Taking a break

We are skipping winter in Patagonia and will continue our travels in October. So long.

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Las Leñas and Valle Hermoso

February 2016

Driving through the irrigated vineyards of Mendoza we marveled at the fancy wineries, it felt like we were in California’s Napa Valley.

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Malbec

You can tour the different plush wineries, taste the Malbec and buy a case. After an overnight stop in Manzana Historica and more wineries in the Valle de Uco we had seen enough famous grapes, tasted some good wines, so we headed up to the ski resort Las Leñas. Both of us are skiers and grew up on skis, so names like Las Leñas and Portillo ring a bell. As kids we watched world cup ski races held here on TV.

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Las Leñas in summer is like many ski resorts without snow, not very exciting.

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Las Lenas

We drove on and worked out way up a pass and back down the other side. Valle Hermoso, a pretty valley ringed by mountains and with a small lake was on the other side. At the end of the road there is a steep trail and one can continue over to Chile with mules and horses only. We spent a few nights by a creek, hiked in the valley and enjoyed the solitude in the mountains. Some farmers and some fly fishermen came by, all waved and kept going.

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Valle Hermoso

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Our camping spot by the creek in the Valle Hermoso

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Almost the end of the road

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Rhodophiala (in the Amaryllis family) grow high in the Andes

Life along the creek, we went for long walks every day, watching wildlife and finding flowers.

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Andean goose

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Plant life in the creek

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Andean ibises (black faced)

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He came by every day, rounding up sheep, goats and horses.

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Northern Argentina , south along the Andes

End of January 2016

The eastern slope of the Argentinian Andes is drier than we had expected. However, sophisticated watering systems, some dating back to the indigenous people, allow for irrigating and agriculture.

Slowly we worked our way south. We wanted to visit Aconcagua, the highest mountain in South America at 6,961 metres (22,838 ft), and the highest point in the Western Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere.

In Cafayate we stocked up one more time, coffee had been hard to come by and we love our two cups every morning. Time and again we bought beans or ground coffee that did not make us happy. It tasted weird, we couldn’t figure out why, maybe they were just cheap beans (robusta) usually roasted with sugar. The cup of coffee in the coffee shops tasted great though. Still, mate is what many people drink and coffee is not that important.

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Finally, some decent coffee beans.

 

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Molinos, south of Cachi.

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The countryside on the way to Cafayate is amazing.

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Red pepper tree near Molinos

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Torrontés is a white Argentine wine grape variety, producing fresh, aromatic wines.

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After a long drive from Cafayate we headed up into the mountains and settled down at Los Nascimentos Hot Springs.

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The road ends at the hot springs. We were alone there for three days.

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Bye bye Nascimentos, it was great.

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Not a bad view from this camp site at La Cienaga.

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Here comes the sun na na na

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Cienaga to Barreal

Heave rain fall in the mountains made for some crazy “baden” crossings.

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Uspallata Pass, 4000 m (13 000 ft)

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“Christ the Redeemer” The 7m-high bronze statue was commissioned from sculptor Mateo Alonso of Buenos Aires and erected here in 1904. There are two plaques at its base. One reads “He is our peace who hath made us one.” The other, placed there in 1937, declares: “Sooner shall these mountains crumble into dust than Argentines and Chileans break the peace sworn at the feet of Christ the Redeemer.”

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Wildflowers at the base of the mountains near Aconcagua

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Aconcagua

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Aconcagua again

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Uspallata Pass, border to Chile.

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Hot sulphur springs at the Inca Bridge. There was a hotel-spa here years ago, now all you see are the remnants.

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Leoncito National Park has several observatories.

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The only living thing we saw in the pampa were horses.

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Tocota pampa, not a good place to cross after rain storms in the mountains.

 

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CHRISTO DE TOCOTA: This Jesus statue stood there all by itself in the middle of nowhere, we camped at the base and felt protected.

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Books we liked: Nicaragua

“The Jaguar Smile”  by Salman Rushdie

“The country under my skin”  by Gioconda Belli

“Blood of brothers”  by Stephen Kinzer

Posted in Nicaragua | 2 Comments

Books we liked: Ecuador

“Measuring the World” by Daniel Kehlmann (German: “Die Vermessung der Welt”)

“The Queen of Water” Laura Resau

“The Mapmakers Wife” by Robert Whitaker (German: “Die Frau des Kartographen”)

Galapagos:

“My Fathers Island” by Johanna Angermeyer

“Floreana” Margret Wittmer (German: “Postlagernd Floreana”)

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Books we liked: Colombia

“The sound of things falling”  (Juan Gabriel Vasquez) tags: Cocaine, Peace Corps, Love

La otra raya del tigre ,  Pedro Gómez Valderrama,  tags: Geo von Lengerke

(Spanish only)

and of course the books by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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Books we liked: Peru

“Death in the Andes”  by Mario Vargas Llosa

“Turn right at Machu Picchu” by Mark Adams

“The Last Days of the Incas” by Kim Macquarrie

 

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