View from the overnight bus along the Limay River en route from Bariloche back to Buenos Aires.



Argentina & Chile,

7th March - 28th March 2010

[18 - The Final Word]

  To Kelson and Elena we are endebted for a hugely enjoyable Patagonian trip.  Muchas gracias!

Bienvenidos greets many a traveller upon arrival at Bariloche bus station, including this local.


Sunday 28th March

Up at 07h00, Kelson, Elena and I were collected by the Via Bariloche mini-bus at the hostel around 8h30 for our scheduled return bus trip from Bariloche bus station around 9h15 and seen off by the rest of the gang. Ahead of us lay at least 19 hours of travelling, yet the bus seemed to stop more often en route, taking perceivably take longer than was the case on the journey down from BsAs. though we found ourselves in the extendable front row seats upstairs once again, it still proved a tedious journey. With our trip at an end, the sense of heightened expectation we had experienced at the beginning of our journey seemed absent. The novelty of it all had gone and we were exhausted. Just before stopping for provisions in Piedra del Aguila around lunchtime, whilst gazing over to the west, a snow-capped volcanic peak came into view on the horizon, the same peak that had drawn our attention at dawn on the journey down. Initially we had thought this was was none other than the Osorno volcano, the volcanic peak north of Puerto Varas, the Chilean town where we had done our shopping just a week before. Upon reflection however, I realised that this could conceivably be any one of a number of volcanoes scattered along the border between Chile and Argentina, possibly even the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcano in the Parque Nacional Puyehue in Chile. By dusk we had reached the flatter terrain of the pampas, with dark skies, rain and flashes of lightning visible on the horizon. Strong winds buffeted the bus. Elena's comfortable sleep was rudely awakened late in the evening when they decided to screen a movie and it was only Elena's intervention in the early hours of the morning when everyone had long since fallen asleep, to have the TV switched off .

We reached BsAs just before six in the morning. Elena and Kelson had alighted one stop before the bus's final destination in BsAs and I waved to them as they disappeared into the darkness just before dawn. The air was muggy. Ahead of me as I boarded a Tiende Leon bus for BsAs Ezeiza international airport lay a lengthy flight back to Heathrow. Little did I know that only good fortune had ensured that the flight had gone ahead despite the strike by British Airways cabin crew, as explained to me later by Renata, who had been looking out for me and booked me on a Iberia flight too as a precautionary measure. Repairs to an engine fault during a stopover at Sau Paulo delayed the BA 12h15 BsAs departure flight a further 3 hours, whilst the decision was made to keep us onboard for that period in the sweltering heat. Touching down at Heathrow the following morning around 10h00 signalled the end of an epic three-week journey, with much to reflect upon. How I managed to stay awake driving all the way up to Royston I'll never know!


Leaving Bariloche at dawn, a final glimpse of Nahuel Huapi.


Reclining front row seats on the Via Bariloche bus - yebo gogo!


View across dams on the Limay River from the bus.



As night falls on the approaching pampas, dark rain clouds gather in the sky.


The final word

Would I change anything in terms of our travels?  I think Ralph and I got the food list spot on however, equipment-wise I would make some changes. I definitely require a new rucksack and it proved a major hindrance. Ziplock waterproof bags are a must! While others felt I was disadvantaged having only one walking pole instead of two, in retrospect, I would probably make the same decision again, the convenience of having the camera bag where I wanted it and a free hand a temptation too great to resist - having said that, I borrowed the poles so I’d need to purchase my own anyway. The Crumpler Jimmy Bo served its purpose and survived the torrential rain without causing any damage to the camera within; however an additional waterproof cover would nonetheless have been beneficial, as I kept it away from the elements as a precautionary measure. I had a second, smaller camera but without a waterproof bag, so for a period of two days or more, I wasn’t able to take any photographs whatsoever. I was happy with the clothing though in future would only consider using Ice-Breaker merino base layer clothing in preference to any synthetic equivalents. Finances were an issue; however, a new waterproof jacket is also on my shopping list. One thing – I’d like to find a way to keep the waterproof overpants from constantly slipping down, until they invariably ended up around my ankles. Gaiters are essential, though in our case served little purpose once we had made the decision to wade through rivers boots and all!  I have Harald to thank for convincing me to invest in a pair of crocs! As I said before, I don't think we could have asked for two better guides in the form of Kelson and Elena. Though Treksa operates as a small concern (at this stage anyway), they are therefore not bound by the trappings of commercialism associated with larger travel companies, where the dollars earned is the prime goal, sometimes to the detriment of customer satisfaction. A smaller group undoubtedly contributes to a better personal experience. If I may suggest an improvement, I would have liked a more of the conversation in Spanish in the course of their dialogue with the locals en route, to have been shared amongst the group.

The enormous lasting impression that Cochamó valley made on me may be summed up in a final few words I'd like to reserve for this epic journey of ours, taken from Cochamó.org:

"No trip into the Cochamó Valley is ever forgotten, no two journeys ever the same. Few places on Earth remain at once so pristine, so unharmed by human activity, and yet so accessible. Its granite domes are a constant canvas of ever-changing light, its yawning meadows a whimsical tapestry of wild flowers, its towering old-growth forests a concert hall of birdsong and falling water. No cars, no power lines, no deadlines".


Patagonia, Argentina & Chile

[Intro-Pre Trip] [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [GPS Tracks]

Other Tour Group photos (Picasa):  [1 - Kelson & Elena]  [2 - Ralph]  [3 - Harald]

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