Fishing Village Memoirs

Hola Taganga! Cute, charming and picturesque fishing village on the Columbian north coast. Definitely a place I could stay much longer.
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The 1 street town is always buzzing with artisans selling their crafts, restaurants scaling their fish and people drink beer.
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Our days here were spent walking over and around the mountain to the next cove
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where the views are amazing
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and even better, is the end destination.. Playa Grande
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Swimming, kindles, sun and fresh fish for lunch!
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An “emotional experience” as Josh put it.
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Afternoon drinks, never without our kindles
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and gorgeous sunset!
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Followed by ice cold mojitos, garlic bread and the most delicious barbeque at Cafe Bonsai πŸ™‚
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We spent the next couple of days on the isolated beach of Palomino. We got a good beach run in (which reminds me why I fell in love with running) and amazing kindle time
20121227-111854.jpg Unfortunatey, the water was very rough and the beach was a tad disappointing (had nothing on Playa Blanca) so we left a day early so we could spend our last day on the coast in Taganga!

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Volunteering in the Amazon Jungle

Next stop, Taricaya Conservation Lodge in the Amazon jungle! In 2009 I spent a month volunteering here here so I couldn’t wait to return this time with Josh.

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We caught an hour long long-boat to the lodge hidden deep in the jungle along the Rio Madre De Dios

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Arriving at the lodge, it was time to meet and greet the volunteers mosquitos, wasps, ants, bees and all the other lovely creatures. And of course it was time to get working! Our first morning job was feeding the animals.

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Taricaya takes in animals who are in need of care and rehabilitation with the ultimate aim of releasing them back into the wild. But for now, nothing beats a cuddle with these cheeky little things!

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These baby spider monkeys all have their own story of why they are here e.g. Kept as pet and seriously malnourished, lost their mother etc. it was great to see that many of the spider monkeys that were there in 2009 had since been released and are now living free and wild.

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Feel the love?

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Now this little fellow, 1 month old Theo, is the newest member to the Tarikaya Tapir family. He is the cutest, oddest looking creature on earth!

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We had fun cleaning out the tapir poo pool (on Josh’s birthday)

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One of the afternoon jobs at the new farm near the lodge is feeding the turtles which have been bred in protected area at the lodge to prevent hunters poaching the eggs to all in town. This project has been so successful and it was great seeing all the beautiful turtles! Here we are preparing their food which consists of extremely finely cut spinach, cabbage, carrots and chicken liver. We were sweating buckets here!

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But the turtles of all sizes enjoyed their meal

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And in return, we enjoyed playing πŸ™‚

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Another activity was animal enrichment where we made paper mΓ’chΓ© snakes and filled them with meat for the cats to practice their hunting. Loved seeing josh being creative πŸ˜‰

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Now in Tarikaya you feel as though you are taking risks all the time. Climbing the new animal enclosure (no adequate ladder of course) to continue on with the building is just one example. I never quite made it up…

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A few hours of machetting in crazy humidity takes it out of you!

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But other projects like butterfly catching and releasing are a bit more chilled

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As is picking mangoes that have fallen off the trees near the hammocks and devouring them… Knife not even necessary!

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Where ever you go here, there are animals! This man paid us a visit in the dining room.

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And Trumpy enjoys his regular tickle under his chin by the hammocks

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Other birds require binoculars and a 45m rickety canopy platform to be sighted.

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My favourite thing to do in the jungle is just to walk, listen to the sounds of the forest an enjoy the serenity.

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Night time in the jungle involved many games of cards

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And an awesome cayman catching session on the long boat with Stuart. He first gave us a talk about the creatures which are part of the crocodilian family and then we set out in silence and darkness on the long boat where he spotted, pounced and caught a cayman, showed us and released it.

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Finally, Josh got to play his long awaited soccer! Peruvians verse volunteers for a large coke. Peruvians won 10-9.

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And last but not least we celebrated a very special milestone in the jungle, Josh turned 25! Yummy dinner (home cooked food was well received by us)

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And then cake time…

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Followed by machetting the piΓ±ata πŸ™‚

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A birthday spent in the Amazon jungle, not bad ay?

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I just love this boy!

Plane is now taking off to Lima where we are super excited to scrub up, wear clean clothes, no insect repellant, use a dry, fresh towel and enjoy the city for 2 days before heading up to Colombia! Let the adventures continue…

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!

Boots up, Bums down

Next stop, Pucon!

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Beautiful quaint town with a great vibe, cool street markets, good restaurants and amazing warm weather!!

