Monday, April 30, 2012

The touristy ice-trekking in Glacier Viedma in El Chalten

Instead of paying for 800 Argentine peso for ice-trekking (called the Big Ice) on Perito Moreno (of which we enjoyed just standing in front to see ice collapse), we paid 500 for ice-trekking on Glacier Viedma. It is 5 times larger than the former. It is still a touristy expenditure. However, we have no crampons and know nothing about glacier, i.e. we can’t go by ourselves. Then we cannot escape from experiencing it without paying. So we “brush” our credit card easily in a touristy way and joined the excursion happening half an hour later, in our first morning in El Chalten.

 









After an hour of bus and boat trip on Lake Viedma, which was the same size of Hong Kong, we saw the glacier wall on water but were unlucky to see any clashes. Then we went on the rock, wore the crampons and stepped onto the glacier. It was like walking on a foreign planet with ice ever moving and changing shapes. It will be different landscape a few days later. The guides kept exploring and trying new route out of their experience. It was an interesting walking for two hours. Due to global walking this glacier was also receding. We kept seeing big holes with water melting into it. We heard that there were adventurous divers going underneath the glaciers and dived into the lakes.


We saw a wedding proposal in our tour group. For a bit a luxury, we had bailey with ice to end the journey. It is what a touristy excursion about.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

看一整天的塌冰

人家去探弋城順便搭一小時去看的冰川,我們花了三個月才會它一會。差點兒被“人有我有”的心態驅使而花過千五一位去行冰川,幸好沿崖立馬,不去參加。改而只買巴士票(來回80 Arg peso,早上七時出發,下午兩時回程〕,打算在冰川前呆一天,只看冰崩震天的奇景。

前一晚在旅舍廚房焗好empanadas, 拿去冰川吃。早上空氣寒冷(南半球的夏天已過,只有攝氏兩三度),在黑夜中我們走到巴士站,坐巴士到那有錢的國家公園(人家到那只為看冰川,每人盛惠 100Arg peso, 由於是星期日,我們換不到錢,又不知為可銀行咭拿不到錢,硬着頭皮用美金1:4和警衞買票, US$25一位。 怪不得之後在El Chalten的一對年青德國男女索性下榻El Calafate也不去那兒)。而我們一路南下,原來也只為去這兒看活躍的冰川,也只好付錢。

這個富貴的國家公園非常照顧遊客;有大停車場、清潔的大厠所、餐廳、紀念品商店,更重要的是對着冰川的大看台及行人道。我們就在看台上,吃着empanadas, 看冰塌下。


在全球氣候暖化之下,各地的冰川都不紤萎縮,然而這個冰川是僅存還不斷成長的冰川。” 成長”是指它的冰不斷向前伸延,塌下。何時塌冰全是隨意,無人能預知,好像有生命似的。我還以為單憑己力可以加速塌冰,所以時不時向冰川吼叫。不知是自我完善或是甚麼的,在我們前面的冰牆的較其他位置的冰牆有較多的塌冰。




 


縱使冰塊落在眼前彼岸遠遠的水面上,其隆隆聲響遍川谷,所湧起的浪不斷拍此岸,經久不衰。

video



雖然還有其他的步道,我們只滿足於眼前的景象, 至三時許我們才依依不拾地離開。心裏很想往冰川上走一趟,但這會是比這個大6倍以上的Viedma冰川。

Friday, April 27, 2012

在Patagonia遇上小王子的朋友

蛇吞象小島Isla de los Pajaros
 http://www.panoramio.com/m/photo/42814242
在阿根廷南部Valdes半島附近有一個蛇吞象模樣的小島,相傳小王子作 Antoine de Saint-Exupery曾以飛行員身份在這一帶工作,並以這形狀奇特的小島作題材。


