A Travellerspoint blog

The Bark Europa

Our Trip to Cape Town begins

overcast 10 °C

We checked out of our hostel and walked down to the quay side to check that the boat was there.... which is was! We walked through the customs offices and went to the quay side.

The Europa was on the right side of the dock with her starboard side up against the concrete. The main and fore masts towered some 120 feet above us and even thought she had some dents and bruises from the previous four months of sailing to Antarctica, she still looked splendid.

Steph and I met some fellow passengers (sorry, fellow trainee sailors!) in the dock and were shown to our bunks where we dropped our bags off. We met our cabin mates and then headed upstairs to the deck house for a drink and to meet the other trainees and the remainder of the crew. Klaas the captain gave us and introductory speak about safety etc. whilst on board and then we were told that the ship would be leaving the following morning (as the weather was better). We were informed that we could spend the last night on shore if we wanted.... so a few of us headed off to the Irish Pub in Ushuaia for a drink or three. We got back to the ship about 12ish and passed through customs somewhat easily as the guards were having a River Plate Vs Boca football clash... on the play station which was very amusing!

Day 1 - The Beagle Channel March 1st -

Happy St Davids day.... I spent most of the day explaining to the assorted nationalities who, what, how and why we Welsh chose to celebrate this day.... which worked better with some Nationalities than others!

With our rather impressive Horn blaring out we left harbour at 10...ish (Laid back Dutch as usual!) and sailed all of 10 minutes... to the fuel dock to get some fuel! Bit of an anti climax, but soon enough we were off again into the Blue cold Abyss!

Sailed were hauled and all the trainees got (for most of them) their first real go at sailing a square rigger! Ropes needed pulling and so nearly all of us grabbed the nearest rope when ordered and pulled enthusiastically! We had dinner and a glass of wine and a beer from the bar on board (Hallelujah!) and then the trainees were all split into one of three groups. Steph and I were split into Blue Watch and we were informed of the Watch system whilst on board and that we happened to be the first watch... Doh! However, since it was already 7pm we only had an hour of our shift left... Yeah!)

We went to bed early as we were due to be up at 4am for the 4 to 8am watch that morning.

The day was almost over... the weather was fine... the sea calm... the sailing good... and we'd already made some friends on board.... a good start and everyone was expectant of the forthcoming 52 days on board! If they all turned out like this then the trip would be easy.....

Unfortunately.... Neptune was to see to it that in the coming months.... the weather would test us all and whilst some of the trainees would fall by the way side... Steph and I were both determined, prepared and ready for the effort ahead!

Posted by Taffski 05:15 Archived in Antarctica Tagged boating Comments (1)

The Grand Boat Trip !!!

Antarctica, South Georgia, Tristan de Cunya and finally.... Cape Town

semi-overcast 13 °C


well this is our last entry for the next 53 days as we´re off on the Ship today to sail to Cape Town, via Antarctica, South Georgia and Tristan de Cunya.

Hope everyone´s well and we´ll update the site with pictures and stories... sure there´ll be a few... as soon as we get to Cape Town... assuming the ship gets there that is :)

Here´s the link to the Ships web site so you can see from the GPS where exactly we are and there´s also a ships log etc. posted every now and again so you can keep up to date with our journey.


Go to follow the ship and you´ll see where we are !

We´ve finished shopping, dropped our stuff off and board in a couple of hours.... so....

See you all soon...

Steph and Al.

Posted by Taffski 09:40 Archived in Argentina Tagged cruises Comments (0)


The End of the world... well .... near enough

all seasons in one day 8 °C
View The Three A´s on Taffski's travel map.

We arrived in Ushuaia (La Fin Del Monde... the end of the world)
and checked into our hostel

Hostel La Posta was a brilliant hostel (if a little bit far out from town) however, they made up for this with breakfast includced in the price and free waching and internet etc.

