Patagonia – Trekking and camping

Everyone has an Antarctica…………….whats yours?

That was the question asked by the Shackleton boys and its meaning is that you do not have to trek to the South Pole to find adventure, it is everywhere and your Antarctica can be anything or anywhere you want it to be, you just have to think about what you want to do or where you want to and make it happen.

I thought about this question long and hard and for me it is to continue travelling it’s this that keeps me feeling alive in having something to plan and aim for.

I knew from that meeting though that I would have to make Antarctica one of the places that I would get out to, so to quote Captain Jack from Pirates of the Caribbean, “Theres not a moment to lose!!!”

This trip had to be within my financial and physical capabilities where I could photograph the wildlife at close range.

I also decided that as I was going all that way it seemed a shame not to stop and see Patagonia, so that is what I did, here is some blog/diary extracts from that trip.


The Preparation

Having read a lengthy checklist and bought all the technical ultra warm, waterproof clothing needed for Antarctica I figured that it would be good to ‘test it out’ so in a moment of madness headed off to Waitrose and asked if I could stand in their freezer in my lunch hour to see how cold I might get……

Surprisingly, they readily agreed, so I stood in that freezer for an hour in my balaclava, three pairs of leggings, etc. unfortunately they had forgotten to warn all members of staff that I was in there and a young lad aged about 17 walked in with a tray of yoghurts and stopped short when he saw me.

“Its ok” I said, “I’m just standing here” with that he dropped his tray of yoghurts and ran out of the freezer, I can’t say I blame him, I would most likely have reacted in exactly the same way.

I did some physical training and strengthened up my fitness by doing daily steep hill walks with a rucksack filled up with bags of granulated sugar as well as joining a gym.

I also got a cheap last-minute flight out to the Italian Alps in Cuneo to practice walking through very deep snow drifts and did some steep snow drift walking some of it waist height. It proved to be very good practice indeed as if you suddenly drop to waist height in the snow you must learn to dig yourself out of it, I found that this could sometimes be done by step kicking into the snow if it was not too compressed.

Me climbing up a frozen avalanche

In February 2010 I flew from London to Buenos Aires (18 hours) then got across to another airport to get a domestic flight out to Ushuaia (5 hours)

Buenos Aires airport customs was frustrating as it was endless queues and took almost three hours to get through. An Australian, two French guys and myself made a run for it under the barrier as our queue wasn’t moving, two of them made it but two of us got sent back. I was of course in the latter, my impatient streak often gets me into trouble and we got shouted at by an angry Argentinean officer.

It was a five-hour flight to Ushuaia with an hour fuel change on the way at El Calafe, Argentina, approaching Ushuaia was fantastic, looking through the small window I could see the snow-capped mountains and Beagle channel glistening framed by blue, orange and red with a yellow crest streaking through it.

I was very tired after the flights and got a taxi across Ushuaia to where I would be staying for two nights to acclimatize and get over the jet lag. The drive across there was just beautiful and I felt compelled to stay awake in order to enjoy the views of mountains lit up by the huge bright moon that loomed above them.

I spent a couple of days alone in Ushuaia and went to the Martial Glacier where I did some steep walking up the mountain for further practice, the views from up there were beautiful.

I wanted to get across to an island where there are two large colonies of penguins, only 13 people are allowed access to the island and the boat goes just twice a day, it is a good thing that it is controlled in this way to keep the disturbance down to a minimum.

The island is known as Yecapasela Reserve often referred to as Martillo Island and is the only place where you can literally ‘walk with the penguins’ .

Approaching the island was exciting seeing so many penguins like miniature standing stones, it all looked a little surreal.

There were two colonies; one huge colony of Magellanins (Spheniscus magellanicus) these penguins are thriving – their numbers are increasing every year and are currently at around 40,000 plus a tiny colony of Gentoo Penguins (Pygoscelis papua) there are only 20 couples but also on the increase thanks to conservation programs.

