Buenos Aires (girls) and Estancia Los Manantiales (boys)

The girl’s day….
The girls first full day in Buenos Aires started with a breakfast in the hotel before various groups formed organically to head to all parts of this amazing city.  

There was a group who decided on the Hop on Hop off bus to make their way to the Aranda saddlery, four floors of leather goods clothing and jewellery. Some purchases were made but other decided to wait until we could bring the boys back the next day.  Another group jumped in a taxi and headed for  Palermo SoHo which is recognised shopping area with shopping on their mind to kick off their day. Palermo SoHo is vibrant area of the bohemian sub-barrio Palermo Viejo sits between the streets Santa Fé, Coronel Diaz, Córdoba and Juan B. Justo. This is one of the trendier parts of Palermo (along with Palermo Hollywood) and a favorite haunt of backpackers, hipsters and designers. It is home to lazy, tree-lined cobblestone streets where new businesses continue to spring up in the old Spanish-style houses and converted warehouses.

Most of us met for coffee at the historical Cafe La Biela, it started operation more than 150 years ago 

 in what is now the magnificent Recoleta neighborhood, just a few houses (no mansions or palaces), the convent belonging to the monks Recoletos and a beautiful Church. In years gone by this was the waterhole of professional drivers, fans of car races, gentlemen, actors and politicians. We sat at the tables were beneath the biggest Moreton Bay fig (Ficus macrophylla) I have ever seen. The plague showed date of 1791 but the tree is said to be around 150 years old and if this is case this tree has seen a lot.

Then a third group, after coffee catch up set off walked all over the city but saw much and enjoyed getting to know this place.
Our group continued on the bus loop until later in the afternoon stopping off at the pink palace and the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral which was an amazing building in itself, such a feeling of sanctuary when you step inside away from the hustle, bustle and protesters across the street. Photos don’t do it justice but it sure was time well spent wandering around inside

before finding the most interesting Spanish Museum, but the biggest find of all was the restaurant in the gardens out the back serving the coldest Gin and tonic’s and a magnificat cheese board. This was just perfect, we rested our(my) tired legs.  

Our recovery complete it was decided that we grab a taxi and head to La Bomba de Tiempo a rave that Comodoro Show judge’s wife gave us the heads up about.  
Flying along in a taxi to parts unknown in the city there was some doubt if we were doing the right thing but in for a penny in for a pound.  When we arrived in a back street with a queue down the street we decided to see how long it took for the line to move and decide if we would stay. 

Well the line moved very quickly and in no time at all we were inside an old warehouse with open roof and wall to wall people, we pushed and burrowed our way to the middle of the throng, looking slightly out of place (this was aged related factor) but those around us were fun loving and we felt very safe at all times.  

A little about the group –  La Bomba de Tiempo is a percussion ensemble that practises improvisation with signs. Every show is unique and unrepeatable because its music is generated live on stage through the dialogue between musicians and director, who leads the improvisation using a code of more than 70 signs made with the hands. 
Every performance becomes a magical time when percussionists on stage interact with the audience while this one brings its energy, dancing and listening. It all creates a true ritual of rhythm and percussion. Click here for more information http://www.labombadetiempo.com/en
The beer was sold in litre plastic cups but the line was 50 minutes long to buy one, we borrowed a prop from a Canadian guy near us for photography purposes, we didn’t have our water as it was confiscated at the bag check on the way in, water taken but i did have 6 inch carving knife in bottom of my bag which was over looked. A fact I didn’t realise until we inside and well under the spell of the rhythm.
For these three ‘not as young as we used to be girls’ this will go down as one of our most memorable times in South America.  No we were not the oldest attendees we saw another lady who was oder than us getting right into the dancing in true South American style, she had coerced her daughter into bringing her and she was loving every minute of it..
We staggered tiredly home around 11pm smelling distinctly of strange smelling smoke, opening smoked by everyone at the venue.
A full day for everyone with lots shopping, good food and laughter. Tomorrow we wait for the boys to fly in with a few more outings circuit on the blue bus followed by visit to art museum.
The boy’s day….

