Villa Traful and the benefits of spontaneity

We left BA on a rainy Sunday afternoon armed with copious amounts of podcasts, road snacks and an overwhelming sense of relief to be back on the road. The task at hand? Make it to Bariloche, 1500 km south west of BA through the infamous Pampas region. We need to be there by Monday as on Tuesday our replacement cards arrive by FedEx at a hostel, courtesy of my brother.

It took us two days of long 8 hour drives to the sound of Dan Carlin’s voice discussing the history of the Persian Empire from the Assyrians, to Cyrus the Great, to Darius and eventually Alexander the Great to finally reach Neuquen, the first major town since we left BA.


On the way we stopped to check out some “dinosaur footprints”. Naturally we were skeptical but seeing these in their natural setting, by an azure lake was impressive.

Dino prints in the mud of the lake shore

100km outside of Bariloche, as I am dreaming of good coffee, salivating at the prospect of a good wine bar and above all excited to not spend 8hours straight in the car, Andy suggests a de tour.

“Let’s turn left here. 35k to Villa Traful, I think I read a few lines in a book about it”

What exactly was read is not explained.

A reluctant “fine” from me and off we go. Down one of the bumpiest dirt tracks we have come across.

10k in and we spot some vast, vertical walls prime for climbing.

Off the plains. Switching horizontal for vertical

15k in we get a first glimpse of the lake. It’s a deep blue colour, with pine trees growing right on the shore and waters so clear you can see each and every pebble from the road.

Last light fishing. Patagonian classic


25k in we spot the first camping site, it’s packed. 30k in and we now have a full view of this tiny alpine village with about 100 wood houses, a clutch of hotels and cabanas and young families and pensioners taking long strolls in the dedicated walking paths around the lake. It reminds me of Kellerman’s resort in Dirty Dancing. At the tourist information desk we are pointed to the only cash point in town and told of a beach 3km outside of town where we can set up a wild camp. Looks like we have a plan.

An evening at our camp spot.


Only the cash point does not accept our one remaining card. Mad scramble around the car, pockets are searched, bags are turned upside down. 600 ARD. That’s about £30 and we want to spend about two days here. We have enough food for dinner and breakfast and like mature, intelligent adults decide to postpone the problem to the next day.

Beach Tres Marias is everything we could have hoped for. Quiet, only a handful of other campers around, right by the lake offering ample shade. A run, some P90x to the amusement of our neighbours, dinner and movie in bed.

The next day we discover that the local supermarket accepts cards. Two day stay plan is therefore back on track, we stock up and decide to spend a day by the beach, reading, meditating and doing as little as possible. Andy builds us a dining room. We move from our little spot only to gather wood for our fire.

On Saturday morning, after coffee, bread, cake and chocolate (it’s my cheat day from diet) Andy suggests trekking to see some waterfalls.

“Maximum two hours” he says.

“I’d like to get to exercise propoerly for 20minutes or so if possible”, he says. “Run for the start of the trail?”

By now, we’ve been through this a couple of times. I’ve walked and run beside Andy long enough to know that his gate is about twice as mine. Most importantly, I should have realised that seeing as we were going to be running on a track that leads to a waterfall, we would be running UP. But now, high on chocolate and carbs I failed to see the signs. So of we went running up a very steep track, overtaking other bewildered trekkers who I am sure are now telling their friends stories about the two gringos that were running up the mountain at noon in the middle of the summer.

Half an hour in and we are still running. But that point I have (finally) put two and two together and have done the math. But I think of the chocolate and the bread and I keep running up stairs. Thankfully, when we get to the first waterfall, we realise that it pales in comparison to some others we’ve seen during our trip. We decide to skip the second one and run back down to the car where I finally get an edge on Andy courtesy of my fully functioning and un-injured knees.

At the lake, I dive straight into the freezing cold water and take in the surroundings for the last time. A quick bite, a glass of wine and by 3pm we are back in Gellan, heading to Bariloche while I catch myself thinking “thank god for detours”.

In a previous life I was a water creature. Hopefully a mermaid rather than a coral reef snake; but definitely a water animal

Quick update 23.01.17

First and foremost, we are alive.

We have not posted in a while but fear not, more posts are coming soon. We’ve been busy lounging in our hammock, mountain biking (Andy, not me) and driving through the pampas.

Stop! Hammock time!
Heavy lounging, somewhere in the Pampas of Argentina


We have however updated our dress series page with more pictures shot over the course of January, written more book reviews and added route maps to the Chile and Argentina photo pages so that you can see our route.

As soon as we wrap up our siesta, wash the bike and sample another patagonian cerveza we will edit the latest set of pictures and update you on our adventures.

Love, D&A

Feeling like a tourist – a walk in La Boca, Buenos Aires

Taxi or walk? its a 30 minute stroll to La Boca, down by the port.

