South America – (part 4) by Betty Fielding

Passing very, very close to a snow capped mountain range made our flight into Ushuaia very exciting and took us closer to our Antarctic dream – so glad the pilot knew what he was doing because I have never flown that close to mountains just outside my window!

Ushuaia is located on the southern coast of Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego. We only had a couple of nights in Ushuaia but enjoyed a train ride into the Tierra del Fuego National Park where Route 3 ends. We also rode the Martial Glacier chairlift up to 1,000masl and did some hiking through the snow.

We cruised out of Ushuaia aboard the “Polar Pioneer” for the most amazing 10 days. I’ll share the details of this in another article.

Our first stopover after Antarctica was Punta Arenas, on the Magellan Strait in Patagonia. We celebrated News Years Eve there, dancing in the street and enjoying over 30 minutes of fireworks. On New Years Day we drove 5 hours north of Punta Arenas to Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia. On the way we stopped at a sheep ranch for a BBQ lamb lunch – fresh lamb cooked on a spit over an open fire – nice!

unsplash-wineThree full days in the national park were planned to be a bit of R & R after our time in Antarctica. No way!! This place was far too majestic and there was too much on offer to take it easy. Hence, we spent three days roaming the park, even undertaking a 20km trek on one day. Torres del Paine National Park gave us some of the best trekking we’ve ever done.

The lodge we stayed in gave us a great all inclusive package – accommodation, meals, drinks tours and guides. Garry and I had a guide for our 20km trek and his knowledge of the park and its history was phenomenal.

After 4 glorious nights and another 5 hour drive back to Punta Arenas it was time to fly to Santiago. I never tire of being enthralled by the history. Santiago is a great place to experience the old with the new – beautiful colonial architecture is reflected in the glass panels of modern towering buildings.

Santa Lucia, in the middle of town, is where Santiago was first settled by the Spanish in 1541 and it’s well worth the climb up to the fortress and castle. A great view of the city is captured from San Cristobal Hill and a visit to the Mercado Central Markets is a must do with its amazing array of seafood and two storeys of restaurants.

A wine tour in Chile was always on our list and the tour we did was exceptional. Of course, we can’t pass fair judgement on Aussie wines without partaking of the offerings from other countries’ wine districts.

Sadly, after 8 weeks of travelling we flew out of Santiago bound for Australia. This was truly a journey to remember. I now know why so many people fall in love with South America. South America and its history, culture and people have certainly made a lasting impression upon me.

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