Jeffery’s Bay & Addo Elephant Reserve

Jeffery’s Bay is one of those places that every surfer dreams of going. The mystique of Africa combined with an epic right hand barrelling wave in the cool sharky waters of the Indian Ocean. It’s considered to be one of the best right hand point breaks in the world and all of surfing’s legends have surfed it. I wasn’t expecting to rip it up like a pro, but I knew that all of my years surfing the southern part of Vancouver Island and it’s many right points that I was well prepared.

As we drove into this clean little beach town sprinkled with surf shops and ocean views we knew right away we liked it. It still had a little of the sketchy feeling that one gets from South Africa, but it’s laid back vibe made it much less of a worry. We booked a room on the hill overlooking the main surf beaches and I was amped to head down to one of the more famous breaks called Super Tubes to check the surf. It was the weekend and unfortunately the swell that I had been watching online had yet to show up so it was small and a little bit too crowded. Monday was sure to be less busy and I figured that if I’m going to put on my wet suite to surf a super shallow reef break in famously sharky waters I want to be able to at least get a wave with out having to battle for one. The week that we were there the big swell that was forecasted never showed up, but I made the most of it and caught some fun little waves. My brother Jason would have ripped it up here even when it’s small, but for me on my back side I really needed a little more size to surf it with any real style.

Other than getting to surf one of my childhood dream breaks, the highlights from this trip were eating daily at a great little restaurant called Nina’s and driving up to Addo Elephant Reserve on Valentines Day.

Nina’s Restaurant was so great in fact that we ate there twice a day for the entire time we were there other than missing lunch the day we went to the elephant reserve. If our hotel had not come with breakfast included I’m sure we would have eaten there three times a day. For about $12 both Josi and I could eat a great healthy dinner and be fully stuffed. They have old surf boards and locally taken surfing photos on the walls and the staff were all really friendly which we found to be rare in SA.

The Elephant reserve was super cool and if you are ever in the area you have to check it out. It’s a huge National Park that you pay to gain entry and then you drive yourself around while checking out all of the wildlife. The only advice they gave us was to not get out of our car. Within a few minutes of our drive we started seeing animals, big and small, everywhere and we were stoked.

At one point we were driving along a skinny dirt road and around the corner came a heard of about 15 elephants. There were big ones, baby ones, old ones, ones with huge tusks. At first we thought that it was really cool as they marched slowly towards us. As you can see by the photos that I was happily snapping away, they took up the entire width of the road. They came closer and closer until Josi told me, with slight urgency in her voice, to stop taking photos and to start backing. They were coming right at us and our little rental car with no sign of clearing out of our way. As I started backing up another huge bull elephant came out of the bushes directly to our left. I watched in surprise as he got closer and in doing so I backed into a bush on the side of the road and got us stuck. I’m blaming the backing up into a bush 20% because I wan’t used to driving on the wrong side of the road and 80% from the shock of being ambushed by the massive tusked elephant coming out of the bushes to our left.

I would have pulled a little forward and corrected myself, but by this point the big heard of elephants was really close to us and they were pissed. Right about the time they started nodding their heads up and down and shooting their ears out to their sides, which made them look even huger and meaner than they already were, Josi went into a panic. Every few seconds between her hyperventilating Josi was able to squeak out “I’m scared”. Shit, I was too, but I wasn’t going to let her know it because I think that she would have passed out.

Josi had visions of them not veering from their path and walking right over us or getting really pissed off and tossing our car around and smashing it to pieces. It was like a scene out of a bad horror comedy where the couple get trampled after the first few minutes. If there was a shower near by I’m sure that she would have gotten naked and jumped in.

They were visibly pissed off that we were in their way, but rather than going Rambo on us they decided to avoid the blood bath and pass us by. They were so close you could smell them as they pretty much brushed the car as they walked by. As the last one finally passed us by he bent his big old head down so that he could give me a stinky, eye to eye, look of disapproval.

It’s not every day that you get to be so close to the largest, wild, land mammal in the world. The rest of our drive through the park continued to leave us in a perpetual state of wonder as we saw one strange and exotic African animal after another.

A big thanks to Skip and Paula for the great recommendations in and around Jeffery’s Bay.