Well we want to get there with good photographic light so lets jump in a taxi. Hail one down, La Boca pro favor. Dos cientos. Be a good spot and flick the metre on. No. Dos cientos.

It is relevant to point out at this point that we look like quintessential tourists. Carrying back pack at the front, clutching a guide book and clearly not speaking the language. This is relevant because we were about to find ourselves in the back streets of one of BA’s most notoriously crime ridden barrios.

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A week in Buenos Aires

Summarising our time in BA is tricky. We ended up spending a week in town but only managed to relax and do some actual sightseeing in our last couple of days; the rest of the time was spent replacing what was stolen.

As you know, Monday was spent trying to sort out my passport situation. By the time we got back to the apartment, showered and changed we only had energy to go for a quick stroll around Palermo; the hipster infected neighbourhood which is very similar to New York’s Soho or London’s Hoxton. Cobble streets, small boutiques, gluten free restaurants and cocktails bars. We had dinner at one of the best restaurants in town, a dry-aired strip loin steak for Andy and a Waggu sirloin for me. Contrary to how these are usually served in Europe, here they come with no sauce and few trimmings (after all the portions are massive). The extra portion of fries Andy orders goes untouched. A couple more drinks at the local bars and then a slow stroll through Palermo back to the apartment.

10th floor lounging in our apartment, Buenos Aires

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The quest for The Key

A retelling, somewhat curtailed, of Joseph Campbell’s mono myth. The face of this hero is less bearded than those of his myths.

I am sitting in a hostel room in Buenos Aires with no money, no food and only one key that starts the van. My aim is to solve all these problems in the next few hours, fears of being in a remote Andean village, hung-over trying to hot wire an immobilized 4×4 after a heavy night on local firewater leaves us with no key, pushes me to procure a back-up now… The me of the future will thank the me of now I am sure.

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What are you grateful for?

This is what we usually talk about before we fall asleep. Specifically, what three things in the day are each of us thankful / grateful for. Not every night, but regularly.

This, oddly, did not come about via a book / course on mindfulness but rather the question first came up after I read Sheryl Sandberg’s commencement speech at UC Bercley earlier this year (see it here). During the speech Sheryl talks very candidly about the death of her husband whilst on a family holiday and how she is working on coming up with a Plan B to her life. One of her coping mechanisms is to note down things, big and small, that she’s thankful for. She says “counting your blessings can actually increase your blessings”.

I am currently reading Tim Ferriss’ Tools of Titans (book review coming soon) where a similar approach is recommended as a meditative practice. Thinking about what one is thankful for at the end of the day seems to be very much common practice. Tim refers to it as  gratitude training though in the book (ever the list-master) he suggests that you create categories of things that you are thankful for (people, work etc). Another interesting idea from the same book: 21 days without complaining.

Either way, I find it a very helpful exercise in grounding myself, reminding me to see the bigger picture and not sweat the small stuff (which I am VERY good at doing sometimes). Even on days when our car gets smashed.


We did not intend to spend any time here. Described in the guide as a city of many people but few charms most travellers just drive through. But alas, courtesy of a broken phone and a smashed boot we had to spend a couple of days here. And we actually liked it.

Granted, there’s not much to see but if you are into history and nature (i.e. Us) the Palaeontology Museum is a must see. The museum is both a research and exhibition centre as the largest dinosaur skeletons in the world have been found only a couple of kilometres out of this sleepy city. Crammed in a small space, we explored 1,5000 skeletons and fossils, only one of which (a fossilised dino egg) is kept in a glass cabinet. Want to touch the femur bone of a 76 ton dinosaur? Go ahead. It’s only the largest fossil ever discovered.  Measure yourself against its 3-plus meter foot? Help yourself … Want to leave your kid for a pyjama party in the museum for a night complete with a tour of the lab? No problem. This little gem is at the forefront of paleontological discoveries and kicks the Natural History Museum’s ass.

Trelew Paleontology Museum

We spent a good couple of hours here fascinated by the plethora of findings and spying on the palaeontologists who work on the latest findings behind a glass window in front of all visitors.

The rest of our time was spent in phone repair shops, mechanics, nail salons (me, not Andy) and local canteens serving grilled meat, fries and salad in search of good wifi. Drinks here are filled with sugar; options when dining out are always sodas or alcohol. Ask for water and you get a look like you’ve asked for a kilo of heroin. It’s no surprise that almost everyone we meet is overweight.

Kicking off 2017 with a bang

Pensinsula Valdez

This story continues from our previous post ‘lead up to New Year’s Eve’ here


Having stocked up on gas, food and booze (the last customers at the corner store before it also closed for the festivities) they head to Peninsula Valdez. The lure is not only its flaura and fauna but also that Manu, Oli and Max who they met in Pichilemu are there.

By 6.30 they arrive at what they think is the right place. All they have to go on is a location pin shared by solo 3 days earlier on What’s App. As they take a turn they spot the top of a camper van.

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