Patagonia 2005

Alan and Alison's Honeymoon to Argentina, Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego
One of the high points of the trip, Monte Fitz Roy and Lago de los Tres. Yeah, a lot of people scramble up here, but people or not the view is well worth the trek.
Start of the impressive boulder field that we navigated to see Laguna Piedras Blancas.
End of the World, Tierra del Fuego. Wind self-explanatory. Much as one would imagine the end of the world. It's 600 miles from Antarctica.
Magellenic Penguins in Tierra del Fuego. Love it when they lie on their stomachs and scoot forward. We also saw Gentoo Penguins.
Fall colors and the Fuegian Andes in Tierra del Fuego. This is where the Andes meet the sea. Alison and I just finished climbing to Glaciar Albino, the left hand glacier in the picture. Incoming weather. It snowed in the mountains every night.
After an overnight flight we arrived in Buenos Aires mid-afternoon and booked a room on the famous Avenida de Mayo (where the marches take place to Plaza de Mayo). This is the view of Avenida de Mayo from our corner balcony in one the the street's grand art deco hotel. Now more than a bit shabby the hotel's elegance is still evident in the great marble staircase and grand parlours. Buenos Aires is a traveler's dream, a great European style city where (at 3 pesos to the dollar) you can afford everything. We fell in love the minute we started tramping around--cafes, bookstores, grand avenues, parks and open spaces. The city never shuts down. Incredible food. Most places don´t start serving dinner until 9 or 10 pm and aren´t in full swing until midnight or later. You go out for dinner after the show. The town does take a siesta mid-day and the shops re-open in the early evening (why can't the US get with this program?). We went to the Teatro Colon (supposedly on par with La Scala as an opera house) and saw an opretta in box seats. Saw a fabulous tengo show the next night. Went to Recoleta to see Evita's tomb, etc., etc. We even went to shabbat services. Even so, in three days we barely made a dent in what's to do in Buenos Aires. We'll need to return soon.
Five blocks from our hotel, this is the Plaza de Mayo with Casa Rosada, the governmental palace in the background. Probably the most famous plaza in the city, it's been the staging ground for major and minor political rallys and protests. Evita Peron, Maradona Galtieri, and Juan Peron all addressed crowds in the plaza from the balcony of the Casa Rosada. The scarves on the brick represent the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo. The madres continue to meet weekly here asking for their children who went missing in the 70's and 80's by the military goverment (note crowd control barriers).
In 1992 the Israeli embassy was flattened by a bomb. We were taken by the shadow of the embassy left on the wall of the adjoining building. Below it is the memorial and, because we flew in the day after the anniversary of the bombing, we got to see all the flowers and notes left at the site.

El Chaltan: view from our hostel -- Monte Fitz Roy on the right and Cerro Solo on the left. Cerro Torre should be in the middle but is shrouded in clouds. It stayed hidden for most of our trek. El Chaltan is four hours on a dirt road from anywhere and celebrated it's 20th anniversary this October. It reminds me of the California gold rush boom town with its many new buildings and dirt streets (rapid growth based on trekker's and climber's flocking to the area due to falling peso value).