These penguins do not seem to mix as they stay on different sides of the small island strip, which is dotted with opportunistic Skua birds ready to take advantage of any weak chicks.

It was a very special place and I shall never forget the sound of them as well as the sight of hundreds and hundreds of them standing there.

Some of them would waddle rapidly into the sea and jump into the waves as they came to shore, they moved like small torpedos.

Megallanic Penguin Colony, Patagonia 2010 by A.K.

After a couple of days exploring the area and getting my bearings back I met up with two complete strangers; Rudy from Belgium and Peter from Australia, who I was going to trek and camp around Patagonia with.

These two guys were serious trekkers who seemed to run on relentless energy levels, but we would always reward ourselves for example after an 11 hour trek we would sit and have a beer, I really began to look forward to that as it became almost like a goal to strive for each day.

We flew to El Calafate in Argentina for two full day hikes to Mount Fitzroy and Laguna de Les Tres and Laguna Torres (El Chalten) where we went camping and hiking up mountainous terrain, by the side of Mount Fitzroy. This was stunningly beautiful and my favourite part of Patagonia.

We stayed in a wooden inn and added nuts, chocolate and bananas to our packs before heading out through the village with Fernando a local mountain guide.

The sky was clear blue and the mountains shone from the sun in the background. We passed two large triangular houses before heading up a grassy mound that got steeper and s steeper as we went.

At the top of this we followed a natural path along for a while before coming to mossy steppes that we climbed up and up and up into woods. There were many dead trees killed off by the constant strong winds and also a fungus that can attachitself to the trees and smother them.

Our first view of Fitzroy, Patagonia 2010 by A.K.

Here is an extract of my diary from that day:

We walked on through the cool woods, breeze rustling through the trees, it was a long but  refreshing walk where we could collect water to drink straight from the streams we passed. I really enjoyed the shadowy twisted silhouettes of the trees after some hours we eventually came to a clearing with the most spectacular view of mount Fitzroy.

We stopped for another water break and ate some nuts, chocolate and dried fruit before moving on through a heavily wooded area towards Fitzroy, we passed two climbers on their way back from Fitzroy who were clearly in a heady celebration of making the summit, yet at the same time they looked totally shattered.

The two climbers

The sound of the breeze whistling through the trees was almost musical, it was a truly magical place. Eventually we came out of the woods and the terrain changed dramatically into drier, loose shale and we walked over rocky paths across streams over planks and rope bridges, it seemed much harsher suddenly, I much preferred the comfort of the woods.
We then came to the start of a very rocky trail, small and large rocks with finer shale underfoot, the trail was steep and long.

Up, up we went, the backs of my legs ached with the angle and muscle strain. I wished I had not brought the entire contents of my camera equipment as my backpack cut into my shoulders making them ache.

My face was by now peeling quite a bit from the wind of the last two days and two cuts formed underneath my nose, which bled attractively at intervals throughout the day. The cuts got very sore and did not seem to heal.

After a couple of hours steadily climbing up this steep climb the terrain got worse as it went into a much steeper, narrow path that was almost vertical, you had to virtually crawl and haul yourself up this track. I kept slipping as my heavy camera equipment was pulling me back and it became a fight against gravity and the loose shale that constantly moved underfoot.

After some time, I started to feel unwell and ill at ease, I looked ahead of me and watched as Fernando led Rudy followed by Peter up towards the summit then down so that they could see a lagoon beneath Fitzroy.

I felt as though someone was behind me and looking back saw a typical ‘climber’ dressed in black not more than a meter away from me, his young face looking past me towards the summit. I spoke to him saying “okay mate, you’re alright to get by’ as I flattened my back again the rock to allow him to pass me on the narrow path. Nothing happened. I waited. When I looked again he had gone, but there was no where he could have gone, I could clearly see the path beneath me. I looked up at the boys ahead of me then back down and shockingly again looked into the face of the ‘climber’ same person, he was there, I looked straight at him. Pete broke my stare as he shouted down to me asking what I was looking at, I shouted back that a climber was trying to get past me, but after a pause Pete said very loudly and clearly Amanda, there’s no one there.

