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scubacruiserx2

Antarctica and South America on the Zaandam

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Last December we went on a 22 day cruise and 9 nights pre and post cruise visit to South America . 

 

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The cruise was on the HAL Zaandam from San Antonio , Chile to Buenos Aires Argentina .

 

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We took over 10,000 photos on this trip so it will take a while to cull , download , edit and upload to Photo Bucket before writing , so please be patient . It will be mostly in chronological order and will use some photos from our previous cruises to South America .

 

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So , bags packed and ready to go ?

 

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Boarding passes ?

 

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OK , lets go .

 

 

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Our flight was on time on a 330 Airbus

 

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And after dipping our Starboard wing over Miami we were on our way .

 

 

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The view from the seat

 

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Breakfast is served and the Carb loading has started .

 

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There is a 2 hour difference between Miami and Buenos Aires

 

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We were seated in the last row of Condor Class and we noticed that a curtain of silence was pulled next to us . This was used by the flight crew . We also noticed that after take off all of the window shades were pulled down with most of the people going to sleep after breakfast .

 

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It seemed like the motto for this flight was " Sleep till you're hungry , eat until you're sleepy " . But in between we found TV like this Globe Trekker on Route 40 pictured .

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And a video clip :

 

 

We hoped to be flying to El Calafate on the following day and driving on Route 40 to El Chalten and this show was a good preview . It was then time for lunch and maybe a nap .

 

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We couldn't sleep in the day and were walking around a little when we noticed that the flight crew was sharing some Mate which they offered to us .

 

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And before we knew it , we were closing in on Buenos Aries .

 

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We had a good flight to Buenos Aires and were ready to be admitted into Argentina . Upon entering we were photographed and had to use a thumbprint . We also had to have our bags X-rayed . We had hoped to exchange some dollars for pesos or use the ATM for pesos for dinner and a taxi. Well,things did not go as planned - Taxi ride, check-in and go out to dinner.  Our pre-booked taxi was nowhere to be found and we waited an hour before getting another taxi. In the meantime we tried to use the ATM - it was Sunday and the ATMs do not really work on Sunday.  We did find the National Bank and exchanged USD for AR Pesos.  We had the Airport Information try to reach our taxi company Taxi Premium, no answer, so we got  a taxi willing to take someone. We agreed on a price and then in the car told us that we also had to pay for tolls. Because of the hour wait we are now stuck in a massive traffic jam. A local soccer team had just won. Lucky us. Bumper to bumper, honking horns, yelling waving flags  and probably 8 lanes across. It took over an hour to get downtown - our driver even drove on the shoulder.

Once near our hotel, we see roads blocked off - yup, they were not letting cars into our hotel area because of the celebration of the win. Driver says our pesos are no good and wanted US dollars. Ok fine ( later we found out this is a scam. Carry a small amount in a pocket, do not show wallet with money and if they say it is not good, you say that is all you have or will they take credit card? etc. Usually they will take your pesos and definitely USD, but know the exchange).  Our driver tried to get close to the hotel and we have to schlep uphill with our luggage 3 blocks. Finally, we made  it to the Amerian Park Hotel Buenos Aires, checked-in and had half an hour before the restaurant stops serving food - after 22.00 it continues as a bar.

 

The Amerian Hotel

 

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We had hoped to eat here but it was closed when we arrived at the hotel across the street .

 

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The room with a view

 

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Eggs for breakfast ?

 

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Next : The flight to El Calafate 

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After breakfast we took a walk before boarding the plane .

 

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Bags checked and ready to go .

 

 

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An 11:30  3 hour flight

 

 

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A ham and cheese again and Mate tea bag , a pattern was developing

 

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Beautiful lakes ,

 

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snow capped mountains and Lenticular clouds . This is why we came here .

 

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Posted (edited)

Before boarding our flight a new wrinkle had been added . Instead of walking down a ramp into the plane you walked down 2 flights of stairs to board a bus for a ride to the plane . You boarded the plane by a ramp and the free for all for luggage space began . It seem like everybody wanted to put their bags in the front of the plane , but not where they sit . 

 

Coming in for a landing

 

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Finding our luggage was easy but once again , we had to pass it through an X-Ray machine . At our rent a car place we were told that our car had been wrecked by the wind flipping it into a tree . We were also cautioned to park facing into the wind to avoid having the doors ripped off . Welcome to Patagonia !

