2018-04-12 Day 316 Thu

We waited till the sun got up and drove down the hill. I took a few macro shots of plants but it was really very cold about 1 degree. Once out to the main road we stayed on it till we had crossed back into Chile at the main border crossing. Had another big lunch before the crossing but was not needed they did not ask or look. We had marked on our documents that we had food. But nothing.

After the border we took the white road. 30kms shorter and hopefully less traffic and not too rough.

A great road 80kph. Saw about 4 cars…

Caught the ferry back to mainland. We stopped at the two wrecks on the beach for some photos camped north of Punta Arenus close to the airport.
A big day but easy driving.


2018-04-11 Day 315 Wed

A border crossing today, back into Argentina. As we got close to the border we received a little internet. I had a message from Benalla travel about johns flight. He needs to go a day early and via Puerto Montt to Santiago. :-(

Our trip to Terra Del Fuego is being trimmed more. Now we really have to move. We will not have time for Ushuaia. Chose a destination on the map for a camp tonight, near Estancia San Pablo on the east coast (Atlantic). Drove through a neat little forest the trees here actually trees not just shrubs. Saw some of the expensive tree fungi that Carolina told us was tasteless.
As we will be back in Chile tomorrow, we had a BIG lunch - thin steak, fried egg and fried tomatoes on toast. One way to use it. We will have the same tomorrow. The border crossing was easy once the guy was found, and he found the keys!!!

A Zoro Colorado wandering around which are protected whereas the Zoro Gris is not.

There was a track up to the light house which we took and with a bit of creativity found a flat spot for the night. The old light house was truly defunct. A beautiful evening and sunset. We allowed ourselves to open a bottle of red as this will be our real last camp together for a while…..

331 km

2018-04-10 Day 314 Tue

 A new concrete road going in so we drove on the temporary road for a few km’s it was a little rough. Got a little internet in Porvenir. I needed to get a page printed but couldn’t find a print shop anywhere everything seemed to be shut probable siesta time.

130,000km we have now done just over 40,000km in South America.

The road and landscape became more interesting. Hills and corners rather than just flat…. The road was OK but parts were a bit potholed. At the eastern end of Bahia Inutil we turned onto a white road which was in good condition. Came across a couple of graders.

One of the islands exports is sheep and we have seen more animals here than anywhere else in Chile. One mob was being driven by a horseman who was actually working his two dogs!
We have seen many shearing sheds some had up to 14 shearing stations.

We turned off to view an old ore dredge and decided to camp the night as it was already 17:30 just means we do a bit more tomorrow


2018-04-09 Day 313 Mon

Picked up EC at about 09:00. Did a shop then tried to get a key cut for the house door. No luck.
Met up with Lars and Micheal for coffee and brought muffins.  Great to catch up. They did tell us that Latam was going on strike for a week and to check Johns flight. I think John was secretly hopeful that the plane would be canceled.
We left them about 13:30 for Terra Del Fuego. Took the northern ferry at Punta Delgada which was cheaper than the one leaving from Punta Arenas.

As we waited in line a guy told us to inform the cashier that we were a motor home and in this way we only paid 20,300 about $40 rather than the 30,000 for a truck between 4 and 7 tonne.

Very flat and mundane.

We drove down along the coast and camped near Puerto Percy out on a peninsular.

Nice camp overlooking the strait of Magellan had hoped for internet from Punta Arenas but no luck.
We need to keep moving as John flies out 06:00 on Sat 14th

258 km

2018-04-08 Day 312 Sun

Sunday went out to lunch at the same place, very cold and windy. Had the after thought to contact Lars. They were north of town in the camp site that we checked out on the way in. Organised to catch up with them on our way out off town tomorrow.

2018-04-07 Day 311 Sat

Marta Island is past (north of) Punta Arenas in the strait of Magellan. Early tea and into the zodiacs in the last group at 8:30. stayed in the zodiacs close to the beach watching sea lions and their pups play. The Males are huge, can be 3 times the weight of the female….
We all got a little wet on the way back to the ship.
Normally this morning would be spent viewing the penguin colony but they have all departed for the north.

As we had a late breakfast the Stella Australis steamed back to Punta Arena for an 11:30 disembarkation.
However we were delayed and did not get off till just before 13:00 hrs. So no vehicle pick up Kaufman closes at 13:00hrs.
We went to a hotel and booked in for two nights. Went out to a restaurant for a late lunch, a half hamburger and glass of wine.
Back to the hotel .
I thoroughly enjoyed the Stella Australis The guides were very knowledgeable and very helpful.

Food and drink plentiful with fantastic scenery. And of course the visit to Cape Horn. Well worth the money.