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Our 1st day here we hired bikes

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And explored the small streets, unpaved roads, rivers, farms…

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and visited these beautiful waterfalls.

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It was an awesome ride. I am seriously considering trading in driving a car for a bike when I get home πŸ™‚

Day 2 was time to get the boots dirty again. We hit up Huerquehue National Park. The showers turned on but we enjoyed trudging along in the mud

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and making new friends..

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Now day 3 was what we came to Pucon for.. To climb one of Chile’s most active volcano, Villarrica. For this you need to go with a guide and assistants, in proper gear including real boots, wind and rain protective gear and a backpack filled with things I have never seen or heard of. Think crampons, gaiters and plastic toboggans.

Gear on and ready to go! Note the weather at the bottom of the mountain.

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As we made our steep ascent up the mountain, we trekked through the clouds and slowly began to rise up and above them

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And slowly but surely the blue skies graced us with their presence!

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The higher we got the more magical the view was

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We finally reached the top… 2850m!

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We sat, enjoyed the crazy view and re-layered up as it got pretty chile chilly pretty quickly.

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Looking down inside the volcano we didn’t see any lava but we saw and smelt the smoke coming out which was pretty damn cool

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Now the question on everyone’s lips was how the hell are we getting down from here???
Considering the practically vertical ascent there was no way down but via the bum..

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Wish we could have taken videos of us coming down. But no need for an explanation on why this was not possible :p What took 5 hours to climb up, took only 45 mins to come down. This is a pic of a group who came down after us…

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After an amazing sleep, the following day called for relaxation and time to enjoy the town before bussing off to Santiago.

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We spent hours enjoying the sunshine and watching that little volcano in the distance

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Pucon, although you were a bit out of the way for us to get to, you made our stay worth every ounce of our energy!

Adios amigos xxxx

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!

Bariloche Part 2: See, do, conquer

Our special stay in Bariloche continued to be filled with more adventures. For those of you just joining us now, check out Bariloche, part one – Revenge of the nerds. Our next day trip we planned was to visit the Cerro Otto lookout point which was accessible via chairlift or for those stupid enough, by foot. Never ones to turn down a challenge, we opted for the latter. And a challenge it was. 2 kms of a steep sandy trail that ever seemed to end. Hot and flustered,

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we continued till we reached the top. Great panoramic views, but we both agreed that we were not sure it was worth the effort. Future travellers, just take the chairlift!

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After a few happy snaps we sat briefly in the revolving restaurant then made our way down, yes, in the chairlift πŸ™‚

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After our mini trek we were quite exhausted and our intention to walk around Lago Gutierrez turned into a brief pit stop where we grabbed a snack

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And headed back to town where we spent the rest of the day planning and organising buses, hostels and our whitewater rafting trip the next day!!!

Gear on and we were ready to take on Rio Manso.. Josh excited and me.. eek.. not so.


After the safety talk I was kind of freaking out. Josh took the seat at the front of the raft and I took the back seat (closest to Estaban, our guide/skipper/leader who I quickly befriended) πŸ™‚

From the very first rapid Josh was right in there…


Spot me below? Back left. After seeing the size of the oncoming grade 4 rapid I comfortably snuck my way into the safety of the boat..


The rapids only got more challenging, but we smashed each rapid and the team spirit grew, fun factor increased and nerves (kind of) subsided.


Until this….


When we all sat down at the end to watch the videos which the photographer had taken, my sneaky fall into the safety of the inside of the boat was all revealed and my secret was out. Was a great day, met some great people, conquered the nerves and definitely felt a good sense of accomplishment at the end!

Was a fun adrenaline-lifting way to end our stay in Bariloche. Well that is it for now but if you missed it, check out Josh’s thoughts on traveling with me, quite a laugh.

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!

Bariloche Part 1: Revenge of the nerds

The Argentine Lake District’s largest city, Bariloche, was our next stop and bring it on – we were ready for it! Arriving at Hostel 1004, which came highly recommended from a number of our friends (thanks Lee, Brad and Bortzy) we knew this would be a place we wouldn’t want to leave.

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We immediately felt at home with the lovely staff and the beautiful views over the lake and city.

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With our Spanish slowly progressing and the hopes of staying put in Bariloche for a little while, we thought we might try some Spanish lessons. We planned to meet Carolina the lady at the Spanish school for a brief introduction conveniently timed at 8:45pm (everything happens late here) – our time or dinner. She sat us down for a hard core test and we were not happy Jan.

