Three weeks of photos from Argentina & Chile

As promised (finally!), here are the photographic highlights from my last 3 weeks on the road in Argentina and Chile.

They start with a few photos from SaltaCordoba, and Mendoza, before I jumped down to Bariloche in Argentina’s Patagonia. From there, I crossed the border to spend a rainy week in Puerto Varas and Valdivia (because of the crummy weather, there are very few photos), then made a long haul up to Vina del Mar to spend my last days of vacation on the beach soaking up some final South American sunshine.


Facing the Chilean rain

Unfortunately, the south of Chile — specifically Puerto Varas and Valdivia where I was — are places where you really need the sunshine to appreciate the natural surroundings. Puerto Varas´s backdrop is the famous Osorno Volcano, but because it was pouring rain and absurdly misty the whole time I was there, I couldn´t even tell there was a volcano in front of me when standing at the lake´s edge.

At my hostel in Puerto Varas, I met four Americans, all studying together at the Columbia Business School in NYC, and the five of us ventured out of the city for a hike, which turned out to be a long, relatively boring walk along a dirt road dotted with many, many potholes. Now, fill those potholes with the endless rain the city had seen, plus the dirt from the road, and add cars driving over those potholes at many miles per hour, and the combination is 5 Americans, soaked from both the rain AND splashes from not-so-courteous Chilean drivers. As we walked, it continued to pour, and though I was wearing my extra sturdy Husky Ambassador windbreaker, it eventually soaked completely through, into my fleece and my t-shirt beneath that. My four new (genius) Columbia friends were smart enough to buy ponchos at the grocery store and lent me their extra one, but regardless, we were all soaked to the bone and freezing by the end of our adventure. There are some pretty silly photos of us in our ponchos, I´ll be sure to steal and post those when I´m home.

We did see a beautiful river and set of waterfalls (though I think once you´ve been to Iguazu you´re sort of jaded towards waterfalls, sadly). After the 6 km walk down the pothole filled road, we finally arrived at the lake, which we could barely see. The misty fog almost acted as a mirage. We couldn´t see the other side of the lake, let alone any mountains or volcano in the background. We wandered a bit in an attempt to find the trail we´d been told about, but the not-so-helpful receptionist at our hostel had told us we could identify it by the dry riverbeds. Not exactly ideal markers when it´s pouring rain, and has been for several days. Needless to say, we couldn´t find a well marked path that seemed to go in the right direction, and finally, freezing, soaking wet and on the verge of cranky, we opted to catch the bus back to town.

That day would have been disastrous (and — lets face it — all around miserable) had I been by myself, and though I am truly a solo traveler at heart, I was more than happy to have funny, and distracting, company. We were all soaked and cold, but we laughed and joked and made the most of it, and were happy to at least stretch our legs and get some exercise instead of sitting in the hostel doing mostly nothing, as we had the day before.

Four hours further north in Valdivia, the weather wasn´t a whole lot better. I opted to spend my Christmas day and eve there, since most everything is shut down during the day anyways, and I´d heard it was a lovely little town. I wasn´t blown away by the town´s beauty, but on the day after Christmas I took a day trip down the river where I could see the outlet of the river to the Pacific Ocean, got to visit a cool old fort, and took a boat across the mouth of the river to an adorable little town with great seafood restaurants. On my way back, I stopped at the Kunstmann Cervezeria, a brewery where they´ve been making German beer since the 1800´s. Very random, but surprisingly good beer, and because I was the only one there at the time, I got my very own, private English tour!

Sick of the cold and rain, and having absolutely no luck whatsoever trying to find reasonable places to stay in wine country between Valdivia and Santiago, I abandoned that plan and got on my last, long-haul overnight bus up to Vina del Mar. Vina is a quaint little town on the ocean, adjacent to Valparaiso, and just an hour and a half from Santiago. I´ve had perfect blue skies and sun so far, so I´m just happy to be warm (and dry!) again, and will be here until I catch my flight on Sunday.

And yet another small world coincidence: Turns out that Belinda, who I met in the south of Peru and have been keeping in touch with via Facebook, is in Valparaiso at the same time as I am! We´re meeting for a beach day today, and then I have to figure out how to spend my last, solo day of vacation tomorrow.

