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The mighty Iguazu Falls are the most magnificent in all of South America, and although I have been there before, I decided to visit again, but just the Argentinian side.  As in most National Parks, foreigners pay 3 times more then locals.  So when I was asked "which country are you from?", I replied "Argentina".  To my surprise, I passed as Argentinian!  In total there are 275 falls, including the amazing Devil's Throat, where the whole lake plunges 80m down with overwhelming force.  There is also a lot of wildlife in the Park, but most of it gets scared by the crowds of visitors who flood in even on weekdays.  It's worth getting there early and spending the whole day exploring all the paths leading to many smaller waterfalls.

Buenos Aires

The capital of Argentina, the birthplace of tango, seams more European then South American.  Only a century ago, Argentina used to be one of the wealthiest countries, and there are still a lot of elegant buildings and neat plazas. One of my favorite places is Puerto Madero, where old warehouses have been converted into restaurants and bars.  This year there was a bonus - a photo session for a man's magazine called Chicas FX was taking place, and I couldn't resist the temptation of placing one photo on this website.  I apologize for my weakness!

Here, in Buenos Aires, my one-year long journey was coming to an end.  I packed my bag the last time, throwing away old clothes and replacing it with bottles of wine I was hoping to smuggle into the UK.  I went to the airport 4 hours before my flight.  The first obstacle was my American visa, a little damaged because my passport got wet 2 times recently.  After this was overcome, the workers couldn't find my ticket.  I had to go to the office of Delta Airlines to get one printed for me.  It was taking a long time and I started to worry.  It was obvious there was a problem, but nobody knew what it was.  I was told I may not be able to fly!  After a few phone calls, they explained to me what happened.

A few months ago I changed my return date by phoning Expedia, from whom I bought this flight.  I asked to fly on the 22 of September, because the next day my ticket expired (it was valid for a year).  After that, I phoned Delta to make sure everything was fine.  What I didn't know was that Expedia made a reservation for me, but didn't issue a new ticket.  And that's probably because the computer didn't allow it.  And the reason for this was that my ticked expired at midnight 22 of September, but.... Greenwich Mean Time, not local time!!!  So my flight at 8.30pm from Buenos Aires left 30 min too late, it was 30 minutes past midnight in London.  I had the option of buying a new ticket, for a mere $1900!

Slowly, the reality of my position dawned on me.  There was no way I was going to pay that kind of money.  I returned to my hostel, nervously analyzing my new position and my options.  I decided to use it to my advantage and travel in Patagonia, something I was thinking about anyway.

map of Patagonia


Peninsula Valdés

After recovering from the shock of this sudden change of plans, I traveled south all the way to Puerto Madryn in Argentinian Patagonia. That town is a jumping off point to Peninsula Valdez, a treeless splash of land full of amazing wildlife.  With 3 other people I met in the hostel we hired a car and followed a gravel road to the northern part of peninsula Valdez.  November is not a good time to see killer wales hunting for sea lions, but the lions were there.  In  the car park we had an armadillo running around looking for food.  It moved so fast that I had a hard time trying to catch it on camera!

From there we took the gravel road following the shore.  After a few kilometers we stopped in the middle of nowhere and walked to the beach made of small stones.  To our surprise and joy, it was full of sea elephants, including a huge male yawing with boredom.  They didn't seem to be bothered by our presence, only one of them looked at us following every move.  In my case, the only part of my body that moved was my finger, pressing the button on the camera.

Our next stop was a penguin colony, where hundreds of little Magellan penguins carried on with everyday life despite constant presence of people just a few meters away.  It was a great site, but people come to Peninsula Valdez to see more than this.  Every year between June and October (winter) over 2000 Southern Right Whales come to breed in bays around the peninsula.  They are called "right whales" because whalers thought the whales were the "right"ones to hunt, as they float when killed.  Whale watching trips are the best way to get close to them.  Sightings can not be guaranteed, but we saw a few whales, including a female with her calf, swimming slowly next to the boat.  Other whales were sticking their tales above the surface or even jumping out and landing with a huge splash, but only a few hundred meters away.

Another great way to see those magnificent animals is visiting the beach at Doradillo at high tide.  The water is deep enough for whales to swim just 20 - 30m from the shore!  Considering their size (up to 18m) they seem to be even closer.  Walking along Doradillo beach was definitely one of the highlights of this Patagonian trip.  photos