season, small world eh! Again we had terrific views of the snow capped mountains and volcanoes in the area, travelling across crystal clear lakes, deep gorges, thick vegetaion, and windy rough roads. Stopped for lunch at a place called Puella, where we had a three hour stop, so both of us did another canopy ride - this one was around 1.5k long, with 7 platforms between the various runs. This was different to the other canopy that we did, as this one was through the forrest, across gorges and above running mountain streams - all pretty exciting. In Puerto Varas now and looking to see where we go next. Take care all luv us.