Posts Tagged ‘Andes’


Thomas: a land of many landscapes

November 17, 2011

I’ve written a lot about Argentina’s Capital city of Buenos Aires, I do after all spend 95% of my time there. I haven’t, however, written very much about the rest of Argentina. While doing research on the country last Summer I quickly realized how diverse the Argentinian landscape is. I thought I would dedicate this post to the many beautiful and precious landscapes that make up the 8th largest country in the world (by land area). If only one had enough time and money to visit each of these landscapes. Pictures will have to do for now.

The Northwest

Arid deserts, cracked salt flats, colorful deep canyons, and the Andes Mountainside make up the Northwest region of Argentina. This area is also still home to many of Argentina’s Aymara and Quechua indigenous people. One of best parts of this region is its indigenous influences, from food and music, to clothes and artwork. Of course, if you travel slighting south of the far NW region of Argentina, you will run into the very profitable wine country. Olive oil is also a large industry in the West-NW provinces Cuyo and Mendoza. (See an earlier post for more on wine country)


The Northeast

Recently named on the 7 Wonders of the World, Iguazú Falls is the most spectacular waterfall in the world. It is located in NE Argentina, surrounded by subtropical rainforest, and near the border with Brazil. As a matter of fact, the falls are so big, they are located in both Argentina and Brazil. These falls stretch 2 miles and are comprised of over 250 individual waterfalls. “Poor Niagara!”, exclaimed First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt upon visiting Iguazú Falls.

Iguazu Falls

Western Patagonia

Extraordinarily colorful lakes and snow capped mountains highlight the landscape of this region. The beauty, wildlife, and many European cultural influences makes this area the most popular destination within the region of Patagonia.


Eastern Patagonia

I want to highlight Puerto Madryn, a city in the eastern Patagonian coast, and the Valdés Peninsula. This peninsula is most popular for people wanting to see wales leap out of the water just off the coast or to hang out with penguins or hundreds of other marine species. It is one of the world’s great nature preserves, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Puerto Madryn

Southern Patagonia

The end of the world. The southern type of Argentina is shared with Chile and is a gateway for many explorers on their way to Antarctica. Beautiful glaciers and more arctic wildlife can be found here. The city of Ushuaia has become a popular tourist destination for people wanting to climb the glaciers or journey to one of the southern-most point in S. America.

Ushuaia; located on Tierra del Fuego


Sarah: Cabaña en las montañas

October 7, 2011

Cabin in the mountains.

That is where 7 of my friends and I headed last Saturday for an overnight stay in “la culata” or the valley of the chilly Andes. It is about an hour away from our homes here in Mérida, a perfect weekend getaway.

I found a bench and a good book…the only thing missing was my coffee (I DID ask at the front desk, it just wasn’t exactly a luxury hotel…)

Blue Skies.

Hotel Princesa (the Princess Hotel) that owns the cabins.

Last weekend’s cabin adventure was beautiful and relaxing, but now that I’m on my semester break (as of today) I’m getting excited for a 5 day trip to the beach on the beautiful Caribbean! We leave tonight for Choroní, a town on the coast of Venezuela, and have an overnight busride that takes something like 16 hours. The buses here are notoriously cold, so I’m planning to pack my northface and wool socks so hopefully I can get some sleep. WIsh me luck!

The five day trip probably means soaking up a lot of sun, reading by the beach, eating fresh seafood, and maybe taking a boat ride or two to the neighboring islands…but it also may mean that there won’t be another blog post for a while. However, I assure you all that I’ll be documenting my adventures diligently with my camera and my journal, so I’ll have something good to post when I get home!

See you in 5 days, world!


Sarah: Andes excursion!

August 27, 2011

Yesterday my group took a trip through the Andes Mountains. Our goal was to find snow…and we did! When we woke up at 7 a.m. it was already almost 80 degrees outside and sunny. I hardly believed our group leader when she told me to bring my North Face, one of my warmest fleece jackets, but after riding on the bus for several hours I started to shiver.

