Cabalgata

Cabalgata is Spanish for a horse ride – normally in the form of a procession.
Cabalgatas are a company in Lurín, Lima Province, Perú, where they provide horse riding tours of various lengths, plus shows featuring the Peruvian Paso horse which has a distinctive gait.

I had opted for the 2 hour ride which was an hour riding through the valley and another hour along the beach. There is an option of a 3rd hour during which you travel through the dunes. I was fairly sure that I would have been saddle sore after 3 hours.

I was excited, as I have been in Lima a month now and have not been out of the city.Hardly been out of Miraflores, although I do like it here. Having been told that once you get away from the city, the sun shines, I rushed out the night before to get some sunblock. Well never mind, the sun did make an effort a few times during the day but it was mainly overcast. Fortunately, I had a lightweight jacket with me so I was protected from the chill by the ocean.

The day got off to a shaky start. The taxi which was booked for 9AM was late. It finally arrived at 9.20 due to, el trafico. No disrespect intended but the Peruvians are well known for their tardiness, which makes me wonder why they are always in a hurry when they are driving.

We arrived late at the Cabalgatas stables by the same margin but of course it was not a problem, as we were not expected to be on time. The journey had taken about an hour and my driver, Jairo was very amiable and chatty. He also waited while I went on my tour and returned me to the penthouse afterwards, for a very fair price. He also doubled up as a photographer.IMG_0007 The horse, by the way, is “Conquistador”. He was very good and did everything that I wanted him too. Just not at the time I wanted him to do it.

After we went through the valley, Claudia (who runs Cabalgatas), returned to the stables with most of the group, leaving me to continue to the beach with Samuel, my guide.We were later joined on the beach by another rider

IMG_0014as we rode along next to the Pacific Ocean.

I had a great day and the only disappointment, which has no reflection on Cabalgatas, was the state of the beach. It looks like they use it as the equivalent of a landfill site. Except it is above ground and extends for several hundred metres and looks just like a tip. I am sure there is a valid reason for it but as a tourist, that reason evaded me.

More information and photographs are available on Cabalgatas blog pages.

Temaikén

Whilst in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I visited the “eco park” at Temaikén. It is situated less than an hour from Buenos Aires city centre and houses endangered and less endangered species, including my favourites, tigers.

There is also a large collection of exotic birds. Parrots, flamingos etc. It was also the place that I discovered that I may have gone through a major change. I may have become child tolerant, although this by no means certain. There were lots of school children in various age groups, touring the park and they did not spoil my day. Strange!

There was an aquarium with a diver cleaning the glass. I trust he is a well paid window cleaner as there were sharks in the aquarium.

Various species of birds…

…and predators.

Click on photos to enlarge and for a slideshow.

Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, was the most vibrant city I visited during my South American adventure. The main streets such as Florida are full of shoppers all day long. Prices are not cheap in Argentina but if you have US dollars, you can take advantage of the “dollar blue” and get more than 50% above the exchange rate in Argentinian pesos from the money changers on the streets although you do need to look out for counterfeit bills .

I went on a guided tour on which I visited La Boca Stadium and also Caminito, a street which is said to be where the tango originated.

Buenos Aires has a lot of narrow streets and is fun to explore. It also has a selection of parks which offer some welcome shade from the sun whilst providing some colour.

 

 

Montevideo

I travelled by bus from Buenos Aires in Argentina, to Montevideo in Uruguay. The trip is possible by boat in just a couple of hours but I chose the overnight, 8 hour trip. I had intended to stay for a couple of days but was disappointed, both in the lack of attractions in the city and the cost. It was quite expensive and I decided I would be happier spending the last days of my adventure, in Buenos Aires.

The highlight of my day trip to Montevideo was a visit to the World  Cup Museum.

 

 

Puerto Iguazu

The day after visiting the spectacular Iguazu Falls in Argentina, I decided to rest in the morning and then, in the afternoon, I went  for a walk to “Hito tres fronteras“. This is the place where Argentina has borders with Paraguay and Brazil.  It was a pleasant walk and a lot less frantic than the previous day´s activity.

Enjoying the walk back to town again afterwards, I was rewarded with a reminder that there is more to Iguazu than the falls.

Iguazu Falls Part 2

Continuing the account of my visit to Iguazu Falls, which is Argentina, on the borders with Paraguay and Brazil

After the great boat ride with, Nestor, on the Eco Tour, it was back to the cataratas.

After a spot of lunch, it was on to the powerboat ride into the falls. But first, a ride through the jungle to get to the embarkation point.

I have video footage of the boat ride into the falls but can´t upload it at this time. The connection here is too slow.

After the boat ride I walked back along part of the route the boat had taken and then left the falls feeling exhausted. I was there for 10 hours and it was a full on day for me.

 

 

 

Iguazu Falls

From San Carlos de Bariloche, I travelled by bus to Puerto Iguazu via Buenos Aires. A journey of more than 40m hours. Although it was a long journey, it did give me a great perspective of Argentina. The sheer size of the country, plus the variety of the ever changing landscape. I was also content as I was nearing the last destination on my current list of places to visit. Lucky me!!

