A Travellerspoint blog

February 2012

Argentina - Ushuaia

8 °C

What a contrast Ushuaia is to the rest of Argentina! Cutting over the Chilean border twice to reach Ushuaia by land, the marathon 12hr bus ride finished by swinging through the windy roads at night and pulling into a town that sits as the gateway to Antarctica. Ushuaia really had a ski village feel to it, and we were there in summer! Although there was no snow on the ground it was frequently snowing amoungst bursts of sunshine.

Ushuaia sits above the Beagle Channel, populated with many colourful buildings there are great views from most corners of the hilly town. The warmth of our ski-lodge style hostel, Freestlye, was a comfort to us, as well as the brown bread (yay!) and eggs they supplied for breakfast. Day trips included a walk up to the San Martel glacier in town, not a great glacier but the walk and views were great. Our boat trip on the Beagle Channel was fantastic, magical views of the surrounding snow-capped mountains, sealions and penguins.

Two days camping in the Tierra Del Fuego National Park bordering Ushuaia was a highlight, although bitterly cold it felt like we had walked into a scene off The Lord of The Rings! Beautiful moss covered trees and pristine lakes. The view from Mt Guanaco was breath taking but the 4 hour climb up in itself was a mission!

We had our first experience of couch surfing for the next 3 days which was a nice taste of a locals way of life and a welcome break from hostels.


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Argentina - Rio Gallegos

14 °C

Rio Gallegos was a mandatory stopover for us, and most people heading down this route, unless you are willing to connect an overnight bus with another 12hr day bus. Being the middle of February we were visiting the town in the height of summer, which included bitterly cold winds, grey bleak skies and the star attraction...the new brid watching centre!

A big change from the warmth we just left behind. 24 hours is plenty long enough to experience the joys of this bleak fishing town which lives in eternal winter!


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Argentina - Puerto Madryn

29 °C

As our night bus swung around the first few corners we had encountered all night, travelling down the straight route 3 in eastern Argentina, we knew we must be getting close to civilisation again. The sun was just climing up and in complete contrast to the dry desert landscape which we had been surrounded by for the last 12 hours, there was a town lining a glimpse of ocean.

Walking to our hostel (yes our one bit of training for upcoming national parks!) we saw a car fly by and on a second look realised that there was a dog standing on the roof surfing along! Hi Patagonia Hostel prepared us fully for all the tourist options in the area, and we opted to hire a car with some other tourists to see the nearby sights to have a bit more independance and save some Pesos.

We visited Peninsula Valdes, a full day excursion, where we patiently waited to see a glimpse of a killer whale, but it was not our day. However there was plenty of other wildlife as the shores were lined with seals and sea lions with their pups.

Punta Ninfas was another big drive on a search for some Sea Elephants (hiding in the water!) where we were told not to leave the car unoccupied, otherwise it would most likely be missing a wheel or more when we returned! Despite the lack of wildlife there was a gorgeous view of the sea and coastline.

Our visit to the new penguin reserve in Punta Tombo was a definite highlight. We saw thousands of penguins in their natural habitat, and as they kept crossing the path we really had to be on the lookout to avoid stepping on one! We also swung though the Welsh town of Gaiman, founded by the welsh settlers who migrated to Argentina.

We clocked up about 1200kms over 3 days, most of this on gravel roads, so it was a sigh of relief to return the car in one piece!

The town itself had more than we expected for what seemed like an isolated community, including the usual Argentinian chains and Paniderias where Paul was pleased to find the biggest pancho ever! We had a tasty Parilla (Argentinian BBQ) with our great hostel on our last night before jumping on another overnight bus heading further south...


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Argentina - Mar Del Plata

28 °C

We arrived in Mar De Plata to find half of Buenos Aires laid out on the beach with their multi-coloured umbrellas and g-string bikinis!

It is a nice place for a beach holiday with many restaurants selling the infamous Argentina pizza, and licuados stands lining the beach. One of the highlights was our hostel, Che Legarto, which was more like a hotel, crisp white bed sheets, private bathrooms and great breakfast!

We took a bus along the coast which was well worth it to get to a much quiter beach where we could actually see the sand! Apart from being completely windswept by the strong winds, which are part and parcle of Mar Del Plata, we had a great walk back into the centre along the beach and rockpools.

The city and building were nicely lit up at night around the main square, perfect for a romantic stroll! We had a couple of nights stopover here before heading to southern Argentina.


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Argentina - Gualeguaychu

29 °C
View North & South America on TheNomadWay.com's travel map.

Carnival time! We didn't know what to expect, this place is meant to be quiet all year then go crazy for carnival.

The hostel was nice enough, all locals apart from one or two and we found out pretty quick that the reputation was right. The dorms were full of people sleeping at 3 in the afternoon.

The town is set on a river, with the central area being quiet, but when we got to the river, it was crazy. Masses of people, pumping music, dancing, temporary pools, people swimming - huge beach feel, good times.

Carnival was great, hardly any tourists, huge elaborate floats...started at 11pm and finished up at 4am. Its then completely the norm to then go out till 9am...

Sensational weekend...next up our first night bus back through Buenos Aires to Mar Del Plata.


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Uruguay - Mercedes

28 °C

We were chatting to a local in Montevideo who was from Mercedes who asked us, why are you going there??

Partly because it sounded good and also because it was conveniently right next to Gualeguaychu (our next stop to check out Carnival, Argentinian style). I don't think there was a hostel but we found a guesthouse in the town centre. It was hot, the fan was screaming loud and it seemed like it was about to fly off the roof and slice us but it was a bargain and run by a super old lady.

It was a nice town to see, relaxed, no tourists, a river/beach where everyone seemed to hang out, play soccer, ride their motorbike and drink mate. We went to check out some ruins, saw a dinosour museum and ate a monster Chivito (steak, bacon, eggs, cheese, olives, veg and chips).

A nice place to chill out, next up back across to Argentina...


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