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Cerro Yana Sanca Grande and Cotahuasi Canyon

Sunday, 12 August 2012 23:48

Cerro Yana Sanca Grande is an unknown mountain directly on the street between Arequipa to the Cotahuasi Canyon, which is to Peruvian definition the deepest gorge on earth. Besides its height of 5496 meters sea-level, this mountain is dwarfed by the giants of Nevado Coropuna and Nevado Solimana, but it provides stunning and superb views.

The area around Cotahuasi Canyon is quite remote because it can be accessed only by dirty roads of more than 150km and high passes over 4700 meters. It is a beautiful valley with hot springs, Inca ruins and picturesque villages. On the way to the Cotahuasi Canyon is the lower valley of the Colca river, now named Rio Majes. It it a fruitful region with pleasant warm climate and interesting archaeological sites like the petroglyphs of Toro Muerte. There are other nice petroglyphs in Miculla which is close to the town Tacna on the frontier to Chile.

We came in the late evening of July 20th 2012 to Toro Muerte and could stay the night in the solitary parking lot in front of the petroglyphs. It is located in a dry side valley of Rio Majes near the village Corire.

Line drawings in the desert

 

Condors and more - Colca Canyon

Monday, 23 July 2012 02:58

The Colca Canyon is one of the more famous and attractive tourist destinations of Peru in the vicinity of Arequipa. It is with approximately 3200 meters (south side) respectively 4200 meters (north side) depth mightier than the Grand Canyon in USA. The upper valley is a fruitful gorge with many terraces and picturesque little villages like Chivay and Cabanaconde. Thanks to the glaciers on the upper slopes of the valley and a perfect irrigation system, water is plentifully available.

Other highlights are some hot springs and trekking down to the bottom of the canyon, to the little paradise Sangalle. In this oasis bananas and other tropical fruits are growing.

But the star of the Colca Canyon is the Condor, the king of the Andes and biggest raptor on earth. Cruz del Condor is a holy place of the local people because every morning many Condors start their daily journey from here. The steep eastern walls provide perfect nestling places for them.

Condors fly mainly by thermal up winds; thus they have to wait until the sun heated the rocky walls. We came to Chivay at lunch time on July 8th 2012 and it begun to rain, which is very unusual in the dry season. Chivay is the local district capital with reasonable facilities like good restaurants.

Main square of Chivay

 

   

Nevado Chachani and Volcan El Misti

Friday, 06 July 2012 20:27

Arequipa is with more than 1 million inhabitants the 2nd biggest city in Peru. It is located on the edge of the Atacama desert to the Cordillera Volcanica at 2400 meters see-level. Its major landmark is the still active Volcan El Misti, a perfect cone of 5822 meters high. North of the volcano is the huge snowy mountain Nevado Chachani with several peaks. Its main summit achieves 6075 meters and it is supposed to be one of the most accessible and easiest 6000er on earth. South of the volcano and also in the townscape of Arequipa is the very eroded volcano Nevado Pichu Pichu with seven summits. On its northern side is the marvelous lake Laguna Salinas Blanca with abundant bird life.

Approximately 100km southwest of Arequipa is its coastal resort village Mollendo, which is very busy in the austral summer. This was our first destination after we had crossed the Bolivian / Peruvian border in Desaguadero on June 22nd 2012 to meet a friend from Germany. We spent our first night in Peru after 31 years on a side street to ruins in the Aymara - Lupaca reservation. In the evening we explored the area and found some strange cairns.

Cairns with human bones - tombstones?

   

Huayna Potosi

Tuesday, 26 June 2012 23:38

The mountain Huayna Potosi is with 6088 meters sea-level one of the ice castles of the Cordillera Real. This mountain range is the eastern boundary of the Altiplano, the 2nd widest plateau on earth after Tibet, with about 4000 meters altitude. On the east side of the Cordillera Real follows the Amazon basin, with vast amounts of clouds, rain and snow in the Bolivian winter period (December to April). Consequently the glaciation of the Cordillera Real is enormous.

Graveyard of Milluni with Huayna Potosi


Life on Altiplano is hard and tough with very cold nights, excessive sun burning during the day and heavy precipitation in the rainy season. The indigenous tribe are the proud Aymara people. They achieved that their tongue is the second official language of native people in South America (after Guarani in Paraguay). The Aymara new year, Willkakuti is celebrated on their sacred place Tiwanaku in the longest night of the year at June 21st, when the sun turns. 

   

Iquique and Arica

Thursday, 14 June 2012 14:56

Iquique and Arica are with approximately 150,000 inhabitants each, the two biggest cities in the far North of Chile. Both are located beautifully on the Pacific Ocean surrounded by the pristine Atacama Desert in the back. This part of the desert is famous for its nitrate cities and geoglyphs, which were built between 1000 and 1400 BC by the local tribes. Most of the nitrate cities were established during the nitrate boom, which started mid of the 19th century. Most of them are abundant now, because the development of the artificial fabrication of nitrate mid of the 20th centuries stopped the boom.