Ushuaia was a bit touristy after being in Natales for so long, so it was a bit of shock to hear lots of French & American accents from people down here specifically to do the big cruise ships down to Antarctica.

We chilled for a few days and got supplies and went shopping ready for the next BIG leg of the journey!

I went fishing one day as Tierra Del Fuego is one of the premier trout fishing spots in the world (I caught nothing though....DOH!) and luckily Maria & Kieron turned up for a few days so we had a few beers over the next few days.

We also went walking to the National Park (Tierrs Del Fuego) which was lovely as the weather was (apparently) brilliant for Ushuaia :)

Anyway.... it´s a nice place, if not the furthest south place... Puerto Williams in Chile getting this title. Unfortunately, we never went there (obvious though it would be to get William Williams in Puerto Williams) but it would have cost us about $100 US to just get the ferry over.... which for a day trip we reckoned was a little bit too expensive... so we never went South of Ushuaia.... until today !

Posted by Taffski 09:33 Archived in Argentina Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

El Calafate

Perito Moreno Glacier and Gauchos

sunny 23 °C
View The Three A´s on Taffski's travel map.

We arrived in El Calafate and found our hostel... America Del Sur.

We got a warm welcome and were shown to our room. We then got the usual run down of Touristcos activities... for the usual turisticos prices, to which we did the usual..... muchas gracias and decided to see what it was really all about in town.

We walked into El Calafate and spoke to a few people about the associated trips and the different aspects of each one.

We knew Bert and Ans (a dutch couple we{d alreadcy met in Buenos Aires) had already arrived and funnily enough they were staying right across the road from our hostel, so we popped over for a cerveca and a discussion on the merits of each of the trips.

We decided to do the day trip on the bus which was the cheapest option, and this proved to be a great decision. They offer boat trips and hiking on the glacier... however... Steph and I are still of the mind that we might finally get to do the Heli hike on the Franz Joseph glacier in New Zealand... so we decided not to bother.

We pulled up at the park in the bus and payed the usual "exoticos" price for entry into the park. Katie (the American girl from Fitz Roy) was with us and we all took pictures on our entry to the park.

We arrived at the viewing platforms and started our walk down.....

Crack...rumble.... crack...... something was happening already ????

We ran down to the first viewing platform just a a massive piece of the glacier was sheering off into the water. Steph was the quickest and managed to get a picture of the piece falling off... whilst slow coach Williams was far too slow and got a video of the ripples (or rather massive waves) hammering down the glacier afterwards!

Well done Ms D..... the photo proved to be a good one !!! Action shot or what !

We then sat around for the next four hours listening to the glacier cracking and watching bits (albeit smaller ones) cheer off the face of the glacier and collapse into the water below... it was cool!

We were joined by a group of (unfriendly) Israeli´s who promptly began to slag everyone off in their vicinity.... seems to be quite a few of them down here and although the odd one is really nice... the majority... well... If we didn´t have any opinions before... lets just day we do now!

Anyway, we got the bus back and that night had a nice meal with Bert and Ans and (supposidly) Katie... however, Bert and Ans hadn´t booked the restaurant so it was full.... unfortunately, we moved to another.... I hung around for 15 minutes or so waiting for Katie, however, she never turned up.... although the next day we met her and she said she´d been a bit late and where the heck had we gone.... whoops.... Sorry Katie!

We´d all arranged to go horse riding also.... Steph, myself, Katie, Bert and Ans so we were picked up later the next evening from our respective hostels and driven up to the Estancia.

The Estancia was right in the hills and the views (since it was a lovely evening) were awesome!

We only got to ride about on the horses for an hour or so and the ride was a bit slow to say the least (Although I managed to get a short gallop up the hill!) We did however, get a lovely assado (Argentinian BBQ) when we got back and the wine began to flow.

We got home later that evening and packed our stuff ready for the short hop over the following day into Chile.

