Patagonia
Our trip to Patagonia began with a flight south to Commodore Rivadavia where we were
picked up by our guide for the next five days. Monica was a terrific guide. She had
gone to school at the University of Montana for a year as an exchange student. When
she met us she was so excited. She told us that most Americans start further south.
With her, we went down Ruta 30 along the Andes along a dirt road that was good but
did not permit traveling more than 30 miles an hour.

Along the way, we stayed at Estancias. While the land is fairly barren on this side of the
Andes, the Estancias were little oasis. The food was fantastic and these stays gave us
great opportunities to interact with our hosts and their guests. In this picture you see
Jackie (left) and the guide (right) with our host for the first night in the middle.
This (below) was the road we took on Ruta 30 along the
Andes. Our guide Monica is standing to the left of her
Nissan SUV. Monica said that she replaced the tires
every 20,000 kilometers and she carried two spare tires
and a satellite phone.
At different times, we went from driving along Ruta 30 to hiking in the Andes. In this
picture we are approaching the first national park where we hiked, Fitzroy, in Argentina.
The picture below was taken on our arrival in Torres del Paine in Chile, a park many call
the finest national park in the world.
While riding down Ruta 30, we took a hike to a
cave area covered with silhouettes of
hands--dating back 1000 to 4000 years but still
vivid in their colors. Later on our guide took us
to other places and had us crawl back under
large rocks where we found more of these
silhouettes.
The picture below is another view in Torres del Paine. The lakes have this special color
which is a result of the fact that the water comes from glacial melt.
Jackie and I did three different all day hikes to the base of the Torres (mountains). As
we climbed, we left behind the brown terrain for a pretty green trail.
While hiking to the base of these mountains was a vigorous affair, it was doable. Hiking
up the Torres is a different manner. One of the Torres we visited from a distance has
been hiked by less people in the history of mankind than have made it to the top of Mount
Everest in a single day. The Torres are difficult to climb because of the ferocious winds
(the consistently strongest winds we have ever encountered) as well as the rain and snow
and ruggedness of the peaks which are not that high compared with many mountains in
the world.
On the last day of our excursion down Ruta 30, our guide
arranged for lunch at a restaurant that sat out in the middle of
nowhere. When we arrived, we were the only guests. Our host
brought us our lunch and as I finished I complimented him on
the meal. Ah, but these were only the appetizers. Then came a
huge plate of meat, the most tender and delicious meats I had
ever eaten. Jackie just loved the meat as well. When our
complimented our host, he said that the lamb there only ate
grass so it was very tender. I was hysterical. Jackie hates lamb!