 

The crosswind was about 50 mph from the left ( West ) . Shots from the car with my pocket camera

 

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Guanaco alert

 

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Horses 

 

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Sheep

 

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And our hotel room 

 

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More later when we're looking forward to pulling out our good cameras !

 

 

Edited by scubacruiserx2

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Some shots from our Canons

 

The turn to Route 40

 

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A Rhea beside the road

 

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The clouds shadow on the hills

 

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We really preferred the open road driving and scenery to the cities

 

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More horses

 

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An Estancia and our first sighting of Mt. Fitz Roy in the center

 

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A shrine at the top of a hill

 

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Getting closer

 

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Entering El Chalten the peaks were backlit and we were hoping for better light in the morning .

 

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We stayed in El Chalten which is a hiking area , but with bad knees we will not do much hiking . We stayed at Los Cerros in the CH. Darwin room . We had a shower and a large tub which has a window overlooking the bedroom with a selfie reflection .

 

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In the common area was a basic breakfast

 

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Some views from our hotel before dinner

 

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We had dinner at La Taperia which was very good . I didn't bring my camera so no food photos . This photo is from Google Maps .

 

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At bed time the wind almost sounded like a hurricane . But it died over night and the sun was out so we jumped in the car for a ride , retracing our steps .

 

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We began heading Southeast on Route 23 taking photos .

 

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We saw this road sign for some islands far out to sea .

 

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There has been a dispute there between Argentina and the U.K. Malvinas is the Argentinian name and the Falkland Islands is the British one .

 

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Mirador al Chalten

 

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We turned off on a gravel road to the Puerto Bahia Tunel and saw this Guannaco

 

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We noticed something funny in the clouds

 

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Stripes 

 

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We decided to drive to the North side of the city where the road becomes gravel for a different view of Fitz Roy

 

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Goose and goslings

 

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We hated to leave such a scenic area but we about a 3-4 hours drive with only 1 gas station between us and El Calafate

 

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Not including stops for just 1 more photo

 

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At this stop we found a stone split in half

 

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Our route would be taking us East on 23 , South on 40 and West on 11 to El Calafate to spend several days there in Glacier country .

 

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Rear view mirror cam

 

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getting smaller

 

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Lake Viedma

 

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A drive by pinnacle

 

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Lago Argentino and our first iceberg sighting

 

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Another map of El Calafate

 

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We stayed at the same hotel which we visited in 2013

 

 

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It has a distant view of Lake Argentina

 

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On the first night that we stayed , the dining room was filled with tourists and so we could't eat there . Room service brought a pizza .

 

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The group had left early in the morning

 

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After breakfast and picking up a box lunch we were ready to head out to The Lonely Planet's # 1 pick in Argentina - Perito Moreno Glacier .

 

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It about and hours ride from the hotel to the entrance

 

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There are a number of catwalks to get you down to the glacier face .

 

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It would a good idea to unpack your jacket if you haven't already 

 

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It's hard to tell how large the glacier is from the photos but it's about 3 miles wide , 240 feet tall and about 19 miles long .

 

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There are different colors on the glacier white , black  , light blue and a dark blue that we had never seen before 

 

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Once again it hard to measure the scale of the ice chunk  until we saw a boat next to it . It was leaning a lot as all of the people rain to one side .

 

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We did see more calving here because we stayed longer here , but this glacier is advancing instead of retreating .

 

Our video clip of calving :

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A glacier day cruise

 

The trip to Puerto Bandera is the same way as to Perito Moreno only you turn right instead of left . It takes about 40 minutes by car .

 

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The door to the smaller private area has a map of the trip . The door nob is where we begin our cruise .

 

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Eight of us sat at the dining table .You can see our camera bags at the bench where we sat .

 

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The first offering was the carb course .

 

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The first ice berg

 

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The black ice has it's color from the rocks and sand that it rubbed against sliding down the glacier .

 

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An ice cave

 

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Like people , icebergs come in many different sizes and shapes

 

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Gauge the iceberg by the trees growing on top of the hills

 

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Damn the icebergs , full speed ahead !

 

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We need to get closer for a selfie

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Selfie poles ready ?

 

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I believe that the first glacier that we saw was the Upsala 

 

 

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We had seen many icebergs , glaciers and glaciers close up from a boat . A little later on the Zaandam we would encounter an iceberg 130 ' tall , 5 miles wide and 11 miles long !

 

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It took us an hour to sail it's length ! A short video clip :

 

 

 

 

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We liked the silver riverlets flowing over the black

 

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I believe that we were at the Spegazzini glacier now

 

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