We´d got a bus for about $50 pesos (I think) and crossed over into shile relatively uneventfully (well.... apart from stopping to watch the other bus companies bus out of the ditch in the side of the road with the help of a tractor...very amusing!) and pulled up to Erratic (Not Erotic) Roack II... our hostel for the next three nights whilst we got comfortable in Puerto Natales.

Posted by Taffski 13:53 Archived in Argentina Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

El Chalten

And the Fitz Roy Massive..... Boyakasha !

sunny 20 °C
View The Three A´s on Taffski's travel map.

Having had a nice night in the Albergue Patagonia (a double room with EnSuite Bathroom) and spent half a hour soaking in the shower which had hot water !!! Steph and I went downstairs to speak to Cecilia (....You´re breaking my heart... as in the song.... honestly.... 60 a day and 60 years about explains her)

Anyway, the lovely Cecilia was fantastic in recommending how to get to the Fitz Roy Range, the various walks and the limited services available in El Chalten (the first one being no ATM.... so luckily we´d heard about this before we arrived so had packed a wad of cash before we´d arrived!)

We´d met some people on the bus and met them again in El Chalten since it´s only a tiny little place... some hostels and the odd hotel, some panaderias (Bread shops) and a few other buildings (it was only built in 1985 to stop the Chileans taking the land from the Argies!)

The next day we walked the southern route from El Chalten to Laguna Torre. Now the Pargue Nacional Los Glaciares is a beautiful place and competes with Torres Del Paine in terms of beauty and scenery (although the mountains here are bigger than those of it´s more famous neighbour!)

The Laguna Torres Walk was direct from El Chalten and since you don´t have to pay for entry into the park....



You don´t have to pay for entry into the park.....

Feck me..... the first thing I´ve had in Argentina for free since we´ve been here !!!! I already loved the place !

The walk was an easy 4 hour amble up to the Laguna where we could look on the Glacier Torre and if lucky we´d get a panoramic view of Cerro Torre (one of the highest points in the park)

Unfortunately it was a bit cloudy, however we did have lovely weather and the glacier was nice also!

We walked back and met up with some other people from the bus, Kieron (Irish), Katie (American) and Maria (German).

The night was spent in the Micro Brewery, which was virtually next door to the hostel....coincidentally I thought, with a few other guys from the bus and a couple from the Hostel. A great night was had by all :)

The next day we´d arranged to meet up with some of the guys from the bus and thought we´d go for the more taxing Laguna de los tres route, which would give us great views of Mount Fitz Roy also.

It was a beautiful day and the photo opportunities at the first Mirador were fantastic.... I got the Welsh Flag out for posterity reasons and "the flag travels" photo was taken.

The last hour of the walk was a bit more strenuous and after scrambling up a cliff face (well... it seemed like it!) we got to the top to have a great view of Mount Fitz Roy, the Laguna, the glacier and the surrounding mountains, lakes etc.

It was a lovely day and all five of us really engjoyed it. On the way down, Kieron (and Irish bloke we´d met on the bus) left the four of us to go camping for the night and we headed back to the hostel for a well earned cerveza.

We met up with some of the guys from the bus again and had a cheeky beer or three, and then went to bed so we could get up the following day to get the bus to El Calafate.

We said goodbye to Cecilia and thanked her for her hospitality and great help whilst we were in El Chalten. Both Steph and I were taken by the hostel, the little town and the location of the place, and were both dissapointed to be leaving after only the three days.

We´d have preferred to have spent another couple of days there and maybe camped (for free) in the park and done a few more walks etc., and a day or two less in El Calafate... but hey... hiensight is a wonderful thing, and as I keep saying to Steph (which is driving her nuts!)

You live and Learn.... live and Learn!

Surprisingly... although Chalten travel offered the route from El Chalten to El Calafate.... we chose to go with Cal Tur... their competitor !!!!!

I Wonder why ????????

You live and Learn Steph.... live and Learn ;)

Posted by Taffski 07:46 Archived in Argentina Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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