Pelican on the beach close to Iquique

 

When we came back to Mendoza on May 24th 2012 from our second return to Germany, we wanted to head as fast as possible in the North of Chile because the climate there is much more reasonable in late fall. But first we had to cross the Andes. The only possibility in this season is the tunnel Christo Retendor, the direct connection between Mendoza and Santiago de Chile. 

   

Volcan Tinguiririca

Sunday, 27 May 2012 17:57

Volcan Tinguiririca is with 4280 meters sea level one of the most dominant mountains 200 kilometers South of Santiago de Chile and 50km East of San Fernando. It is located in an extreme remote but beautiful environment. An aircraft crashed on its slopes in the early spring of 1972. One of the survivor went down after 72 days (!) to get help. Earlier rescue was impossible due to enormous amount of snow and bad weather. Some passengers survived because they had eaten the dead people. This touching story is described in the book "ALIVE".

There are the superb hot springs Termas del Flaco on the base of Volcan Tinguiririca. Few kilometers South is the bustling city Talca with approximately 200,000 inhabitants. Paso Maule or Pehuenche leads to Argentina via a pristine and marvelous landscape. Highlights are the hot springs Termas Campanario, the waterfalls Cascada del Arco Iris and the incredible blue lake Lago Maule. When we came to Talca we could watch an exciting event. 

World Motocross Championship 2012

   

Chiloe and Valdivia

Friday, 20 April 2012 17:42

Chiloe is with 9,600 sq km the second biggest island of South America, located more than 1000km south of Santiago in the Pacific Ocean. It is a hilly and green but harsh land with more than 2200mm precipitation per year. Most of its population live in the two bigger towns Ancud and Castro, which have about 20,000 inhabitants each. Many descendants of the native tribe Huilliche live in its smaller villages and settlements. Thanks to its isolated location, Chiloe suffered less from the mainstream of Spanish colonial development.

Chiloe is famous for salmon farming, its fine wooden churches, picturesque Palafitos (houses on stilts above the water), pristine beaches, dense cold rain forests, abundant fauna and flora. Huge areas are protected by national, regional or private parks.

250km North of Chiloe is the city of Valdivia, which has with more than 120,000 people approximately the same population like Chiloe. We came March 12th 2012 to Chiloe via the Panamericana (Ruta 5) and the usual ferry from Pargua. Close to Pargua is the pretty fishing port Maulin.

Boys of Maullin with Bernardo O'Higgins, the Chilean National Hero

   

Volcan Chillan and Volcan Antuco

Friday, 16 March 2012 23:48

The twin Volcanoes Chillan Viejo (old) and Nuevo (new) are 80 kilometers East of the town Chillan and the hot springs with the same name. This region is famous for its ski resort, the largest in Chile. Both volcanoes are active with some smoking rocks as well as the neighboring Nevados de Chillan. Besides their relatively low height of approximately 3200 meters the glaciation is quite big. 

Volcanoes Chillan Nuevo and Viejo

 

50 km South of the Volcanoes Chillan is the Parque Nacional Laguna del Laja. The lake Laguna Laja originated in the year 1873 due to a heavy eruption of the Volcan Antuco. This mountain is also a perfect black and / or white cone of close to 3000 meters height dominating the landscape of the national park. But it is excelled by the rough Sierra Velluda with its huge glaciers.

End of February 2012 we headed fast to the small village Bulnes to visit our friends Petra and Paddy in the winery Vina Chillan, see www.vinachillan.cl. This is one of the southernmost wineries on earth driven by Ruedi, like Petra and Paddy a Swiss citizen.

   

Volcan Lanin, the king of the lake districts

Friday, 02 March 2012 16:59

Volcan Lanin is with 3776 meters sea level the highest point of both lake districts, Argentina and Chile. It overtowers all nearby mountains more than several hundreds meters, only Cerro Tronador more 200km South achieves with 3478 meters a similar altitude. Volcan Lanin is a perfect cone of more than 2500 meters vertical highness and it is supposed to be one of the most beautiful mountains on earth. 

Majestic Volcan Lanin seen from the ascent to Volcan Achen Niyeu

The access to the summit of Volcan Lanin is relatively easy: First a six to seven hike to the upper hut Refugio CAJA from the ranger's office on the Paso Mamuil Malal or Tromen on its Argentine side, followed by another six hours trip over snow, scree and some rocks to the top. Due to several accidents on the mountains are the rangers very strict; they check your whole equipment like crampons and if you can use them properly.

In Argentina is the marvelous and huge park Parque Nacional Lanin North and South of the volcano with superb hiking capabilities, magical forests and beautific lakes.