小王子的玫瑰
在智利南部Puerto Natales附近的國家公園Torres del Paine,有壯麗的雪山、冰川與湖泊,卻令人心痛地,在2010年,被遊客在露營煮食時失火,燒掉了十分一,至今還在復元中。在燒得灰黑的泥土中,亁巴巴的樹皮下,居然有一朵豆大的小野花,貌似紅玫瑰,在荒野中驕傲茁壯,獨個兒生長,仿似那棵得到小王子的愛,被細心照料的玫瑰那樣。

被馴養的狐狸
在Valdes半島的一個公園管理站及Torres del Paine的一個campsite也遇上了悠閒路過的狐狸。斜眼看著我,好像想跟上來,卻又有幾分冷酷的緩緩走開。畢竟我不是小王子,更不是白雪公主。

Thursday, April 26, 2012

六日五夜在行山人天堂- 小”W”之旅 - Torres del Paine - 上篇

多謝Joey的提醒,使我知道去El Calafate之前還有智利的W行山綫要去。一去之下,樂而忘返。極力推薦予所有行山友,亦很想把這幾天經歷詳述,請忍下我的長氣。

經過三日兩夜的打車之旅,到了Rio Golligo,留了兩天再乘貴車到 Rio Turbio,過境到智利的Puerto Natalie, 找到當地的Couchsurfing女主人歌利亞,第二天便乘車到國家公園Torres del Paine。 兩小時的車程,心裏盤算着哪個方向較容易和消費較輕( 因為不同路段經個一些免費的營地及收費但環境較好的”避難所’ (refugal)。巴士停在一間餐廳暨紀念品店給乘客去厠所,我便沖進找免費地圖看。看來走逆W (由東往西走,但大部份人是從西向東)較好,因為像從山勢向西出海有較多的下山路。但是還不知道巴士所停的三個站的次序,心裏正躊躇怎樣不跟大部份人下車。

中間有一個停車點看一個湖。有個小牌敍述湖後的幾座大山和周圍的湖自成獨立的生態系統,湖的水不會流走太多,只會蒸發後下雨到山上再溶雪回湖裏,山上的礦物質不斷在湖裏積聚,因此湖的水是偏鹼的。看雪山和湖以使我目不暇給,身後的旅遊巴開走我也沒發覺,幸好它開得慢讓我跑上前趕上。現在的美景已是如此,難以想像的天堂就在之後。

巴士停在第一個站 Laguna Amarga,才發覺和以前所讀的旅遊書相反 (書寫這是最後一站),後來才知道所有人在這裏下車,再有小車到另外兩個站 : Guarderia Pudeto -大部份人到此站被焗撘12,000 peso (約HKD200)一位的小船 (只有半小時船程)到W綫東處(Paine Grande);行政處但要走18km才進W綫(!?)。在下車處的入場處我們付了入場費 (15,000peso 一位)、簽了不破壞自然的約章、拿了地圖、問過哪些地方可以露營哪些營地關閉、知道要花上十天以上的大迴環綫於秋冬關閉。不知袖裡我們上了到 Hotel Torres 的車 (在付2,500peso的十五分鐘車程免走7公里車路)。一下車我便忙收拾行裝,但老婆催促我跟大隊走,怎知道走半小時上山走到別人的舒服refugo才知道走錯路,回來已浪費一小時(老婆我哋仲有成日山要行,唔睇地圖行天黑都去唔到營地呀!) 原來大隊人是走進收費的hostel check-in,然後拿daypack 輕鬆行上山到W的西尾,再下山睡一晚,第二日去中尾山腳的收費refugo。有錢晚晚俾錢住就拿小背囊,無錢只有露營的我們就拿大背囊 (我背20kg,老婆背7kg)死行。
行錯路入咗人哋refugal
偷望入面,幾靚喎










