Meet Butch Cassidy, Sundance Kid & die Huber-Buam

24 02 2010

After a  3,5 hours flight from Buenos Aires second airport Jorge Newberry we landed at the tiny airport of El Calafate – close to the entrances to the Glacier National Park of Argentina and the Torres del Paine Park of Chile.

On the way to Chalten we visited a small farm where the legendary bandidos Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid hid several months – one of my favorite movies with Paul Newman and Robert Redford.

Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid in Argentina

Driving to Chalten you see the impressive mountains of Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy towering over the landscape – if you are lucky with the weather as we were.

The road to Fitz Roy

Chalten is the “trekking capital of Argentina” as you can read on a big sign at the entrance. It is also the capital of organized  tourism, climbers, boulder freaks and “round-the-world-travellers” in huge customized trucks or 4x4s and motorcycles as we learned in the following days.

Argentinean Mass: 1 l of Quilmes

Every house is alternatively a restaurant, a hotel or apartment building, a sports shop or a tour organizer. But Chalten is charming and profits from its splendid surroundings and the easy treks you can do as day tours from 2 to 8 hours.

We did the Lago del Torre and the Fitz Roy, easy hiking to max 25 km and 600 vertical meters as sort of warm ups. Some climbing and bouldering in between, some nice waffles at the Wafleria and the local supersize bottles of Quilmes Crystal beer let the days go by like flying.

At the “Ayres de Sur” right opposite of our campsite we discovered famous german climbers in the menu: There are sandwiches and plates called after Wolfgang Güllich and Kurt Albert. Other famous climbers visiting FitzRoy some months ago weren’t as lucky as we were. The Huber brothers, aka “die Huber Buam”  had to leave FitzRoy and cancel their climb because of bad weather. We had blue skies, no wind and clear sight of FitzRoy every day.

After Chalten I had to fly back to Germany (friends know the sad reason) and Kim went on her own to Puerto Natales to do the “Circuito grande del Torre del Paines”, a six day hike around the towers.

More pictures on this page

A climber's dream: Fitz Roy with a clear blue sky and no wind

Don’t eat steak in Buenos Aires….

22 02 2010

We had a warm welcome by Erika Bachmann, owner of the Casa Sol y Sombra in Buenos Aires where we had prebooked our appartment for 2 days – a short but hopefully intense stay in the “Paris of South America” as BA is called. This small private guesthouse is perfect for your stay – if you want to leave the trotten tourist paths and to get personal advice from someone living in the city for 5 years now. Erika from Switzerland decided to move to BA because of – make an educated guess – the Tango. Now she is running the Casa Sol y Sombra, meaning sun and shadow, and is as helpful and supporting as a non spanish speaking guest could wish.
The Sol y Sombra is situated near the upcoming and hip quarter of Palermo. You can walk there within 10 minutes and can stroll the streets with super chic cafes, bars restaurants and small shops where you can find stylish clothes, interior and all the things you always wanted to decorate your apartment with – but it is too heavy or big to bring it home in a plane.

Buenos Aires seen from Rio de la Plata

Casa Sol y Sombra

If you have forgotten something for your trip – like trekking equipment, clothes or whatever – just check one the shopping centres like the Abasto or the Alto Palermo Some of the the global players are here, for outdoor aficinados you find Salomon and North Face stores with enough equipment for expeditions. One of the local chains is called Montana (what else) where you get all for camping and other outdoor stuff. One of the shops is situated right by the Abasto center.
By the way Buenos Aires has a good underground system but driving around by relatively cheap taxis is like combing getting to places and have a sightseeing trip – for 10 to 20 minutes drive you pay around 15 argentinean pesos which is around 3 Euro. If you see prices with a $ sign – don’t get a heart attack. These are argentinean pesos – the others they call US$ so you have to check what is meant.
We came from minus 2 degrees and snow from Bavaria to 25 degrees in Argentina – and pouring rain in Buenos Aires. The whole summer was rainy, and today we had a thunderstorm and floods in the streets – tough job for the pizza guys you see all around bringing the ubiquitous italian food to the locals staying at home. Dangling electricity lines are quite a danger in Buenos Aires when it is raining like this so locals are not likely to go out when the weather is as bad as it was today.
Communication: We are still struggling to get the prepaid card of Claro working. Calls within Argenina are as expensive as to phone to Europe Erika told us – strange policy of the argentinean telephone companies as it seeems. Could be the reason why you see less people talkng on cell phones in the streets compared to Europe.

