Bolivia’s Jungle National Park: Amboró

Bolivia’s Jungle National Park: Amboró

In the center of Bolivia, there’s a very special place. Three important ecosystems meet here. The Amazon jungle, the Andes mountains, and a huge desert-like area called Chaco all intersect at this specific point: Amboró National Park. The mixing of these three ecosystems makes it one of those most biodiverse places on the planet. There are more bird species here than in all of North America. Continue reading “Bolivia’s Jungle National Park: Amboró”

Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls

One of South America’s most impressive sights must be the thundering Iguazu Falls. At the start of our Latin America trip I didn’t really have any plans to visit the falls but covid restrictions suddenly made it a good option. We started the trip in Chile and they kept all their land borders firmly shut, so I started looking at options to fly out. It turned out that a quick flight to Iguazu was the cheapest option and too good of an opportunity to pass up.

Las Cataratas de Iguazú

Una de las maravillas más impresionantes de Sudamérica debe ser Las Cataratas de Iguazú. Al principio de mi viaje por Latinoamérica, no tenía la intención de visitar este lugar tan famoso. Pero, Chile tenía cerradas todas las fronteras terrestres, por lo cual busqué una manera lógica de salir del país. Por suerte, encontré un vuelo rápido y barato desde Santiago hasta Foz do Iguaçu.

Así, me encontré en un país tropical en pleno verano. ¡Qué chocante! En pocos días había viajado desde los glaciares de Patagonia hasta la jungla húmeda de Brasil.

– It gets exciting when the boat hits the rapids. We almost feel like we’re going to go overboard.
– Se pone emocionante cuando la balsa choca con las olas. Casi temo que vayamos a volcar.

The falls are divided between Brazil and Argentina. Actually, the international border passes right through the middle of the river and the falls themselves. Not only were we lucky in finding a cheap flight, but we arrived just before that border crossing opened and the flood of Argentine tourists began to arrive.

It’s worth visiting both sides of the falls. From the Brazilian side you can see all of the cascades, stretching for miles along the escarpment. The most impressive of all is La Garganta del Diablo (the Devil’s Throat). It’s a deserving name. Best of all, imagine being there with so few other tourists.

Las Cataratas están divididas entre Brasil y Argentina. De hecho, la frontera pasa por el medio del Río Iguazú. Tenía la suerte de estar en el lado brasileño justo antes de la apertura de la frontera con Argentina. Por eso, había muchos menos turistas de lo normal.

Vale la pena visitar los dos lados. Desde el lado brasileño se pueden ver muchos saltos. El salto más grande se llama La Garganta del Diablo. Es un nombre muy apto. Imagínate estar en un lugar tan impresionante con pocos turistas.

La Garganta del Diablo (The Devil’s Throat)

On the other side, in Argentina, it’s even more exciting because you can get so close to the cascades, almost right on top or even under them in some cases. Plus there’s a hotel that has a precious view of the falls, something the Brazilian side doesn’t have.

En cambio, el lado argentino es más emocionante porque uno se puede acercar aún más a los saltos. Además, hay un hotel que tiene una vista de las cataratas, cosa que no existe en el lado brasileño.

– Gran Meliá Iguazú is special because it’s the only place to stay with a view of the falls
– El Gran Meliá Iguazú es el único hotel que tiene una vista de las cataratas

If you do go to Iguazu, or any other part of Argentina for that matter, it’s super important not to pay for anything with a credit card or to withdraw money from a bank machine. You’re much better off bringing cash and exchanging it on the street. Argentina is plagued with extremely high inflation and a corrupt government, so you’ll get twice as many pesos per dollar on the street as you would get by paying by credit card. The government is essentially running a currency scam. Paying with cash (and therefore paying half as much) is how I managed to afford such an expensive hotel. Definitely worth it!

A nice walk or train ride from the hotel leads to the Devil’s Throat, this time even closer to the thundering falls than you can get on the Brazilian side. Late in the afternoon as the sun began to set, there were only two other people there!

Si vas a Iguazú, o a cualquier parte de Argentina, es muy importante no pagar con tarjeta extranjera ni sacar dinero de un cajero automático. Es mucho mejor llevar dólares estadounidenses y cambiarlos en la calle. En la calle, te dan dos veces más pesos por dólar. En todos los bancos te darán la mitad. Es prácticamente una estafa. Seguro que prefieres pagar la mitad, ¿no?. Ese es el truco que utilicé para quedarme en un hotel normalmente bastante caro sin pagar un ojo de la cara.

Una caminata agradable desde el hotel lleva a La Garganta del Diablo (al lado argentino), esta vez aún más cerca del salto. Por la tarde había tan solo otras dos personas ahí, mirando el espectáculo. Imagínate, solo dos personas en un lugar tan espectacular.

– Looking downstream from Garganta del Diablo
– La vista [hacia] río abajo desde la Garganta del Diablo
La Garganta del Diablo

Being deep in the Amazon jungle, I’d expected to see some reclusive wild animals. It turns out that some of those animals aren’t quite as timid as I’d expected. This coati, for example, is teaching her babies to beg (or rob) food from the humans.