2018-04-06 Day 310 Fri

 Cockburn Channe – Magdelena Channel – De Agosini Sound Aguila Glacier

There was a presentation on “The Strait of Magellan : past and Present” then a knot tying class. I helped some of the ladies with their knots.

I did learn a new knot how to tie multiply knots when tying one. The boson said he'd won a lot of beer with that one!
We went ashore at 15:30. A lovely glacier but more interestingly the forest had lots of fungi, lichens, and small plants. Took lots of macro shots.

A couple of condors high in the sky….

 A drop of rain!

 Lovely colored and textured seaweed!

The chart of cape horn went to a Mexican family for US$700

Aguila Glacier to Marta Island 105 NM

2018-04-05 Day 309 Thu

 Murry Channel – Nassau Bay Wollaston Islands - Cape horn – Wulaia Bay

Not such good weather today, windy, rainy & colder.
The captain gave permission to disembark at Cape Horn.

Our two trusty Bar Men stay in the water for about 3 hours while we come and go. I believe next year they will have dry suits.

Walked up the steps with the Navy guy. He is interested to stay another year, as he is normally in charge of maintenance program for the electronics for weapons system on war ships. i.e. not home much and he now is with his family 24hrs a day and the family is appreciating it. He has two daughters a 9 and 5 yr old.

Cape horn was very windy about 25kn gusting to 45. we spent all our time at the monument.
55 56’s 67 17’W

Back to Wulaia bay. On the way we were heeling quite a bit. 65 knots reported from the bridge. The Chilean couple (Carolina and Jose) came upstairs with us and stood in the wind and snow. Very pretty!!!!

Again did the longer walk this time at a faster pace. Post two letters and claimed two one kiwi and one Australian.

Changed tables to sit with Carolina, Jose, Juan and Maria, the 6 of us get along very well together. They all speak good English and that helps. We were asked by a number of the serving staff and the maitre de, if that is really where we wanted to sit.

Cape Horn to Wulaia bay 78nm
Wulaia Bay – Aguila Glacier 230 NM

2018-04-04 Day 308 Wed

 Ushuaia Beagle Channel - Puerto Navarino

We went ashore to the old prison museum. Caught up with a Chilean couple from the ship (doing the return) also looking for the museum. The museum was quite interesting. Covering the prison, ship wrecks and early history of the area. Came back to the ship for lunch with a group of Tasmanian sailors who were also on the return journey.
Caught up with some Internet work.
At dinner we were seated on a table with 4 Americans…..

Set sail again for Puerto Navarino 

Ushuia - Puerto Navarino 20NM
Pto Navarino - CapeHorn 85NM

2018-04-03 Day 307 Tue

 Murray Channel – Nassau Bay – Wollaston Islands - Cape Horn – Wulaia Bay

Up early and ready for Cape Horn. The captain gave the all clear and we went ashore in the zodiacs. The Navy guy (lighthouse keeper) greeted us on the steps. John and I had a chat and learned his daughter collected rocks from the beach and painted them to raise money for her next holiday. The stones were on offer, for a tip, at the light house.

It was a beautiful day mostly sunny with a gently breeze very unexpected. I bought a certificate from the navy man and gave a donation for a small nicely painted rock.

Cape horn was just another island in looks but has featured in many of the sailing books I have read. Great to stand here at last and imagine the old sailing ships sailing past. There are at least 800 known wrecks close by.

Next stop Wulaia Bay (beautiful bay) We went on the longer walk to the top of the ridge and had a great view down on the bay and ship. The Australis company has a lease on the bay and has turned the old army radio station into a museum, with a mail barrel. Leave a post card and take one from your home country either to deliver by hand or post.

After dinner the Cape Horn chart was auctioned and was sold for US$1600  by a Hong Kong couple.

2018-04-02 Day 306 Mon

Mon Ballenero and O’Brien Channels- NW arm of Beagle Channels  Pia Fjord and Glacier – Glacier Alley

We had a presentation on Discovering Tierra del Fuego then had a tour of the engine room along with Colin and another couple, then a tour of the bridge.

Disembarked at Pia Glacier. We again went on the longer walk which enabled us to look down on the glacier.

We continued cruising the Beagle channel and through an area called "Glacier Alley" which had 5 major glaciers. Fantastic to see them all. Some hanging off the mountains, some with their feet in the water.

 More food

2018-04-01 Day 305 Sun

 Almirantazgo Sound – Ainsworth Bay – Brookes glacier - Gabriel Channel

We had a good breaky and awaited our first expedition onshore. A walk along the crest of a glacial moraine. A nice walk with a German guide. Overcast and a little drizzle but for where we are good weather.

Lots of edible berries around, only one that is not too good to eat, It works as a laxative!!