Shivers went down my spine as I looked at Pete then again behind me and of course he was right, there was nothing there. Yet I had SEEN this person, he had been there, twice. What was he? I have to question what it was that I saw, a figment of my imagination? A ghost? I will never know, but to this day I know I saw him, whatever he was.

I was slipping an awful lot now and decided that although very near the top I did not want to go on, I shouted up to the guys that I would stay where I was and wait for them, I kicked myself a ‘seat’ into the icy shale and sat down so as not to keep on slipping. The boys went on, Fernando was as good as gold seeing the boys to the top then coming back for me, he thought I may be feeling dizzy from not enough food for such a steep climb, we started a slow descent down where I immediately started to feel better. For the first hour we did not speak and held hands over the tricky parts as the shale was so loose and we both slipped a great deal, however we eventually got over the tricky part and knowing that we had a long way to go to get to the camp base by the woods started chatting. We talked and told each other stories to pass the descent and laughed out loud together at the stories we shared, it was a great feeling and the further down we got the better my head got.

Once back at the climbers campsite we rested and waited for Rudy and Pete who appeared not long afterwards, it was lovely to be re-united with them even though I had not been separated from them for very long. They both told me that they had also ‘hit a wall’ up there and struggled to get past it, this made me feel better about my weakness on that point.

Fernando also later told me that 90% of accidents had happened at the exact spot where I saw my ‘climber’ which made me think, he said he would not be surprised if I had seen the spirit of a climber who had passed on.

After a rest we began the long trek back, we passed the two climbers that we had seen returning safely from Fitzroy, they looked happy as they rested in the warming sun rays

We still had a few hours of trekking ahead of us to get back, however the terrain was much better, back through the woods, over rocks and streams, the trail was up and down and twisty like a roller coaster. I was much happier being off the mountain and even though my legs now ached a great deal, the route back was enjoyable, up and down through more woods and over roots then eventually down grass bank steppes that seemed to go on forever until we finally reached the road to the village.

Fernando the mountain guide led us to a little inn where the boys had local beers and I had a glass of ice-cold white wine, it was the best wine I have ever tasted.

We sat and shared stories, followed by hot chocolate.

As we talked through the day, Den told me that as I had only eaten Rice crackers and two bananas therefore I had only had 10% of the fuel needed for the tough 11 hour trek especially carrying my camera gear, so she thought that may have caused me to feel unwell on the mountain, though I definitely saw that climber; I know he was there.

We had a day of ice trekking where we were given a quick lesson on how to lean back to walk down slopes otherwise you would fall forward. As we got nearer to the glacier we were told to put on the ice boots and given crampons to put over them, the ice guides were playing with their axes in the ice while we got ready. We were a group of about 10 people, Pete and Rudy went off to do their climb and I stayed with the group for the ice trek.

We were taught how to walk over the ice in the crampons, to get down a steep drop was tricky, keeping your feet apart you always lean far back otherwise you would fall forward down into the ice.

The ice constantly creaked beneath you, which could be a bit disconcerting when you saw crevices everywhere and knew there must be many more hidden waiting to reveal themselves with one wrong step. You kept your feet apart so that the crampons would not catch and trip you up. We were instructed that if a crevasse should form beneath us to simply try to run in any direction as that is the best chance you have of escaping the fall.

I was a little uneasy about some of the trek as we had to go across some very tricky ice, the sky blue ice was rock hard in places so to get across you have to really kick your crampons in to make them stick, otherwise you just go over.

We hiked across hills and dips, then had to hold hands to get across a difficult section where the ice had formed into a high triangle, so hiking over the top ridge of that with a drop either side of you. We held hands and edged across sideways.