Mid morning boys climbed back their bus and headed to
Estancia Los Manantiales for lunch and afternoon hosted by Ruben Alonso (Manager Estancia Los Manantiales)

Ruben and the stud master had put together a very good presentation next rams and commercial rams for everyone to pore over and compare with their own sheep.

Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the day and rolled back on the bus after much food and beverages. The sharing of ideas and new friendships were the order of the day. Tonight was the last night with Michael and Charlotte Blake as they were headed back to the family farm. 

The boys decided to take them out to a farewell dinner so another late night ensured but 

The boys were very appreciative of the welcome and efforts Ruben and the staff went to to host them for the day and will remember the day for a long time.

 Sorry bit short on detail, I haven’t had a chance to get Sharpy to provide more information. This will be added here later…

Second day Show (for the boys) Off to Buenos Aires (for the girls)

One of the main features of the tour, we headed to the Showgrounds to eagerly see the judging of the

Merino Ram classes, and to browse the goods for sale amongst the stalls at the Comodoro Show.  Not much different to the Nyngan Ag Expo, except for the lack of english speakers, the day was fascinating.  

Western Australian Merino Stud breeder Collyn Garnett was the judge, and many had fun placing their preferred rams before the judge announced the winners. 

 Argentinians are an emotional lot, and it was a common sight throughout the day to see men embrace and kissing each other with great cheers as the announcement of first place for each class was made.  

The Merino show classes are somewhat different to that in Australia.  Classes were divided into best fleece, best head, and best whatever else without really judging the whole animal until the Grand Champion.  

Some were repeat ribbon winners, others were gracious and congratulated the winners with gusto.  First place ribbons are yellow, second a mixture of blue and yellow.  Speaking to the judge after the day had finished, he did say that conformation was paramount when placing the rams in each class.
Others in the group started browsing through the stalls, trying on the classic Argentinian beret, leather goods, gaucho  slippers (a canvas shoe with woven straw soles), gaucho knives (which are worn with the scabbard stuck into the back of the belt) and horse geargear.

Some walked away with lassos and sheep counters made from rawhide, whilst Frank and Henry sported the Boinas/beret.

Apart from the fact that they were giants amongst the more slightly built Argentinians, and couldn’t speak a word of Spanish, they nearly blended in with the crowd (or so they thought).

Lunch time saw a few of the group wander over to the standard Argentinian BBQ of cordello over coals (lamb), chorizo, corn and empanadas washed down with beer. 

So much better than a Dagwood Dog, when you buy a serving of cordello you need to ensure there are about 4 to eat it with you – a ‘single serve’ is actually a whole shoulder dressed with the Argentinian sauce Chimichurri.
Some locals started a latino guitar duel, to which Kerrie, Henry and Col thought they’d join in.  The musicians saw them coming and ensured they couldn’t leave without buying their ‘must have’ CD. 

As evening progressed some members of the group returned to the Hotel Austral, whilst others joined the drinks with he Merino breeders and their families. 

Struggling to speak Spanish or english, most were able to meet more sheep farmers and learn further about the market and the environment the expansive Estancias operate in. Wool brokers are rare in Argentina, as most wool is sold direct to buyers at the discretion of each Estancia’s management.

Girls head for Buenos Aires tomorrow while men return for another day at show ground for sale and presentation of prizes

Estancia Coronel and arriving in Comodoro, Patagonian province of Chubut

It was with some dread that the group squeezed back into the minibuses on day 14, but not before walking down the main street of Puerto St Julian to clamber aboard a replica of the ‘Victoria’, which was Mendoza’s ship that navigated the Argentinian coastline, including the Magellan Straits.  

The fleet of four Spanish ships were the first to circumnavigate the world, and tells a fascinating story of superstition, loyalties and mutiny. Worth exploring below decks, with replicas of Spanish seamen, canons and even a cow for fresh milk. 

A short trip down the road took us to Estancia Coronel, which was previously held by the Blake family and where Michael Blake’s father had grown up. 

 Now owned by the Italian textile family company Benetton, the manager of the Estancia, Leopoldo Henin, welcomed us in full Argentinian Estancia dress, looking very distinguished.  

A tour of the grounds and buildings together with a 12 stand woolshed was highlighted by hearing the personal story of Leopoldo entwined with the Blake family.  