We stopped on the way up the mountains at two places. First, to see this view…

and second, to take a closer look at this lonely mountainside stone church.

After that I didn’t think it could get any more beautiful…

until we got higher up in the mountains.

We finally reached a high enough elevation that we could see snow and sleet (thank you mom for the rain jacket!), and I could see my breath, so we stopped for lunch and a hot chocolate at this little mountain restaurant.

I was starving at this point and was definitely not disappointed with my meal: traditional Venezuelan soup with potatoes, mild white cheese, and cilantro

and chicken in mushroom sauce with seasoned potatoes and “arroz con vino tinto”

After eating, we continued on to our destination and finally reached the snowy peaks of the Andes!

There are really no words to describe what I saw, but what I will never forget the way I felt – thrilled, overwhelmed, a little dizzy from the elevation, and very very cold.

The Andes Mountains are now at the top of my list of most beautiful places in the world.


Mountain climbers.

Monster flowers.

Winter lake.


Rainbow hat.

All in all, it was an excessive amount of beauty to absorb in one day. I think I still feel the adrenaline.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”        – St. Augustine.

What I’m thinking right now: nothing tops traveling and seeing things you NEVER expected to witness with your own eyes.


Ben: Hiking in the Andés

July 2, 2009

I have been in Mérida for three weeks now, and although I have been exceedingly busy (with school, studying, family events, etc.) I am constantly finding myself staring up at the tree covered hills leading into the mountains, wondering when I will have the chance to get out and hike in them. I see them from the patio at home; I see them as I gaze out the window during class. In Mérida, you see mountains everywhere you go…but I wanted to see them closer.


A teleférico car suspended in space.

Before coming to Venezuela I had read a little bit about hiking around Mérida, and about the different ways to reach the peaks. The easiest (and quickest) way to get up into the mountains is to ascend via a cable car system known as the teleférico. In fact, Mérida is home to the longest cable car in the world, measuring at just over 12.5 kilometers! It goes through 4 stations, and ascends a ridiculous amount of altitude before dropping it’s passengers off at Pico Espejo at an altitude of around 4,765 m (or around 15,600 feet!). The best part is that the teleférico leaves right from the edge of el Centro. It is about a 2 hour ride, and then you are free to hike around the mountain until you decide to catch the teleférico going back down. As I said, that is the easiest way to get up into the mountains…when it is working.

I discovered shortly after I arrived that the teleférico has been broken since last August. Rumor has it that the system will be operational again by this August, but that is only a rumor. There was a prior rumor that it would be done by April of this year, but that didn’t happen. As I am learning, many things in Venezuela move at a unique pace, and there really isn’t anything to be done about it. As a matter of fact, the last time that the teleférico was shut down for repairs, it took 7 years. So I am probably not going to be able to use it before I leave.

I consulted a guide book on Mérida and noticed that there is actually a trail that, according to the rough map I was looking at, appeared to depart from the same spot as the teleférico. So I asked Franko about it and he confirmed it. He also told that hiking in the mountains can be a bit dangerous, and that every year a lot of people get lost, disoriented, trapped by storms, or succumb to any of a plethora of other misfortunes. He also warned me that the trail leaves from the edge of town, but is fairly secluded for a while and might not be safe to hike alone. Read the rest of this entry ?


Erica: Such and Such

July 2, 2009

I had my last first day of school today (of course that’s making the presumption that I won’t someday go to grad school or pick up any vocational degrees, but still.) I met some of the new students at VENUSA and they seem like a pretty good crew. I am sure I will meet a lot more tonight at “Nuevos Encuentros” and afterwards when we make it to whatever bar we end up going to.

My schedule this semester looks decent, I’m taking Cross-Cultural Communications, Spanish 1004, and am attending (but not enrolled for) Field Botany in the Andes. I really-really-really wanted to take that class, but the folks who signed up for it wanted it in spanish, and since I don’t have the language skills to keep up with that, I’m just showing up and learning whatever I can. Plus, if I didn’t go to that class, I’d be done at 1:30 p.m. and wouldn’t know what to do with myself for the rest of the day.

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