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 seventh of February, from Ushuaia at the very bottom of Argentina, I flew three hours north to Buenos Aires. The next day I caught a bus to La Quiaca, Jujuy Province, a town bordering Bolivia at the very top of the country. Carnival in Bolivia was calling!
The Balut bus took 31 hours to reach La Quiaca as rain, blocked roads and the Andes mountains took their toll. The Andes may have slowed the journey but they also provided stunning views.
A diversion caused by a blocked road in northern Argentina
A disused railway line next to a swollen river and an Andes mountain range Continue reading
In early February, I flew from El Calafate to Ushuaia in row one, my first time up the front of the plane in many years. Aerolineas’ Premium Economy tickets were similarly priced* to Economy so it was an obvious decision to make.
*Argentina has a two-tier flight ticket pricing policy with non-residents paying higher prices for Economy class.
Ushuaia is the southernmost city in the world and a major gateway for cruise ships and research vessels to the Antarctica. Ushuaia is also the capital of Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego, Antártida e Islas del Atlántico Sur Province.
From Ushuaia there is a fairly standard Beagle Channel day cruise offered by many boats to bird, penguin and seal colonies. One morning I walked to the harbour, chose a boat, bought my ticket and jumped on board. Despite being so far south, the weather out of the wind was quite pleasant.
The Beagle Channel divides Argentina and Chile and the Chilean coast was visible for much of the trip including Puerto Williams, the southernmost town in the world.
An island bird colony near Ushuaia Continue reading
The highlight of my visit to El Calafate in January/February this year and, indeed, one of the absolute highlights of my trip, was seeing the Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park. The glacier’s awesomeness cannot be overstated. The mild and sunny weather on both days I visited accentuated the experience.
According to Wikipedia, a glacier is a persistent body of dense ice that is constantly moving under its own weight. Perito Moreno’s movement slowly pushes it against the land, causing various sized pieces of ice to fall off regularly. I was lucky enough to witness and record a giant ~50 metre high slab falling off the glacier (see video below). Every four or five years a bridge forms in the ice and crashes down even more spectacularly. The bridge last ruptured on 10 March, more than a month after I visited.
The head of the Perito Moreno Glacier pushing against the land Continue reading