Sunday, 30 November 2008

Winter on Wansfell

Well, a year ago we were in New Zealand, today we were in the wintry Lake District walking up Wansfell. Views spectacular but where would we rather be??? Now let us think?

Any way, the blog is back and alive and will be kept updated with the continuing adventures of the Gerrish family.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Buenos Aires

After an exciting flight in which the pilot aborted the landing just before the wheels touched down due to strong winds and flew to another airport just a a major storm was starting we arrived in BA.

We started our tour at the Rose Palace where Evita gave her famous speeches to her people and then went to her museum where we learned more about her life.

We visited the Government buildings but being Easter weekend it was shut.

We had lunch in the crowded Le Boca district

Went to a Tango Show

And ... watched the 24th March demonstration of support for the 30000 people who disappeared during the 1970/80s military government and who are not forgotten.

Tomorrow (25th March) our great adventure ends and we fly back to Manchester.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

We start our journey Northwards

We left Puerto Williams and also Chile today, our southern most point in our journey. Getting to this amazing place had been straight forward but political problems between Chile and Argentina mean that getting across the Beagle Channel and into Argentina were more problematic. Ushuaia is the southern most city in Argentina not 60km away from Puerto Williams and 30 mins across the sea but Chilean boats are not allowed into the port. Argentinian boats are, however, allowed into Chile's port at Puerto Navarino on Isla Navarino where PW is. You have to catch an Argentinian Zodiac boat (at great expense) that comes across every day .

We were taken by minibus the 60km to Puerto Navarino along a dirt road. The nearer we got the windier it became. The 'port' was a single Navy building in the middle of nowhere on the opposite side of the Beagle Channel to Ushuaia, where we went through the customs procedure.

Puerto Navarino where the dirt road ends, the port of embarkation from Chile!

The Zodiac arrived but the passengers looked a little 'shaken'. The wind in the channel had got up to dangerous speeds. The Zodiac would not go back in the wind. We waited for an hour and a half, then suddenly 'vamos' we go. We were rushed into the boat and set off across the rather 'bouncy' channel.

The Zodiac arriving from Ushuaia.

The Zodiac battling through the swell

See a video of the Zodiac crossing

We arrived rather exhilarated in Ushuaia to be met by the immigration process and a new country. We then embarked into a new country and a city with lots of modern cars, tarmaced roads, shops and restaurants, not to mention boats with names like Antarctica 3 and Antarctic Explorer (Ushuaia is a major port for Antarctic exploration). What a difference to the Fin Del Mundo in PW!

Sharon arrives in Argentina.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Ferry to the end of the Earth

Punta Arenas to Peurto Williams a distance by sea of 303 nautical miles by ferry passing through island passages and on two occasions crossing openings to the Southern Ocean.

We saw loads of wildlife - dolphions and seals surfing in the ship's wake, albatrosses, skuas and penguins. Beautiful sunrise and stormy seas. We are now in Puerto Williams, the most southerly town in the world about 100km from Cape Horn. Opposite us from our hostel in Puerto Williams we have a view of the Beagle Channel and Argentina.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Los Pinguinos

We went to see a Magellan penguin colony near Punta Arenas. At the height of the season there are 10000 penguins there but a lot have left for warmer climates as the end of the summer approaches. It is mid September equivalent here!

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Deeper South

Sharon outside our hostal in Puerto Natales

We are in Punta Arenas after having travelled by bus down from Puerto Natales. While there we walked up a mountain called Dorotea
The view over Puerto Natales from Dorotea
We went on a boat trip to see two huge glaciers called Serrano and Balmeceda.

Serrano Glacier

Balmaceda Glacier

Now we are in Punta Arenas we are going to see a penguin colony, then we are off for three days on a ferry to Puerto Williams, we can't go much further south before Cape Horn!

Friday, 7 March 2008

The W trail around Paine National Park

We have just returned from a 6 day trek around the Torres Del Paine where we saw one amazing view after another starting with the Towers of Paine.

