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Graham Williams & Louise Jones Travel Blog This is our journal logging our trip through Central and Latin America from July 2005 to the present date. We update it and add new pictures every two to three weeks. At the moment Will is travelling in South Africa, while Lou is living in Buenos Aires.For more background reading on our travels go to - http://journals.worldnomads.com/will/

The Pampas, the beach and Patagonia

ARGENTINA | Tuesday, 9 January 2007 | Views [1107]

In mid December my sister Anita flew out to join me (Louise) here in Argentina for a two week holiday.  We spent a few days in Buenos Aires and then went to an estancia for three days of horse riding and country living.  The ranch was enormous with a lake, 90 horses and also cows, sheep and llamas, all presided over by an eccentric lady owner. 
We watched the three year old horses being put through their paces as part of their training to become show jumpers; others are trained for polo. The ranch hands all still wore baggy pants and knitted caps - reminiscent of their gaucho ancestors who opened up the vast area of the Pampas, although they all use mobiles now to communicate between different parts of the ranch.
Anita and I then headed to the laid back beach resort of Villa Gesell and had a week of good weather sunbathing, walking along the miles of beach, swimming and eating liberal quantities of beef, salmon and ice cream.  For Argentines, it was the start of their long summer holidays and the town had a very happy atmosphere.  On Christmas Eve we went to a candle lit church service and then had a big Chistmas dinner.  Argentines celebrate on the evening of the 24th; nurse their hangovers on the morning of the 25th; and by the afternoon everything is back to normal and the shops are open.
My sister then flew back to England and I took an internal flight 3000km south to Tierra Del Fuego and the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia.  It has a beautiful setting  with snow capped mountains above and the Beagle Channel below.  I walked up to the Cerro Martial glacier on a chilly day and took a boat trip through the Beagle Channel with its rocky islands that are home to birds, sea lions and penguins.  The busy port has big container ships making their way from the Atlantic to the Pacific and vice versa; and also cruise ships heading out to Antarctica.
I stayed in a small B and B run by a local couple.  The husband was in part a descendant of one of the four original tribes of Tierra del Fuego.  They were all devastated by the arrival of European colonists and missionaries who brought disease and took their land for cattle farming. Three of the tribes have no descendants atall.
I celebrated New Year in Ushuaia, which is so far south that at this time of the year it does not get dark until 11.30pm and it is light again by 4.30am.
To get to the Chilean national park of Torres del Paine I flew and then caught a bus - distances in Patagonia are vast. This park has world renowned hiking and I spent a great four days in good weather walking up to the granite towers, along lakeside paths and up glacial river valleys. The park has lots of guanaco (wild llamas) and I also saw ibis, southern parakeets, Chilean hares and condors.
Tomorrow I fly back to Buenos Aires and then catch a long flight to India to meet up again with Will in Bombay.

Tags: On the Road

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