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To the End of the World
Part 1: Valdez Peninsula
After a month in B.A., I needed a break from the big city. I had 2 weeks off before classes started so I rode a bus to the end of the world. Ushuaia is the farthest south you can go by land. Any further has to be by boat. Ushuaia is the end of the world, but let me start at the beginning.
First I bought a ticket to Puerto Madryn near the Valdez Peninsula which is a protected area for sea lions and penguins. The bus ride was pleasant enough, but the time to get there was a horrendous 16 hours with only one stop. By the time I got to the hostel early next morning, I was wired from a rough sleep but ready to move. I needed exercise.
“Do you have bikes for rent?”
“Yes we do. I’ll set you up as soon as I get you a room.”
“Here’s my passport, you can fill it out. Where did you say the bikes were?”
I should have probably taken more water and a bit more direction to Punta Loma. I thought about that after an eternity in the broiling sun. It’s amazing what you think of on a hot day. Like, ‘maybe it’s easier riding on the beach?... nope I guess not. Oh well, only 20 minutes wasted’. Exhausted, burnt but happy, I made it back to the hostel before dark.
Great hostels are like finding a forgotten hundred dollar bill in an old coat pocket, unexpectedly fantastic. There are a lot of good hostels but not a lot of great ones. A great hostel has price, location, comfort and most importantly social space. The hostel I stayed at in Puerto Madryn had a nice inner courtyard with grass and trees and hammocks in the back. 4 benches facing each other in the courtyard made a nice area for socializing and trading “road stories”.
That’s how I met John and Julie from Australia. Three months ago they started traveling around the world for a year. They had been to Peru and Chile and now were exploring Argentina before heading to Brazil and then on to Europe. We hit it off right away and the next day rented a car to see the Valdez Peninsula. It was a brain-fart morning after a late night out but we managed to get away by eight as planned.
The Valdez Peninsula is a unique animal reserve. The big attractions here are the penguins, sea lions, elephant seals and of course the infrequent orca. There is a look-out point where people watch and wait for the off chance that an orca will appear and attack the colony. No such luck today but the seals and penguins were fun to watch. There are also guanacos(lama-like), rheas(emus-like), and armadillos on the plains of the peninsula.
We made four stops in total sea lions, penguins, elephant seals and finally a small village carved into the coastline called Pyramides. If you want a picturesque place to get away for a few days, this is it. There is a nice beach here and room for camping.
After a couple of days in Puerto Madryn I was ready to move on. My next stop would be El Calafate and the famous Perito Moreno Glacier. John and Julie were going there as well as Steve and Rowe from England. The trip involved 2 buses and 26 grueling hours but was worth it for the spectacular sights in Glacier national Park.
Next journal: El Calafate, and Perito Moreno
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