On the Ice Trek, Patagonia 2010 by A.K.

The day was perfect for this trek, blue sky above which made the ice and snow look beautiful, there were some interesting formations to see and pass through.

A beautiful day for an ice trek, Patagonia 2010 by A.K.

We continued trekking, again holding hands in certain areas where there were steep drops or the ice was particularly tricky, eventually we came to a narrow but wide opening to a cave. On entering the cave it became a magical vast grotto with deep blue ice, looking up you could see the light streaming through the blue ice and there was a very large lake with waterfalls, it was stunning and totally surreal.

There is another cave, however we were told that it had recently collapsed, this was not very reassuring being told this whilst standing under tons of blue ice with little means of quick escape.

The small group of us explored the cave in different directions clambering over slippery rocks and shards of slippery ice. The ice guides took out their axes and cut some ice from within the cave, smashed up the ice and then produced glasses and Bailey’s for us all to drink, a very welcome surprise.

Below are some shots of the cave entrance and inside, it is quite spectacular:

After leaving the cave, we had just a short distance to cover out of the glacier field towards the water, the remainder of the trek was then over rocks, these were very slippery and tricky to climb over, as bad as the ice in places, however the rocks were beautiful colours of red, orange, yellow and browns.

Torres del Paine

We travelled 11 hours by bus South across the border into Chile to Torres del Paine which is an area I was particularly interested in, as Simon Yates from Touching the Void has famously climbed here and I read his book about it. We had three days here camping and trekking.

Here is a little about my Torres Del Paine experiences from my diary that day:

I got up at 06:30am and got a bus to Torres Del Paine, this was a very long journey so we stopped on the way at an old wooden shop that sold books of old explorers and natural history of the area. I could have stayed here for hours, the shop had little fire stoves going inside it for warmth, something I have not seen before and which would light the books up in a flash if a spark jumped out.

Continuing on the journey we came across a sign that said: Dangerous Bridge, Unsafe and Unstable Please let passengers out of vehicle before crossing.

This made me a little uneasy as the driver proceeded to cross it without a word and with us still on it, even though there were only 5 of us. With my window open I heard the uneven wooden slats groaning under the obvious strain of our vehicle and clenched my fists. No one spoke and I think even the driver was relieved to get to the other side, the area was beautiful with fields, mountains and lagoons. We saw Guanacos, two grey foxes and then a Llama standing in front of a mountain, a perfect photographic shot.

We finally arrived at Torres Del Paine National Park with the awe-inspiring view of the pink granite towers that change colour according to the time of day and weather.

We left our camping gear, sleeping bag, etc. and took our water, some dried fruit and cameras then set off for the long trek to the towers.

The walk to the towers was a very long and steep uphill trek on loose shale, again my worst enemy, this stuff is a nightmare to walk on as I kept slipping down all the time.

Although I was with Pete, Rudy and Den (another guide), I hung back and did the majority of the hike alone as they tended to move at a constant fast pace and I really wanted to photograph the area and any wildlife I came across, so for me it was better to go at my own speed.

I told the others to go on, the path was an obvious trail, I would follow it at my own pace. There was a fantastic walk over a rope bridge with a rapid river running beneath it and turquoise lagoons in the distance edged with stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

I had some of my packed lunch on a mountainside and sat in some springy moss and heather. The others were long gone, so I decided after photographing some native butterflies that I had better get a move on to reach the towers, it was also getting very windy, something that this area is renowned for.

The path got steeper and steeper, sometimes huge fallen boulders would block your way so you would have to climb over them or squeeze round them. I saw a couple of Gauchos with their horses going back down, they flew like the wind down the mountainside and I was amazed that the horses did not slip and plunge down the mountainside on the shale.

The wind seemed to be whipping up even more which continued to make my face bleed (now very sore) and twice blew me down into the path edge. I passed a couple of people coming back down, both of whom warned me to turn back as the next bit was too tricky and the winds were too high. Being somewhat curious and stubborn I wanted to go just a bit further to see what was over the top of the trail I had spent so long climbing.

