Archive for the 'Far Far Away' Category
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On June 16th TotalAdventure flew from Los Angeles to Fairbanks Alaska, to join with our Northern Producer,Martin Z. for a 500 mile drive up the Dalton Highway to Deadhorse – at Prudhoe Bay. WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE.
In the 500 Miles between Fairbanks and Deadhorse there is only one stop with lodging, food and fuel – at Coldfoot Camp. There are otherwise only scattered scientific and work camps ( road and pipeline workers ). There are no rest stops ,billboards, McDonald’s, gas stations , nothing but beautiful unspoiled Arctic nature.
The informal road started after the War (2) but became a formal paved and gravel road with the building of the Alyeska Oil Pipeline in the 1970s. From the top in Deadhorse, at Prudhoe Bay, one can drive 12000 miles to the other end of the planet in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, where TotalAdventure was only 6 months before , in Southern Summer, before boarding the ship to Antarctica.
About 140 miles north of Fairbanks. The summertime forest is verdant and full of mosquitos. The sign makes for good target practice.
TotalAdventure crosses the Arctic Circle on land for the first time. In the air, we have flown over the North Pole countless times. On this day, June 19, the sun will dip below the horizon for 2 minutes. On June 21 it will not set at all. Note there all tall trees at this latitude. In Antarctica trees do not exist in a true polar climate. SEE THE VIDEO ABOVE.
The pipeline runs nearly 1000 miles from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez. The oil supplies mainly the US West Coast, Alaska and sometimes Japan.
Lunchtime. We bought all our own food , as there are no rest stop food courts along the way. Sandwiches for lunch and fresh local smoked salmon for dinner.
Our car – A 4 wheel drive Ford Escape rented from North Alaska Tours. It comes equipped with a CB radio as cell service is only available in Coldfoot and Deadhorse, not on the road itself. Behind the car is the Deadhorse gas station – at $7.19 a gallon it’s 30 cents cheaper than Coldfoot. Though the fuel comes directly from under the ground, it has to travel thousands of miles to be refined and trucked back again
Dinner in Coldfoot. Salmon, cheese, sausage and spirits. Drinking in private is legal in “damp ” zones of Alaska. Some areas are completely dry.,including the secure zone at Prudhoe Bay.
Tracks of a young bear in what appears to be very soft sand – evidently not quicksand.
Entering the Brooks Range – separate from the Rockies to the South – about 5500 feet and still a fair amount of snow in June.
Scientific station at Toolik.
Musk Ox. A smaller member of the Buffalo family . Some of the best meat I have ever tasted – but did not have it this time. One would have to know a licensed hunter in season.
A river having just thawed out on the first day of summer. SEE THE VIDEO ABOVE.
A lodge at Coldfoot Camp.
Crossing a river near the Brooks Range.
Dalton Highway Panorama.
Leaving Coldfoot Camp Northbound.
Leaving the Brooks Range for the North Slope.
The sun rises on May 15th and doesn’t set till July 29th. We were there at the exact solstice at 0658 AKDT on 21-6 . ( 1058 EDT)
Prudhoe Bay is a town of 3000 people with no permanent residents. Workers are there 2 weeks and one week off. 7 days a week,12 hours a day. 0600 to 1800 and 1800 to 0600. Most live in Texas or Oklahoma and are flown back there between shifts, although a a few live in Anchorage and Fairbanks. Average salary is $ 150,000 a year, with many making much more. Right now 300,000 barrels a day are pumped. In the 1970s there were over 2 million barrels pumped a day. The machinery of the wells in encased in concrete to prevent freezing in 60 below temperatures in the winter.
At last , the Arctic Ocean. On the first day of summer, the ice has melted along the edges ,but is still a solid sheet further out. We swam in the 32 degree water ( 0C ) The air was 37 ( 2.5) TotalAdventure has now swam in all 4 Oceans ! Saltwater freezes at 28 F, -2.8 C. SEE THE VIDEO ABOVE FOR THE SWIMMING !
2700 miles across is the Norway/Karelia Russia border. Chukotka Krai , Russia is 650 miles West and Yukon Territory ,Canada is about 120 miles East. The North Pole is 20 degrees or 1200 Nautical Miles.
Swimming Amongst the Arctic Ocean Ice Floes in Zero Centigrade.
$ 219 a night room at Deadhorse. Comfortable beds, very hot shower down the hall and laundry ! The very hot shower was great after the swim.
