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Situated close to the small Argentinean town of El Chalten is Lake Viedma, a large glacial lake. You can take a boat tour to visit the largest glacier in the Southern Patagonia Ice Field, the Viedma Glacier, from a dock on the northwestern shore of the lake, near El Chalten (which you can reach by bus from town).
The following overview photo, courtesy of NASA, will help orient you a little better. Viedma Lake is obvious, as is the Patagonian Icefield. The Viedma Glacier is at 12 o’clock in this photo (actually direction is west). The boat launch is in the little thumb at the top right of the lake at about one o’clock. El Chalten is in a non-snow …
Our next stop in Patagonia is the small town of El Chaltén in Argentina. This town rests in the rain shadow of the massive spires of the Patagonian Andes and is a dry, windy and cool place.
The region around El Chaltén is part of Los Glaciares National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is very remote. It is usually reached by taking the bus or driving from El Calafate some 220 km to the south, El Calafate itself a remote town which we’ve previously discussed here.
The town resides in a glaciated valley adjoining the Rio de las Vueltas. The most dramatic aspect of El Chaltén is the beautiful mountains that frame it to the west, including the amazingly steep and narrow spire …
The historic and beautiful cathedral, Iglesia Nuestra Senora del Pilar (The Church of Our Lady of Pilar), is situated in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Recoleta. The church adjoins the famous Recoleta cemetery, which we’ve previously visited on this website.
Iglesia Nuestra Senora del Pilar is considered one of the most beautiful examples of Buenos Aires’ Colonial architecture. It’s the city’s second oldest church and has retained its original altarpiece and icons. The church is named in honor of the patron saint of the city of Zaragoza in Spain, and was completed in 1732. Its original architect was a Jesuit, Andres Bianchi, and was built in conjunction with a convent of Franciscans.
The monks of Recoletos were expelled from …
I don’t anywhere people live on floating islands except for the Uros Islands of Lake Titicaca, a large lake straddling Peru and Bolivia (the Peruvians like to say they got the “titi” part, while the Bolivians got the “caca”). It’s the most voluminous lake in South America and is considered the highest navigable — by a large ship — lake in the world, having a surface elevation of 3,812 m or 12,507 ft.
The Uros natives of the lake are a pre-Incan people who live on forty-two floating islands. They had a unique language (which has been lost for centuries) and obviously a unique way of living. They historically moved to the floating islands for defensive purposes. Some of the islands …
For many years I’d wanted to see one of the most famous peaks in the world with my own eyes, namely the Fitz Roy Massif (aka Mount Fitz Roy or Cerro Fitz Roy). In fact, seeing the mountains of Patagonia was my greatest motivation for visiting the southern reaches of South America.
This mountain is very near that small Argentinian town of El Chaltén, which abuts the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. The Massif is situated around the poorly defined (and often disputed) border between Argentina and Chile, although the Argentinians claim it as theirs. The mountain was named in honor of the famous captain by Argentine explorer, Francisco Moreno, in 1877. Captain Fitz Roy and his ship, the HMS Beagle, traveled extensively around and …
Situated on Chile’s southern coast, just north of Tierra del Fuego, the small city of Puenta Arenas is well off the main tourist paths in South America. The city is the capital of Chilean Patagonia as it is a gateway to Torres del Paine, and is a port for tourist ships that cruise the Patagonian fjords, the Beagle Channel (and some ships even go on to Antarctica). Puenta Arenas is a frontier town and a tax haven (to encourage migration and its growth), so it offers lots of shopping. Many Chileans travel here for the low prices.
We weren’t much interested in shopping for toasters or jackets, and had just a few hours to explore Puenta Arenas before taking a memorable …
One of my most memorable trips was a week spent aboard a floating houseboat on one of the tributaries of the Amazon River. It was the Rio Oroso in Peru, about a 6 hour boat ride from Iquitos. While the Amazon itself is massive, several miles wide even more than a thousand miles from it’s mouth, you need to head into its tributaries to find the Amazon jungle.
The houseboat was primitive, a building made of logs and thatched roof, floating in a river, kept in place by ties to the bank. No electricity, although river water was pumped into a tank in the ceiling so we were able to shower and such (although you couldn’t drink it). The sun set …
If you drive south of Lima on the Pan Am Highway in Peru, you’ll drive by (and through) the Nazca Desert along the foothills of the Andes. This is one of the driest places in the world. The average rainfall is less than an inch (<2 cm) a year and some years there’s no rain at all. The Nazca Lines are an amazing group of geoglyphs etched into the surface of the desert. There are about 300 hundred figures that comprise the Nazca lines including, besides lines, geometric shapes and pictures of animals and birds.
Along the highway you can stop at the Mirador tower, built along the Pan Am highway. This tower allows people to climb up and see a …