The mother ship

Tuesday 22nd November. By Jodie.

This weather is not kayaking friendly, so we’re traveling in the support boat again. This boat is a blessing and a curse. We’re not getting far by kayak so it’s good to have the friendly and helpful Captain Joselito and his boat the Cahuelmo to take us wherever we please in the fjords, which is basically from one hot springs to the next. Without the mothership we would not get far.

On the other hand, we’re stuck in the cramped and untidy below section of the boat, breathing thick diesel fumes and trying to stop the crockery from smashing as the boat lurches in the rough seas. Thankfully, neither of us suffers from seasickness, but the claustrophobic confines of the boat are far from comfortable.

We politely decline Joselito’s offer to sleep on board, and spend the nights in our tent in the rain, except for one night when we stop in the tiny village of Huinay and plead a bed at the local school, which, surprisingly for a school with 4 students, has expansive dormitories and a basketball court. But that’s a whole other story.
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Very natural hot springs

Sunday 20th November. By Jodie.

It’s raining, cold, and I’m wearing my bathers, raincoat and neoprene booties. Looking good! I’m shivering with cold as I shrug off the raincoat and ease myself into the hot springs. Mmmnn. Nice and warm.

We’re three days into a kayaking trip in northern Patagonia. These hot springs feed a series of rock pools at the end of a fjord. They are kind of slimy, with mud at the bottom but really hot and with great views. It’s a truly unique experience. We have a rest day here so that we can enjoy it. The weather is appalling which makes the hot springs experience even better. We are in the hot water with driving rain in our faces, watching the wind whip up the ocean we kayaked in on.

Later, the weather deteriorates further. Suddenly we see Paul’s kayak being pick up by the wind and propelled through the air. A sea kayak is 6 metres long and takes two people to carry it. So we’re amazed that it it’s being blown around like a twig. We rescue the kayaks and then it’s back to the hot springs. One thing is for sure: the worse the weather, the better the hot springs.

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Churches and clams

Tuesday, 15th November. By Paul.

We are on Chiloe in northern Patagonia, seeking seafood as this island is famous for it. The lonely planet outlines two ourstanding places to eat, in different towns, and we have to catch buses.

First stop is Quemchi, and we arrive in the town at low tide, with all the brightly painted boats high and dry on the beach. There is also a colourful church, which are also special in Chiloe. We find the restaurant and have lunch. The crab empanadas are awesome and the waiter takes us into the kitchen to see them being made. The fish is fresh and equally delectable. Once we finish, we then set our sights on getting to Tenaun, which means changing buses in Castro.

We have time to check out the church in Castro and the inside is all wooden, but made in a style as if it was stone. We get to Tenaun, a tiny town where a UNESCO heritage church is, and meet Miralla who runs a local B&B. She makes us dinner and brings out eight clams, freshly grilled with cheese and capsicum on top. Jodie feels sorry for me as she knows I’ll force one down to be polite, but is excited at the prospect of eating seven clams.

To Jodie’s dismay, I eat my first clam and love it. I then have a second, then third… absolutely delicious. Salmon comes next and we get an avocado and tomato salad…..all are really great. A perfect end the day.

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Hiking to the penguin colony

Sunday 13th November. By Jodie.

We can get out to the penguin colony only at low tide, which is early this morning, so we tackled the 8km hike yesterday and camped here at Ahuenco with views of the wild pacific ocean. Now we´re crossing the beach to the penguin colony. We stay for more than an hour watching. Because penguins are cool.

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Puerto Varas

Thursday 10th November. By Paul.

In October we met a couple hiking in the Rockies that knew a great friend of ours, Sidney, and also travelled in Chile, our current location. They told us how Puerto Montt is a place to avoid and Puerto Varas is a town to hang out in. So right they were.

Even though the towns are separated by only 20 minutes, the feeling is so different. The Germans had a big influence in Puerto Varas, so it is compact and has lots of pretty buildings. There are two volcanos overlooking the lake, and the coffee served here is not nescafe instant.

These are actually non-objective observations as we didn’t get out of the bus at Puerto Montt, on advice of our friends in the Rockies, the lonely planet guidebook and our desire to maximize our time in great places.

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In a cave, on a mesa, in the Grand Canyon

Tuesday 1st November. By Jodie.

After months of anticipation I’m excited that we’re finally hiking into the Grand Canyon. We’ve stayed two nights at the north rim and one at the south rim, gazing across the vast canyon from various overlooks. It’s impossible to see how we could hike down, and impossible to guess what it will be like. It wasn’t easy to get permits, so we’re happy we scored a 4 night itinerary that allows us to hike down to the Colorado River and back.

We reach our first campsite at Horseshoe Mesa and have lunch nearby. Paul leaves his pack at our chosen tent site. After our brief lunch break, we return to the site to find that a raven has opened both zip pockets on Paul’s pack and remove most of the contents including the first aid kit and mobile phone. It has a bit of a challenge with his jacket, but pulls it halfway out, and it’s attempting to undo the top of the pack when we chase it off.

After raven-proofing our campsite we go to check out the nearby area. There’s apparently a cave to explore. Were surprised to discover it’s the real deal, pitch black, with crawl throughs and stalactites. Were in a cave, on a mesa, in the Grand Canyon! Unexpected but fun.

Our next night’s campsite is gorgeous. Were descending into the canyon, layer by layer, and tonight we reach the Tonto Platform, well below the rims but still high above the Colorado River. We’re camping at the edge of this platform, with our first good views of the river below. In the morning it gets even better as a surprising but brief cloud cover paints a stunning sunrise.

On our fourth day we are hiking to the river. Day hiking, so we stash our packs. The raven has another go, managing to rip several holes in my old pack cover but can’t do any real damage. It’s nice to hike without our packs, and we head down though several more rock layers, then white sand dunes, to reach Hance Rapids. We’re on a beach, at the Colorado River, in the Grand Canyon! A good place to hang out for lunch and it feels good to have hiked all the way from the rim to the river.

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Five star sunrise

Monday 30th October. By Paul

Hiking in the Grand Canyon with 8L of water, we are looking for a “dry” campsite. Not relying on a nearby water source gives us freedom to find a stunning place to put up our tent.

We choose a site at the top of a cliff, directly above the Colorado river. The views create vertigo – the drop-off to the river is over 500m, and we camp on a spur so views are both ways.

The sunset was gorgeous but paled in comparison to the fire in the sky the next morning. Colours changed from pink to yellow then to red again. The camera was put to extensive use but as always doesn’t capture how extraordinary the moment.

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