Returning South On The Dalton. Though the land looks green and marshy during the eight week melt season, it is actually a desert. There is only 5 inches of precipitation annually, most of that in the form of snow, though we had a cold rain for a few hours. When the snow melts ,it has no where to go because of permafrost below and the weak sun can’t evaporate it.
Spanish motorcycle crew at Coldfoot – they have come all the way from Tierra del Fuego.
Icy River !
Back In Fairbanks At Last . 1020 miles round trip and now, in 80 degree weather we viewed Mt. Denali ( McKinley) from over 130 miles away. The 20,000 foot mountain is eternally snow covered.TotalAdventure flew to McKinley Base Cap twice in 2016.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE FOR THE WHOLE EXPERIENCE !
TotalAdventure flew from Colombo,Sri Lanka to Kathmandu, Nepal on March 14th. It was a comfortable 3 hour flight, almost entirely over smoky India – hard to see much from the air.
I was greeted at the airport by my colleague and guide Shahadev Shrestha – CEO of Everest Pioneer Trek Nepal Ltd. We met at the Adventure Travel World Summit In Anchorage, Alaska in 2016. I was planning a trip to Nepal in 2020, but of course worldwide lockdowns and border closings made that impossible. Now ,in 2023,TotalAdventure finally arrived. For the next 9 days I would explore the ancient cities of the Kathmandu Valley and climb thousands of meters on the challenging stair trails in the high hills leading to the Annapurna Range.
The first day was spent in the city. Monkeys are city dwellers also.
Nandi The Bull. Nepal is both Hindu and Buddhist.
Gods Are Omnipresent – Kathmandu is a city of lively prayer. WATCH THE VIDEO .
One of the Nepali national dishes is Momo. This special Momo, a type of dumpling, has chicken and is extra spicy. Nepali food has more meat than Indian, but cow beef is forbidden.
Monkeys Love Ice Cream ! The extreme cold causes them to eat it slowly.
In Old Bhaktapur – What lies behind these mysterious doors ?
Lord Buddha is ever calm and wise.
Ancient palaces have been restored over the past two decades.
A life of prayer and piety lead to desirable conditions for reincarnation.
A visit to the Burning Ghats sees reincarnation in action. When a Hindu departs, they are cremated within the next day, if not sooner. The ashes go into the water ,while the spirit rises into the Heavens, soon to return in a new life.
The oldest son prays before his Father.
A Holy Man reads scripture.
The price list translated from the original Nepali.
In Kathmandu TotalAdventure stayed at Kathmandu’s most iconic hotel – the Yak and Yeti. It was originally a palace.
The pool is spectacular. In addition there are clay tennis courts,a state of the art gym and sauna, as well as world class international restaurants and bars.
Manager Robinson Maharjan with Shahadev Shrestha.
Though quaint, i t’s nice to read an old fashioned local English paper, even though we can get the same news 24/7 on our electronic media.After your passport, your phone is now the most important travel item.
Now, it was time for the adventurous part of the Nepal Adventure. We boarded a 25 minute flight to Pokhara. The drive is 12 to 15 hours due to major road contraction, even though it is only a little over 100 km.
We stayed at the Mount Kailash Resort in Pokhara. One can see this beautiful Himalayan view on clear mornings.There is a great swimming pool and spa to recuperate from a strenuous trek in the nearby Himalayas.
The trails in Ghorepani Poon Hill are nearly vertical – sometimes a 60 degree grade. Instead of rods, because the grade is impossible for cars, there is an extensive network of stairs . All transport is on the backs of humans and sometimes small agile horses. SEE THE VIDEO ! There are many simple guest houses in a network of villages. Your morning eggs and coffee was carried up on someone’s back. As a result prices are higher than the lowlands, but still quite reasonable.
Mt.Fishtail 6,993 Meters 22727 feet – has never been climbed. It is extremely dangerous and the Nepali Government does not grant permits.
TotalAdventure’s Permit, secured by Everest Pioneer Trek.
TotalAdventure details and routes.
Annapurna – 10th highest mountain in the world – 8,091 Meters, 26,545 feet. Nepal has 8 of the 10 highest mountains in the world. Mt.Everest is farther Northeast and takes 2 weeks just to get to base camp – remember – cars are not an option.
The proprietress of our lodge with Shahadev and our porter Raj Kumar.