近中午才行過豪華酒店及小商店 (我有些後悔不買多包米,原本我定四至五日的行程,不多拿已買的一公斤米,以免背囊太重不好走),往W東尾進發。陽光很好,雖然南風寒氣陣陣 (我們身處南半球,南風是冷的;異於北半球的北風寒風),穿厚衣上山行出汗也舒服。在寒天行山,忌穿楾衣,濕了汗水煇發不走與死人布無異。我背沈重行裝慢慢往河谷上山,背後的湖景及前面的雪山盡入眼矌。感謝主造天造地,還給予我們好天氣,遠遠的雪山也看得清楚。這麼美麗的大自然真的需要我們好好保護,回想剛簽過的約章:

- 不隨便生火,只可在營地用營爐
- 不隨處吸煙及掉煙頭
- 和其他遊人及國家公園管理人員合作
- 帶走所有垃圾包括如厠後的厠紙
- 只帶走相片及回憶,不帶走其他自然物作紀念品
- 只走定下的行山綫,不走或開小路
- 只在核准営地紥營
- 保持國家公園清潔,不破壞一草一木

幸好很少大陸人來這裏,以他們平均的低素質一定會把這天堂蹂躪,例如亂抛垃圾大小二便吸煙亂走小路拿東西做記念品等,我在雲南行山見過不少。在這裏,去小便要盡量到營地厠所,迫不得已才要離水源自少100m如厠。開大的要在同距離或更遠挖泥下至少20cm,放低兩斤後用挖泥埋好(我學leave no trace還要在上面放乾葉免水土流失露底及大石頭以免給動物翻開)。厠紙當然帶走。你話大陸人邊識做? 其實好多香港人唔好得幾多,俾大陸人涂毒的更甚。(可能我咁寫會被共狗黑客或三毛hack咗個blog,有得睇快啲睇,歡迎剪貼轉載)





 


一路上山,隨了一些日行人輕鬆超前,大部份時間只有我同老婆,聽到是大自然的寒風流水雪山崩雪聲,有時只聞鳥聲不見雀影,都有大鷹飛過,還是流水及自己呼吸聲最響。走了兩小時到了己關閉的Chileno営地及refugo,有工人在修葺,我亦見到有馬柵,原來付錢是可以免辛苦騎馬上來,怪不得上山時看到有人馬分路的路段。繼續沿河往上走,在紅葉林中透出午後陽光,身邊紅橙黃綠一片片盡是秋意,當中行山的感覺像身處仙境,身體勞倦不翼而走,愈行愈起勁,轉間已經到了免費營地 Torres,當中地面平整乾爽、有簡單公用厠所,煮食用小木屋、有一小溪清水貫穿穿營地。我們在一水邊營地紥營(老婆喜歡聽水聲,而我就不以為然,這溪像是冷氣冷管把熱熱走),跟着收拾行裝,走個多小時到觀景點base de Torres,沿途途不少日行人迎面趕來在天黑前回山下酒店。一小時後我們到了群山圍着的冰湖,山上的冰川不斷溶水到湖再留走。我再走下去拿點冰川水,很清但不像在雲南雨崩冰湖般甜,不過我都打满水回營地及翌日行山飲。在這裏行山不愁沒水喝,山川冰川水只是一小時路程之隔,雖然冰冷,但是清新健康。老婆喜歡用這鮮水煮茶。


走回營地,第一餐有像牛扒的豬扒,我還是爭扎地用新爐,就算燒乾淨的氣也燒不好,我對它有點失望,又重又嘥氣,真有想把它送回香港的衝動。最後煮好晚餐: 雜菜豬扒飯,幸好老婆吃得滿足,我就開心。吃完就睡,一如所料,我的三度睡袋不夠保暖,但老婆的零度睡袋才夠用,於是把兩個睡V字合體兩人合用。總算過了第一夜,但發覺放在外營內用來放橙的膠袋被咬碎,應該是鼠類動物的所為,幸好橙安然無虞,我們儲食物要再小心點。