Al ser la selva, esperaba ver animales salvajes. Resulta que algunos de esos animales no son tan tímidos como esperaba. Esta coatí, por ejemplo, está enseñando a sus crías a mendigar (más bien robar) comida a los humanos.

– There are lots of coatís in the jungle. This mama has 4 babies.
– Hay muchos coatíes en la selva. Esta hembra tiene cuatro crías.

Even in the hotel there are mischievous animals. One afternoon a troop of monkeys appeared out of the jungle canopy and began trying all of the doors and windows in an attempt to break into the hotel. The receptionist warned us that when they do manage to break into a room, they make a huge mess.

Incluso en el hotel hay animales traviesos. Una tarde llegó una banda de monos que intentó abrir cada puerta y ventana que no estaba bien cerrada. Las recepcionistas nos advirtieron que al irrumpir en una habitación, los monos lo destruyen todo. Rasgan las sábanas, rompen las lámparas y hacen una porquería en el baño. No son tan tiernos como parecen.

– Monkeys invade the hotel in the evening in search of anything good to eat or steal
– Cada noche monos traviesos invaden el hotel en búsqueda de comida

Luckily, this cute monkey didn’t manage to break into our room. I just sat on the balcony with him and we continued enjoyed watching the falls together.

Por suerte, este mono no logró entrar en nuestra habitación y seguimos disfrutando de la vista de las cataratas con él.

2021 in 12 Photos

2021 was a year of staying at home in Canada, a place that many people dream of visiting. Even though I really wanted to travel, staying at home gave me the opportunity to foster kittens and to welcome a wonderful dog into our home. I reconnected with the mountains at the BMC climbing camp and got together with good friends to explore a rarely visited park, hidden in northern BC. With the cooler temperatures of autumn, I began exploring many more of the beautiful trails that the Kootenays have to offer and set myself a goal of hiking every one of them in my guidebook. Finally, at the end the year, I got to travel again. We picked Chile, one of the safest but most complicated countries to visit, where both the capital and the amazingly scenic Patagonia left a lasting impression.

En 2021 me tocó permanecer en casa en Canadá, un lugar al que mucha gente sueña con ir. Pero, qué sitio tan bonito. A pesar de tener muchas ganas de viajar, me hice amigo de muchas gatitas, a las que cuido como dueño de paso, y una perra cariñosísima. Volví a las montañas rocosas de Columbia Británica a hacer alpinismo y me reuní con buenos amigos para explorar un rincón escondido en el norte del país. Descubrí muchos nuevos senderos y me propuse terminarlos todos, lo cual será un meta a largo plazo. Por fin, a finales del año, me tocó viajar de nuevo. Me fui a Chile para conocer la capital y para desafiarme en los caminos patagónicos. Que el año entrante sea muy especial y lleno de aventuras.

– January – After many years of spending winters travelling, it’s wonderful to snowshoe everyday.
– Enero – Después de muchos años viajando, es maravilloso disfrutar del invierno canadiense.
Continue reading “2021 in 12 Photos”

BMC 2021

BMC 2021

Nearly every summer since 2014, I’ve attended a week-long mountaineering camp in BC. There are two similar camps, one fairly big and the other more intimate. The larger camp is organized by the Alpine Club of Canada and it’s really quite impressive the logistics that go into hosting 25+ climbers. Given the ongoing pandemic and just because I prefer smaller groups, this year I decided to join the smaller camp organized by Pierre Hungr and his wife Natelle. After missing out on both camps last year due to the pandemic, I was pretty excited for the whole experience. Continue reading “BMC 2021”

Edziza – A Volcanic Backpacking Trip

Edziza – A Volcanic Backpacking Trip

Part 1: Edziza Spectrum Range Traverse
Part 2: Crossing the Edziza Plateau
(this post)

Three years after our first trip to Edziza, Jim, Calder, and I are back. This time we’ve got a bigger group. Marilyn (Jim’s partner) as well as Meg and Manrico (Marilyn’s friends) join us for what promises to be another exciting adventure.
Continue reading “Edziza – A Volcanic Backpacking Trip”

Argentina Is Closed

Argentina Is Closed

Argentina está cerrada

I don’t like to give up. For the last two years, I’ve been planning a trip to Argentina to see the December 14 Total Solar Eclipse. When COVID exploded in March, Argentina closed their borders and I realized that it was going to be very difficult, if not impossible, to see the eclipse. In spite of this seemingly impossible situation, I never gave up hope. In the months and weeks leading up to the eclipse, I got in touch with anyone and everyone who might be able to help me get in. Everyone told me the same thing: it was simply impossible, the borders were totally closed, and my dream was crazy. Finally, with only a few days to go, I got in touch with a travel agent who had contact with the Argentine Ministries of Tourism & Immigration. Long story short, that’s how I found myself on an international flight for the first time in nine months. Continue reading “Argentina Is Closed”