Vacations in southern Chile and southern Argentina Part 1

Santiago de Chile after about a 1,000km bus ride. We wait for Andrea, an aunt from the East with gifts from the West. Finally, it’s my birthday. And Andrea’s as well. While, of course, you cannot tell it by looking at her, for me it is already the 3rd birthday on this trip – 2006 Greece, 2007 Japan, 2008 Argentina. The next 6 weeks, the three of us want to be together on the road by car.

The plan focuses primarily on scenic beauties. It leads us to Patagonia, a zone, which has a reputation in this regard.
First, a visit to the volcano Villa Rica, an eminently good-looking volcano because of its symmetrical shape covered with snow releasing a small plume of smoke. Just as a volcano should look like. In the area, we hike a little through very diverse vegetation within only a few hundred meters of altitude difference. It stretches from bamboo, to Araucaria wood, a very peculiar kind of conifer, and further to grassland before reaching the snow line.
Next stop, the mountains of Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre, rugged granite mountains. The latter has a very special reputation with climbers. It is rated as one of the most difficult summits to climb in the world, despite its height of only a little more than 3000m.a.s.l.. The main reason for this being the extreme weather conditions. On the Fitz Roy we hike and camp in the snow, get caught in a snow storm which reduces visibility to only a few metres. It is wet, cold, and uncomfortable; a stormy wind is constantly blowing. The mountains are hidden in the clouds.
We have more luck at the Cerro Torre. For some time we can enjoy the distinctive rock needle being enthroned above the glacier and glacial lake. The first view of the mountain in 20 days, as a ranger told us.
A highlight is the visit of the Perito Moreno glacier. A mass of ice more than 4km wide makes its way into a lake a meter a day. We face a 50-60m high, rugged ice wall, shimmering in various shades of blue. It thunders and cracks in the ice, as if a thunderstorm rages inside. Large chunks of ice fall into the water and turn slowly up again like a whale. Enormous, spectacular, beautiful.
Then we hike more than 90km in 4 days through the Torres del Paine National Park, which is renowned as one of the most beautiful hiking areas in the world – rugged mountains, glaciers, floating icebergs, turquoise and dark blue lakes side by side.
In addition we see many animals in Patagonia – armadillo, rheas (the South American version of the ostrich), guanacos, condors, black-necked swans, flamingos.

(Co-)driving in a car is so comfortable. But the car can also become a millstone round one’s neck, for example when you want to cross the border.
Without any problems we entered with our Chilean rented cars from Chile to Argentina, had all the permits and had confirmed at the border that we are in possession of all necessary papers.
Now we want to return from Argentina to Chile in our Chilean car, actually the easy part one assumes. ‚The Chilean version of the Argentine form 2112 regarding the export and temporary import of rented vehicles of the agreement between the two countries is missing.‘ Not that we do not even have such a form, but all discuss does not help. They do not want us to leave. In the last 2 years I have experienced so much at border crossings – Israel, Egypt, Tibet and China. Chile and Argentina fit in seamlessly. It is, however, the first time that we cannot leave. We need to provide the appropriate form from our car rental service. 250 kilometres back to the last town. The car rental service refers us to the police, the police to customs. Nobody can help us. Long telephone conversations with the car rental service in Chile follow. Nothing can help us, because our papers are complete. The only solution the rental service could come up with was to try another border crossing point. It would likely be an act of corruption – causing problems to extort money. This than again in Argentina and as it expired at the border however seems to us unlikely. An alternative is not insight. 500 kilometres and 1 day later at another border crossing – ‚Good day. … Good.‘, Stamp, ‚Goodbye.‘ and Argentina is behind us. It was a waste of time and effort.

Now we are in Punta Arenas, the southern end of the American mainland. Ahead of us is the island of Tierra del Fuego.


checked by Kirsten

photos to this article: Urlaub in Südchile und Südargentinien Teil 1 : Fotos

21. November 2008 - Tom | english texts | Kommentare :: comments :: comentarios | Inhalt drucken

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