Just us and the whales: Whale Watching in Puerto Madryn

What is it about whales that we find so fascinating?  Is it that a living creature the size of a city bus can exist on a planet where we little humans dominate the land? Perhaps it’s because they’re fellow mammals from a habitat inaccessible to humans, nursing their young in the shallow waters near the surface where we can watch their slow hypnotic movements.  Or it’s all of those things and more. We crossed Argentina, heading even further south into Patagonia than we wanted to go during winter, to reach Puerto Madryn, a port city that is home to the […]

Crossing the Andes to Argentina

  We crossed into Argentina over a snowy Andean mountain pass, and dropped into a spectacular series of evergreen and stone gorges and cliffs, draped in white powdery snow.   Some of the most spectacular landscapes in the world separate Chile from Argentina over the Andes, and it was hard not to beg Mark to stop the car every 100m so I could take another photo that would never do justice to the majesty of the place. The actual border sat atop the ridge between the two countries.  It was windy, cold and covered in snow. The Argentinian border control […]

When time stands still: our time on a Patagonian Fundo

We’ve challenged ourselves on this trip to try things we normally wouldn’t try otherwise.  Seeing the state of the earth in different corners of the globe has turned us into staunch environmentalists, and we were desperate to do something meaningful beyond recycling, and carefully buying in-season, local produce.   Travelling involves a lot of taking.  Taking in experiences, consuming the local sights, sounds and activities, and generally doing what pleases you.  But human nature is to give something back, and we wanted to give something back to the environment. We searched for a NGO or charity that is doing meaningful […]

Motherhood, Childhood and Travel: Bunny’s Birthday

Today, we celebrated Bunny’s birthday.  He was turning 12, and we bought cake (carrot, of course), had candles and balloons, and sang Happy Birthday to a brown stuffed rabbit in the middle of an Eucalyptus forest on a hillside in Chile.  Two weeks ago it was Koala’s birthday, and we celebrated similarly. My son has always had an extraordinarily creative imagination, but he’s never had imaginary friends.  He’s never had to….until now. I realised with the kind of guilt that punches you in the gut that these “birthday parties” are the only ones he’ll be invited to this year.  While […]

Parque Nacional Villarica: Volcanoes, Waterfalls, Termas and more great outdoors than we could hope for

Pucon is surrounded by the gorgeous Villarica national park, named after one of the five volcanoes within.  The alpine scenery is stunning – snow capped hills and volcanoes, crystal clear mountain lakes, and evergreen vistas all the way to the Andes that form the border with Argentina make it a truly special setting.  And fortunately for us, it is criss crossed with 4WD tracks and hiking trails. Unfortunately for us, the weather only cooperated some of the time. We drove up to a pretty little park within the park to visit a set of waterfalls that ran down a smooth […]

Pucon Chile: The space between clouds

We awoke in the space between clouds.  Fog had settled into the valley below, merging seamlessly with the lake, creating a continuous silvery landscape   High above us, the top of the volcano was shrouded in thick grey cloud.  Our camp for the night, in a protected alcove on a ridge between the two, sat right in the clean clear dawn of the space between. As I sipped my tea, perched on a rock overlooking the world, I felt peaceful for one of the odd moments when nothing and nobody else is around.  I breathed in the crisp morning mountain […]

Call us overlanders

We bought a car!  A 2008 Mitsubishi Montero 4×4 that would become our home for our journey through South America.  “SuperDolora” as we named her, had been lovingly transporting travellers around the continent for most of her life, and had been kitted out with a platform bed, storage and a great big roof rack.  We bought her from a sweet German couple who had been living in her for five months, and were ready to offload so they could go back home. Mark finalised the paperwork in Santiago with the help of a friend from Uni who sponsored our tax […]

Twisting and turning in Valparaiso, Chile

Valparaiso is a riot of brightly painted boxes, perched precariously on the city hills, creating a vibrant patchwork of colour.  This mountain city by the sea doesn’t take itself too seriously, and that’s evident in the next level street art that decorates every surface.  The scene in Valpo is boho meets urban cool meets hipster, hippie, art house, and funky all rolled into a picturesque package that somehow just works. The hour and a half bus ride from Santiago takes you through one of the regions many wine countries.  We rolled through miles of vineyards whose leaves were beginning to […]

Oah’u: beach surf hike snorkel memorials family

Oah’u is the verdant tropical paradise of your vacation daydreams.  It’s vertical fluted green mountains drop into the Pacific where golden sand separates the volcanic land from seas of every shade of blue imaginable.  The landscape is punctuated with the biggest versions of every vivid tropical flower, while long thin waterfalls plunge hundreds of feet down the mountains. The entire scene is enclosed within a deep blue sky.  It is quite simply, beautiful.    We were greeted with purple orchid leis, a shriek, and an enormous hug from my cousin, Mille, who currently lives in Kailua, a tidy little island […]

Springtime in Kyoto

Kyoto.  A week too late for the cherry blossoms, a week too early for the azaleas.  It didn’t matter. Kyoto was magical even without the blooms. From the mystical geishas tiptoeing off to entertain the evening’s guests, to magnificent temples, shrines and palaces – and magical alleyways filled with hidden restaurants waiting to be discovered – Kyoto is a truly special place. We weren’t meant to go to Kyoto.  Japan wasn’t part of our itinerary.  But between Hanoi and Honolulu lies Japan, and no flight would get us from one to the other without a stop in Osaka.  Rather than […]