Leopoldo first became a rookie gaucho under Mr Blake senior as an 18 year old fresh from Buenos Aires on Estancia Cormo near Rio Gallegos.  Leopoldo holds the Blake family with high regard for providing him with the opportunity to work his way up through the gaucho ranks to eventually become a Manager of expansive Estancias.  

Michael certainly had a tear in his eye hearing Leopoldo describe Mr Blake senior and the opportunity the Blake family provided to him.
Estancia Coronel was over 700,000 acres with a 40,000 merino ewe base and 1000 rams.  Significantly effected by a volcanic eruption a number of years ago, causing inches of ash to cover the landscape, and a recent dry period of lower annual rainfall, the carrying capacity of the Estancia has declined from 120,000 head to 50,000. The landscape was hilly, including snow covered peaks in winter, and featured seven woolsheds across the Estancia.  
Lamb marking was about to begin, and Leopoldo employs extra gauchos to start the 40 days of lamb marking each 7000ha paddock with two teams.  Each team musters their nominated paddock, male lambs are drafted off and trucked direct to abattoirs with the only treatment an ear mark as they walk up the race into the truck. The ewe lambs remain to be docked.  

Lambing in the harsh environment has challenges with lamb weaning percentages ranging from 80% down to 14%, pending the season but more recently from the predatory effects of Pumas and competition for feed from guanacos. 

On the good side, there is minimal internal parasite issues and definitely no blowfly would be game enough to survive in the harsh conditions. Ewe mouths are checked each year as the abrasive nature of the grasses, and no doubt the fine volcanic ash, does lead to wear and tear on the teeth. Input costs are very low, but 14% lambing percentages would have to be a challenge to overcome.

The soils were consistently chalky grey clay, and inherently fertile (no doubt from the volcanic ash).  The only paddock management was checking water points (wind mills mostly) and the odd fence line.  Solar water systems had been tried in Patagonia, but the short day length for most of the year did restrict the effectiveness of solar.  

Existing wells were being converted with submersible pumps, however technology hadn’t really enabled an easy adaption with such narrow bore holes. Mustering was all on horseback via gauchos, and all hombres.  The gaucho world does not embrace women.  With 140 km expanding from one boundary to the other, the horses must have good walking ability and no doubt are as tough and strong as the gauchos who ride them.
Leopoldo showed us a map of the expansive Estancia and politely fielded many questions whilst Michael interpreted.  The discussion was a tad on the serious side until one member of the group inadvertently made an interesting sound leaving everyone in hysterics.  Body language has no barrier between people of different nations.  
Back on the crammed bus to what we thought would be a morning tea stop down the road, a few hours later and around 3pm we stopped for a service station feed of empanadas.  Just like the Aussie meat pie, there were lamb or ham/cheese empanadas in a heated cabinet for self serve.  

Most of us were weak at the knees from the deferred morning tea becoming the typical Argentinian lunch of mid afternoon.


The final leg of driving across the Patagonian landscape saw us take a quick stop on the shores of the Atlantic to frolic with Sea Lions snoozing on the pebble beach.  

Don and Henry had to dip their toes into the Atlantic to claim they had dipped in both the Pacific and the Atlantic whilst on tour.  

From the sea lions on to Comodora we drove through suburbs, past mountains of rubbish tips, protesters burning rubber tyres and families frolicking on the pebbly beaches.  

Dinner was welcome tonight

Such a contrast of third and first worlds as our very patient bus drivers drove to the Austral Hotel in downtown Comodoro.

More on Comodoro thanks to wikipedia


Gregory and Lilliana Aldridge’s Farm (Estancia) and Dinner with Sociedad Rural De Rio Gallegos

After grabbing our boxed(bagged) lunches it was on the bus and away heading south from El

Calafate.  Taking in the last of the scenic Lake views, we paused on the side of the road to take in the valley where the Blake family had previously owned an Estancia. It appears that Mr Blake senior had a mind for taking on country with productive river flats.  

We did ask about opportunity for irrigation, but the Patagonian summers are too short to enable any crop or pasture growth, as we were about to see further when we visited Gregory and Lilliana’s Estancia a few hundred kilometres south near Rio Gallegos.  
On arrival we were met with aroma of BBQing lamb. immediately we were invited to eat with the family and gauchos. The lamb steak on bread rolls were very nice. I think this could have been the first really fresh bread of the trip. 