The snow lasts all year at higher elevations. It actually snows more in the summer, as that is monsoon. At our level around 3000m ,we had some light snow in the early mornings.
Mt.Fishtail In The Clouds.
The videographer at work.
After 3 days of climbing – from 2200 meters to 4000 meters , it was time to return to Pokhara. After a day of relaxation – we returned to Kathmandu – where I flew on to Qatar and the USA
We had a farewell dinner at the Yak and Yeti before I caught my 2 AM flight to Qatar. Pictured are Shahadev’s family, wife and daughter, along with an old college colleague of mine, Beth Brewster. We first met on a school trip in Mexico over 40 years ago. Beth has been in Nepal over 25 years. and is in charge of Giving Asha. The organization provides help to marginalized women and children in Nepal. Nepal has a great tourism industry, but there are still many poor. Please donate on the page.
Everest Pioneer Trek just launched three new adventures on TotalAdventure.Travel Click in the top left page of TotalAdventure Magazine or directly link to the trips from these links :
TotalAdventure arrived in Colombo in the early morning hours of March 2,2023. It had been nearly three years since the first attempt to travel to Sri Lanka had been made, The Pandemic made travel in 2020 impossible, until late in the year when a two week quarantine was imposed – a traveller would have to spend two weeks in a government approved hotel and then be tested. Upon release, travel within the country was still restricted and many temples and other public places remained closed. In mid 2021 the quarantine was dropped and TotalAdventure booked the flights and obtained the visa. Three days before departure the quarantine was reimposed and so TotalAdventure cancelled. In early 2022 TA once again booked – only to be stopped on a false positive of a required covid test. Now – with the world once again open ( more or less) I flew from Miami to Qatar and then on to Colombo.
The Business Class upgrade was very welcome for the 5 hour DOH-CMB leg, after 15 hours in coach from Miami.
Colombo is a mix of Colonial buildings of the British Raj, modern high rises and temples dating back centuries.
The food is amazing. Go to local places like the Curry House. Stay away from tourist locations that have bland imitations and western dishes.
My lunch was very spicy, varied and delicious -everything fresh. Sri Lanka is not as vegetarian as India. The food is eaten by hand . This dish was about $ 3.
Traditional with modern – the bizarre building in the background is reminiscent of Pyongyang.
After a day and a half in Colombo, it was time to head in-country. The 4 hour train ride from Colombo to Kandy cost 350 rupees – about $ 1. On top of a country station lives a monkey family – obviously influenced by 1980s. punk fashion.
Kandy is home to the Temple of the Tooth – Lord Buddha’s Tooth !
Like The Ark of the Covenant in Ethiopia, one cannot view the actual Tooth, but just have faith that they are very close to it. It sits in a gold box in a vault behind the altar.
TotalAdventure stayed at the Queen Hotel – a charming relic of the Empire. Inside, little has changed – slowly moving fans, British food like mutton chops, cool gin and tonics at the bar.
Hotel Message – keep balcony doors closed, lest mischievous monkeys come in and steal your belongings – they love cameras and jewelry.
After a long and colorful train ride – standing room only for 7 hours,TotalAdventure arrived in Ella The train goes as high as 8000 feet, 2500m – where we viewed the high, cool misty tea plantations that stretch for hundreds of kilometers. . You can see the journey in the VIDEO at the beginning of this article. The town of Ella , at about 1900m, is warmer than the mountaintops but much cooler than sea level. 75/25 in day and 61/16 at night. The countryside is exotically amazing, while the town caters to tourists and their money.
From Ella TotalAdventure hired a car for the ride to Udawalawe National Park – home to several large elephant herds. Elephants are well protected in Sri Lanka – there is very little poaching. However elephant rides are still permitted in some tourist areas – Do not engage in this cruel practice ! The magnificent creatures suffer greatly – as strong as they are ,their backs are not built for carrying heavy loads. Since they naturally refuse this activity – they are beaten into submission to force them.
At the watering hole. A great place for a swim on a hot day – which is every day of the year in Southern Sri Lanka.
Highly intelligent sentient beings. The Hindu Elephant God Ganesh is the God of Wisdom.
Besides the National Parks – elephants live in the wild in many forests throughout Sri Lanka.
From Udawalawe the driver took me to the tranquil Indian Ocean village of Talalla. Monday,March 6th was a Full Moon – and in Sri Lanka every Full Moon Day is a Holiday ! The surfing here is fairly good ,though onshore winds make for some afternoon chop. The hotel was quite nice as you will see in the VIDEO.