On reaching the top I soon realised they were right not to cross it, I tried. The crossing was a long, very narrow shale track on the very edge of the mountain with a sheer drop directly beneath. The wind whipped across it in gusts which threatened to blow you straight off the mountainside, the trick was to time it and run across between a strong gust, however this was very risky as the strong gusts were every few seconds. It was like playing Russian Roulette and could easily become a death sentence.

I had stupidly attempted it though and got a quarter of the way across, however the strong wind had me pinned to a tree root and I hung on for what seemed like an eternity before I could time it between wind gusts and let go to make the dash back across. I clung to the roots and rocks to get myself back across, the wind really hurt my face as it was so strong and made the cuts under my nose bleed again. I was very frightened as the sheer drop below me loomed and the wind blew across that way, it took me over 20 minutes to get back across the short distance, it would have been a death sentence to attempt to go any further. I worried about Den, Rudy and Pete on the other side, had the wind been this bad when that had crossed and would they be okay coming back.

It was such a relief to get back across, those people had been right to warn me not to do it, so on my way down I warned two others whom I passed by not to attempt it, but like me, they went on to look anyway, I spoke to some of them as they came back down while I was photographing bugs and they had not managed to cross it either.

Mountain trek, Patagonia 2010 by A.K.

The descent was still very tricky as the strong wind got you on the shale and it was difficult to stay upright, I was blown over many times and swore a great deal.

After what seemed like an age of trekking down this tricky path I came to a bubbling river and found a rock to sit on and rest, I ate an apple and got burned in the hot sun.

Very few people came past, I must have seen 3 people in two hours, I guessed that the wind must have put them off, though down here it seemed much calmer.

I walked on back over the rope bridge and came to an open fielded area with woods on the edge and a huge pig sty. Here I was welcomed by a most spectacular sight of some golden birds of prey, Chimango Cara Caras and Condors soaring gracefully above me with the sun shining through their feathers. This was very near to our camping area, I presume the pigs were kept there as food for the campers/climbers and that the birds were being opportunistic in hanging around the area and swiping food from the pigs.

I was right, they were and watched as the huge birds swooped into the sty and picked up morsels of food taking them off to the nearby nests. The pigs squealed, objecting loudly, however the birds seemed totally oblivious to this.

I stayed for around two hours then made my way back to the camp site, I got my tent and sleeping bag sorted out, set up my alarm clock and head torch then made my way to the camp with a wooden communal pub and was delighted when Rudy, Den and Pete walked in and we swapped stories about our day, luckily for them by the time they crossed back over the wind had calmed down again. I had been so worried for them.

We later crossed over a dried out river bed of large rocks and walked planks to get across to the campsite where our tents were as the towers changed colour in the distance from pink to gold to brown then a dark grey, it got dark quickly. We used our head torches and scrambled into our tents, my sleeping bag was warm, which was a comfort; it gets very chilly at night here as the clouds disappear leaving behind a cold night sky.

Saturday 27th February Chile, French Valley Trek

I wriggled out of my tent at 06:30am and joined the others for a communal camp site breakfast, it was simple but filling, the people at camp were weathered generally good-looking men between 20s to 30s, all of whom I imagine are climbers passing through the camp site on a new quest.

Today we were to leave this campsite for another, so we packed up after breakfast as quickly as we could and loaded our gear onto the mini bus, then went back over the rickety, wooden slatted, ‘cant believe it’s still standig bridge, again we all stayed quiet over this area.

Then we caught a catamaran over a beautiful still lake to a new camping area. I liked this site much better, although the previous one had tremendous views of the towers.