Lamb steak in a roll and several midday wines, this is the life… After lunch it was off to the woolshed to view fleeces Gregory and his sons had prepared for us to look over. 

They had gone to so much trouble to show us their fleeces and penned sheep for the boys and girls in the group to pore over. This was the first opportunity for the group to really get their hands on wool and appraise the breeding program.  Into the woolshed where there was a line of ram fleeces from over the past three years, showing the wool improvement that Gregory is striving for.

A Corriedale base, the wool was around 22 micron, bright in colour with heavy weight.  The ram lambs were run through the race for all to inspect, and of the group delighted in being hands on checking impressive wools and body condition.
Some the girls and Henry were pleased to be able to have a look at the garden and especially the potato house used to store potatoes and onions all year around. Gregory’s family do not live on the Estancia, as it is common for families to live in the nearest town and to travel daily out to the Estancia.  Nevertheless, the homestead was steeped in history, having being a flat packed kit home shipped out from England in the late 1800s.  Never thought Ikea was around in the 1800s.
After what is now the regulation presentation of MacWool caps we wearily crawled aboard the bus for the run into town, taking an hour to travel and an hour at the checkpoint.  Apparently all the paperwork wasn’t quite in order, but The Argentinian police finally let us through to Hotel Patagonia.  

A few of our group headed out to the slaughterhouse, which is owned by 40 lamb producers from around the district as a co-op.  Slaughtering had finished at 3pm and the plant completely washed down before arrival, but there was still plenty to see.  The killing floor was spotless, and the General Manager of the plant gave a demonstration of the line.  Not much automation, but certainly a very modern plant that exports 90% of its product largely to SE Asia.  In line with the short Patagonian summer, male lambs are trucked directly to the slaughterhouse from Estancias.  

The lambs are not sorted prior to slaughter, with all weights going through the line.  It is only at the end of the line that the carcase weight is assessed and then chilled/frozen by weight range.  The killing sheet categorises each mob in 2kg weight increments, going down as far as a 4-6 kg carcase weight.  

 The remainder of the group boarded our two small mini buses and headed to the Rio Gallegos Showgrounds. What a night.
Our group were hosted for dinner by the president and Committee of the Sociedad Rural De Rio Gallegos (equivalent to the local branch of NSW Farmers).  The evening started with questions and lots of discussion around the differences and similarities in growing wool and sheep meat in Australia versus Patagonia. 

The Argentinian farmers face many challenges, not just season and prices.  They have encroaching predators in foxes and Pumas, and as the local guanaco (South American alpacas) population spreads there is competition for pasture.  Pumas and guanacos are protected, creating challenges for lamb production. Argentinian government policy on export taxes has also had an impact on agricultural operations.

The exchange of ideas and practices lead to much discussion over another expertly prepared and delicious BBQ. After dinner the fun began and new friendships formed. As the wine flowed the language barrier slipped away and the serious partying began. The laughter got louder and hand gestures became even more expressive. At one point an RM boot was produced and Sharpy said no to filling it with red wine ‘ONLY champagne from the boot’, he said. 

Within minutes a bottle of champers appeared from thin air along with straws, and we all sank to a new low for some (old habits for others) and passed the boot around. It was amazing how much we had in common with these people and we really enjoyed the opportunity to get to know everyone better. Language was no barrier when it came to partying.

The first bus headed for home around pumpkin o’clock with the second bus not too far behind. Thank goodness for a 9:45am departure the next day. 

Our final and most spectacular glacier and farm

Our final and most spectacular glacier and farm

Our well drilled and very punctual group were filing into the breakfast room by 7am for an only just breakfast before boarding the bus at the required 7.45am for what was expected to be a very long day. Upside the bus was super comfortable so many napped while we made our way to Los Glaciares National Park.

The National Park was a couple hours west of El Calafate we entered the park with first stop at the very well designed and maintained walking tracks which were constructed above the forest floor. We were all feeling a bit glaciered out until we saw the Glaciar Perito Moreno glacier, one word wow!!!

