Thursday, April 30, 2009

wings, wheels and a rudder.

Now I have actually booked my flight it feels more real. So I have begun to sort out some of the finer details.

I fly to Buenos Aires on September 17th, and then a few days later I fly up to Iguacu Falls. These amazing waterfalls border 3 countries - Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. I will stay overnight in Argentina, cross the river into Brazil and then later walk over a bridge into Paraguay.

Then I head to the capital of Paraguay, AsunciĆ³n, by bus for a couple of days and then fly to Montevideo in Uruguay. From there I bus it across to Colonia where I catch the ferry back to Buenos Aires.

A couple of days or so later I will probably fly to Mendoza so I can experience crossing the Andes to the capital of Chile, Santiago, by bus. The scenery is supposed to be spectacular.

From Santiago I head south by bus, stopping here and there (including the still active Volcano Villarrica which I hope to climb) until I get to Punta Arenas in southern Patagonia. From here I want to travel across to Tierra del Fuego.

Then it's a little north to Torres del Paine in Chile for a 7 day camping trek through the mountains, followed by another trip across the border back into Argentina to the Los Glaciaros National Park and the spectacular Mount Fitz Roy. After that I fly back to Buenos Aires for a couple of more days before heading home.

It might seem a little over-planned - but I intend to maximise every day I have for the 6 weeks.

trip route (click to enlarge)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

uncharacteristically vacillatory

I know I had set my mind on Iran.

What you didn't know was that after that post below I had had a change of mind and then decided I really must do the Baltoro Glacier Trek in North Eastern Pakistan.

"What...are you MAD??!!" is the usual exclamation at this point - followed by lots of words like Taliban, bombs, hostage, death, etc.

But really, if you stopped listening to or reading the utter drivel pumped out by moronic journalists who regurgitate snippets of gossip and hearsay, embellished with puerile globs of their own bigoted and ill informed ideas about places they have never been to, don't understand and probably cannot even spell; then sure it probably isn't the best place to go.

There is a great deal of hysteria whipped up about Pakistan which serves various powers' vested interests in certain wars being fought in certain neighbouring countries.

Much of North Eastern Pakistan I believe has, in its remoteness and isolation, continued along much as it has always done unaffected (and possibly unconcerned) about troubles around the Afghan border.

The North Eastern Frontier of Pakistan has to have some of the most beautiful and extraordinary scenery of anywhere in the world. Try Google Image searches for any of the following: Baltoro Glacier, Mashabrum, K2, Hindukush, Hunza Valley, Trango Towers, Rakaposhi and Fairy Meadows, and you will see what I mean.

The North Western Frontier.........well I wouldn't go there for quids. Full of bloody wackos.

The Pakistan trip was all but a reality - to the extent that I had even bought the Pakistan/Karakorum Highway Lonely Planet. But something held me back.

Possibly the fact that I had absolutely no money.

But also I realised that if I was to get there it was most likely to be mid to late September and I know that the high pass, Gondogoro La, would be getting seriously tricky by late September. At the best of times one needs crampons and ropes to get over it.

So 2 days ago I went online to see if Pakistan flights had (wistfully) come down in price - when a small ad by Qantas caught my eye.

It said - "Sydney - South America - AU$1033.00 (incl.taxes)

It seems unbelievable. Usually these offers come with a swag of conditions such as: you must leave on a Thursday at 3.30am, travel in a group of 25 or more, stay 2 days, travel with a canoe and your name must be Nigel.

I quickly entered a couple of random dates around September - and sure enough, it was genuine.

I have had an Argentina/Chile trip semi planned in the back of my head for quite a few years - but getting to South America from Sydney was always very expensive. So this was too good to miss.

Guess what I'm spending my Economic Stimulus Package bonus on?

Thanks Kev.

Here are a few photos from the web to show why I am going:
(click photos to enlarge)

torres del paine at sunrise

cerro torre, los glaciares national park

iguacu falls

perito moreno glacier


volcano villarica (must climb...must climb...)

mt fitzroy

I'll do Pakistan next year.