Day 1: Alan styles along in the airy Lenga forest. Lengas are the taller, high altitude version of the southern beech species. We just finished visiting with a band of Austral Parakeets when Alison snapped this pix.
A view up Rio Electrico towards Glaciar Marconi an extension of the huge southern ice field Hielo Sur. We camped not too far from the glacier in this valley. Weather is starting to deteriorate.
From a lookout near our campsite: a clearing storm over Glaciar Marconi. One of a number of storms with horizontal rain, sleet and snow during the next few days. Even so, we managed to hike up to Glaciar Marconi.
Day 3: A rare sunny moment. Cerro Electrico in crisp morning light. A glorious day which means time to boogie through the park to see as much as we can before the next storm.
The impressive Glaciar Piedras Blancas calving iceburgs into Laguna Piedras Blancas.
Monte Fitz Roy and Lago de los Tres. No further comment needed.
The fabulous aqua of Lago de los Tres.
After hiking all day in good weather we arrived into the valley of Rio Fitz Roy just a bit too late to catch a full view of Cerro Torre. It is on the right with its summit shrouded in clouds. Our spell of good weather is over as storm clouds start to appear over Cerro Grande on the left.
Day 4: An arco iris (rainbow) and Cerro Solo in a brief period of sunshine between rain squalls the next morning.
Day 5: View of Fitz Roy as we head out to Lago Tunel.
The enormous Lago Viedma (not all in the picture). One of a number of large inland lakes created during the last ice age.
Our destination, Lago Tunel with the tip of Glaciar Rio Tunel above it. The obvious pass at the top of the picture is Paso Viento (Windy Pass). Trekkers beware! If they mention wind in Patagonia... By the end of the day, the wind was so strong that we were unable to walk on open ground without getting blown down. We retreated behind a huge rock and trees to wait the wind out. Our original goal was to climb to the top of the pass and view Hielo Sur, the southern ice shelf. Weather dictated otherwise with winds gusting to near 100 mph.
A sunlit lenticular cloud above Paso Viento (probably caused by Cerro Grande).
The "Honeymoon Suite." We were the envy of every trekker couple we met. Having procured the tent just before the trip Alan felt like the real provider.
Day 6: View of El Chaltan and we head back in for helado (an Argentine gelato far richer than the Italian version--yes, we were completly addicted).
Before leaving Patagonia, we headed off to see one of the great natural wonders of Argentina, "Perito Moreno Glacier ". One of the few advancing glaciers in the world--it moves about 7cm each day. Because it is constantly moving, vast blocks of ice fall off the face of the glacier into the lake, calving iceburgs with an explosive detonation that sounds like a bomb going off.
Because it is moving, it periodically pushes across the channel closing in the river opening on the left side of this picture. This forms a dam that can cause the level of the lake arm it blocks to rise 30 feet. The face of the glacier is 150 to 200 feet high. The icebergs and debris in the water are from pieces of the glacier falling off.
The honeymooners at Perito Moreno Glacier.
A full view of the unbelivable seracs (ice towers) of Perito Moreno. The glacier goes all the way to the Chilean Andes where it joins the southern ice shelf, Hielo Sur, the largest sheet of ice ouside the two poles.
Next Stop: End of the World, Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego. Wind self-explanatory.
And bird watching we went. Saw the Austral Pygmy Owl (wee little thing) and the Magellenic Woodpecker (huge crimson crest). We hooked up with Miguel who knew every single spot in Ushuaia to find birds and brought a tape recording of bird calls to call up rare birds (see tape recorder on shoulder). Alison was confused by it all.
Bahia Lapataia: The gap in the center of the picture opens to the Beagle Channel. The mountains of Isla Navarino (Chile) are the pale blue mountains just visable in the distance. Swimming around are Flightless Steamer ducks (I think).
Yes, my husband did take me to the Ushuaia garbage dump on my honeymoon. At least it had cute piglets in it that you had to stay away from because mama charged you (as well as our only sighting of some type of bird that I'm supposed to remember). [Husband's note: Bird = White-throated Caracara. And garbage dumps are great places to bird the world round. Sad but true.]
Ushuaia: View from the balcony of our house -- Beagle Channel middle and mountains in distance are Isla Navarino in Chile. Four bedrooms, jacuzzi bath, two fireplaces (used every night) and view over Ushuaia, all for $26 per night. There are perks for being well outside the tourist season.
Alison conquers the glaciar. Finally, the wind worked with us, the sun worked with us, and we made it to the Glaciar Albino (my favorite name). Alan climbed on up higher on the glacier to see the views from above.
Alison climbs down from the Glaciar Albino. This is the easy part of going down.
These beaver ponds were everywhere. This one holds water from the Glaciar Albino. The milky aqua color is caused by fine rock flour from the glacier.
View of the Glaciar Albino and fall colors. Incoming weather.
It snowed every night in Tierra del Fuego. The next day Glaciar Albino was frosted white.
Ooooh sooo cute! Molting Gentoo Penguins and one lone Magellenic Penguin in the foreground.
Noses of the happy couple with the penguinos. Yeah our beaks are looking a bit penguin-like with the lens distortion.
We drove to the historic Estancia Harberton--one of the most famous in Argentina. Still a working estancia (great grandson of the founder) as well as a major center for research on marine mammals.
The marine mammal research center at Harberton is home to the largest collection of marine mammal skeletons in the world (estimated at about 1/2 of the world's collection). This is a shot inside the museum, Museo Acatushún.
One last trek the morning we left Ushuaia. The mountains in Tierra del Fuego continue to accumulate snow.
A last look at Ushuaia and the Beagle Channel.
Rugged Alan doing what he likes best!
Time for R&R. We went directly from the Ushuaia airport to the small town of Tigre and caught a launch into the Paraná Delta. The Paraná is the third largest river in South America (I think?). We were taken with the historic wood boats lovingly maintained by the river captains.
The Paraná Delta is an international biosphere and like nothing I've seen--a subtropical jungle, north american swamp, and the Everglades rolled into one. Fabulous wildlife and an endless expanse of channels, islands, marshes, and inland lakes.
Evening paddle and sunset on the River Plate.
We stayed in the honeymoon suite of this family run hosteria on a small island, deep in the delta. When we weren't resting we took long canoe paddles in the channels and vast mashes of the biosphere reserve. Incredible birding! Our favorite was the Southern Screamer a bird nearly as large as the Andean Condor that looks like a hawk but is classified somewhere between flamingos and ducks.
Relaxing after a Sunday meal -- garden grown vegetables and salads, grilled chicken and more desserts than anyone should ever have. Alan gave it his best shot. The other guests had asado (huge slabs of Argentine beef) and chorizo on the grill. Boats like the one in the background are the only way to get on or off the island.