We had a pre-lunch drink while we sailed to Brook’s Glacier. Lots of ice in the water.

After lunch we went ashore in the zodiacs and walked along the beach to a closer viewing spot. This glacier is very active and noisy. Saw lots of chunks of ice tumble into the fjord. Although the water is connected to the pacific ocean it is quiet fresh from the ice melt.

We were offered hot chocolate and whiskey on the beach but we did not partake.

By the time we returned to the ship the floating ice caused us to travel an extra few hundred meters from our path to miss most of the floating ice. Just starting to drizzle. A lovely hot shower and dressed for dinner.

A presentation of our trip, Pia glacier tomorrow and some history and detailed information on Glaciers in general.

Another 4 course meal….

An early night for me.

2018-03-31 Day 304 Sat

Punta Arenas – Strait of Magellan

Again sat in foyer till we had to deliver EC to Kaufmann. Nicolas was half an hour late. When we rang he wanted to come at 5:30 which was too late so he came straight away. We parked EC within the fence and Nicolas dropped us off at the wharf.

Checked in and waited to board.
One of the really good things is the cabin windows are huge and great views to be had.

At dinner it was announced that there were 180 passengers 22 nationalities on board. Aussie are prevalent. Cruise number 241

A good dinner, with wine the diet is really over now….
We are on a table with another Aussie couple, Joan and Colin .

Travel Safe

Many of our friends have asked about our safety traveling in South America, and indeed, many South Americans have warned us of dangers, both specific and general. Yet we gave traveled for over a year without an incident of any real substance. Certainly, we have discussed the matter often enough; and have had a couple of odd conversations with the local officials; and met some volunteer security fund-raisers toting rifles; but we have not been either threatened or robbed. Just lucky perhaps; but these are some of our thoughts in this space.

We are country folk who grew up in open spaces. We delight in the calm and grandeur of remote places. We feel safer in these places, where people are sparse and nature is nature. People have often asked "but there is no-one to call when you need help!?". We don't really see it that way. 

We travel as well prepared as we can be, to avoid or mitigate the challenges we are likely to encounter. We have a strong well maintained vehicle; we carry spares and tools; and we have some experience in using them - learnt by using them. We also have vehicle recovery gear that we are familiar with. We have extra water, fuel, hiking gear and satellite comms if it should come to that. We enjoy the feeling of being self reliant.

The human threat feels more real to us than the challenges of nature. We feel more at risk in cities where there are many people. We visit cities to resupply, but make some distance by night fall. We figure that there are only a few "bad eggs" and the less people that know where we are overnight, the better. We get off the main road, and if possible, get out of sight. Usually only a couple of locals know we are there, and we are gone by morning. Also, we spend most of our travels well off the tourist route - so we are often received with curiosity rather than opportunity.

We keep valuable documents locked away, and offer copies in the first instance when requested. We keep our various communication options to hand; mobile phone with local SIM, sat-phone, & SPOT device. We do not carry a fire-arm.

As we travel we offer a big friendly wave to all we meet. We strike up conversations with our fragmented Spanish, a laugh and a grin with whom ever we meet. We brandish maps of Australia and South America on our vehicle. As Australians we feel welcome.

We encountered police and military road checkpoints on a daily basis in Peru and Bolivia. In central tropical Peru the volunteer security fund-raisers were prevalent. We approached all of these encounters with the same open friendly enthusiasm, and felt that it assisted our passage. On a couple of occasions we had a longer, more earnest conversation; but our Spanish degraded to a frustrating degree; and we passed intact.

To date there have been some sketchy roads and fellow drivers, but we have not felt directly threatened. There have been instances when we have been on alert; traversing a couple of shanty-towns, and once my hackles were raised (out in the desert of all places), but we have not been stopped.

So we have traveled safely in South America, and tentatively conclude that the safety concerns are partly 'fear of the unknown', partly real, and largely manageable with common sense and preparation. We also ground ourselves in the risks traversed by our adventurous parents, and other explorers in still earlier times.

Travel safe!

2018-03-30 Day 303 Fri

We drove the 10metres back to the parks gate to find out that it was $10 each for us to enter. Seeing as we were just going to drive in to look at the lake and out again we just turned around.

The last section of road to the “bottom” was really lovely. It wound through stunted trees or was literally at the top of the beach. It was hard to tell where the beach ended and road started. And of course lots and lots of camp sites…….

We took some photos at the end of the road. This is as far south as the road goes on mainland south America.

Back up to Punta Arenas where we checked into the hotel Cabo de hornas (Cape Horn). We sat in the interesting foyer and made use of the internet uploading photos etc.

We had to wait till 8pm for dinner. Joined a table of 6 Aussies, which was fun.