Argentina & Chile,

7th March - 28th March 2010

[Intro - Pre Trip]






Patagonia, Argentina & Chile

- the pages -

[Intro-Pre Trip] [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18]

[GPS Tracks]



    Patagonia Itinerary - In Brief    

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BA0247 Heathrow - Buenos Aires (Pistarini) 21h25 Arrive Buenos Aires 10h45
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Meet the rest of the team flying from RSA

Spend the day in Buenos Aires

Leave by bus for  Bariloche

Arrive overnight in Bariloche - hostel

Day walk: Lynch - Frey Trek from Villa Catedral

Travel to El Bolson & walk to camp

Shopping for hike in El Bolson & bus to Lago Pueblo, walk to camp

14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Start the 6-day walk of Senda Los Hitos

Senda Los Hitos

Senda Los Hitos

Senda Los Hitos

Senda Los Hitos

Senda Los Hitos

Take bus from Puelo to Cochamo & hostel
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Washing & shopping for next walk in Cochamo

Start the Gaucho Trek

Gaucho Trek

Gaucho Trek

Gaucho Trek

Gaucho Trek

End of Gaucho walk - take the bus to Bariloche - hostel

28 29 30 31      
Travel to Buenos Aires – rest of team fly out

BA0246 Buenos Aires (Pistarini) – Heathrow.   12h15

Arrive Heathrow 07h25      


Patagonia Trip Introduction (some months before)

It's one of life's opportunities that doesn't come around too often. My mate in Cape Town from school days, Ralph Pina, with whom I have also shared a fair amount of hiking, brought the trip to Patagonia and the website of the company known as Treksa, run by a couple he met on a previous hike, to my attention. I had always had a desire to go there and so Patagonia, as a destination, had been on my radar. Elena, as it turns out, is Argentinian and Kelson, Brazilian, both of whom currently live in Cape Town, South Africa. My interest now kindled by this opportunity, I went online to the Treksa website. I filled in the registration form. Somehow I was aware of the cursor hovering over the "submit" button without being able to make a final commitment. For a few days thereafter, Ralph and I attempted to psych one another up to apply for this once in a lifetime trip, cliché though it might sound. The experience of this particular adventure seemed to appeal in a similar way to the one that involved a 46-day African overland trip which culminated in my climbing Kilimanjaro - this was here, way back in the mid 1990's. So I thought, well, if he (Ralph) doesn’t go, I’d still want to go, so later that day, I finally relented, clicking the application's "Submit" without further hesitation. The deed had been done, so to speak. Sometimes this happens with a certain amount of instinct, perhaps through some type of calling, a voice in the head maybe. Treksa only plan for 6 people and as a number of additional folk had soon secured a booking, Ralph was seemingly out in the wilderness - nothing comes to those who procrastinate. However, as we had both been making enquiries regarding the trip with Treksa, they relented and his application was also accepted and he ended up being the seventh person to join. I don’t know how many lives he has left but I reckoned he'd just expended one of them.

The trip ahead runs from 7 March until 28 March 2010 (21 days), starting in Buenos Aires. I arrive a day earlier and leave a day later than the scheduled dates. In terms of the initial correspondence, the trip organisers gave an impression of being a fit bunch "of bastards"! My worry is not so much about that as much as it is about the current state of my ankle, as it has been problematic for some time and is periodically, either ok, or it isn’t. My hypothyroidism, which brought on the water retention issue around the ankles two years ago and which I subsequently managed to get under control until it resurfaced and which the doctor still thinks is a mere sprain, is not the only thing to be concerned about. I also take medication for cholesterol and have recently discovered that my sugar levels are elevated (impaired fasting glucose). We will be coming out of a UK winter, so I will have to also try and get into our company gym, depending of course what the continued recession brings forth in Blighty in the near future.



Patagonia Itinerary - The detail (updated)

Day 0 - March 6th : Starting in Buenos Aires. Peter (arriving at 10h45 on a flight from London) will be picked up from airport and transferred to comfortable accommodation. Kelson and Elena, having arrived in BsAs the week before, will be there to meet him.

