Puerto Iguazu is the Argentinian gateway to one of the largest and most spectacular waterfall systems in the world: Iguazu. Near Iguazu the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay join, although the waterfalls lie within Argentina and Brazil, with most occurring in Argentina.
Upon arriving to Puerto Iguazu Airport in May I transferred to a bus for the final journey to the town of the same name. Outside Puerto Iguazu the bus stopped for passengers to pay a town entry fee. Being squeezed on the bus, I left my wallet on my lap instead of placing it in my pocket. Once at the bus terminal I exited the bus, forgetting about my wallet until I arrived to my accommodation. The hostel staff member assisted selflessly, calling the bus company and advising them about the missing wallet. Later, a driver arrived with a wallet. Alas, it was not mine. Luckily my wallet only contained limited cash and a debit card which I blocked.
Watching the Iguazu waterfalls from the Argentinian side Continue reading
In mid-May I returned to Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires, a city I inhabited in the summer. This time I was lucky enough to spend time with Rebecca and her enthusiastic children Kaye and Robbie in Belgrano. West of Palermo, Belgrano is one of Buenos Aires’ grandest suburbs, full of old mansions and tree-lined streets.
I was also fortunate to catch up with Australian expatriate Pat. Pat is a mad Huracan fan. Huracan is the best Buenos Aires soccer team no one has heard of. If you come to Buenos Aires, don’t ride on the Boca Juniors, Racing Club or River Plate bandwagons, join Huracan’s passionate supporters instead. Pat initiated me into Huracan at a Primera Division match against Unión de Santa Fe.
With Pat at Huracan’s Tomás Adolfo Ducó Stadium; note the empty ‘away’ end Continue reading
From Mendoza in early May I took my most comfortable South American bus ride yet, a nine hour overnight Andesmar “suite 1st class” bus to Córdoba. Córdoba is Argentina’s second largest city (behind Buenos Aires) and with world heritage listed 17th century architecture it has something for tourists.
Santi, who I’d met in Santiago, kindly showed me around the centre, pointing out interesting places. Importantly, Santi also recommended places to eat typical local food including lomito, a South American steak sandwich and locro, Córdoban stew.
Lighting features at one of Córdoba’s entertainment areas Continue reading
Travelling from Santiago to Mendoza in early May took time but was worth it. Famous for its Malbec wine, I experienced two of my best days in the Mendoza region, despite overcast and rainy weather.
On a whim and inspired by a British couple in my hostel, I booked a day trip to the Termas Cacheuta spa resort outside of Mendoza. Another couple on the morning bus were already enjoying the day, drinking from a wine bottle.
Located next to a river in Cacheuta, Luján de Cuyo, Termas Cacheuta features several indoor and outdoor thermal pools of varying temperatures, a cold pool and a sauna. The resort also provides an amazing buffet lunch!
Termas Cacheuta’s lunch buffet contains great meat, vegetables and salad Continue reading
I planned to leave Santiago on the 1st of May and take a bus to Mendoza, Argentina. The only problem was the high altitude Andes Mountains border crossing’s exposure to snow storms, landslides and other road-closing events.
On the 1st I caught the metro and eventually found the correct bus station (Santiago has several). There I was told the border was closed. As I had bought my ticket online, I could not change it at the bus station and needed to telephone the website operator for a refund.
The next day the border remained closed.
The border reopened on the 3rd of May so I packed up again and took the metro with Noe and Santiago (the person) who were returning to Cordoba, Argentina. At the bus station we met Aivy, a Lithuanian materials scientist going home via Rio. Aivy had accepted a post-doctorate position in the USA researching adhesives for climbing robots on a project funded by NASA. Together the four of us bought tickets, visited a nearby supermarket and waited to catch our van.
Andes Mountains on the Chilean side Continue reading
On the Pacific coast a few hours from Santiago, Valparaiso is famous for its incredible street art. The town is also very hilly. Valparaiso residents would have to be some of the artiest and fittest people around as I found out in April.
Valparaiso has an excellent produce market and one morning I met up again with Cami and Sara to wonder around both the permanent market and nearby street market.
A green vegetable stall at Valparaiso’s produce market with outer leaves and husks discarded on the street Continue reading
Santiago de Chile is a big city, several times larger than Chile’s next largest and thus dominates the country’s discourse. Although not a must-see tourist attraction in its own right, the city has enough culture and sites to entertain one for many days. In April Santiago hosted me for two weeks, with a trip to Valparaiso in the middle.
With a semi-arid climate, Santiago usually receives little to no April rainfall. 2016 was different. Substantial precipitation fell during my first days in the city causing significant consequences. Businesses and homes flooded and most of the city lost their water supply after it was contaminated by catchment area landslides.
The fast-flowing Mapocho River in front of a mural depicting people attempting to cross a water course Continue reading
From La Serena, on the 10th of April I travelled 100km west to Pisco Elqui in the Elqui Valley. The Elqui Valley has a desert climate with steep mountain sides and is watered by the Elqui River. The Elqui Valley is famous in Chile for producing Pisco, a type of brandy and the key ingredient in the cocktail Pisco Sour. Pisco, like many topics in South America, is subject to dispute with both Chile and Peru claiming rights to it. In fact, in 1936 the town’s name was changed from La Union to Pisco Elqui to reinforce Chile’s rights.
A German shepherd posing in front of my accommodation’s swimming pool with mountains in the background Continue reading