W Trail

I just spent the past 6 days in Southern Chile, where a friend and I completed the famous W trail in the Torres del Paine National Park. It was one of the most beautiful and strenuous hiking trips I have ever done, and HIGHLY recommend it to anyone who loves the outdoors and a good challenge!

I wish I could say that at the times of utter exhaustion, something inspiring and poetic comes to mind to keep me going (bible verse, song), but the only thing that pops into my head is the fiery red, slobbering face of Danny Jones (my old track coach) screaming “RUUNNNNNNN through the painnnnnn DAMNIT!!!!!!” To each their own right? Along with that, and my trusty IPod, I just barely made it through the days. But it was all ohhh so worth it!

Day one, we hiked out to Glacier Grey. It was surrounded by giant jagged mountains and winds so strong they actually knocked us off our feet!

These pretty flowers were scattered all along the trails!

Day one ended up being 8 hours of hiking! Little did we know it would be our shortest day, but it was so rewarding to arrive at the camp and be greeted with this view!

And this!

Our longest day ended up being almost 12 hours of hiking! The landscape was so beautiful and diverse however, quickly changing from this...

to this...

TO THIS!

Avalanche!!!!!

This is where our day ended! Perfect place for a camp site.

The famous towers (or torres) that the park is named after.

The W Trail definitely took its toll on the two of us. We lost hats in the wind, got some serious blisters, and even had the soles fall off two pairs of hiking boots! Official talley at the end of the trip?

Torres del Paine 2, Eleanor and Ariel 0.

Tranquilo

¨Im going to freaking kill you guys!!!! This is not traquilo!!!!!¨ These are the words  I was screaming over and over again, at the top of my lungs a few days ago while  dangling helplessly from a rope hundreds of feet from the ground.

I guess I should start from the beginning. It all began the night before… I had decided to kill a few days in Bariloche before meeting up with my friend in Southern Chile for a camping trip and was having a blast hiking around the area and enjoying summer in the mountians. On my second to last night, bunch of us from the hostel were talking about our plans for the next day and a couple of German guys invited me to go on a hike with them. I had nothing better to do, and they assured me it would be tranquilo, so I agreed. I dont know what your idea of a tranquil hike is, but this is definitely not what I had in mind…

I was too terrified to get a better picture while we were actually climbing, but look at that view!!! So worth it!

Happiest moment of my life when we reached the top!

All in all the ¨hike¨ turned out to be 9 hours and so exhausting! However, in the end, I ended up seeing some of the most beautiful scenery yet, and can now officially say that I got the total Bariloche experience. And while I would have obviously prefered to have known what I was getting myself into, now that its all over, part of me is happy that I didnt because there is no way in hell I would have gone. Tranquilo? pshhh I think not…

Bolivia Continued…

Cute little lady by day, wrestler by night. Yes you read right, come Sunday night these not so little women turn into WWF style wrestlers called Cholitas! We unfortunately werent able to make it to a match, but the mental image was enough to make me laugh.

Disgusting llama fetus in the witches market! I tried to ask what they were used for, but the lady just shrugged and said they were the ones that didnt make it, no freaking nasty.

After La Paz we took a bus to the small town of Copacababa right on the shore of Lake Titicaca!

We werent in Copacabana long. The next day we took a miserable boat ride (a third of the boat was puking over the side!) to isla del sol, the birthplace of the Incans! We stayed on the less touristy, North Side of the Island which was rustic but beautiful!

Farm animals such as sheep, llamas and pigs were running all over the Island! This cute little pig thought he was one of the campers!

Once we rested for a bit, we went on a sunset hike to some ruins at the Northern tip of the Island.

The island is known for its beautiful sunsets, but we were a little unlucky with the weather. The views however, were all still worth the trek!