Most of me is dreading heading back to the real world — figuring out getting myself out to the east coast to ship and sell my stuff in storage (anyone in the market for a flat screen TV or a queen size mattress?!), buying a used car in LA, finding a good nannying job, and negotiating the terms of living back at my parents house for the first time in nearly 7 years.

But of course, there are things I´m excited for as well. Seeing my friends and family again, keeping my toothbrush and shampoo in one place, a refrigerator to call my own, the manicure/pedicure I´m getting on Monday, celebrating New Years Eve with my best friend, and of course puppy time! I´m just glad to know that when I set my backpack down in LA again, it will only be temporary, and that another trip is in the works and on the horizon!

Bariloche, Patagonia: Biking 27 km and driving 370!

Well, I didn’t exactly bike the entire 27 km because, as a pathetically, out of shape weakling, I walked my bike up the steeper hills. But for all intents and purposes, I biked the 27 km Circuito Chico this afternoon and I feel two things: accomplished, and absolutely exhausted. 

Map of the Circuito Chico, which I biked today!

The circuit itself is a gorgeous, paved road that circles the eastern area of Bariloche, along the lakes and rivers of the area. The road slopes uphill, then downhill, then uphill again, revealing tree-lined views of the lakes and snow-capped peaks. I opted to do the bike journey solo, and took my sweet time stopping whenever I wanted to take photos, needed a breather or opted to walk my bike up the steeper, hillier sections. Luckily it only rained for a half hour or so in the beginning of my journey, and when the rain got so heavy I could barely see, I stopped under a clump of trees to wait it out, and was able to hop back on my bike (granted with a very wet butt and an awkward wet stripe down my back) a few minutes later as the rain lightened, then stopped for good.


Stella, very clearly in ducky heaven (probably because she didn´t have to pedal the bike!)


Bariloche is a polar opposite change from the 95 degree, sweat-inducing, desert heat of Mendoza and northern Argentina. I´ve traded my light cotton dress for a hood instead of sunglasses, leggings underneath my jeans, four layers beneath my windbreaker, plus my alpaca-knit gloves. Regardless of the frigid, and very indecisive weather (it´s sort of like being in Boston where you can wait 5 minutes and the weather will change) this lake region, at the very northern tip of Patagonia, is stunning.

View of one of the lake´s many beaches from right near my hostel

Yesterday I had a lazy, mostly indoors day, since it was colder, windier, and rainier outside than I wanted to brave, but during a break in the rain I took the ski lift up to Cerro Campanario and enjoyed an absolutely incredible 360 degree view of the lakes, rivers and mountains surrounding Bariloche. Worth every penny of the 60 pesos I paid to let the ski lift haul my lazy self up and down the mountain!


Nothing better than hot chocolate and raspberry tart to keep me company at the top of the ski lift, waiting for the rain to pass.

View from the ski lift!

And on my first full day in town, I met three boys in my hostel, and the four of us rented a car to drive 370 kilometers up north and around the seven lakes to San Martin. Michiel and Frank, Dutch brothers, Mario, a German guy, and I had some serious bonding time during our 13 hours in our Volkswagon Gol together, but we had an absolute blast. The weather didn´t exactly cooperate, and we had on and off rain and some serious cloud coverage for many hours, but we also got to see a gorgeous rainbow over one of the lakes, and a tiny bit of sunshine here and there.


Map of the northern roads we drove along


Boys being, well… boys, and climbing a giant rock that jutted out over the road

I also had my first attempt at driving stick shift — on an empty, and wide, dirt road in the middle of our journey. The photo of my skid marks from the first time I attempted to release the clutch and press the gas simultaneously is absolutely priceless, but Michiel was very patient and, eventually, I was able to drive for more than a minute or two without stalling out the car. Luckily for the boys, I only drove on that tiny stretch of road.


Poor, terrified Michiel



Tomorrow morning, I´m leaving Argentina and headed to Puerto Varas in Chile, my fifth and final country for my last 8 days of vacation. Fingers crossed the weather improves and I can snag some awesome views of the volcanos!

I would love nothing more than to post all of my millions of photos from the last 3 days, but my computer is truly dead, and aside from the photos I took on my cell phone and posted to Instagram, I have no way of uploading my DSLR´s photos to this shared computer, so these ones will have to do. I promise when I get back to the States and face funemployment once again, I´ll upload the pictures I wasn´t able to post!