Patagonia 2003 -  Trip Report updated 23 December

Earliest entries at the bottom, most recent at the top


23d of December and back in Santiago at the hotel where we will be until flying out early Xmas day, assuming the rest goes as planned. It has all gone by too quickly, and we have seen so much that it will take a while to sort it all out in our weary little minds. The few samples of photos below may offer a small insight into the range of places and things we have been.

In recent days, while on the ship, we had a view of this old wreck that was on a reef of some sort. If I remember correctly it had been there for about 40 years. This was located in one of the channels between Pto Natales and Pto Montt.

We had seen these older wrecks on the Straits of Magellan a few days earlier, at Estancia San Gregorio

Condors and penguins:   this is a condor we saw in Villa Tehuelches, I think it was, between Pto Natales and Punta Arenas. We were on our way to the penguin rookery at the time, where we went to see the Magellanic penguins. Here are a few of those pinguinos:

Here is the usual gringo view of the edge of Puerto Natales, from whence we sailed north to Puerto Montt

and a view from the ship on the first morning as we sailed north from Puerto Natales. We spent 4 nights aboard.

Here is a view of the ship at the pier in Pto Natales

15th of December, 2003 = We have reached Punta Arenas and are headed for a shot at the First Narrows of the straits of Magellan tomorrow. The place we are staying in Punta Arenas is comfortable and reasonably priced. 

A view of building in Punta Arenas, near the Hotel de la Avenida where we stayed. A most pleasant place to stay. 

Have no idea what this building is:

Still planning for ship return from Pto Natales to Pto Montt leaving on Friday.     this is a typical building in the town of Puerto Natales

13 December, 2003 -Today a trip to the Torres del Paine national park, with views of the famous peaks, along with guanacos and ñandues.Then back to the town of Puerto Natales for the second night here.         The horns of Paine          A typical guanaco poseur      Ostrich-like ñandu in the Torres del Paine park


13 December, 2003

We are now in Puerto Natales, back in Chile for what may well be the rest of the journey.Earlier today in Calafate Argentina we visited the famous Perito Moreno glacier and on the return suffered the second tire blowout on the blue Hyundai Galloper.We then tried to get a replacement tire there in Calafate but with no luck. I made reservations in Pto Natales and we are now preparing for a day in the Torres del Paine national park.I will try to insert some links to photos from today. 

We stayed in cabañas toward the edge of the town of Calafate.Calafateis named for the berry of the same name and supposedly the legend goes that if you eat this fruit you will someday return once again to Patagonia, but I strongly suspect that this and similar legends were the creations of marketing folks.    The Perito Moreno glacier to the west of the Argentine town of Calafate         Gauchos at the frontier no-man’s land between the Argentine and Chilean customs checkpoints near Cancha Carrera/Cerro Castillo    tire destroyed on the blue Galloper during visit fo Perito Moreno glacier

12 December -At this point we are in Calafate, still in the Argentine side of Patagonia. In recent days we have proceeded from the Chilean city of Coyhaique to Chile Chico, on the frontier with Argentina.We then crossed over again and proceeded to the Argentine port town of Puerto San Julián,the place where Ferdinand Magellan dealt with a mutiny somewhere around 1520 and some say the place where the term Patagonia was first coined,relating to an observation by Magellan’s crew that the local Indians, who were rather large in stature compared to the European crew and tended to produce large footprints.The word “patagon” presumably came up since that is the Spanish for big-foot.Some writers have disputed this conclusion, and right now I am too worn out to dispute much of anything.

Anyway we made our way across about 120 miles of gravel road that roughly paralleled the Santa Cruz river and we expect to see the Perito Moreno glacier tomorrow.In the past two days we have seen a number of ñandues and guanacos.

Now if we can get some more photos loaded up.  Been there, done that.   Done that, too.   And that.

Latest photos here on 9 December.   lupen near the Butch Cassidy cabins   owls found at the site of the Butch Cassidy cabins in Argentina.   scene along the Carretera Austral en route to Coyhaique    on the way to Coyhaique, showing the GPS unit and the rockslide shed    the Aysen valley approaching the ascent to Coyhaique   crossing a bridge on the Carretera Austral   typical scene along the Carretera Austral   llama at the hotel at La Junta – not native to the area but kept there as pets           Pollux falls south of Coyhaique

8 Dec in the afternoon now. Just returned from local airport 40 minutes from Coyhaique to find that no documents could be found via the LANChile cargo service.There is some improvement in the performance of the blue Galloper vehicle after the team in that vehicle did some cleaning of the diesel injection system. 

We are talking about continuing the trip on pavement for more miles but fewer chances to rip open the bad tiresin out of the way places. A side option is to re-integrate a return from the southernmost point by ship. - this is just south of the Argentine townn of Cholila and the Butch Cassidy cabins - this is crossing from the Argentine areaa near Esquel toward the Chilean town of Futaleufu. is along Lago Yelcho in Chile to the southwest of Futaleufu.

We have collectively taken several hundred photos and many are better than these but they do provide some suggestion that we are still alive.

Sorry for the sparse communications ... I am normally more than busy with trying to solve the problems as they come up and this is the first time I have been able to really sit down for a few minutes with the laptop to hammer out some material and resize some photos for the web. 


8 Dec 2003 morning-Coyhaique, Aysén region of Chilean Patagonia

We spent two days riding the gravel road called the Carretera Austral, suffering one flat tire on the blue Galloper along the way, only to discover that we had not been provided the key to the lock which holds the outside-mounted spare very securely to the rack. Fortunately we had insisted on two spares in spite of the room that this required, and the second spare carried inside was not the best of all spares. It did make it the rest of that day and the next but the original tire that it replaced was in sad shape, had been patched many times before, and would probably not serve much longer if patched again.This is in addition to the problem of the bad smoking situation with the engine of the blue Galloper  and the evident lack of a functioning turbo on that vehicle.

Rain plagued us part of yesterday as we drove up the corkscrew to Quelat national park through which the road passes, but on the descent on the southern side it cleared up and we had some splendid views of the surrounding mountains with recent snows, as well as a glacier here and there.

Today is a bit of a layback day to try to recovered the documentation for the blue Galloper, which is being air expressed from Santiago to the local airport.We will replan our next moves southward depending on the outcome of the tire situation. 

The older Runyards seem to be concerning themselves with taking massive quantities of digital photos, and it times the number of stops for photos seems to keep us from making much forward progress.

I will try to put up some photos on this site as time allows.This is more of a campaign than a vacation, as our good readers may have imagined. 

30 November - San JoséCOSTA RICA airport.

We have a few hours of layover here  in the new part of the San José CR terminal, still tired after the overnighter from LAX. There  was a screwup in ticketing with TACA (Take A Chance Airline; Try Another Carrier, Antonio) and after standing at the counter for  over an hour, we ended up with tickets and seats in first class, which pretty much saved the day, or night.  The meal was beyond  the description of "snack" that came on the TACA schedule.   The beef dinner was an excellent filet mignon. 

But no mere meal can overcome the discomfort of trying to sleep in airplane seats, even if first class. We have been zombies most of the day here at the terminal, with this 6-hour layover.  Fortunately the carpeting is clean enough to allow a bit of napping  on the floor. 

Just before leaving Huntington Beach we received an email from Bill Calvin that they have reached Santiago and were picked up  at the airport by the hotel van. 

From here we fly to Lima for a brief stopover and if all goes well we will stumble off the plane, through customs and whatnot,and find the hotel van waiting for us at about 130 am Monday morning.  We shall see. 

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