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

六日五夜在行山人天堂- 小”W”之旅 - Torres del Paine - 中篇


第二天吃過早餐,和來自荷蘭的營友說再見(他年紀輕輕已遊歷多國,背囊已貼上各國旗),我居然還拾到別人留下還有三份一的氣罐,當為公園清走外來物我也不客氣地拿走了。


我們開始21公里的路程到Italieno營地,需時8小時,多是下山及平路。緃使一開始的5公里是原路下山谷走同樣的路,我也不覺得悶,之後有捷徑到同分向的Cueno refugo,沿途是右邊雪山左邊湖,這是很長的11公里4小時路程,大部份是平路及下山,我心想如果我是順W走,這會是艱苦的長路段。如今在陽光普照下,這是使我感爽快的一段路。經過Cueno refugo,看到雅致的小屋,但沒有好奇心去問價,當中亦可以租營幕睡營地但附近有死水潭 (這是寒冷的Patagonia應該沒有蚊子罷),我亦沒有心去看多一點,因為我們要趕在天黑前到營地,當時已經是下午四時,還有至少兩小時半的路程,到營地應該是七時快天點了。我們不斷趕路,也不忘在經迥的小石湖灘欣賞湖光水影,在寧靜下這樣的美景充滿靈氣,使我蹓蹥忘反。入Italiano 所在的河谷之前要彎過雪山所伸延的幾座山咀,路勢亦有沿湖邊斜崖上山路,行得比較辛苦。最後我們七時十五分到達營地,有公園職員招呼我們,紀綠身份資料。我們在一個日本人三人營旁紥營,靠它擋擋風,至於煮飯,火水爐又是另一個災難,多煙之餘在寒冷下也不夠力。最後總算煮成飯,吃得也溫暖。至於睡,我今次穿上所有寒衣,也只是勉強能應付。

第二天早上要早出發上W中尾的景點 (在Britanico景點之後,預計day pack來回共六小時,下午還有三小時要走到下一個營地),六時響鬧鐘還天黑一遍,我們便瑟縮在營內開小氣爐(這是我的教鍊小法寶,下雨或行山中途可開小火煮食,好爽呀)煮早飯,吃得暖暖的。 奇怪的是我們發覺掛在樹上的麵包袋又被鼠類動物咬破,麵包被吃了一些。內營更有兩個像用犬齒咬穿的洞,兩洞相距兩寸,無理由有這麼大的鼠罷? 或許是山貓?之後和其他行山人談到這事,有人的背囊被咬破。又不想浪費食物,又不知就地吃了會否染鼠疫,當晚我們雞湯煮麵包吃了。

七時出發還是天黑黑,唯有摸黑行,當中走錯不少路。日本人早我們一小時出發了,但當我們經過一大段石路上河谷至中段景點Mirador Frances,他們也只早我們不久到。所以早出發要摸黑找路,其實速度慢了也得不償失。這個景點美麗之處是一排雪山冰川就在面前,而且時不時有雪崩,是很活躍的冰川。日本人只上來這裏就走,我們還想繼續上。但這段到Britanico的路不易走,大部份被雪覆蓋,路滑而且經過不少溪流的丘陵地帶,很費力。拿出指南針看還有三份一路程(其實還有一半,因為後來發覺我認錯山,而且指南針裏的水已被冷得把針漿住,指針標示不靈敏)都要原路折反。

回到營地收拾行裝,我也花了很多時間清理被火水煙燻黑了的爐,最後下午三時才出發。下午這段到Paine Grande營地的路不難走,可惜的是開始看到被火燒的痕跡,聽聞幾年前一場人為大火燒了這國家公園十份一的地方,現在有些位置還寸草不生。在這個寒冷乾燥的地方生長植物是非常不容易,一燒之下不知多少年才復元。因為這裏非常重視用火,生火是完全禁止,之可以在少許地方才可以用營火,營爐更是只可在營地使用。到達Paine Grande是黃昏六時,如果在推動多一點走3.5小時就會到位於W的上尾開端的Refugal Grey. 在那兒下榻可以於翌日到較上的景點。但是天色已晚會變冷不宜行山,我們便在Paine 紥營。我也放棄大爐而用小爐煮食,真的又快又方便。吃完很早便睡,心想明天要早些到Refugal Grey作基地,往Grey冰川進發。

