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Antarctic trip – Part one – Chile

By John Hargreaves - 21 December 2015 58

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It’s a bit Chile on the way to Antarctica so a stopover afterwards in sunny Argentina was just the job. I had a couple of bucket list items which needed ticking off.

They were to set foot on all continents on the planet and to step foot on the soil of Antarctica. This trip was to achieve both items in one hit.

Most intrepid travellers do the Europe thing and the North American thing. Everyone goes to Asia at some stage, whether it is to Bali, Singapore, Beijing or the Indo-Chinese countries of Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Myanmar.

But there are seven continents on Earth and people I spoke to on my trip said that racking up six was a breeze. Doing the seventh was something else again.  I had already done the Asian bit by the time I was 19.  Lived in Malaysia for a while.  So Australia and Asia – tick!

I didn’t count Europe just because I was born there (England to be precise) because I left when I was three. My bride and I did Italy and Paris, after England for our 6th anniversary in 1988 – tick the third continent.

Then a couple of years later, we went to New Mexico for our friend’s wedding via LA. Tick number four!

Our trip to Kenya and a visit to the Masai Mara, counted as the fifth – Africa!

Only South America and Antarctica remained…. And they remained for decades.

I am just back from the trip of a lifetime and want to share some of it with you to whet your appetite for a visit yourselves.

This bucket list trip included Chile with a visit to Santiago and Valparaiso, a boat trip to Antarctica and a visit to Buenos Aires on the way home. Knocked over the last two in the one three week trip! Yay!

So we arrive in Chile at 11.30 in the morning – a half an hour before we left Sydney. Flight time 12 and a half hours.  Prepare yourselves for this, people.  A trick is to have some $US on you because you have to pay what they call a “reciprocity fee” for entry into Chile.  Essentially it’s an entry tax and they only take $US for the charge. (Incidentally, they do the same in Argentina but you can get this online before you go)

We got to our hotel in Santiago in about an hour or so and the bride had organised a tour of the city for us to while away the afternoon. Santiago is a large place and full of interesting history and architecture. We took a half day bus and walking tour of the city and were entertained by the guide on the ancient Inca and the not so ancient Spanish and the even more recent dictatorship elements which together make up the capital of Chile. Fascinating. The eclectic nature of Santiago is charming.  It is mostly clean, with smog hanging about and a slight feeling of dustiness in the air.

The affluent areas are obvious and the working class and lower class areas are colourful. It has a river fed from the Andes running right through the middle of the city. The Chilean peso is easy to use and accepted everywhere without hassle although I got an impression the $US was a bit popular.

The breathtaking bit though was how close the Andes Mountains were. Chile is a long thin country not unlike Vietnam only longer. The Andes form the border with Argentina and are reputed to be the youngest, geologically, mountain range in the world and Santiago is at the base of them and squeezed between the mountains and the sea.

The view from San Cristobal hill, at the base of the massive statue of the Virgin, is breathtaking. You see the city spread out before you with the rural lands beyond and then rearing up majestically are the most beautiful mountain range I have ever witnessed. I reckon the Andes put the Rockies into their place.

The next day we had all day to ourselves so we booked a tour of the Santa Rita winery in the Maipo Valley. This was fascinating, because we went bike riding round the vineyard and had the methodology of Chilean winemaking described to us along the way.  As a side issue, the vineyard also reared Llamas for their wool and these have to be the cutest critters on earth!

Our guide picked us up early the next day for a trip to Valparaiso, a largish city to the north and on the coast. A pirates’ den if there ever was one.

This most interesting and colourful city is built on the side of a series of very steep hills. And I really mean steep! Think the slopes of Black Mountain.

It has a very interesting past and is the major shipping port for Chile. We walked the streets, or should I say climbed, and the views were just unreal. Interestingly, many of the houses were built of corrugated iron sheeting, painted bright colours. Apparently, this method is the best insulation you can get in Chile and is use widely.

We went on a short boat cruise on the harbour after lunch (a forgettable event in a not so salubrious underground café) and spotted a number of Chilean naval ships idly parked, a massive dry dock with a ship the size of Manuka inside, and a buoy carrying about four fur seals basking in the sunshine. Smelly little devils!

Back to Santiago for some well earnt rest before our flight to Ushuaia in Argentina (via Buenos Aires) and embarkation heading for Antarctica.