Today was undoubtably my favourite day of Patagonia, where Den, Rudy, Pete and I trekked the Chilean French Valley. This was only a 6 hour hike which started off on a mountainside, then through woods and over streams, the area was stunning and we filled our water bottles straight from the waterfalls. Through rustling Beech Forests and round lagoons we went, over rocks and sand, there were countless dragonflies (surprising this far South) and Patagonian Berries mini apples that you can eat.

I ran on and caught up with the others as I was determined to keep up with them today even if I was still stopping quickly to take pictures at every opportunity ( I really must get out of that habit when trekking, this is hard though when the scenery is so good).

We reached a large wooded area, it was hushed with the only sound being the wind rustling through the beech trees. There were lots of dead trees from the fungus and wind conditions and this left its mark of a twisty, eerie area dotted with bright yellow and orange tents for the climbers who resided here.

A final scramble up some rocks with the woods edged on the right we finally came to the view-point of the ‘French valley’ a stunning panoramic view of the mountains.

An extremely loud booming rumble sound filled the area and we watched in fascination as an avalanche unfolded right in front of us, the sound was far more impressive than the scene as it just seemed to explode.

Later, Den, Rudy, Pete and I sat on the large oddly formed rocks and ate our packed lunches as small rats scurried about beneath our feet, I tried to photograph the rats but they were too quick.

Den and Rudy decided to hike on to the next point, however I wanted to trek back at a more relaxed pace and photograph anything of interest and Pete decided to join me.

This was brilliant, there were hundreds of Dragonflies, we stopped to fill our bottles at the same little waterfall we had found on the way, the water was ice-cold and fresh.

Although the day was warm, it was still very windy and once again, as the day went on, the wind whipped up and we saw huge sprays whipping across the large turquoise lagoon. These became like mini tornadoes and were very impressive to watch. My face stung still with the cuts that seemed to bleed constantly, although I had smeared vaseline onto them, it did little to help, in the end I wrapped a scarf round as protection from the stinging winds.

At the main lagoon, could feel the wind really picking up and watched the huge sprays whipping across the water, some straight and some circular formations.

Wind whipping up the water day of the earth quake, Chile, Patagonia 2010 by A.K.

As we moved further down the cliff edge back toward camp, we noticed a helicopter being blown around in the wind like a toy, it had no control whatsoever and was really struggling to stay up or to land. We watched in horror as it was blown about crazily.

Eventually we had to move on.

As the wind suddenly got much worse we decided that we must move quickly and get back to the campsite, on the way it did get difficult and I was blown into the side of the cliffs, I banged my arm quite badly as it hit the funny bone on my elbow and made me feel a little sick.

Pete had been good to walk with, we moved at the same pace and talked of our individual adventures, I was glad of his company on that trek back.

I swore a lot on the way back down the cliff face as again I was getting blown into the side, it was so difficult to move in these conditions, at certain times if you attempted to move forward you simply were stuck to the spot, the wind would simply not allow it.

Pete and I eventually got back to camp after passing views of more turquoise lagoons and twisted windswept trees on the way back down. We headed for the little campsite bar and I ordered a bottle of wine for us to share after our trek, we notice that other people in the bar suddenly all rushed forward and were talking in hushed tones. Although it was in Spanish we worked out that there had been a very serious earth quake in Chile, further up from us in the city, many people had died. It was awful to see and a hush filled the campsite, people just fell silent and walked away, it was very sad and an odd atmosphere hung over the camp. We were lucky that we had been up in the mountains, though I wondered about the avalanche we had witnessed and the helicopter.

Through the large windows we spotted Rudy and Den hurrying along the track towards us at the bar, we were happy to see them safe and shared the wine with them.

Had a terrible night from lack of sleep, my arm ached where I had been blown into the cliff face and it was extremely windy and rainy, my tent felt as though it would take off into the night.

It did not thankfully.

We continued travelling across Patagonia and visited a spectacular though touristic place that you just have to go to if you go to Patagonia and that is the Moreno Glacier.

The impact of the ice fall, Moreno Glacier, Patagonia, 2010 by A.K.