Iguazu Falls is truly a “wonder of the world”.

From the Devil´s Throat, I made my way to the next part of my trip, which was to be the “Eco Tour”. There were some distractions along the way.

My good fortune continued as I was the only person to turn up for this particular boat ride. Too many people usually means, too much noise and as consequence, not much to see. Not so with just me and my guide/boatman on board.

Click on any image to enlarge or for slide show.

 

 

Kayaking in Bariloche

After being tipped out of the raft on the rapids the day before, I was looking forward to a nice couple of hours kayaking on Lake Gutierrez. That is exactly what I got. There were just 5 people plus 2 experts. We were put into 2 man kayaks. I was with Marco, one of the trainers. Pablo, the other trainer, was in a one man kayak.

After a brief period of instruction, we set off.

It was a lovely, tranquil setting and we went at a gentle pace to enjoy the scenery. We also stopped for breakfast.

After breakfast, we returned to the starting point, at the same leisurely pace.

Back to base then for a photo call and for me I was off to get the bus to Iguazu Falls.

Click on an image to enlarge, or for a slideshow.

 

Rafting near Bariloche

San Carlos de Bariloche in Patagonia,(in the Argentina part), is a great place for rafting, kayaking, skiing, depending on the season. Having previously tried rafting when I was in Cusco, and, having to cancel a trip in Arequipa after being delayed on my journey, I was keen to have another go, before returning home.

The Cusco rafting was quite tame, levels 2 and 3, although a great experience. Bariloche was said to be mainly rapids of levels 3 and 4. That sounded good. Within my insurance cover. The site was located over 100kms from Bariloche and was close to the border with Chile.

There were 2 rafts with 8 of us in each and I was with a very friendly family group who came from Buenos Aires. I volunteered to go in the front and my new friend Tito, was opposite me. All went well, until the most demanding of the rapids. We got a bit out of shape and seemed to be stuck, just being spun around. We lost one person and then Tito became dislodged and was sat on my leg, the raft tipped over and we were all thrown into the water.

Leaving a boat and entering cold water is not a new experience for me. Having said that, when entering the water, I usually have a moment to adjust, as the cold water on my face usually makes me feel nauseous. On this occasion, whilst feeling the nausea, I also felt a sickening blow as I was hit full in the face by someone’s  safety helmet, with all of their body weight plus acceleration, behind it.

I was stunned and sank like a stone. I have to say, I thought that this could be it. I have had a few underwater moments previously but on this occasion was not even able to take a deep breath before going under. The water was deep and cold and I was being spun around. We had been well equipped, with wet suits and life preservers and I was able to suppress the urge to take a breath long enough to get to the surface. My nose was bleeding and I was still a bit stunned but the water temperature helped to keep me focused. It was bloody cold.

The other raft also had problems so there was quite a bit of recovery work to do. I was towed towards the river bank by Martin who was in the recovery kayak and left there while he was busy chasing others. Eventually we were all picked up and the story had a happy ending. We all posed for photos on the Argentina/Chile border. I had thought until now that it was Tito who had crashed into me but after reviewing the photos, it is inconclusive. However, I am looking forward to meeting Tito for a drink in Buenos Aires before I return to the UK.

Click on photos to enlarge or for a slide show.

Cerro Campanario and Bariloche

After making a difficult decision about where to go next in Argentina, from El Chaltén, I decided on San Carlos de Bariloche. The deciding factor being, if/when I return to complete my tour of South America, Puerto Madryn, Cordoba, Mendoza etc., are closer to Buenos Aires.

I seem to have a habit of turning up at places when they are closed. This was the case again, in Bariloche. Cerro Catedral, which is said to have a view among the top ten in the world, was shut. On the advice of Jorge, my taxi driver, Andrea at the Adventure Centre and Martin at Hosteria Guemes, where I was staying, I took a trip up to the mirador of Cerro Campanario and I was not disappointed.

After descending via the chairlift, I went off searching for more natural beauty. It was not hard to find. El Trébol was a mere 15 minutes away.

I caught the bus back to the centre of town but before returning to my hotel, I went down to the lakeside and then walked through the plaza, where some musicians were entertaining the public.

Click on photos to enlarge or for slideshow.

Lago Viedma and Glacier

As well as visiting as many places as possible during my visit to south America, I am also enjoying new experiences. Whilst in El Chaltén in Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina, I managed to go ice trekking on the biggest glacier in Patagonia. I have now seen a few glaciers close up but the experience of trekking across one is something not to be missed.

First we had a close look at the glacier from the boat.

Then we disembarked and made our way across the worn rock which used to be covered by the glacier. We were put into groups and assigned to guides and continued to the edge of the glacier, where we put on crampons and had a briefing, before making our way on to the ice.

Juan, our group leader, was pathfinder and checked each part of the route before showing us how to proceed.

After a well conducted tour we had a celebratory drink of Tia Maria with fresh, glacier ice, followed by a walk through an ice cave before doffing our crampons and making our way back to the boat.

A great experience!

Click on photos for slide shows or to enlarge.