The walking trail provided lots of options for all fitness level, the

most amazing thing about this glacier compared to the countless others we have seen to date is the face we could see back behind the face and view how it was formed. Such a phenomenon was this glacier and the only one in South America that is considered ‘in balance’ recedes 2 metres a day but also form 2 metres a day.  After plenty of time to soak up this magical place before coffee break.

After morning tea it was down to the dock to board the boats for the next phase of national park visit, walking on the glacier for some and cruising up to the face for others.

“Once in a life time experience’, ‘took my breath’, ‘like walking in a slushy’, and ‘nice drop of scotch’ were just some of the comments from those walking on the glacier, this was a 4 hour tour and no one thought this was too long, not even Chris Martin, Colin, Peter who just got under the 64 yr old age limit. In fact heard Chris was leading the walkers 

The rest of the group (7 of us) boarded our vessel and cruised to the face of the glacier which was spectacular, to be able to watch the ice towers fall up close was amazing. We had ample time at the face and even got to see the rest of the group on top of the glacier.


 After our cruise ended we headed back up to the kiosk and walking trails where the groups set about conquering all trails while we waited to collect the others.

At 4pm the other cruise returned with all our walkers on board and home safe without incident.  Good thing we are all well adjusted to bus travel by now as it was heads down apart from 3 in the group for the two drive to the Estancia Nibepo Aiken (a former commercial operation that operates as a farm stay now) for a look around, a ride on the retired gaucho horses for some and walking tour for the rest. 

No risk of the horses getting away from our experienced riders if they could raise a trot it would have been a miracle. The best part of the ride was the view over the lake from up them mountain and getting to ride in an authentic gaucho saddle. 

After the riders returned it was time to have blade shearing demo by Carlos and finished very capably by Don much to the delight of the other visitors to the farm.  

Dinner time and given we had seen the whole lambs on the spit while we were having afternoon tea on arrival, our taste buds were tingling. The lamb and sauce was cut up and served on small boxes filled with hot coals to keep it hot. It was very tasty and were all enjoyed getting our teeth into some real meat. 

After all it was still Australia day here. 

The evening concluded at around 10pm after a few words of thanks to Edwardo and the owner before Colin in true form had come prepared and made some special Aussie awards to members of the group.  It was a bit of fun and everyone enjoyed the evening. 

We tiredly tumbled back on the bus but not before Don traded his MacWool cap for a Gaucho Boinas/Berets with the cook. The cook was delighted with his MacWool cap as was Edwardo who wore it with pride for the whole evening.

Two plus hours back to town before we almost crawled upstairs and fell into bed, What a luxury late start tomorrow 9am sharp on the bus.

Tomorrow 4 hour bus ride to Rio Gallegos (360kms) with a stop off at a commercial mid sized Estancia  before on into town for dinner with the show society and sheep producers.  So another memorable day ahead

Saying goodbye to Skorpios III and Border Crossing to Argentina

8:30 left ship. But the big news The bag missing since we left Sydney was on the bus. Chris Martin was one happy man. Uneventful drive to Chile border apart from learning on our arrival that we now

had three extra bags on the bus. Apparently an Indian family saw us putting our bags out at the designated time and thought they should too, the crew efficiently loaded them all in the bus with ours.  We have net result of bags at the moment of 3+ ( they were found by the driver and sent back on next but going to Porto Natales) 

After 20 minutes in the gift shop we and quick passport check were set off in no man’s land for a few miles. 
Neither in Chile or in Argentina we arrived at Argentinian border crossing at 10:30am.  
Ivan our guide anticipated we would have to queue for two hours. At 2:45pm (4+hours) the last of our group were processed. It was a long wait standing in line in a shack in middle of nowhere with toilet facilities no water and no food. The haphazard queen was a mess until Jill Christine and few of the ladies got it sorted out. 

Henry and Grant made sure there were no queue jumpers, Peter was pronounced Mr Organised for having the foresight to bring his book and the girls just had to cross their legs but the boys ventured out the back for relief but this required a degree of skill to avoid those who had been before them. 