We loved our time in Jeffery’s Bay and it’s surrounding areas, but seeing all of the crazy animals at Addo makes leaving lot easier knowing that we are on our way to bush camp in Madikwe Game Reserve in Northern South Africa.

Top 5 Things to do in Cape Town and the surrounding area

I have to admit that Facebook is a powerful way to connect with people and exchange information. A quick post about coming to South Africa and two of my friends (along with some of Noel’s as well) rose to the occasion to give amazing advice on things to do and places to see. Maya and Ali thank you so much for all the great tips that allowed us to quickly narrow it down to the best spots. Here were the highlights:

1) Camps Bay and Llandudno Beach

The beaches alone are the reason why I could see myself living in Cape Town. White sand paired with the blue and turquoise water make for a calming scenery. The beaches and the water is so tropical looking that you would never imagine that the water is absolutely freezing! Nevertheless, Clifton Beach is the best place to hang out, read a book, sunbathe and run for a quick dip in the ocean when it gets too hot. The beach is right across the street from a strip of bars, restaurants and hotels that definitely have a chic vibe and complements this upscale area.

Further down the road is Llandudno Beach that is more isolated as you have to drive through a residential neighborhoud to access it. It is equally as beautiful as Camps Bay beaches and it seems to have better surfing. We hung out there for a little while. Even though we didn’t go in ourselves, we had fun looking at the many surfers battling for the little close out waves.

2) Harbour Bay Market (Hout Bay)

The Harbour Bay market in Hout Bay is open every weekend from Friday 5pm to Sunday 4pm. This little market is quite well organized and takes place inside an old authentic fish factory. There, you will find lots of vendors of clothes, art, jewelry, decorations, etc. In my opinion, the best part is the food section. It’s a bit farmers market inspired with a modern feel. It is a great place where people meet, socialize, eat delicious food and enjoy a glass of wine while acoustic bands are playing. I would highly recommend to check it out.

3) Southern Cape

A day drive down the Southern Cape is definitely not long enough to experience the beauty and enjoy everything it has to offer. First of all, the drive itself is gorgeous and gives you the feeling you are in a movie driving along cliffs and beaches somewhere in the Mediterranean. Well, in the movie I played in my mind, we were in a zippy old fashion convertible…and in real life our rented Toyota Corrolla still gave us this feeling of freedom without the style! We stopped at a view point where you can see Long Beach from above and it’s rugged coast line. We then stopped at Boulder Beach to see the Penguins and then kept driving down to the Cape of Good Hope where you can do a short hike to a Lighthouse that allows you to see the ocean as far of the eyes can see! The Cape of Good Hope is also a National Park where you can drive around freely and see wild life. We were lucky enough to see tons of Baboons and a heard of Zebras.

4) Long Street

Long Street is located in the Centre of Cape Town and offers great shopping and cool cafes. Having been on the road for over two months, Long Street felt a bit like back home and gave us a chance to pick up a few cool souvenirs. My favourite purchase is a pillow cover with a drawing of a lady talking on the phone while leaning on a leopard in a sexy lounging outfit. It will make for a good souvenir in our Vancouver apartment. We also found a great little cafe called Lola’s where they serve delicious fresh juices, smoothies, salads and other tasty and healthy dishes. Noel and I are both creatures of habits so needless to say that we went back a couple of times.

5) Table mountain

The first time we attempted to hike table mountain, the wind was so strong that you could almost lean into in and not fall forward. The Cable car was closed which would have meant hiking up and then down which was no big deal, but somehow, I started feeling really scared of this wind pushing us around and making it difficult to move forward. We made the decision to turn around and come back another day which made me feel defeated in a way and at the same time, I am a strong believer that it’s best to listened to your instincts. We came back on a sunny day and hiked up the super steep path all the way to the top. We kept a good pace all the way, stopping only a few times to catch our breath and wow, what great cardio exercise it was. On a clear day, the view at the top is stunning and totally worth the effort.

Cape Town, South Africa

Our trip is one of love, adventures and following our childhood dreams. Ever since Josi was young she wanted to go to Tahiti and for me it was Africa, or as my good friend Bart calls it, Mother Africa. I believe that the “Mother” comes from it being the oldest continent. The landscape here is in sharp contract to that of Argentina where we just came from. Time has worn down and smoothed it’s mountain peaks and the skyline is much flatter than that of the Rockies or the Andes.