As wave conditions were not optimal, and not much to see while snorkeling, TotalAdventure moved on to Batticaloa on the East Coast the next day. Finally, a town with no Westerners ! Above, Nandi the Bull.
Whereas the South and West are more Buddhist , the East and North is more Hindu. There is also a large Muslim community.
Commerce and Holiness Come Together.
Batticaloa is home to the Laughing Fish, or Singing Fish who reside in Batticaloa Lagoon, seen in the VIDEO. In reality, they probably croak, which can be heard in some tropical bottom feeders.
A delicious place even for carnivores like myself. Food is flavorful and filling ,unlike Western oriented vegan food – more bland and unvaried. The hotel was very comfortable, with a beautiful pool. There were giant ballrooms, hundreds, of rooms and a huge restaurant. I was one of 5 people there.
On the way to Trincomalee there were several beautiful mosques. TotalAdventure did visit one in Batticaloa that you can see in the VIDEO. Sri Lanka is 70% Buddhist, 13 % Hindu, 10% Islamic and 7% Catholic.
TotalAdventure went further up the coast to Trincomalee – where Lord Rama sits high on the cliffs looking out into the Indian Ocean at Thirukoneswaram Kovil .
Ravanna prays from atop the cliffs.
All Powerful Kali – Goddess of War.
TotalAdventure Becomes Holi.
A clifftop treat of healthy refreshing juice. About 75 cents.
Many world times – none of them right. Sri Lanka i in a half hour time zone.
In A Seaside Temple.
The final destination before returning to Colombo was Sirigiya Rock Fortress. According to TripAdvisor :
There’s a reason UNESCO ranks Sigiriya as the 8th Wonder of the World.. Sigiriya is a stunning ruins of a castle build atop a tall rock mountain. An engineering marvel, water was piped from the pools at the base of the rock mountain, all the way up to the castle.
200 Meters or 625 feet doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s half an Empire State Building at a 60 degree angle.
Ancient City high above the jungled plains.
It’s lunchtime above the pond on the fortress top.
Some similarities with Mexico and Central America.
An ancient swimming pool ?
200 Meters Below. The climb up was great practice for climbing the stairs of the Himalayas in Nepal , right after Sri Lanka. What I thought would take hours only took about 45 minutes.
The dry (relatively ) jungles spread out below.
TotalAdventure had hoped for one last train ride – to Colombo. Alas , the train engineer for the Trincomalee to Colombo run was sick that Sunday, so once again I had to hire a car – $ 80 as opposed to $ 2.
A Final Night In Colombo – And It Was Off To Nepal In The Morning ! Mini – Shanghai Tower.
11000 KM South To Antarctica ! See the video above !
On November 29,2022 TotalAdventure and a colleague boarded an Aerolineas jet for Buenos Aires arriving in Ezezia that evening. The next morning , from Aeroparque, we boarded a smaller jet for the 4 hour flight to Ushuaia. Please see the Ushuaia article above, if you have not already.
Above is the dock at Ushuaia, where our ship, the MV Hondius departed to and arrived from, Antarctica.
Buenos Aires By Night.
Dining At The World’s Top Rated Steakhouse – Don Julio ! The 95 degree summer weather was welcome on our return from Antarctica.
Ushuaia – Time to board the ship to cross the Drake ! Read on in the series below !
Good Fortune Ahead From Ushuaia Across The Drake !
A Long Way From Miami !
Only a very small percentage of the world’s population has been to the Icy Continent at the bottom of Planet Earth. Until the 1980s almost no one but scientists and military explorers had gone to Antarctica, which wasn’t even discovered till 1800. This 2022-23 season may see almost 100,000 visitors, most by ship, some by plane. At any rate , probably less than 1 million people have ever been to Antarctica, about one in 8000.
The land is extremely dangerous. Only the most experienced well equipped explorers can move about on their own – as part of well funded expeditions. The rest go on ice breaker exploration cruise ships or on sailboats. One can be crushed by falling ice, sink into snow like quicksand, never to be seen again or simply swallowed by an avalanche, perhaps seen again in 10,000 years.
Most of the treacherous land is simply photographed. We observed many mountains that had never been climbed, because it would be almost impossible. Here we don’t talk about feet or meters of snow – we talk about kilometers or miles of depth. Up to 5km deep in the interior.