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Needless to say, the nerds rebelled. Cheating our way through the first part of the test and failing to complete the rest of it, we threw away our hopes of mastering Spanish. Instead, we planned our revenge and opted to spend our days exploring the city by bike, car, foot, kayak and chairlift all fuelled by the most delicious food and an awesome city vibe starting in the main square and extending across the city.

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The streets of Bariloche are lined with cute chocolate shops (hello endless days of taste testing!), restaurants and cafes.

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This city doesn’t do healthy. Most nights I ate the local fish, trout drenched in the traditional butter and lemon salsa

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and Josh enjoyed his schnitzel or steak, nicely portioned ay?

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Needless to say when we came across this next little gem it was well received by both of us even if Josh is too stubborn to admit it πŸ™‚

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Heaven!! Amazing juices, assortment of different veggie delights and complimentary sweet tea to finish the meal off with. So good, we went back a second time!

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But enough about the food, the real heart of the city lies in its beautiful surroundings. One of our highlights was hiring bikes and doing the 25km ‘Circuito Chico’ route. To begin with, the hilly terrain and cars speeding past almost blowing me away left me screaming and close to tears at many points.

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But Josh was patient, gave me many a pep talk and soon enough we were flying down those hills in unison.. Stopping every now and then to enjoy the incredible views.

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At about the halfway mark we turned down a gravel road with steep inclines and decided to tie up the bikes and walk down to the lake. We found a beautiful spot and enjoyed our picnic lunch.

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Back on our bikes we got and our next stop was at a little Cervazeria (beer house) where we sampled some beer and enjoyed the view for a little while before completing the rest of the circuit. Awesome day!

The following day we changed our mode of transport from bike to hired car, where we set out bright and early to drive the ‘Circuito Grande’. Our cute station wagon took us all over town.

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We cruised along the freeway, trying to figure out these roads with no rules; plugged in the iPod and sang our way through the mountains and shimmering turquoise lakes.

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We felt really spoilt with these views.. It is amazing how beautiful and so diverse a region can be.

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After a long day on the road, we chilled with a competitive game of cards and some drinks.

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Guess who won? πŸ™‚

That’s all for now,friends. Pease leave us a comment and fellow travellers, feel free to ask us any questions or share your thoughts/recommendations. We love hearing from everyone!

Stay tuned, Bariloche Part 2 is on its way!

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!

Volcano sightings keep life interesting!

Feeling ready to progress our way up north, we spontaneously booked a flight Puerto Montt to begin our journey through the Lakes District of Argentina/Chile. We spent 2 nights in the lovely town of Puerto Varas which has beautiful views and interesting Colonial style German buildings. We arrived just in time for a magical sunset.

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Josh got the buzz around town that a big soccer game – Chile vs Argentina was on that evening so guess where we ended up? A few beers, pisco sours and a massive pizza later we were having a jolly time soaking up the atmosphere. Needless to say Josh (bless his soul) was trying to discuss tactics and strategies with me, but I was quite content people watching πŸ™‚

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The next day we put the hiking boots back on and made our way by minibus to Petrohue, the entrance to Chile’s second largest national park. Our aim for the day trek was to get a good view of the volcano, and that we did! Cool feeling being higher than the clouds..

20121019-083307.jpg Being in the Lakes District I guess you would expect beautiful lakes, but pictures don’t really capture how pristine and spectacular these bodies of water are! And the guy standing in front is alright as well πŸ˜‰

20121019-083328.jpg Now this next photo is Josh showing off how much faster he was walking than me. That’s ok :). Spending 24/7 with one person means a little space is required… Today we soaked up the opportunity to enjoy some personal space.

20121019-083631.jpg Lunch at the lookout point was amazing! Food is always that much better when you have earned it. Tuna and avo rolls hit the spot.

20121019-192935.jpgAfter lunch we persevered up a little higher and a little closer the volcano. Hard work as it was quite a steep incline, but the reward? Running skiing (without skis) our way down the sandy trail. Adrenaline peak!

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Interrupted by this awesome cloud! Reminded us of the Philadelphia cream advert. We took so many pics of it and have o far been unless with deleting unnecessary pictures, but have kept a good handful of these cloud ones.

20121019-083840.jpg 16 kms of nature at its finest, finished off with a Chilean Pink Lady Apple makes for a very content girl!

20121019-083850.jpg Great day, great place. Coming to you next from Bariloche, Argentina.

Adios amigos and THANKYOU everyone for your comments, we love arriving at a wifi spot and reading them all!

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!