Like many of the nations with huge divides in wealth, South Africa is a country of great contrasts. The second we got off the plane we could feel that there was something about this place that’s very different to that what we have experienced. As we drove our rental car out of the airport, driving our standard on the left side of the road no less, we could see where the unusual energy was coming from as our route into town took us through one of the oldest and poorest townships in Cape Town. Townships are huge “human settlements” for black and coloured people, similar to indian reserves in Canada, but much larger in that they sometimes have over a million people living in them. Small broken shacks made of tin and discarded bits lined up as far as the eye can see. Through the garbage that piles the outskirts of these depressed areas the only glimmer of happiness and hope is reflected in the wonderfully bright clothing that the people who live there are wearing.

We went to book our hotel a few days before we arrived which was a mistake. I’m not sure why we always wait until the last minute? Perhaps it’s because sometimes we get better deals by booking last minute, or more likely it’s because neither of us want to miss out on something, or somewhere, better that may come up last minute. Regardless of the reasons, we learnt our lesson because 99% of the accommodations in Cape Town were fully booked when we got there. After a lot of searching we ended up finding a decent B&B that had availability for the first few nights but that’s it. After that we had to go to leave Cape Town and go to inland to their wine country for a few days. Then once there was availability back in Cape Town we came back. I’m sure that wine country is great if you love to drink wine, but for the most part I found it too old school and a bit boring. I found Cape Town to be a little bit similar to LA in that it’s best to have a car while you are there. If you can handle driving on the wrong side of the road having a car is great because many of the cool areas, beaches and sights are pretty spread out.

We did most of the touristy things that one does when in Cape Town. We enjoyed eating and shopping at the Waterfront. We took a tour to Robben Island, the prison where Nelson Mandela was jailed for several years. We were really happy to discover Long Street, in Central, because had some cool boutique shops and great restaurants. We hung out at the at Camps Bay which is a beautiful and affluent beach community. We went to a really cool market in Hout Bay that has both great food and some interesting locally made products. Josi loves to hike, so we hiked up Table Mountain, which didn’t look all that far, but in the middle of the day in the heat of the African sun it was quite the hike. I guess it’s similar to Vancouver’s Grouse Grind, but with twice as many steps going pretty much straight up. We also drove to the South Cape which was super cool. It’s a National Park that’s on the very tip of Africa. On the drive we saw loads of baboons which when we stopped to look at them crawled all over our car. They are meant to be quite aggressive at times and there were signs posted everywhere to stay in your car and to keep your windows rolled up. We also saw some zebras which was super cool as we weren’t expecting to see them in the area.

One of the things that we are finding to be really challenging is the constant thought that someone may rob you. It’s hard to not be thinking about it because all of the houses have both barb wire on their already high fences and electric fences that back enough punch to drop a man. The windows are all barred, there are armed security guards everywhere and to get in a shop you often have to buzz to be let in. Even if you are feeling safe, in the back of your mind you are telling yourself that they must only have all of this because it’s necessary. One day Josi and I were walking a few blocks from our hotel to go for breakfast in a very nice area of town. In front of us where a group of 4 small black kids between 11 and 13 yrs old. Like kids do, they were playing around as they walked along the street, but then I noticed that two of them had black hand guns. My first reaction was they they must be toy guns so we slowed down but didn’t stop. Then a white lady who jogged by us stopped and nervously waited until we caught up to her. She was from South Africa and she decided to not go by them just in case and instead took a different way to get to where she needed to go. Right then a large black lady who coming towards us and the kids stopped and visibly concerned ran across the street so not to walk past them. I’m positive that these kids were only playing with toy guns, but it was just weird enough that Josi and I to turned back had breakfast in another part of town.

You also have to get used to people constantly hounding you on the streets. Some of them are begging for money, but most of them, while not violent, are more demanding you pay them as they somehow they figure that you own them for one reason or another. For example, everywhere you go people have set up (non) businesses collecting money when you park in parking spaces that are meant to be free parking spots. This you end up getting used to and we pay between 2 and 5 rands each time we park. We pay not because we have to, but because we figure that if we don’t there is a chance we may be broken into. Kind of like paying the mob for protection so that they don’t rob you.