Under hundreds of meters of powdery snow is a mountain. It has now been proven that these mountains are actually a continuation of the Andes, and on to the Rockies. Only the Peninsula has mountain chains, most of the rest of the continent is a flat dry cold desert,,where the snow only falls as a dusting, but since it never melts, lasts forever.
In December the sun only sets for 90 minutes and the sky does not get dark, here at 65 South. At the South Pole, 90 South , it is light for six months.
Apple Watch Astronomy.
Most mountains are jagged like the Andes.
TotalAdventure – On The Seventh Continent !
A former British scientific base , Port Lockroy, is preserved and open in summer for visitors ,who can also shop at what is probably the only souvenir stand on the entire continent. For £ 2 one can send an Antarctica stamped postcard anywhere in the world – via London. 4 women run the show – chosen from 4000 applicants.
The men ( certainly no women in those days) lived a rugged life, in the interest of Science, serving the Crown. Assignments were often 2 years – cut off from the world other than radio for 9 months of winter.
A Young Queen and her Prince give encouragement to the lads in far flung outposts.
The bar was well stocked, but one year the supply ship got stuck in early season ice, and rationing was enforced.
Depending on wind and snow weight, some mountain slopes are bare.
TotalAdventure is not amused how uneducated some compatriots are. I am constantly asked if there are polar bears and igloos in Antarctica. Do these people not remember 3rd Grade geography ? I am also asked why we take a ship instead of a plane and what the hotels are like ? Why I can’t receive a text or a phone call ? No one has yet asked what car rentals cost ,but I’m sure that’s coming.
TotalAdventure – Reporting From Antarctica !
In Antarctic Summer, beginning in Late November/Early December – the sun softens the coastal icepack , allowing sections of the continental ice sheet to break off into the water – in the this case the Pacific zone of the Southern Ocean. At the same time the salt water sea ice softens and breaks up, allowing ships to enter bays and for penguins to fish in more open waters.
We see here a mixture of land and sea ice.The whiter ice is remnants of broken and melting land ice. The flat grey ice is the frozen sea surface either breaking up or just freezing more slowly under the 24 hour summer sunshine. The seawater is -2 C or 28 F. Saltwater freezes at a lower temperature than fresh, which is Zero. Those icicles are natural art – from the broken off lip of a larger iceberg.
Our Zodiacs of the MV Hondius were able to plow slowly, though ice chunks often get caught in the propeller.
One advantage of the waterpoof GoPro, TotalAdventure shot lots of footage under the ice ! Watch the video above for extensive coverage ! Here the camera is upside down , seeing the bottom of the ice floes and the water surface.
TotalAdventure aboard the Zodiac with the GoPro.
On one of the colder days, around -3 C the surface turns slushy, as is the characteristic of salt water ice when forming.
Like clouds, every Iceberg is unique.And it’s true that what you see is only the tip – very large icebergs might be only 10% above water. They can also roll over. The Zodiacs steer clear of the larger ones.
From the deck of the Hondius. See the video for much more action !
All one iceberg. There is a cove inside. Extremely dangerous to approach as huge chunks of ice can crush you.
Closer , but not too close.
On top of an ice shelf, a Leopard Seal soaks up the summer sunshine.
Inside, the water looks almost tropical ,with swimming pool blue – but of course it’s not !
I might be cute, but I can rip your arm off ! And eat an entire Gentoo Penguin in 3 or 4 bites.
Inside the cove. Like an Antarctic resort. Just add beach chairs.
At The Bottom Of The Planet !
The weight of accumulated snow may flip this iceberg – a good reason to stay clear.
Ice piled along the shoreline. Our landing spots were limited.
At Latitude 65 South, Approaching The Antarctic Circle.
Animal and plant life in Antarctica is almost entirely along the coastlines and ice shelves. Inland there are no food sources. The frigid, yet nutritious, ice filled seas provide fish, who in turn feed seals ,penguins and other birds. Unfortunately, but naturally necessary, penguins also feed seals. Because of the extreme cold of the nearly 9 month winter, stretching from April to November, the penguin colonies of the Peninsula are not as large as those further North, in South Georgia and Argentina.
Penguins are quite social – not only with each other – but also with their human visitors. Here they are setting up nests with small rocks.
Walking, running and sledding are ways to get through the snow.