More next week. I have posted some photos on Facebook for those of you interested and will be doing some more soon (after the inevitable culling process).

What’s Your opinion?


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58 Responses to
Antarctic trip – Part one – Chile
dungfungus 6:08 pm 23 Dec 15

John Hargreaves said :

dungfungus said :

watto23 said :

dungfungus said :

John Hargreaves said :

dungfungus said :

To set foot on the soil of Antarctica is a rarity indeed.
The total ice-free area of Antarctica comprises less than 0.4% of the continent.
The ice-free regions, of which about 90% are soil forming, are located mainly on the continental coastline, particularly on the Antarctic Peninsula and in the McMurdo Dry Valleys in the Ross Sea Region.
Keep an eye out for orphaned polar bears on melting ice sheets, John.

I was told there are only polar bears in the Arctic. my next post will be about what I saw in those 10 days.

Polar bears have always been and always will be in the Arctic.
But climate change alarmists would like us to believe they are drifting much further south so keep your eyes peeled.

seriously. You take a very detailed scientifically analysed issue and simplify it to the point you are wrong and being the alarmist. Its very well documented that the loss of sea ice in the arctic is affecting the numbers of polar bears, especially when its been show via satellite imagery that the Artic polar ice caps are much smaller and also been shown that polar bears mostly hunt for food on the artic ice.

If you want to take an opposing view on global warming, at least be serious about it and stick to something closely resembling a fact and not a passing flippant remark!

Back to the OP. Looking forward to reading more John. Antarctica is the only continent I have not been to and will visit there one day. I’ll pay the pesky mortgage off first! Although I’m heading to Cuba next year before the American tourism invasion!

As long as there are people being paid to generate “very detailed scientifically analysed” information that doesn’t stack up in reality I can’t take it seriously.
If global warming does indeed happen (as it has many times before) it won’t be because of the reasons that are part of the current narrative.
That screams for flippancy.

I am now starting my next article on Antarctica but need to share with you the comment from one of the scientists (eminently qualified researchers who were part of the expedition team studying whales, penguins and seals) that climate change is a natural phenomenon but the rate of that change has been accelerated by man and it is this which we can do something about.

The rate is accelerating unsustainably and I saw evidence of it in the number of icebergs which have “calved” off the main ice sheet. Greater numbers than ever before.

the sea ice does not increase the sea levels and it is merely existing sea water which freezes. the glaciers put snow into the sea which is essentially fresh water at an alarming rate because of the increased size of the hole in the ozone layer over the Antarctic and because of the overall global warming.

This is a reality clearly visible even to the intellectually challenged who deny the acceleration rate of climate change.

John, you state that this is your first trip to the Antarctic region and then you say “I saw evidence of it in the number of icebergs which have “calved” off the main ice sheet. Greater numbers than ever before.”
When was “before”?
Also, are you trying to reach a new low in referring to people like myself who oppose the alarmist narrative by grouping us as “intellectually challenged”?
If this is the case then I think we are the majority and most of us don’t really care about what you are relating to us from your eminent mates. I don’t recall climate change as one of your election issues either but that was of course before you saw an iceberg.

justin heywood 1:39 pm 23 Dec 15

HenryBG said :

It is depressing that there remain those who choose to reject the facts and cling to their own irrational beliefs about climate change. Dawkins noted that despite religion’s purpose being replaced by the far superior scientific method, religion as an idea has for some bizarre reason persisted very strongly – his conclusion was that humans thrive on irrational beliefs.

Nailed it well Henry. Not so much ‘depressing’ as intriguing, though.

My theory is that almost everyone has a ‘window’ of irrationality. The best science lecturer I ever knew is a full-on ‘happy clapper’ on weekends.
And I have a very savvy friend who regularly mocks climate deniers and conspiracy theory nutters, but he is also a 9/11 ‘truther’.

I think pretty much anyone will hold at least one or two irrational beliefs, if you dig hard enough. Happily, I think the climate deniers are slowly thinning out in the face of all the evidence.

Anyway, good luck on your trip John, and keep the excellent photos coming.

HenryBG 12:05 pm 23 Dec 15

John Hargreaves said :

I am now starting my next article on Antarctica but need to share with you the comment from one of the scientists (eminently qualified researchers who were part of the expedition team studying whales, penguins and seals) that climate change is a natural phenomenon but the rate of that change has been accelerated by man and it is this which we can do something about.
.