Day 1 – March 7th : The rest of the group, on a flight from Cape Town, will be picked up from airport and transferred to the same accommodation. The rest of the day can be used to relax or sight seeing. You can choose to come out with us for a nice dinner and to see some Tango. Buenos Aires BA is an unforgettable city that fuses together a over abundance of opposite to create a meeting point for the old and new. What you are left with is a mosaic of style which slot together to create a very unique rhythm, not to be found anywhere else in the world.

Day 2 – March 8th : We’ll have a group meeting after breakfast , and then we can go out to enjoy an exciting day in Buenos Aires !! We are going on a walking tour !! and my wonderful BsAs friend will be our guide !!  Unless some of you would like to go on another mission, we will be happy to direct you to the right places !! End the day with pizza or pancake evening dinner with a local family. We INVITE !!

Activity Options :

Walking Buenos Aires Grade A – you’ll have 5 different walks to choose from (2 hour to 4 hour).
Visit St Elmos + Craft market + Art Gallery +Plaza Dorrego (all in one place!!)
Visit Old Fashion Cafes–
Parrillas for lunch
Tango Festival in March/ Tango Show/ Tango Lesson
Visit Palermo Huge Park, and join the “portenos” (as the city inhabitants are known) in their daily walk !
Mate time + Tortafritas (Argentinian tea ceremony)
Recoleta Cemetery – You’ll find Evitas grave there + on Sunday there is Craft Market + Street Preformers.
Feria Mataderos (Big Market) –At Barrio Mataderos, not to be missed !!

Day 3 – March 9th : We say goodbye to BA ! A walk to Retiro bus station, and we take a bus to the Patagonia town of San Carlos de Bariloche. Before leaving we visit San Telmo + Craft market + Art Gallery +Plaza Dorrego (all in one place!!). Then we go shopping for food, for the bus trip to Bariloche. By 2 pm, we leave the Hostel, and go to the bus station Retiro. At 4 pm, we take the bus to Bariloche, (duration 19 hours). This trip we love because of the stunning scenery we will travel past.


  Day 4 – March 10th : Arrive at Bariloche around 11ish, at the bus station, we will leave your bag of traveling clothes in storage, (at your own cost, will be about R50 each or something like that...), then a short bus trip (10 min) will leave us in town, to get a glimpse of town, have a “empanadas and vino tinto” (red wine) lunch at the plaza, WE INVITE !! and shop for our hike of the next day. Another bus trip, will take us to our accommodation out of town, but close to where we will start our hike the next day, we'll settle in and go out for supper. Hopefully, a early night !!  Day 5 – March 11th : We'll start the day slow, after a good breakfast of “medialunas y cafe con leche”, we’ll start the day, to go and tackle the Lynch-Frey Trek, a day trek, Grade B from Villa Catedral, indicated on the map here, a combination of rugged mountains, cool lakes and pleasant forest. Excellent views of the glaciers Cerro Tronador. Will spend the night in the mountain, to try our gear.

Where in Patagonia is this?



Day 6 – March 12th : Next morning after breakfast we begin our way back to Bariloche. Will be there at midday-ish, after a good shower and rest, we will go and spend the afternoon in the town.

Day 7 – March 13th : Next morning we depart to El Bolson , to the south of Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi, it is a useful tourist centre for the numerous trekking opportunities to be had in the outlying area. Bus at 11 am, from the station, it is a trip of some two hours. We'll arrive 1pm, walk to a divine camping site, settle in, then you can spend the evening at your own leisure. Kelson and Elena will make arrangements for the next day's “tree planting project”. You can spend the evening at your own leisure.

Activity Options:
You can visit the “Bosque Tallado” (Sculpted Forest)
Don’t miss visiting El Bolson Brewery !!
Just hang out and explore the town.

Day 8 – March 14th : We’ll have time to have a leisure breakfast, pack our gear, make our “food shopping list” for our awaited big hike, and go shopping for the food, and for other gear-bits that someone might be missing. In addition, we will spend a few hours from 11 ish to 2 offsetting our flight carbon emissions with our Treksa tree-planting project . After that we’ll take bus from El Bolson to Lago Puelo around 3 p.m. – Walk to camping – make camp, and enjoy the rest of the day strolling on the beaches of Rio Azul.