One of the other things that we did that was somewhat touristy was taking a tour of a township. Taking a tour in it self is pretty touristy, but how ours differed was that it was a guy who grew up in the township, and still lived there, was giving the tour to just Josi and myself. It started off pretty normal with a tour of a community centre that’s doing a lot of creative things in the neighbourhood. From there we took off on foot and ventured into the underbelly of some of the poorest areas in South Africa. One of the stops was an illegal drinking establishment where they brew their own beer. It was down a small and dirty alley that was home to several unusual businesses that we didn’t dare venture into. Inside there were several older down and out men sitting on low benches around 3 of the 4 walls. There was one metal bucket that they were passing around, each taking turns drinking from the local home brew. In the back was a big old black lady stirring two big oil barrels where they brewed the beer. The one old guy who I’m guessing owned the place talked to us for quite a while about the hardships in the town and the importance of his beer to the community and it’s ceremonies. I could barley understand him, but we listened and picked up things here and there. Then a fresh metal bucket came out over flowing with fresh beer. They first passed it to our guide and he drank and then he passed it to me to drink. The last thing I wanted to do was to pull a big swig of this super sketchy beer from the communal bucket, but I put my nose into it and wet my tong enough to know that I didn’t like the taste. Then I passed it on and it was finished as it went around the room. When we left I was told that everyone who was drinking only gave what they could, some paying more and others paying nothing. We paid them for the experience and carried on. Turns out that this place is owned by a friend of our guide and this is why they let us stop in. From there we ventured into areas that started sketchy and then got even sketchier. Garbage everywhere, 15 people crammed into a super small home, tinny little homes made completely of found pieces of random stuff, outhouses lined up for miles along a small and dirty creek, the list goes on. Even our guide spent most of his time looking over his shoulder as if he was waiting for someone to mug us all. Needless to say, my good camera stayed in it’s old sack bag and didn’t take a single photo. I was bold enough to take a few shots with my IPhone, but that’s it. Unfortunately, the photos from Cape Town in general aren’t the best because for the most part it didn’t feel safe enough to take out my big camera with it’s huge Canon lens.

We were amazed how cheep things are here, especially eating out. For both Josi and I to have a great meal, not including drinks, was usually between $10 and 15 all up. If you want a glass of wine with your dinner, add $2. Except for accommodations, which were around $80/night at B&B’s, everything was far less expensive than we were expecting. This was a nice surprise considering that Argentina was 3x more expensive than I was expecting it to be.

We had our surf boards out and ready to get a surf on, but the poor wave quality in combination with the freezing cold waters of Cape Town were enough to keep our adventures land based. It’s rather deceiving as the air temperature was well into the 30’s and the ocean is freezing, even though it’s a crystal clear light blue colour which usually only occurs in tropical warm waters.

We are finding that the longer we are here the more we are getting to know and understand the way things work and we are starting to enjoy ourself way more. Cape Town and it’s surrounding areas is absolutely stunning and all up we enjoyed out time here. Our next stop is 7 days of surfing in Jeffery’s Bay which I’m super stoked about.

The best comment wins a cheesy post card from Africa!

Stick it on your fridge, impress your friends, feel loved! In this digital age there is nothing better than receiving actual hand written mail from friends and loved ones.

That’s why we are sending the person who writes the best comment an actual old school cheesy travel post card from us, delivered to your door, all the way from South Africa.

Enter your caption in the comments section below and the best caption wins. We leave Africa on Feb 23rd so get your comments in by Feb 22 and we will send out the winning post card the day we leave.

We snapped this shot while we were flying from Bariloche to El Calafate and thought that it was just too funny so we had to document it.