Primarily we observed Gentoo Penguins, with occasional Chinstraps. They are less than one meter tall. Larger Emprorers live in South Georgia.
Leopard seals are a constant and deadly threat.
The red snow is from regurgitated and defecated fish. Overall the smell is fishy . Exploring passengers must sanitize their boots upon return to the ship to prevent cross continental contamination. No longer are non native animals, such as dogs and horses, permitted on the Antarctic continent.
Getting ready to dive in for dinner.
TotalAdventure with Gentoo Penguins at Port Lockroy.
Gentoo On A Mission. They Are Busy Birds.
With MV Hondius Just Offshore.
Be sure to watch the video above to see the penguins in action !
Hondius is the first-registered Polar Class 6 vessel in the world, meeting the latest and highest Lloyd’s Register standards for ice-strengthened cruise ships. Surpassing the requirements of the Polar Code adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Hondius represents the most flexible, advanced, innovative touring vessel in the polar regions, thoroughly optimized for exploratory voyages that provide you the utmost first-hand contact with the Arctic and Antarctica. ( Credit : Oceanwide Expeditions ) Length 107.6 Meters . Can Accommodate 170 Passengers In 80 Cabins. Only 4 years old – launched in 2019.
Observing Five Meter Waves From The Bridge,As We Cross The Drake Passage.
Top Of The Line Navigation – Ensures safe and speedy passage through the Drake and into ice filled Antarctic waters. Antarctic season is from November to April and Arctic season from May to September.
Hearty meals 3 times a day keep explorers energetic and alert for landings on the icy continent.
TotalAdventure’s Antarctic office. Satellite Wifi is extremely expensive and slow- even the ship staff suggest just unplugging. Some passengers used satellite phones and text devices to stay in touch with family. TotalAdventure used the MacBook Pro to review the day’s GoPro video and still photos. It was great to leave the rest of the world behind for 10 days – nothing much had changed by our return to Ushuaia.
Our extremely comfortable cabin on Deck 6. Housekeeping service daily, consistent hot water in shower and very quiet. Large screen with movies and constant update on navigation, daily schedule. The Hondius is an exploration ship, not a cruise ship. No casino ,no disco, though there is a bar in the lounge.
On this voyage we went within 100km of the Circle. The Antarctic Peninsula is the only part of the continent where one can embark upon the actual shoreline – the rest of the coast is surrounded by ice shelves extending many kilometers out.
The Midnight Sun From Deck 8.
On the bow after lunch, en route to the afternoon landing.
The Hondius Lounge – for lectures, a drink at the bar, card playing, and watching the icebergs float by.
For the most part we experienced great early summer weather. Temperatures from – 4 to +6 ,most of the time right around Zero . ( C) There were some light snow accumulations on the ship overnight twice.
Landings are by motorized Zodiac. We had a total of 8 landings in 4 days, with only one destination change due to ice conditions.
From the Stern- Return To Ushuaia – Base Port For The Southern Summer.
TotalAdventure Is Currently En Route To Antarctica. We arrived here on Wednesday , November 30th after flying from Miami through Buenos Aries.
It is 600 Miles Across And Will Take 2 Days.
The MV Hondius Is An Icebreaker Class 6 Polar Ship. Built in 2019,It carries 112 Passengers. You can track our voyage HERE
Glaciar Martial. At ehe end of the 12000 mile Rockies and Andes chain that begins in Alaska.
Argentina is 5000 km North To South. A long beautiful drive.
The Malvinas Are An Important Situation Here.
Ushuaia Is Far From Everywhere !
Southernmost Commercial Airport In The World.
Don Bosco Cathedral.
Looking South TO Chile. TotalAdventure will depart tomorrow afternoon throught the Beagle Channel and past Cape Horn.
TotalAdventure returns to Ushuaia Argentina on December 13 . We are extremely unlikely to have any internet or cellular contact while on the expedition, but perhaps a sporadic link. TotalAdventure looks forward to sharing the adventure with everyone !
This article is the first of a two part story – where TotalAdventure explores the southernmost reaches of the inhabited world. TotalAdventure was invited by the Adventure Travel Trade Association and SERNATUR ( Chile Ministry of Tourism) to joining two expeditions – one in Torres del Paine National Park – more detail in the next article and another engaging in other activities on Estancias and in the vast preserves of nature. SERNATUR paid for air travel and other essentials. The trips I joined were run by Chile Nativo. Besides exploring the incredible nature of the region – we met with 25 companies chosen to work with us to sell their packages on TotalAdventure. 32 other buyers , along with press , were invited to promote the pristine unspoiled remote areas of Chilean Patagonia , the Strait of Magellan – the Gateway To The Antarctic.