Natural climate change right now would be a very, very slight warming trend due to solar forcing ever so slightly outweighing volcanic forcing.
Human activity causes aerosol pollution, which is a forcing that causes cooling.
On the other hand, human activity depleting the ozone layer creates a forcing that causes warming.
Human activity adding CO2 to the atmosphere is a forcing that causes a lot of warming – the extent of the forcing caused by human-emitted CO2 is an order of magnitude greater than the forcings caused by aerosols and ozone depletion or the current natural forcings.

Here is a simplified graph that illustrates this:
https://plot.ly/~MattSundquist/6939.png

On Antarctic warming, here is a graphic which shows how the part of Antarctica that is most vulnerable to warming has lost a dramatic amount of ice over the last 30 years:
http://i.livescience.com/images/i/000/026/108/i02/larsen-ice-shelf-ed.jpg?1333647262

For those who are open to gaining knowledge in this area, here are three basic concepts you should study in order to understand how the current warming is occurring:

1. Carbon cycle, contrasts the natural fluxes with those causes by human activity:
http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/research/themes/carbon/img/carboncycle.gif

2. Energy balance – we get the vast majority of our energy from the Sun, this shows how that energy “sticks” when it gets here, and how it leaves:
http://hamann-ulrich.de/images/Energy_balance.jpg

3. CO2 absorption spectrum.
The Sun’s energy arrives across a range of wavelengths ranging from X-rays, ultraviolet, through the visible spectrum, down to infra-red spectrums. The bulk of the Sun’s energy arrives as wavelengths that are in our visible spectrum (not a co-incidence, that, but that’s a Biology tangent), or just below the red end of it.
The CO2 molecule doesn’t catch much radiation at these wavelengths.
After being reflected, or absorbed and re-emitted, outgoing radiation has lost energy and therefore has longer wavelengths than it came in as. These longer wavelengths *are* much more readily caught by the CO2 molecule.

NASA have a good write-up of the general ideas here:
http://www.ces.fau.edu/nasa/module-2/how-greenhouse-effect-works.php

It is depressing that there remain those who choose to reject the facts and cling to their own irrational beliefs about climate change. Dawkins noted that despite religion’s purpose being replaced by the far superior scientific method, religion as an idea has for some bizarre reason persisted very strongly – his conclusion was that humans thrive on irrational beliefs. So we shouldn’t be surprised that just as 35 years ago there many (scientists and engineers) who vehemently denied the theory of plate tectonics, so too are those today who deny the last 150 years of science that explains why humans are causing climate change.

John Hargreaves 10:45 am 23 Dec 15

dungfungus said :

watto23 said :

dungfungus said :

John Hargreaves said :

dungfungus said :

To set foot on the soil of Antarctica is a rarity indeed.
The total ice-free area of Antarctica comprises less than 0.4% of the continent.
The ice-free regions, of which about 90% are soil forming, are located mainly on the continental coastline, particularly on the Antarctic Peninsula and in the McMurdo Dry Valleys in the Ross Sea Region.
Keep an eye out for orphaned polar bears on melting ice sheets, John.

I was told there are only polar bears in the Arctic. my next post will be about what I saw in those 10 days.

Polar bears have always been and always will be in the Arctic.
But climate change alarmists would like us to believe they are drifting much further south so keep your eyes peeled.

seriously. You take a very detailed scientifically analysed issue and simplify it to the point you are wrong and being the alarmist. Its very well documented that the loss of sea ice in the arctic is affecting the numbers of polar bears, especially when its been show via satellite imagery that the Artic polar ice caps are much smaller and also been shown that polar bears mostly hunt for food on the artic ice.

If you want to take an opposing view on global warming, at least be serious about it and stick to something closely resembling a fact and not a passing flippant remark!

Back to the OP. Looking forward to reading more John. Antarctica is the only continent I have not been to and will visit there one day. I’ll pay the pesky mortgage off first! Although I’m heading to Cuba next year before the American tourism invasion!

As long as there are people being paid to generate “very detailed scientifically analysed” information that doesn’t stack up in reality I can’t take it seriously.
If global warming does indeed happen (as it has many times before) it won’t be because of the reasons that are part of the current narrative.
That screams for flippancy.