六日五夜在行山人天堂- 小”W”之旅 - Torres del Paine - 下篇



第四日一朝早便出發,愈往河谷上走愈覺得前夜的決定正確,因為沿途上落不段,極耗體力。之前我跟迎面來的行山人傾談已聽到他們在這前段已耗不少體力應付較後的旅程。雖然如此,這段路到了後段我們見到龐然大物Grey 冰川。中間一個大島把冰川分開兩邊,非常雄偉狀觀。中午到了Refugal Grey,第一次付鈔在營地紥營,貪它有熱水沖涼,熱水任添,營地也整潔,還有小賣點可以進點糧。紥好營便盡快出發走近冰川,沿途還是燒焦的樹林,一遍蒼涼,可想像當時的火勢及使人心傷的破壞。

時間及體力關係,我們只走到Los Guardas營地附近的冰川觀賞點,有幸可以給我們看到大幅冰牆崩塌的壯觀景象。別人付鈔幾百塊乘船來這裏也沒我們那麼近,而且還限時離開不如我們可以呆等幾小時看塌冰川。在同一地方看夠了,我們也輕輕鬆鬆回Refugal Grey。煮食沖熱水涼,對於我們四天穿同一套衫出汗兼無涼沖,這裏實是天堂,當然付錢的話,沿途的refugal皆可下榻有涼沖有飯吃有酒飲,這條W綫真是豐儉由人,可以舒服點四日三夜便可走完小W(即是不走進很深的段尾),我們這些省錢的,走小W也要六日,因為最後一段走出W是可以每人付約港幣二百的小雙體船代步。我們不想付錢坐這半小時船,就只好走多一天了。這裏碰到來自南非的十天豪華團,大部份是中年人士,他們要走大W,沿途住房(每位約港幣250一晚,當然可以選擇住營)。我和領隊談幾句,也發覺他是喜愛大自然的人,心想做導遊和歷奇訓練人的分別,前者只是帶一班人,他們開心就成,開心收錢;不如後者要考慮安排不同經歷次序已達到自省學習的機會。回顧旅程,心裏盤算着活動安排,希望日後能帶香港人在這大自然天堂作教室而得到學習及自省更生。


第五天本以為只需要走6.5小時(約21公里,但後10公里多是平路),心便閒了下來,怎知道原路下山的一段(Refugal Grey至Paine)不如想像般可以快一點走,老婆連日行山也勞累了,速度慢了下來。其實對於毅行者也未參加過的她,能完成W已經超額完成。我也不能怪她,心裏感激她陪我走這些路。

好不容易到Paine已是下午四時,我們只有三小時日光時間走10.5公里,心裏有點着急。幸好之後路段是草原平路,心想大部份乘船離開的人看不到這草原上雪山景。

走了三小時多,終於到了Las Carretas營地,營地只有我們沒有其他人了,可享受漫天星星的夜景(之前的營地均有樹遮蓋所以不易抬頭看星,況且天冷我們較早睡),但因為沒有甚麼遮蓋,晚上特別寒冷,這是眾晚最寒冷的了。早上起來草地盡是霜,連外營也較霜硬了;厠所沖水也被雪硬,令我感厭惡的是只用來放厠紙的箱被人亂拋垃圾。

最後一天我們只在燦爛陽光下走了兩小時草原路,輕鬆到了公園行政中心,看了些展品,特別是看看有哪些鼠類動物會偷吃我們的食物。一大袋垃圾當然是我們出了小鎮Puerto Natalie才丟棄。

這是一個畢身難忘的旅程,W綫可讓行山人盡覽雪山河谷大湖草原大石冰川,應有盡有,豐儉由人,下次我會來個大迴環加大W把這裏走通透。再一次感謝主給我們非常好的天氣,這幾天沒下大雨,白天太陽高照溫暖,使寒風不難受。這六日五夜樂透了!