The rest of us shuffled forward a few steps at a time. Any wonder we could resist the urge to cheer after hearing that stamp bang down and leave the window (after a 30 second stay) Four hours to get to the window and processed within seconds and away. One guy processing Chile to Argentina and One guy (with hardly a person at the window) Argentina to Chile. 
The first food place was some 1 hour 30 minutes down the road. The toilet facilities were worse than none at all but the sandwiches were okay although expensive. Back on the bus for the final 2 hour run into Calafate. Here for two nights.

After a very slick bag drop at Hotel Koi Aiken then  it was off to the ice bar in El Calafate for most of the group. Another new experience for most luckily everyone was able to get some sleep on the bus after at roadhouse along the way (some highway robbery was evident during the purchase of a quick lunch)

Another late dinner of what turned out to be tasty chicken and very large potato wedges, true to form not a veggie in sight. Everyone turned in quickly after dinner as is becoming the new normal it was after 11pm. The bus pick up was 7.45am for our final visit to a glacier followed by visit and dinner on a Estancia (farm) tomorrow night 

A very wet and very windy day cruising

Each morning the dolphins escorted and played in the water at the bow of the boat. 

During breakfast we arrived a the Montanas Fjord, from where the four glaciers can be viewed as they slide down the Sarmiento mountains to the sea. 

At 9.30am everyone donned additional layers before braving very wet and icy conditions to visit the Alsina Glacier, excursion on boats to explore the small bay and its glacier, and the enormous mountains surrounding. 

At 10.30am the braves souls returned to the Skorpios III to the boat wet and cold and were quickly wrapping their hands around something warm, coffee and hot chocolate proved popular. We continued sailing Montanas Fjord to Bernal Glacier 

11.15am The numbers had dwindled considerable at next disembarkation point in the glacier and hike in small native forest. 

After that, it was intended that walk across a small pathway (unfortunately due to the rain and warm weather of recent days the path was under water), so there was no was crossing to a small glacier hiking to the face of the glacier. 

Here everyone could appreciate and feel the iceberg and admire the melting ice stage.


12.45am Returned to the ship which will be in the fresh-water supply phase getting from a natural cascade. This water is used for the services on board.

Lunch was welcome soup was first course and it the spot.

Most people rested up during the evening

The day concluded with the Captains dinner where our crew dance the night away and Henry and Christine taking the captain and his mother for a turn around the floor.

First full day cruising on Skorpios III

After and reasonably restful night for most and not so good for some we gathering in the dining room for breakfast. 

It was adequate without being lavish and most people seemed to enjoy.

Not long after breakfast we arrived at the Amalia Glacier, with panoramic views from the ship. 

Then with everyone all bundled up it was into the small boats for a short ride to a nearby beach, hiking through the beach to viewpoint at the Amalia Glacier face. 

This was our first of many up close experiences with a glacier. it was amazing and we all felt so far from anywhere. Getting the group photos proved a little problematic but it was eventually taken with the beautiful Amalia Glacier as a backdrop.  

We spent plenty of time just soaking in this amazing once in a lifetime experience watching the ice towers fall into the water. Well hearing then seeing the last of the ice disappearing below the surface with a splash, By time you hear the sound the ice has already fallen. 

After lunch we arrived at the El Brujo Glacier and it back in the small boat to stand on nearby rock for closer view of the glacier. 

Later in the day we arrived at the Calvo Fjord, for an excursion on the ‘ Capitan Constantino’ icebreaker appropriate to navigate between the ice. We visited the Fernando, Captain Constantino and Alipio glaciers, among others. During this cruise the crew prepared us all scotch on the rock using 3000 year old ice from glacier this sure warmed us up and the souvenir glass was a nice touch. 

Back on board before sailing towards Montanas Fjord while we had pre dinner pisco sours and dinner.

MacWool Tour: Another day of walking in Torres del Paine National Park

Torres del Paine Park

Up and at ’em very very slowly for another day in the national park. At 8:45 (departure 9 am) there were only 5 of the group ready to board. The rest of the group trickled out a within a few minutes either side of departure time. 

We were off … at the what seems like 20kms per hour. Patricio certainly was looking after the gear on the not so badly corrugated road. I guess given his investment in the coach it was definitely in best interest to do so. Jill Elder decided that she stay behind and sample some the resort services and be the single handed welcome home committee. 