   

Volcan Calbuco

Sunday, 19 February 2012 19:53

Volcan Calbuco is one of the most active in Chile. Its last major eruption was in the year 1961. The outburst of 1893 blew up its summit cone. Thus its shape is not so perfectly like the neighboring Volcan Osorno, which is supposed to be one of the most beautiful mountains on earth. Both volcanoes are located close to the lake Lago Llanquihue in the marvelous Lake District, the X region of Chile. Puerto Montt is its capital, a bustling city of more than 120,000 people and situated on the north shore of the fjord Seno de Reloncavi. 20km North of Puerto Montt is one of the major tourist destination in southern Chile: Puerto Varas on the southwest side of the huge Lago Llanquihue. Both towns have obvious Austrian, German and Swiss influence like the whole Lake District of Chile.

Volcan Calbuco at sunset - our route is the ridge on the left


We arrived in Puerto Montt three days prior to Tommy's return fly to Germany in the morning of January 31st 2012 and it was raining cats and dogs. We used the time to visit Nuevo Braunau and Puerto Varas, which have also some beauty at bad weather.

   

Carretera Austral

Thursday, 16 February 2012 22:18

The last section between Puerto Montt and Cochrane of the Carretera Austral (Southern Highway) in the South of Chile was opened foremost in 1988. Nowadays this street leads to Villa O'Higgins close to the southern continental ice-field Campo de Hielo Sur. It is mainly a rough, dirty and dusty road including some sea crossings by ferries.

Driving the more than 1000 km of the Carretera Austral is still an adventure in very dense cold rain forest between steep mountains and vast glaciers in an extremely thin populated environment. Just few settlements with some people are located on this route. There is only one bigger city: Coyhaique the capital of the XI region of Chile, Aysen.

Besides the harsh climate even sometimes in summer, the tourism industry detects more and more the incredible beauty of the landscape. Consequently the numbers of travelers increase from all of the world. A specialty might be the unusual high quantity of people from Israel. Somebody from there told us that this part of Patagonia is the Praised Land and every Israeli has to visit it, ... .

We fully confirm the marvelous and stunning landscape and we were very lucky: January 2012 was an outstanding weather with sun and heat nearly every day thanks to Global Warming! We came to the small and quiet town of Cochrane mid of January from Argentina over the remote Paso Rodolfo Roballos.

Fierce Rio Baker between the northern and southern continental ice-fields

   

Perito Moreno Parque Nacional and Cueva de los Manos

Saturday, 11 February 2012 18:53

Parque Nacional Perito Moreno is with approximately 1200 visitors one of the remotes national park in Argentina. Perito (master) Francisco Moreno explored the geography, fauna and flora of Patagonia at the turn of the 19th / 20th century. Not only this park is named after him, also a small town and the famous glacier (see article Cerro Torre, Cerro Fitz Roy and Glaciar Perito Moreno).

This park is a rough and windswept area decorated with cobalt and aquamarine blue lakes, snowy peaks and glaciers. It is located on the southeast side of Cerro San Lorenzo, which is with 3706 meters sea level one of the highest mountains in Patagonia. The entrance to the Perito Moreno national park is free of charge as well as two basic campsites.

200km northeast is the cave Cueva de los Manos, which had been declared as world heritage by the UNESCO in 1999. There are fabulous and more than 9000 years old paintings, mainly of left hands.

We had some stormy weather, when we came to the lake Lago Burmeister in the Perito Moreno national park on January 10th 2012. The campsite is very nice in forest directly on the lake. Fortunately it provides good wind protection. We walked half the way on the north shore of the lake and we enjoyed the nature besides the hefty wind.

Yellow flowers

 

   

Cerro Torre, Cerro Fitz Roy and Glaciar Perito Moreno

Sunday, 05 February 2012 22:49

UNESCO declared the Los Glaciares National Park in the province Santa Cruz a World Heritage Site in 1981. In the southern part it includes the Perito Moreno glacier, a white giant whose 5 km long front rises 60 meters above the lake Lago Argentina, the largest lake in Argentina. Perito Moreno is one of the last glaciers which increases still and it moves more than 2 meters per day. Great masses of ice crash every hour into the lake.

In the northern part of the Los Glaciares National Park are some of the most imposing mountains of on earth. The granite monolith Cerro Fitz Roy is with 3405 meters the highest point of southern Patagonia, which rises which its satellites directly over the Argentine steppe. Behind is a chain of pinnacle, which are the eastern border of the Campo del Hielo Sur, the biggest ice-field outside the poles and Greenland. The most famous, tallest and challenging is 3102 meter high Cerro Torre, both  dream and nightmare of every top climber.

Cerro Torre, Torre Egger and Cerro Standhardt

   

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