Day 9 – March 15th : And here is where the fun begins !! We start the 6 day trek of Senda Los Hitos.
From Lago Puelo, aiming to get to, or close to Segundo Corral (plus minus 19km), this trek fords the Río Azul and will lead us (five kilometers) to Arroyo Las Lágrimas, where through-hikers to Chile can complete Argentine border formalities. Five kilometers farther west, Chilean Carabineros will finish our paperwork. That day we aim to walk 5/6 hours, Grade B. Camp in the Chilean wilderness !

Day 10 – March 16th : Trekking Parque Nacional Lago Puelo – Camp in the wild.
From Segundo Corral (or close) to Primer Corral, we walk about 12km (Grade B).

Day 11 – March 17th : Trekking Parque Nacional Lago Puelo – Camp in the wild.
Trekking from Primer Corral to Llanada Grande (or close to), about 20 km covered. We'll camp this night just before arriving in Llanada Grande.

Day 12 – March 18th : Trekking Parque Nacional Lago Puelo – Camp in the wild. We arrive to Llanada Grande today after stopping in this tiny village to get something to eat, we'll take a bus, (which only god knows when will go by...) or a lift, or walk, to Lago TaguaTagua, where we need to take the boat at 14h30 (to take us across to Puelo) where I have arranged someone from the village of Cochamoto collect us and take us to the Hostel there.  Chaps, we are really on our own in this area !! And this might not exactly work like I just described...  I have left this day free, just for us to get through this section. Hopefully, today we will arrive in Cochamo, a tiny fishing village.


Day 13 – March 19th : Spend the day resting, exploring eating yummy food and washing socks !! We'll shop for the next trek – then enjoy exploring  Cochamo– it's situated in a striking setting. On the east shore of the estuary with the volcano behind and as a small, frequently deserted waterfront, where the beaches allow you to sit and admire the view. Dinner together !!


Day 14 – March 20th : Start the 5 day Trek Grade C, Gaucho Trail : The horseback journey from the Pacific across the Andes onto a plateau of lakes, waterfalls, rivers and ancient forests. Follow the legendary 300 year old pioneer trail, a horse path, once used by Indians, Spaniards, Missionaries and the notorious outlaw duo Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.. You will walk through the pristine wilderness of the Andes passing granite mountain peaks, 3000 year old Alerce forest and the amazing variety of wildlife. Today it is used by gauchos and their families who drive their cattle between pastures on the Patagonian frontier. We take a bus from Cochamo, to the start of our trail, and will hike (5/6 hours) to “Refugio Cochamo” La Junta. (Grade B). Here we will have a home made pizza evening WE INVITE !

Day 15 – March 21th : Gaucho Trek – Camp in the wild.
A slow day, exploring the Cochamo Valley. For whom is keen, we will hike “Mirador Arco Iris” (at 900 metres in altitude, taking roughly 7 hours) the best view point in Patagonia !!! And hike back to enjoy a good home made supper at the refugio.

Day 16 – March 22th : Gaucho Trek – Camp in the wild.
From “La Junta” to “El Arco” (plus minus 9 km – 5/6 hours – 350 metres in altitude).

Day 17 – March 23th : Gaucho Trek – Camp in the wild.
From “El Arco” to Lago Vidal Gormaz. ( 7/8 hours – 12 km – 1000 metres). Here we should be able to try our hand at fishing for a Salmon !!! perhaps a fish dinner !! (Grade B and C).

Day 18 – March 24th : Gaucho Trek – Camp in the wild. From Lago Vidal Gormaz we make a deep decent to the outpost of Torrentoso. This part is a difficult part (Grade C) We will camp in the wild.

Day 19 – March 25th : Gaucho Trek – Camp in the wild.
Hike up to the Chilean frontier town of Paso el Leon.

Day 20 – March 26th : Gaucho Trek – Camp in the wild.
After a leisurely breakfast, we hike to the border post from where we will cross to Argentina. Here we hope to get a lift to the campsite of “Pasarela de John” (about 30km away).

Day 21 – March 27th : We take the bus to Bariloche, (70km) from Paraje Villegas (ruta 258). We collect our bag of clothes from the station, go to our Eco Hostel, and that evening go for a nice supper together, our final dinner!! WE INVITE !!

