18th October 2015 by emmadurnford

18th October 2015

The longest day...

Today we travelled overland through the Andes from Puerto Varas in Chile to Bariloche in Argentina. We departed at 8.00am and finally arrived at 9.00pm having traveled on four buses and three boats. It could have been more as I lost count.

The day started well with a visit to the Petrohué waterfalls inside the Vicente Perez Rosales National Park and a lovely smooth crossing of a lake by catamaran. The volcanoes and Andes have thick snow even though we are not actually that high. We were thousands of meters higher in Bolivia as it is so much drier there is little or no snow. We stopped for lunch at an Alpine hotel just inside the Chilean border which was ridiculously attractive. It is Spring here and I found bluebells, snow drops, daffodils and tulips. We saw a humming bird and apple trees in blossom. It will be so strange to jump forward to winter in the UK when we return in a couple of weeks.

The journey seemed to slow at this point with numerous bits of paper to be filled at the border which yet again comprised of almost a small hut and some rather casual officials. We drove onwards and upwards in our little coach along unmade up roads into the Andes. We stopped at one point and we found the remains of snow drifts even though it was quite warm - time for a British snowball fight. Then downwards towards the formal entry point into Argentina as technically we had been in no-mans land for that time. Yet again for some reason one of 5 bags selected out of a large number was Colin’s but luckily they seemed to be content after their rather cursory search. This ‘official’ entry point was like a Austrian chalet and our guides and driver hugged and kissed the officials so it was all rather casual.

The last three sections were hard work. This is the Argentinian Lake District and the lakes are vast. We joined a lot of local people on the boats on the lake and discovered that today is actually Mothers Day in South America - Happy Mothers Day to those at home! This is very nice but also made for a very noisy last few hours of our journey. After our travels through remote areas of Peru and Bolivia on small trips with just our drivers and guides or a few other people, the noise and crush was almost too much. We just wanted to be still in the peace and quiet.

The very last coach trip towards Bariloche seemed to be going at a snails pace although I think that was just how I felt. We were eventually dropped by the side of a dusty road with our suitcases and the coach drove off leaving us in the dark. We were opposite the hotel I had booked myself and there seemed to be little life and I admit I was rather worried whether this was one of those spoof places on the internet that you read about - with the name of ‘Charming Luxury lodge and Spa’ it could well have been! As the track down was rough Colin stayed with the cases in the dark and as I strode off looking for life when out of nowhere a large Toyota appeared with an incredibly apologetic ‘Sebastian’ who had come looking for us and all was well.

We were shattered and have no idea of really where we are so after a welcoming glass of wine (well it would be very rude to have refused despite the fact I could hardly keep my eyes open) we ate and went to bed... to be continued...
Sounds like s trip and a half.
October 20th, 2015  
Love this misty blue picture. Your account of this part of your travels is fascinating, Emma. Hope you and Colin do get safely back home eventually!
October 21st, 2015  
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