Wine Country – Argentina and Chile
Leaving Bolivia and entering into Argentina was a bit of a culture shock, suddenly we were into modern towns with big supermarkets. Crossing the border was a long process, taking us about 4 and a half hours, so we pulled into Salta late that night. The next morning we got picked up and taken out to a ranch to go horse riding. It was a beautiful day and we rode through some lovely countryside.
Possibly the best part of the day was the BBQ after the ride. Our first taste of Argentinean steak did not disappoint, and the unlimited wine was pretty good as well.
Leaving Salta we drove through Quebrada de los Conchas National Park on our way to Cafayate. It was a stunning drive and we stopped at a few narrow canyons and viewpoints along the way.
Mendoza was the third town we visited in Argentina, also a famous wine region. I did a wine tour here to sample some of the local goods.
Over the next few weeks we cross in and out of Argentina and Chile and we wind our way south. After another border we found ourselves in the bustling capitol of Santiago. It is a huge modern city, not really the kind of place that Luke and I love but we found a few interesting places to check out.
After a sad goodbye to 3 of our group leaving us here we travelled to Salto El Laja, a beautiful campsite by an impressive waterfall.
And then we arrived in Pucon, a beautiful little ski resort town in the Lake District. Surrounded by volcanoes this amazing spot has great German beer and lots of chocolate shops, what more could you want?
Luke and I decided that we would try and climb Villarrica, an active volcano that last erupted on March 3 of this year. It was a long hike up, for which we needed crampons and ice axes as we got onto the glacier near the top. After about 5 hours of steady up we reached the crater. Donning gas masks against the sulphur and chlorine fumes we could just see in and catch quick glimpses of the lava below.
It was an absolutely amazing view from the top, so worth the climb up. But the best part of the day was yet to come as we pulled little plastic boards out of our packs and prepared to slide down the mountain. It was the best sledding I have ever done in my life, and I think that I would probably climb the volcano again just to slide down.
We are now back in Argentina in Bariloche, a place that reminds us a lot of New Zealand. The town itself has a ski resort feel, with chocolate shops, brew pubs, and loads of overpriced stores.
We are a bit behind on the blog, but we hope you have all had a good Christmas and a very happy New Years!