Day 22 – March 28th : End of the Trip ! Leave early morning by bus for the return 19-hour trip back to BsAs, at own cost. The rest of the team fly back to BsAs in order to get a connecting flight. Elena and Kelson will, in all likelihood, travel back on the bus too.

Day 23 - March 29th : Arrive at BsAs bus station in the early morning and Peter will transfer to Pistriani International Airport for the return flight to London at 12h15.



What's included in the price

Included in the price:  All trekking services including experienced guides fluent in English, Spanish and Portuguese. Airport Transfer.  All accommodation (good quality budget), where is possible we'll support eco friendly hostels and camping sites. Hostel/Hotel 7 nights. Paid Camping 2 nights. Wild Camping 11 nights. Sleep overnight in the bus trip from BA to Bariloche. Transport in Argentina and Chile (interstate/city bus, public transport and taxi). Entrance Fee National Parks. Meals (exclude beverage ) as follows: one dinnertime in Buenos Aires one picnic in Bariloche one dinner Cochamo (Chile) one dinner in Bariloche (Final dinner together) Excluded: International Flight. Food for the trek, locally made food sourced and bought in the supermarket, expect to spend around 1500,00 ZAR to 2000,00 ZAR for the 21 day trip.

Some maps of the routes

Additional notes on the Lago Puelo and Gaucho Treks with reference to the maps below - In terms of the Lago Puelo Trek, the hike from Lago Puelo to Segundo Corral and on to Llanada Grande.  A bus is taken to Cochamo, our base for a few days . The return hike from Cochamo on the Gaucho Trail, taking one back to Argentina, is via La Junta and Paso de Leon (on the Rio Manso).


The route from Cochamo on the Gaucho Trail up to Paso de Leon is indicated more clearly on the maps below.




Gear List

Treksa:- "The following is a list outlining the kind of gear recommended on Treksa trails. This list is not meant to be prescriptive. The key word in all of this is comfortable: you should walk in what feel comfortable to you. Please feel free to discuss gear with us if you have any questions. Weather should be generally dry and sunny, but rain,  snow and frost are possible."

The list has been modified to include some additional personal items:

  • backpack ( Av weight afer pack 15-17 kg ) large enough to contain: clothes-sleeping bag-camp mattress-personal gear-food
  • lightweight Tent
  • groundsheet
  • waterproof bag or line your backpack with a large waterproof sack.
  • extra zip-lock waterproof bags
  • day pack large enough to carry 2 litre of water
  • warm sleeping bag (down is good)
  • camp mattress (Thermarest-type blow-up mattress preferable)
  • comfortable walking boots, good socks
  • head torch + batteries
  • several wool or polypropylene tops and bottom + Rab lightweight fleece
  • wool/fleece hat and gloves
  • warm down jacket to wear at night
  • waterproof jacket, preferably breathable type eg: Goretex
  • waterproof overpants
  • light, quick-dry walking pants or shorts
  • quick-dry walking longs + gaiters
  • shoe or sandal for the evening around camp
  • thermal or loose clothes to sleep in
  • sun glasses, high factor (at least SPF30) sun cream, sun hat
  • walking poles if you use them
  • pillow case (to stuff with your warm jacket at night for use as a pillow) + inflatable pillow
  • durable water bottle
  • spare water bladder of 2 litre capacity
  • lightweight trek towel or small hand towel
  • personal toiletries : toothpaste, toothbrush, heel balm, all purpose soap, anti-fungal cream
  • cameras + rechargeable batteries
  • camera battery chargers
  • camera waist bag
  • personal medical kit incl. thyroid medication
  • lightweight Gas cooker and pots + food bowl
  • lightweight knife/fork/spoon set + cleaning sponge
  • toilet roll
  • Garmin Foretrex 100 GPS tracker + batteries
  • Money and Passport
  • Notebook + pen
  • Book to read, iPod (to be left in storage)
  • Clothes line


Patagonia, Argentina & Chile

- the pages -

[Intro-Pre Trip] [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18]

[GPS Tracks]


Other Tour Group photos (Picasa):  [1 - Kelson & Elena]  [2 - Ralph]  [3 - Harald]

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