Back to Buenos Aires

To my surprise leaving, El Chalten was quite sad. After a week of hiking, fly fishing and exploring, we had developed a nice routine of outdoor activities, going to great places to eat, and knowing where to shop. I can honestly say that we had both reached a level of relaxation similar to when we were in Costa Rica. With lots of physical activity being our main routine, we were able to really let go of everything else. It was a great mental break from all of the up and go that we have been doing as of late. As soon as we borded the plane to Buenos Aires my sadness dissipated and the excitement of going back to a city I love came back. We landed in AEP which is the airport right next to the downtown area and in less than than 15 minutes by taxi we were at our hotel. We chose to stay at the same hotel we stayed at when we first landed in Buenos Aires: Ayres de Recoleta Plaza, and it felt like going back home. The staff is so nice and helpful, not to mention that they were generous enough to keep our surf boards and on of our bags while we explored Patagonia at no charge.

For the most part we spent our last 3 days in the city exploring, shopping, eating and drinking coffee!

We checked out the Aldo Sessa photo exhibit. The local photographer depicted 50 years of Buenos Aires through his collection of mainly black and white photographs. I mainly enjoyed looking at the older photos from the 60’s as I found were more vibrant as they seemed to transpire the true feelings of the kids and adults living in the neighbourhood of La Boca at the time. He also showed a series of tango photos, also in black and white, that were stunning. I left the gallery wishing there was a more well rounded selection of photographs, and at the same time happy to have seen the exhibition and to have discovered a bit more of the Puerto Madero area as it reminded me of le Quartier St-Henri in Montreal.

We also spent one more day in Palermo Soho which made for great retail therapy session. The only downside of travelling for a long time is that you have to lug around everything that you purchase for the rest of the trip. I find that buying small and light stuff or things you really need is definitely key. Unfortunately the amazing pair of $300 shoes I found didn’t make the cut. I was more than happy with the bikini and purse that I did buy that were both Hecho (made) in Argentina!

Next stop South Africa!

Deeper into the Wilds of Southern Patagonia

As you drive up to El Chalten you can’t help but be amazed by how massively towering the jagged mountain peaks are as they make for the most magnificent backdrop above this little town. Everything becomes more and more miniature, yourself included, as you slowly draw closer. Their peaks look like someone took them into Photoshop and stretched them vertically into unrealistic proportions.

Everywhere we had been prior was a little more built up and touristy than what we were expecting from Patagonia so we were stoked as we pulled into the small town of El Chalten and the rugged peaks that tower over it in all directions.

Before being let off at the bus stop we were taken to the the parks information centre for briefing of do’s and don’ts. It was like when I went cat skiing and before they let you have your fun they tell you the dangers, give you some very basic survival tips and then set you free to be as extreme as you choose to be. Having packed for a 6.5 month surfing trip around the world rather than a one month trip to Patagonia we weren’t prepared to push the limits as far as we might of otherwise. Hearing stories of people who have climbed to the tops of the biggest peaks with no visible way of possibly making it up. Not to mention that the weather seemed to change on a dime with the winds going from none at all to firing in one direction so hard you would almost fall over and then changing it’s mind and firing the other direction with even more force. We did some pretty big hikes well over 20k that took us to some amazing alpine places that few will ever have the opportunity to witness so in our own way we did feel pretty extreme.

While we did have the ocasional clouds that blew in here and there the locals told us again and again that we were in luck with the weather. The days were mostly warm enough that I only wore a tank top and pants. For the first time in our trip I actually felt chilled at night and would go out bundled up in my hoody and long pants. The town of El Chalten was built in the mid 80’s as a tool used to win a land dispute with Chile. Both countries laid claim to this remote and undeveloped part of the Andes and Argentina. Before that there was nothing there, not even a road and now there is a bustling little town that caters to hard core outdoors people. There is construction on every corner and we have been told that it bustles in the summers and then slows right down in the winters. The one thing that amazed us is that most of the structures are built out of either cinder block that seems very fragile, or particle board. In an extreme location like this that has all kinds of weather I would never imagine that anyone would build a home or a business out of particle board.

The hotel where we were staying had photos of the owner holding huge rainbow trout in the 20 to 25lbs range so I knew that we were in a good area. I was considering getting a fly fishing guide, of which there were two in town, so that I could finally catch some bigger trout. The main guide in town told me that for almost $300 CAD he would provide waders and flies, feed me lunch and take me fishing on a river for the day. He told me that we would catch 40 fish in a day which seemed pretty great, until he told me that most of them were going to be around 7 inches with only a chance of a bigger fish. We went to the other guide and the girl working at the front desk told me that for the same price we would fish a lake and would likely catch 2 or 3 trout about 2lbs each. I knew that I didn’t want to pay for a guide to catch loads of small trout as I can do that back home for free. I also knew that I didn’t want to pay to fly fish from shore on a lake because I knew that I didn’t need a guide for that as I could do it on my own.