Chile adventures on foot

After arriving in the town of Puerto Natales after a long 14 hour bus ride from Ushuaia our trekking adventure in Torres Del Paine national park was next on our agenda and the part of our trip we were both so excited for!

This trek involved carrying our tent, sleeping bags, mats, sleeping gear, wet weather gear, stove, gas, cooking utensils, 5 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 4 dinners all on our backs for approximately 85 kms. Our hostel room was a bomb before we left.. 20121015-120610.jpg

We woke up bright and early Wednesday morning – but not early enough. Our phones were on the wrong time zone setting and thinking it was 630am it was actually 730am. Luckily the bus driver agreed to come back for us! We took a bus to the park and then a catamaran to the starting point of the W-trek which we were about to begin. Ready to go with bright orange wet weather gear- tick! 20121015-120623.jpg
From the very beginning of the trek the views were breathtaking. The terrain was so diverse from devastating desolate fire affected areas (caused by a tourist in January), to lush greenery, snow capped mountains, aqua lakes, glaciers and beautiful valleys and streams. With little to no wind the reflections of the mountains on the lake were incredible.
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Luckily we didn’t have to carry water with us. Any running stream of water was good to drink. And good is an understatement πŸ™‚ water never tasted so fresh and crisp! 20121015-120641.jpg
Day 1 we walked towards Glacier Grey. It was so cool seeing the icebergs and the different shades of white and blue caused by the reflections of the sky and the surroundings.
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Got to love a few selfies πŸ˜‰
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We camped right by the glacier the first night. We woke up thinking there was a massive thunder storm when in actual fact it was part of the glacier chipping off. Nature and its surprises.

For dinner we enjoyed devoured mushroom risotto from a packet. Our conversation went something like this.. “This could honestly be served in a 5 star restaurant”… “Maybe its just cause we are hungry”… “no i’m serious i don’t think I’ve ever tasted anything so good”. Lol.
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Next day we were all packed up and off to our next campsite. Crossing big, unstable bridges with signs like these are enough to make you a bit concerned. 20121015-120821.jpg

On day 3 we were blessed with beautiful blue skies which we did not take for granted after hearing horror stories about Patagonian weather.20121015-120829.jpg
A day of picturesque scenery.
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Panoramic 360 degree view. Feeling a bit low on the energy side of things, this definitely raised the spirits!20121015-120845.jpg

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Occasionally we would just stop, pinch ourselves that we were actually here and have a moment to take it all in.20121015-120914.jpg

This was by at our favourite day of scenery. Patagonia was really showing off what it has to offer πŸ˜‰ 20121015-120924.jpg

If mushroom risotto was 5 star quality, then 2 minute noodles AND creamy spinach soup deserved 3 hats!20121015-120930.jpg

Pitching our tent on a wooden board at the next campsite was luxury! A flat surface, unlike the previous night prevented me waking up squashed to the side of the tent on the hard cold ground (with Josh soundly asleep and oblivious) haha 20121015-120936.jpg

We had a relatively good night sleep and were ready the most difficult day of the trek. 22 kms and steep inclines. But after a hearty bowl of delicious hot oats- you know about my love for them– we were ready and pumped! . 20121015-120943.jpg

We reached our campsite way earlier than we expected, pitched our tent and decided to trek up to Torres Del Paine thinking it would just be a stroll. How wrong we were! Steep and rocky- but well worth the view! 20121015-120951.jpg
The cow mountain.
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After a lovely evening at camp we woke up for our last day, dosed up on the oats and coffee and off we went! 20121015-121006.jpg
We made it our tradition to run as fast as we could down hills (yes, with our massive backpacks on)… Such fun! This also meant our 10ks down to our end point just flew
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After a fun and relatively easy day we arrived at our final destination feeling good, accomplished and satisfied!20121015-121024.jpg

We enjoyed coke and coffee and a clean bathroom with oh so sweet melting soap!!!!20121015-121034.jpg

After finally returning to our hostel, returning our hired gear and scrubbing up like never before we headed out for a post-trek feed to a place recommended by our friend Bortzy, La Picada de Don Carlitos. a20121015-121103.jpg

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What an incredible journey we shared together! We crossed many boundaries that should probably never be crossed, spent hours chatting about random topics from trigonometry to economics to singing random songs, playing rhyming games, predicting passer-byers’ itineraries and enjoying kms of absolute silence.

Today we are taking a day to unwind, relax and rest the feet before taking a a bus early tomorrow morning to El Calafate back in Argentina.

Until next time, hasta Luego!

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!