The next day we were off again to Puno, Peru. Still on the shore of Lake Titicaca, but now a different country. Puno was nothing worth mentioning, but we did do a day trip out the the floating island of Uros. These men and women live out in the middle of the lake on a island constructed solely of reeds! These women spend their entire lives with the one purpose, perfecting their weaving skills. Dont let them fool you though, the lady that trapped Michael and I in her reed hut was one hell of a saleswoman! Michael and I were both suckered into buying things... supporting the local communities right?

Michael, Eleanor and I all parted ways in Puno. We had such a great trip and all happened to be great travel partners! I am now back in BA for a few days resting, then am off to my next stop of Southern Chile, to the Torres del Paine Parque Nacional where I will meet a friend for a camping trip and hopefully figure out what comes next!

South America at its Finest

Disorganized, cheap, caotic and ohhhhh so wonderful. This is the best way I can describe our past week expoloring the country of Bolivia. While Bolivia has not exactly been very good to us (stomach problems, 16,000 ft  of altitude, and not the nicest people ive ever met) we sure have loved it! We were all so cracked out on the altitude, especially myself who just so happens to be allergic to high altitude meds, go figure; But Id say we still managed to do everything we orginally planed on and then some.

We started our journey in La Paz, the highest capital city in the world! We took it easy the first day, exploring the city, then the next day we were up bright and early for an all day bike trip down Death Road (the most dangerous in the world apparently). Other than nearly eating pavement a few times, the scenery was unbelivable and we all made it down with no harm done, pheww!

In all of our gear right before starting!

Not the best photos, was a way more focused on the road than my camera

These giant drop offs and the fact that its a single lane road shared with buses, cars, etc make it the most dangerous road in the world... Notice no guard rails!

Fortunately, everything in Bolivia is so last minute, we were able to wing the entire trip. After spending a few days in La Paz we caught a boat out to Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world! It was beautiful and such a blast. I have so much to say about it all and a ton of pictures, however, Im running low on time and I am using a crazy slow computer, so the rest will have to come in a few days when I am back in BA safe and sound! Un Beso Grande!!!

Patagonia

We just finished our 4 day whirlwind tour of Patagonia and it was truly unbelievable. I am now back in BA for the next 4 hours. It feels good to be back, however it’s not for long! Tonight I say goodbye to mom and dad, then my brother and I are off to the bus station to catch an overnight bus to Mendoza (Wine Country!). I can’t wait for the next part of the trip, but also couldn’t be happier for the 14 hours I have to just sit and sleep on the bus!

Our main base was El Calafate, but one day we drove to the small town of Chalten to see the famous Fitz Roy peak!!

We took a great hike to this view point! It was windy and exhausting, but definitely worth it.

YAK!

Another day we took a day trip out to the Perito Moreno Glacier. It sounded like thunder and lightning was striking all around when the ice would break off.

The blue color was so beautiful. You can see the scale of the glacier with the house!

We were even able to go trekking on the ice using crampons! There were little pools and waterfalls all over the glacier that were so amazing, I couldn't believe the bright blue color!

The past few weeks traveling with my parents have been such a blast. We managed to cover almost all there is to see and do around Argentina in the short time of 2 weeks and I am officially exhausted! It’s now time to say goodbye to nice hotels and good food, and back to the hostels! I can’t complain though, there are always new people to meet, places to see, and we still have a lot of adventures ahead of us. My brother and I, along with a few other friends along the way, are now off on another two week, jam packed trip through Northern Argentina and Bolivia. Hopefully we wont kill each other along the way, Michael has to be nice to me, or else he will be left in Bolivia without his trusty translator (Muahaha)! We have a few obstacles ahead, including a visit to the highest capital city in the world, La Paz, at 12,000 ft! But I think we will survive and hopefully come out of it with some good stories and memories.

Feliz Nuevo Año!

In the past 5 days I have spent new years on the top of a mountain in Santiago, Chile, taken a road trip through the oldest National Park in Puerto Varas, crossed from Chile back into Argentina by boat, hiked and picnicked in Bariloche, and traveled farther down South to the beautiful and desolate region of Patagonia. I didn’t think it was still possible for my 50 year old parents to wear me out, but they have most definitely proven me wrong. I am so exhausted right now I can barely keep my eyes open, however knowing that in 30 minutes we will be heading down to Glaciers National Park, has given me another much needed burst of energy.

