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February 13, 2012 – Over the Hill

February 17, 2012

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We left Puerto Varas early in the on Monday morning expecting a 15 hour bus ride through the Andes mountains. The landscape started out with rolling hills covered in farm animals, surrounding the Pan-American highway. As we gained altitude, we saw more and more mountains with intermittent lakes. We came to an area where the eruption of the volcano, Puyehue Caulle, in June of the last year had killed the forest by covering it in so much ash. We passed through two border checks: one in order to exit Chile and one to enter Argentina. We stopped at the middle of the trip for photos at a mountain pass that was covered in ash. As we drove further into Argentina the amount of ash slowly diminished.  We arrived in Bariloche at a bus depot where we met our guide, Lorenzo. After a short jaunt around a local grocery store, we loading into vans and continued to our ranch, El Desafio. The landscape was Patagonian steppe, which is quite similar to the Okanagan Valley in BC; rolling hills and desert-like. Upon arrival, our excitement led us to all split up to go for hikes, where found our first lizards!   We all became obsessed with catching these reptiles as they are much more prevalent than Ontario’s 5-lined skink. For dinner our hosts cooked us 16 whole chickens! We couldn’t possibly eat that much but we tried our best. After dinner we observed the Southern Cross and many more constellations that can only be viewed in such a secluded area. After star gazing, we caught and identified our first Patagonian organism, the Pleurodema bufonina; a frog.  Then, we all crashed into our lovely beds, pleased to have finally arrived after 48 hours of travel.

– Lindsay, Rachel, Elli and John



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