So putting along at 20 and rarely touching the mind blowing speed of practically 30kms for and hour or so saw us in the east side of the park. We scrambled off and readied ourselves for today’s 1.5 hour walk to glacier viewing platform. 

A way we go cross the swing bridge 6 at a time. The wind with some help from the stirrers in group had the bridge really swinging at times. Luckily we had bundled Sharpy on with first group and he was halfway across before he realised what going on.  A little concerned if I could get him to make the return journey over the rushing water in windy conditions a couple hours later.

A brisk walk through forest before emerging onto the river bank of deep fine shifty pebbles for what seemed like never ending walk across the pebble bank in middle of the lake. This proved to be a very difficult waking surface.e. My first glimpse of an iceberg that had broken away from the glacier and was probably very very old.

On reaching the far side the group started up the other side to find the viewing platform. Three of us felt that we could see enough from here and decided starting back would help us to get back at same time as the leaders making the return journey.

Simon and Rosalie took the blue ribbon for first back but Kerrie Macdonald certainly earned a special mention for jogging back to be sure that she wasn’t last back today. It was a sight to behold of Kerrie running across the swing bridge with Frank and Henry jogging behind her – that certainly got it swinging and how they kept their feet under themselves I will never know.

Packed lunch boxes at the picnic tables were welcome before we made to long slow ride home. We were welcomed home by a very fresh and relaxed looking Jill. Another good day that ended with drink outside the bar looking at the mountains of course most conversation was around lambing percentages best times to shear how the wool market was this week etc.

You can take these folk away to a foreign land but their hearts are still well and truly at home. Tomorrow caves and boarding Skorpios lll for next 3 nights.

Now these are spurs

 We most likely be offline for the next four days while cruising the glaciers

MacWool Tour: Torres del Paine National Park

During the trip various members of the party are going to contribute to this blog today’s post is with thanks to Christine White
Photos with thanks to Christine and Simon Hunt 

Torres del Paine Park

Whilst Ange and Sharpy were having some down time back at the Rio Serrano enjoying the comfy couches and panoramic views, the rest of the crew headed off to the Torres del Paine National Park to explore the magnificent peaks up closer.  

Little did we realise that at an average speed of 20km/hour, the half hour bus trip took an hour and a half with a few scenic lookout stops along the way.  Patricio loved being part of the MacWool Farmers Tour group sporting one of the MacWool caps, but it didn’t speed his driving up.  

Being the hottest day in 5 years, the air conditioning struggled to keep up, as we oohed and ahhed over the sights. In fact I’m sure it was the first time the air conditioning had ever been turned on to ‘cool’. 

Lunch was by a waterfall, with a few game enough to test their cold tolerance by plunging their hand into the ice cold glacial waters. 40 seconds was the record, but most lasted barely 10.

We even managed to squeeze in a viewing of some more sheep as there is an Estancia in the middle of the National Park that we drove through, although they were panting hard in the heat wave conditions of 25 degrees C.

The group finally had their chance to stride out on a hike past another waterfall, a scenic lake and a close up view of the rugged peaks of Torres del Paine.  We struck one of the clearest days of the year, so the views were spectacular.  A few even clambered up to the top of a small peak to yell out a cooeeeeee for all below.

Back on the bus for the looooong sloowww trip back to the Rio Serrano, we stopped by a cafe for a few roadies to cool down.  

Ange and Sharpy were there to greet us on our return, and the evening drinks turned into a fun night of eating and drinking Chilean beers and wines.  

Our guide Ivan
A little room party

Our wine loving host, Ivan, suggested to us that the Chilean way of palate cleansing after your meal was to down a glass of Fernet (pronounced with a rolled ‘r’ as Ferrrrrrrr-nay).  Well, 30 glasses were lined up at the bar courtesy of Chris Martin, and we were all expected to down the mysterious Chilean liqueur.  It tasted like cough syrup.  

A well rested Sharpy

Most couldn’t get to the bar fast enough to wash their mouths out with a cool refreshing Patagonian beer (the preferred Aussie palate cleanser).  The rest gagged.  Only Ivan gleefully downed glass after glass of the pungent brew, praising the wonders of Chilean wines and liqueurs.  

The one common effect was that all were going to be very slow the next morning.

More photos will be added here after we leave cruise.