Beautiful beach in Viña del Mar, a "mini Miami" just 2 hours West of Santiago!

Look familiar? The Chilean flag is so similar to the Texas flag!

View of Santiago by day...

...and by night

New Years!

A ton of families came up and set up tables for dinner and to watch fireworks! Such a good spot for new years, would have been a blast with a ton of friends!

Since we didn't come prepared to spend new years on the Mountain, we decided to come back into town and join in the crazy street party and watch fireworks.

Beach in the town of Frutillar, a small town outside of Puerto Varas, Chile. You can see the Osorno volcano in the background

Part of the boat crossing from Chile to Argentina

Picnic at my secret spot in Bariloche! My mom wasn't too thrilled about the rock cliff I made her climb to get there, but in the end it was worth it!

The past few days have been non stop adventure and fun, and getting to show my family around Bariloche was a blast. But the following part of the trip around El Calafate is what I have been most anxiously awaiting. We have only just arrived in the airport and I am already blown away. On the flight down we were able to glimpse out at the snow covered peaks of the Andes on our right, then to the vast open plains cut with flowing turquoise rivers and lakes to our left. We have the next 5 days (our longest stop so far) to hike and drive around the area, and from the looks of it, it’s going to be one hell of an adventure!

A couple of pictures from the flight down…

Heart shaped lake on the way to El Calafate!

Can you even believe the color of this river!!! I almost peed in my pants when I saw it.

Machu Picchu

At this very moment, I am sitting in the middle of the Peruvian Jungle at the base of Machu Picchu. Even though I have about 100 strange bites on my legs and the room is spinning from the 11,000 ft altitude, I couldn’t be happier. What makes it even better is my entire family is here as well! It is so good to see them after being away for 5 months and, I’m not going to lie, the nice hotels for the next two weeks are definitely a plus! The town we are staying in, Aguas Calientes, is surrounded by steep rock cliffs, lush forests, and has a raging river running right through the middle of town. The markets are full of great Peruvian crafts (don’t worry everyone, I’ll be bringing back presents) and there are exotic birds and flowers all over. The surrounding areas are straight out of the Jungle Book and we were even able to eat a prickly pear! (We’ve got the bare-necessities, the simple bare-necessities, forget about your worries and your doubts, yeah man!) Ok enough with the Jungle Book references…

Yesterday was one of the longest days of my life, but also one of the best! We woke up at 4:30am and took a train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes. From there, we boarded a bus that took us up a winding road to the ruins of Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu is an ancient Incan city built in the 1400s. It is nestled so high up in the clouds that the empire-raiding Spaniards never found it. We walked around the ruins all day, and I couldn’t believe the attention to detail that went into building it. The entire city was built from large granite stones, taking over 100 years to build and was never considered to be finished.

After lunch we sipped on some coca tea (which is completely legal here and is supposed to help with altitude sickness) then we hiked up to the sun gate, the entrance to the city, and had spectacular panoramic views of the ruins. We even had a chance to hike part of the Inca Trail. It is the rainy season in Peru right now, so it was raining off and on all day, but the sun made an appearance a few times and we were even able to see a rainbow!

Cathedral in Plaza Armas. We had to stop in Cusco for a night before heading for Machu Picchu and it was beautiful.

Mom and Dad sipping Coca tea at the hotel!

Machu Picchu!!!

These little guys were running all over the ruins

Beautiful rainbow we saw right before leaving!

All in all Machu Picchu was everything and more than we had expected it to be. Luckily, the one day we had at Machu Picchu was more than enough to be able to see everything. We only had a few days in Peru, but it was by far one of my favorite Countries I have visited. The people are very friendly, the food is amazing, and the scenery is to die for. I am sad to be leaving so soon, but also very excited to continue on to our next stop in Chile, where we will ring in the New Year in Santiago.

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