I ended up going to a small outdoor store that also sold flies and the old guy that worked there showed me a few dry flies that he thought worked well in the rivers. I was stoked to see that they looked a little bit similar to the multitude of flies that I had brought from home. I bought two flies from him in exchange for his helpful knowledge and the next day we set off on a 1 hour shuttle bus trip to a lake that buts up against the boarder of Chile. Right when we got off the bus there was a sign that we translated as no fishing for 200m. I wasn’t sure so we asked the bus driver and he explained that we were not aloud to fish on the lake side of the sign for 200m. I was stoked because there were trout jumping everywhere so I quickly started casting into the crystal clear river. Within minutes I hooked a big rainbow trout about 3 or 4 pounds. It was funny because within minutes there was crowd of about 20 Argentinian tourists watching me fight this fish. I got it right up to the shore and as I was about to release it it snapped my line. I was surprised because I had just bought new 6lb tippet which should have been more than enough as to not snap. It felt good to hook into such a big fat trout and I was a little bummed that we didn’t get a good photo before I released it. I was also bummed that I had only bought one of the particular flies from the guy and that it was now gone. Before I was even able to get a new fly on, a military/ parks guy came up to me and asked for my fishing licence. In all of my years of fishing I have never been asked to show my licence so I’m happy that the one time it cost me $100 to buy it it actually got put to use. On top of wanting to see my licence he also informed me that the sign read that I could not fish within 200m in any direction of which I was clearly within about 5m. Luckily there were a few locals there who were with me when I was asking what the sign meant and they backed me up and let him know that a local had told me is was OK. He was cool and pointed out where I was aloud to fish and let us go. Josi asked him if we were aloud to keep fish in the river and he said no we had to let them go. He then said that he would make an exception and if we were to bonk it and put it in our bag quickly he would let us keep it. It seemed a little fishy to me, kind of like a story a surfer friend of mine who was in Mexico who bought a joint off a local, who’s friend was a police officer that just happened to be around the corner. The cop busted my friend, took the joint and gave it back to his friend and then took $100 from my buddy to let him go. Regardless of being a trap of not, as soon as we knew that it was all catch and release river we decided to not keep any.

Having just lost my one fly that hooked a big trout I went straight for one of the flies that I tied. I’m not sure if its just me, but I love fishing with flies that I personally tied way better than store bought flies so I was stoked. I was even more stoked when I started getting bites on almost every cast and catching fish after fish. The biggest fish I caught that day was a brown trout about 20 inches and I lost a rainbow that was much larger. The river was packed with fish. I caught about as many browns as rainbows. The thing I noticed about the rainbows is that they were really fat in compared to the ones back home. There was a glacier hike that we were planning on doing that day, but I was so excited to be fishing, and catching fish, that I couldn’t leave. Josi was a sport and sat in the chilly breezy sun and read while I had my fun.

A few days and a couple of really big hikes later we came back to the same spot for another day of fishing. This time Josi did the glacier hike on her own and I stayed and fished the river once again. The water had dropped quite a lot over two days and this time I was able to wade out into the small cold river allowing me room to cast to the banks on the far side. There I hooked into a really large rainbow that got off and shortly after that I hooked into another really big brown. This time I was determined to get it in and fought it more gingerly because I knew that I didn’t want to snap off again. Right when the 4lb brown was at my side and I was about to lift it so that I could take the hook out it snapped off. I couldn’t believe that another one snapped off. I tested the line that I had bought and it was strong so I’m not sure what was going on? Perhaps the pull of the river was adding a few pounds to their already large size, or perhaps it was because I wan’t handling them in like I do when I want to keep them. Either way it was great to hook into some really decent size trout on a beautiful river using a dry fly.