Eat and drink

We know that Argentina is the land of meat – but nevertheless we wanted to taste some fish and ended up in a classy sushi restaurant named Osaka – cool website – Tasty, very nice staff members trying to help us out with english as our spanish is more than rusty…. Buenos Aires is a tourist destination but finding someone speaking fluent and understandable english is not so easy.

The super friendly waiters at Osaka's

Skater in the streets of BA

But, as mentioned, the service was extremely friendly and helpful and we had a great first day and evening in BA. Even if the taxi driver we stopped thought he was a close relative to the late Juan Manuel Fangio and drove so fast that we missed our Casa for some hundred meters…

The next evening we went for meat.

Don’t eat lomo in Buenos Aires – you will never order another steak in another country. The meat is perfect and perfectly prepared. You are spoilt for the rest of your life. It is in one league with lobster in Boston, champagne in a French Champagne cellar, oysters at the atlantic coast, crayfish on the beach in South Africa and so on….
Tomorrow in the morning we are leaving early (6.00) for El Calafate, the start of our first trekking tours near the Fitz Roy.

With Diego to Buenos Aires

21 02 2010

Munich – Madrid – Buenos Aires
Remind me to unclick Iberia while searching for a flight with (btw a perfect website for searching/booking/evaluating flights with multi-stops all over the world). Don’t misunderstand me. The staff members from Iberia are doing their job. The flight attendants are attending the flight. And that’s it. They don’t attend the passengers, or so. Asking for something extra like snacks because they only had sandwiches with jamon while you had tried to prebook vegetarian means that they have to go beyond their duty – what they don’t really like. Safety and everything else is okay but the service is average – or for a long long distance flight of 13 hours for 1100 Euros less than average. Including a not working sound system on three rows in the plane including ours.
Never mind – we made it to Buenos Aires in one piece with only half an hour delay which is not bad because we had to fly around some thunderstorms and had strong headwind.

The best thing happend at the Barajas airport of Madrid. We were waiting for the boarding when I said to Kim: Look at this guy – cool sunglasses when I thought “Mmmh, he looks quite familiar somehow” – it was Diego Maradona, the “hand of God” and soccer titan in South America – or all over the world?
He looked quite exhausted, had only one buddy with him and when people wantet do take a photo with him he just waved his hand slightly refusingly. I could not withstand to take a spy shot with the small digicam and got lucky – I mean it really looks like a spy cam shot and I swear it is Diego Maradona.
On the plane we did what everybody does – reading, napping, and planning our trip en detail. Meaning trying to figure out how many days we have to do to circumnavigations in two national parks. Because we have to fly to Caracas/Isla Margarita to start our in-between-beach-holiday before we fly back to Santiago (or Lima/Peru) which is not decided yet) on the 28.04.2010.
All the guide books say between 7 and 10 days for the circuito grande but the daily distances seem quite short. So we plan to do it a little bit faster – hopefully. Otherwise there is not enough time to climb some volcanos on the leg between Puerto Montt and Santiago. We will see. And keep you posted.

105 days of siesta

20 02 2010

Lenggries Buenos Aires
The project sounds simple: Travelling through South America. But to fly to South America should include: hiking and hiking up mountains. And not only for three weeks. After planning, re-planning, scheduling and rescheduling it is now 105 days, from 21. of february until the 7. of june.

To get a first impression here the rough stages:
Munich – Buenos Aires/Argentina
Glacier National Park/Argentina
National Park Torres del Paine/Chile
By plane to Bariloche
3-day-trip to Pucon/Chile and back
By bus to Uspallata and Aconcagua
By bus to Mendoza/Chile and to Santiago
Hiking some volcanos in between
Doing photos and  this blog and doing research for the planned stories in german outdoor magazines
Beach/surfing/windsurfing stay in between at Isla Margarita/Venezuela
Back to Lima/Peru
Climbing mountains in the Andes between Santiago and Lima/Peru
Flying back from Peru to Munich beginning of june.

Equipment for 105 days

We call it “Buena Siesta”. Even if it is not really a siesta. For us travelling and exploring for over 100 days looks like a good siesta from the routine (or non-routine) from home. It is a different experience and we are looking forward to a lot and lot of days in the outdoors. Hiking and hiking up mountains, being in the wilderness and enjoying nature is what we do most of the days – so we would like to invite you and see what we see. Welcome to Buena Siesta.

The MSR Asgard will be our shelter

A big thanks to MSR (including Therm-a-Rest, Platypus) , Deuter, Mountain Hardwear, Reiter Travellunch Mountain Equipment, Black Diamond and  adidas eyewear who helped us to use the most lightweight and storm proven equipment  possible.