TotalAdventure has been commuting to the Southern Cone this year. First, 8 hours to Santiago. Then another 4 hours down to Puerto Natales.
To El Fin Del Mundo – The End Of The World.
From Summer To Winter.
Where The Guanacos Roam.
Stripped Clean By Pumas.
Rheas, A Smaller Version Of The South African Ostrich.
Argentina Border. In order to drive to other parts of Chile, one must drive over 1600 km through Argentina. Chile is almost all islands or impassable glaciers and forest from Puerto Natales to Puerto Montt. Relations between the two competing Latin giants are cordial ,but not always friendly.
We spent the day at Estancia Cerro Guido, very near the Argentine border crossing at Río Don Guillermo. The Estancia has huge herds of sheep, and allows visitors to experience daily life on the Patagonian steppes.
The sheep are very wooly by winter’s end.
It’s time for a haircut. While the ewe is mildly annoyed, there is no pain. It can be dangerous for the wool to get too thick and heavy. In freezing rain and heavy snow, the animals can’t move and can die of cold. This past winter ( May to October) was the coldest and snowiest in many years – the Estancia had to rescue some herds .
The wool is shipped all over the world to be made into high quality sweaters, dresses, socks and hats.
Lunch at Estancia Cerro Guido. Parilla del Cordero. ( Lamb ) A guest might enjoy this daily.
View From On High – Towards Torres Del Paine.
The next day, outside of Puerto Natales we rode horses up Cerro Dorotea. The outfit was not totally my choice. The horses were well tempered and responsive to more experienced riders, such as myself.
Led by Guachos – Born In The Saddle !
A warm fire at the mountaintop. It was sleeting at the top.
Patagonia Before The European Settlers.
On the final day, before sales meetings began, we boarded a cruiser for an expedition through Fjord Ultima Esperanza to Glaciar Balmaceda, about 50 km from Puerto Natales.
The saltwater fjord extends a long way from the Pacific.
Seals live in caves along the cliffs.
Mother And Pup.
The days are spent fishing and getting some late winter sunshine.
A low flying bird . The caracara ? Ornithologists please let us know..
I’ll Have A Grant’s . On 3000 Year Old Glacier Rocks Please.
The Explorer At Work.
Glacial Waters spilling into the fjord.
Purest Water Anywhere !
Down From Glaciar Balmaceda.
Bandera de Patagonia.
Magellanic Penguins Live On The Cliffs – Safe From Seals.
Outdoors Adventures Concluded – At the Hotel Rio Serrano we were greeted with an incredible Parillada de Cordero. The next two days were spent meeting with 25 local adventure providers – all of whom we hope sell adventures on TotalAdventure Chile Nativo already is !.
Beautiful warm pool, with nearby saunas, whirlpools and gym to warm up after a day on the glaciers !
All too soon, the adventures came to a close and it was time to head to the airport. Observed outside at a roadside cafe – two sheepdogs entertaining themselves.
From Punta Arenas it’s a 4 1/2 hour flight to Santiago, where I had a 7 hour layover, so went into the city to have dinner with a friend. After a connecting flight through Bogotá on Avianca, I was back in Miami the next afternoon. Punta Arenas is the second most southerly commercial airport in the world – with actual flights to Antarctica – about 800 mies south.
I first came to the Far South of Patagonia in February, 1991. I drove to Puerto Natales from Rio Gallegos, Argentina. I was one of 5 cars to cross the border that day. This photo is on Glaciar Moreno in El Calfate, Argentina. 31 years later, I am happy to report that the nature has not been changed much – due to strict and well planned conservation and sustainable tourism. Of course there are many more hotels, restaurants and tour companies catering to adventurous travelers from all over the world. Also technology is far more advanced. That’s a Sony Hi-8 video camera – considered quite advanced for the time with 480 lines . I had a custom made battery belt that powered it all day. To edit, I had to rent a $ 200 per hour studio in New York. Now I shoot on a GoPro 10 with up to 5300 lines and edit on my MacBook Pro. It was great to be back – stay tuned for TotalAdventure’s return to Tierra del Fuego and onwards to Antarctica next month – December 2022 !