Couch-surfing in Puerto Natalie


It was an urgent request for couch-surfing in Puerto Natalie. We asked one day before going there, even checked in a hostel. There we got online and found Gloria accepting our request, so we left the hostel in the rainy night and went to her home with our already-bought dinner. We were surprised to find that there were other couchsurfers at her home, then realized that Gloria was a very generous host who turned her home to a couchsurfing family with new people coming every now and then. She served dinner too. Then we had a traditional homey Chilean dinner on our arrival. The dinner included beans and fish stew. I like the fish stew a lot that I kept adding on my plate.

As for our room. We stayed in a room with two bunk-beds and we were on the bottom of one. The carpet was a bit filthy, no wonder all people wore shoes instead of slippers (or because it is cold here). All couchsurfers (one Spanish and one Chilean girls, a Belgian couple and us) shared the same bathroom which was also kept warmth by heater (good to dry clothes). There were also heaters in the living room and the dining room, but not in our room and it was quite chilly in there. Gloria also sold bus ticket to Torres del Paine and other nearby place, like a travel agent. Viewing that we lived at her place and she served us meal, we let her be our agent for bus tickets, although we guessed she made some money by being agent. There were also camping gear available for borrowing. I could take 1/3 can of gas for the hiking trip because we were too late to buy one before the shops closed.

After we were back from the hiking trip, we were happy to use her kitchen to bake and made dinner (chinese fried noodle and sweet and sour pork at that night, and fried rice for the next). Maria was happy too to bake cake (apple crumple and banana cake) in the oven. Our stay in Gloria’s place was short but we felt like family there.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

At Rio Gallegos

We went to Rio Gallegos for the sake of going to Puerto Natales, in Chile, where the famous W-track of Patagonia located. We heard comments saying that if you only got 3-5 days for hiking in Patagonia, the W-track is a must visit, as it carries all of the best landscape of Patagonia, including mountains, lake and glaciers (although the Argentine may not agree).


By road, we heard that Rio Gallegos is the gateway to Puerto Natales, however, when we get there, we found the bus going directly from Rio Gallegos to Puerto Natales does not run daily, only Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from two different company, Ar$100 each. However, alternatively, there is daily bus, at 12:30pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm and 4:30pm from several different company heading Rio Turbio (Ar$118, 4 hours), where there are many different companies offering frequent service to Puerto Natale (70km).


Due to the bus schedule, we spent a day going around town of Rio Gallegos.


Maria's first time in youth hostel dorm
It's a small town with only 3 buses running, Linear A, B and C. Not too frequent and we are told that it take at least an hour circulating the town, hence the hostel guy, Mikel recommended us to take a cab instead. 10mins taxi costing around Ar$20. Our budget travel however, got us walking.


Despite the chilly breeze from south pole, it was not difficult to get around town by walking, with a map.


a museum near the hospital having generous showings of fossil
The main street is on Roca and there are quite a number of museums, though many closed early or simply closed down.



The casa was a nice one though. It is a small house with the coal heater still in use. Inside was a collection of old town photos, Edison telephone, typewriter, sewing machine, soda water machine, coffee grinder, meat grinder and the stories of its past occupants. A cozy and well presented museum with entrance fee on voluntary basis.






On the seaside was the train museum that was already closed down, we managed to sneak in the wires and witness the train cemetery.


The best about Rio Gallegos for us is the succulent cordero (lamb), costing only Ar$30/kg in the carnicería, while lomo cost Ar$65 to 78/kg (and we are told that in Patagonia, cordero has better quality than beef)! We grilled the lamb rack for lunch and had pan fried lamb shank with stewed mixed vegetables with its bones for dinner. This is heaven! It's juicy, sweet and extremely tender!



the lovely dog in bus station

The next day, we headed for a bus to Rio Turbio at noon.