After spending a week in El Chalten I started to hear about more and more spots with great fishing, all of which are off the beaten path. When we come back to Argentina we will be sure to bring full trekking gear and will spend way more time way off the grid in search of some of the really big trout that I have only heard about in this part of the world.

Argentina and specifically southern Patagonia was a wonderful adventure that exceeded my expectations and I’m sure that one day we will be back. I’m writing this blog post from my big oversized, business class seat that fully reclines into a bed as we fly over the Atlantic on our way to Cape Town. I have never been to Africa and I’m super stoked for what adventures lay in wait.

A town on the outer edges of civilization.

El Calafete is in southern Patagonai and while it isn’t the most southern town in Argentina, it’s pretty darn close. It sits between an endlessly flat, dry and barren landscape to the East and towering mountains that rocket up the the heavens to the West. The Atlantic side is really really flat and is speckled with an unlimited number of multi coloured lakes. Other than a few very resilient shrubs and grasses nothing grows here and it’s single most striking feature is the milky green Río (River) Gallegos which twists and winds it’s way through the barren land on it’s way to the Atlantic.

El Calafete’s main strip is pretty cute with lots of shops catering to trekking and tourists. We found a really great little restaurant with a bit of a hippie vibe that make kick ass crepes which was a nice change from the typical meat and veggies that most restaurants serve. The main attraction in the area is the Perito Moreno Glacier. The pictures don’t do it justice, but the face of the glacier is 120 feet high and in the afternoon on a sunny day the ice warms up and huge pieces of ice break off and come crashing into the lake below. When it happens it sounds like a cannon is going off and the impact on the lake below rockets water 160 feet out and 120 feet high.The wave that it creates is big enough that you could almost surf it. In a zen like trance we watched the powerful forces of mother nature at work as massive pieces of age old ice continually broke off and crashed into the lake below.

It was here that we saw the most wild life as well. The area is home to Alpaca’s and Emu’s which I saw many as they roamed the desert like planes eating the sparse dried grasses. Had we been in a rental car I would have been able to get better photos because we would have stopped on the side of the straight and deserted roads to get up close and in person with them, but the bus driver must have seen a million of them because he but hardly turned an eye. I on the other hand was glued to the window with my camera in hand and as we raced by I was madly snapping away. I could easily download a photo of one of these strange and interesting beasts, but somehow to me that’s cheating.

Old guy selling empanadas from a shopping cart.

I haven’t really gotten into the food in Argentina in my posts so here’s my quick two cents. If you were a gluten free vegetarian on holidays in Argentina you would be screwed because they love eating their bread and meat. I’m guessing that that’s because the cost of vegetables is so expensive. Every hotel we stayed at included breakfast in the price and breakfast includes; a basket of bread, a selection of very sweet jams, dulce de leche (which is a sweet carmel like spread), sugar coated croissants, sugar coated corn flakes, sweetened yogurt (either vanilla or strawberry), coffee with warm milk and a juice. The first few days I did what I was taught and ate everything that was given to me and then after a while I realized that if I kept it up I was going to have to buy bigger pants and board shorts so I cut back. The funny thing is that Josi finished up reading the book Wheat Belly on this trip which is basically saying that the whole reason that middle America is so dam fat is because of it’s addiction to wheat. Our goal is to be gluten free, but that was shot to hell in Argentina because bread is the staple to their diet. We didn’t really notice a typical lunch, perhaps empanadas? For those of you who don’t know what they are, they are similar to a pizza pocket except that the inside isn’t very saucy. They range in price from cheep to pretty cheep and because of their ease we often took them with us on our hikes. Dinners all come with a big basket of bread, which we eventually stopped accepting. The server usually looked at us funny, told us that we had to pay for it anyway, and then eventually took it away. Minutes later another server usually came along with more bread assuming that our waiter messed up which we also turned away. Prior to turning the bread away I was waking up feeling pretty funky and I was figuring that it was the steaks or other big heavy meals that we were eating, but I later came to know that it was the half loaf of bread that they were feeding us. The one thing that they do have dialled food wise is their steaks. They come tender, cheep, huge and delicious. I didn’t eat many, but in the last month I still ate more than I have eaten in the last 5 years back home in Canada. The secret to why Argentian food tastes so great is their Chimmy Churry sauce. We put it on everything and it rocks.