Here is a short extract from my diary on this part of the trip:

Wednesday 24th February El Calafate and the Moreno Glacier

We were all very tired and arrived at the Hotel Telhuelde at around 01:00am, I checked into my room and washed all my underwear, using the hairdryer to dry them. Unfortunately though it started to smell of burning and black smoke billowed out of the vent on the hairdryer, so I quickly unplugged it.

The next morning I got up and found my legs to be very stiff and painful from all the trekking we had been doing, the muscles ached so badly that I took painkillers for them, something I would rarely do. I met Peter and Rudy at breakfast and we took a two-hour bus journey to the Moreno Glacier, spotting a large Hare on the way.

The muscles in my legs seemed to keep ‘locking’ and made it difficult getting on and off the bus, it was ridiculous, however Pete and Rudy were clearly having the same problem as I was, which made me feel better. They also took pain killers to try to ease the muscles.

We arrived at the Glacier and some of us took a catamaran over to the very base of the Glacier, this put it into perspective of how huge the thing really was, it looked like a gigantic blue meringue that creaked and cracked. Every now and then huge pieces of ice would fall off into the sea, the sound was like very loud thunder cracking and rumbling.

Once back on land we climbed 90 steps up and up to get a bird’s eye view of the glacier, Pete and I walked up together and worked out that wherever the sun settled on the ice that was the most likely area for it to fall as the sun warmed it up.

It was a little too touristy at the view points, which was a shame as listening to the ice was so interesting, hearing lots of tourists talking to each other was not so inspiring.

Pete had a feeling that a particular piece of ice was going to fall, so we both focused our cameras on it. Within seconds of doing so we were rewarded with a huge triangular piece of ice falling straight down in one sheet crashing into the water below, making a momentous splash and causing a wave that continued to travel for around 20 minutes. It was impressive to say the least.

We were so pleased with ourselves for capturing this on camera, positively gleeful.

After about an hour of watching the glacier we headed back to rest up, I bathed my legs which ached so badly still and got my pack ready for the next day, grateful that this one had not been too strenuous unlike our other days which were proper trek days, this really was just a touristy day out.

We had some really good times in Patagonia these two strangers and me and the guide and I look back at it with fondness and memories of dramatic scenery with steep climbs and long treks, but oh so special.

Here is the last bit of diary for Patagonia, I have only included a few odd days here and there as there is too much of it….

March 2010 – The long journey back to Ushuaia

Today was to be the 13 hour journey back to Ushuaia by bus, then Catamaran, followed by another bus ride then to change to a bus. The journey was surprisingly pleasant as I had a window seat on each bus so spent all my time scouring through the windows for any wildlife, although at times it was frustrating seeing a grey fox or an ostrich that we passed too quickly for me to photograph.

On the Catamaran Den and I had a chat on the top deck and it was nice to get some air, we spotted two black and white hourglass Dolphins jumping in the sea.

Afterwards we waited for another bus at a garage and I fed some stray dogs.

The last stages of the journey showed dramatic scenery with hundreds of dead trees twisted into strange positions from the high winds.

We finally arrived back in Ushuaia, it had been a long day, the four of us hailed taxis and laughed as a local police car came by with a siren that sounded like it should have been on a toy. 

We had a good meal that night and a shower!!! It is always good to have a shower after you have been camping and roughing it a little, it is often the little things that we appreciate the most, yet take for granted on a day-to-day basis.

The next day I spent bagging up my equipment ready for the crossing to the Antarctic, I felt excited about it yet also had a feeling of nausea that I could not shake off and felt sick all of the day and evening.

I packed all of my stuff up ready and wandered down to Ushuaia to see a demonstration which I photographed on more resources for the local schools and I also photographed graffiti, which I tend to do in every place I visit.

The demonstration at Ushuaia, 2010 by A.K.

Thanks for reading this piece, this adventure continues in Antarctica 🙂
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