The W trail

Us at the start of the W trail. Torres Del Paine in the background.

The infamous spires first climbed by Bonnington, Brown and Willans in the 1960s.

The French Valley
The last two days saw us walking to the edge of the South Patagonian icecap at the Grey Glacier where the temperature was definitely cooler as the wind blew down off the ice.

We camped at various campsites, which were mainly in the woods but the downside was the mozzies that swarmed everywhere, giving you nasty red itchy lumps where they bit you. Our last camp was beside Lago Grey with beautiful views but also exposed to the wind that started during the night heralding the end of the sunny weather we had enjoyed to date.

Our campsite at Lago Grey

Finishing at Lake Pehoe where we caught a ferry back to the bus, which took us to Puerto Natales, where we are staying in a lovely hotel called Indigo Patagonia.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

792 nautical miles

Over the past four days we have travelled 1467km by ferry (called Evangelista run by Navimag) rrom Puerto Montt in the central lake district to Puerto Natales in Patagonia at 52 degrees south, further south than any other land mass before Antartica.

Sharon at check-in in Puerto Montt

Evangelista anchored at Puerto Eden (an isolated fishing community 2 days from Puerto Montt and 36 hours from Puerto Natales)
When we started from Puerto Montt it was bright sunshine
the next day it was foggy and wet, then it was cloudy and cool.

The passage took us through an inland passage down the west coast of Chile. At one point on day tywo we had to go into the Pacific Ocean for a twelve hour passage. The staff on the ship built the ocean passage up a being rough (up to 5m waves) but as it was the sea was calm (1.5m waves) and apart from some rocking it was not too rough.

The scenery was awesome and we passed close to a glacier called Pius Xl

through islands where there was only 20m clearance on either side of the ship,

past a ghost ship stuck on rocks and we saw whales (admittedly far away)!

We arrive in Puerto Natales. Next stop Torres del Paine

Sunday, 24 February 2008

A quick trip to the end of the mainland Pan American Highway

We took a 24 hour tour to Chiloe, an island that is reached from the end of the mainland Pan American Highway by ferry, 2400 miles from Arica (where we started our trip in Chile). The ferry trip crossed a channel with really strong currents and the boat was surrounded by sea lions, leaping out of the water catching fish in the currents. We went to see a penguin colony that had Magellan and Humboldt penguins, sea otters and sea lions.

The ferry where the Pan American Highway stops on mainland South America

Sharon looking at a beautiful bay on west Chiloe.
Reached by a 40km dirt road drive.

On the boat going to look for penguins and sea lions. We also saw sea otters.

If you look hard you can see penguins. Honest!

We camped next to the beach

Next morning we walked along by the sea and saw people picking what looked like rocks from the sea shore

Sharon asked the family camped next to us what they were? They were Piure or Sea Squirts which they ate raw with lemon. We tried half of one each... an aquired taste!

We returned to Puerta Varas the next day. Tomorrow we leave for a 4 day ferry journey to Patagonia and Tierra Del Fuego.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Volcan Osorno and waterfalls

We have moved from Pucon to Puerta Varas, which is dominated by another volcano, Osorno. So another day was spent exploring a volcano (although this one is not active) and the river that flowed past it. It was quite an eventful day. While waiting for Sharon to come out of a shop a policeman told me off for parking on yellow lines, we got stopped and had to show our passports to another policemen at a check point and then I got the truck stuck in deep sand on the way up the volcano. It required the combined efforts of six people a shovel and a plank to extricate it!

We went up on a ski lift to the snow line below the volcano where there was a view of a small crater. There was an amazing zip wire that descended 1500m in 4 stages. See a video of it here

Life on the Ruka

Ruka Rayen

Camping on a farm involves living with the animals. On Ruka Rayen there was a pig called Porkie that thought she was a dog and roamed free, chickens, horses, cats and dogs.

Sharon leading her horse back to the field after riding

Porkie the pig

The horses lived in a wood and I helped catch them for riding