I am now starting my next article on Antarctica but need to share with you the comment from one of the scientists (eminently qualified researchers who were part of the expedition team studying whales, penguins and seals) that climate change is a natural phenomenon but the rate of that change has been accelerated by man and it is this which we can do something about.

The rate is accelerating unsustainably and I saw evidence of it in the number of icebergs which have “calved” off the main ice sheet. Greater numbers than ever before.

the sea ice does not increase the sea levels and it is merely existing sea water which freezes. the glaciers put snow into the sea which is essentially fresh water at an alarming rate because of the increased size of the hole in the ozone layer over the Antarctic and because of the overall global warming.

This is a reality clearly visible even to the intellectually challenged who deny the acceleration rate of climate change.

dungfungus 9:01 am 23 Dec 15

watto23 said :

dungfungus said :

John Hargreaves said :

dungfungus said :

To set foot on the soil of Antarctica is a rarity indeed.
The total ice-free area of Antarctica comprises less than 0.4% of the continent.
The ice-free regions, of which about 90% are soil forming, are located mainly on the continental coastline, particularly on the Antarctic Peninsula and in the McMurdo Dry Valleys in the Ross Sea Region.
Keep an eye out for orphaned polar bears on melting ice sheets, John.

I was told there are only polar bears in the Arctic. my next post will be about what I saw in those 10 days.

Polar bears have always been and always will be in the Arctic.
But climate change alarmists would like us to believe they are drifting much further south so keep your eyes peeled.

seriously. You take a very detailed scientifically analysed issue and simplify it to the point you are wrong and being the alarmist. Its very well documented that the loss of sea ice in the arctic is affecting the numbers of polar bears, especially when its been show via satellite imagery that the Artic polar ice caps are much smaller and also been shown that polar bears mostly hunt for food on the artic ice.

If you want to take an opposing view on global warming, at least be serious about it and stick to something closely resembling a fact and not a passing flippant remark!

Back to the OP. Looking forward to reading more John. Antarctica is the only continent I have not been to and will visit there one day. I’ll pay the pesky mortgage off first! Although I’m heading to Cuba next year before the American tourism invasion!

As long as there are people being paid to generate “very detailed scientifically analysed” information that doesn’t stack up in reality I can’t take it seriously.
If global warming does indeed happen (as it has many times before) it won’t be because of the reasons that are part of the current narrative.
That screams for flippancy.

dungfungus 9:49 pm 22 Dec 15

watto23 said :

Oh yes John, you might be able to help with the reciprocity fee. Apparently they charge us what we charge Chilean residents for a visa. So feel free to talk to your politician friends and remove this. As a frequent south american visitor, avoiding Santiago on the way over is difficult from Australia so it would be most welcome by myself and other travellers!
Your visit will probably show that while Chile has its issues its a very affluent society now, probably the most in South america. Certainly cost me more for beer and steak in Chile than neighbouring Argentina or Bolivia! so I’m sure if we removed our fees for Chileans, they’d remove theirs for Australians.

There is a way to avoid the fee and that is make Uruguay your first destination in South America.
As there are no direct flights to Montevideo one simply transits at Santiago (without leaving the airport) and enters South America at Montevideo where no fees are payable (or they were not last time I went there).
From there catch the ferry to Argentina but try and stay a few days in Uruguay as it has a lot to offer (avoid Punta del Este in December and January though).

watto23 1:53 pm 22 Dec 15

Oh yes John, you might be able to help with the reciprocity fee. Apparently they charge us what we charge Chilean residents for a visa. So feel free to talk to your politician friends and remove this. As a frequent south american visitor, avoiding Santiago on the way over is difficult from Australia so it would be most welcome by myself and other travellers!
Your visit will probably show that while Chile has its issues its a very affluent society now, probably the most in South america. Certainly cost me more for beer and steak in Chile than neighbouring Argentina or Bolivia! so I’m sure if we removed our fees for Chileans, they’d remove theirs for Australians.

watto23 1:49 pm 22 Dec 15

dungfungus said :

John Hargreaves said :

dungfungus said :

To set foot on the soil of Antarctica is a rarity indeed.
The total ice-free area of Antarctica comprises less than 0.4% of the continent.
The ice-free regions, of which about 90% are soil forming, are located mainly on the continental coastline, particularly on the Antarctic Peninsula and in the McMurdo Dry Valleys in the Ross Sea Region.
Keep an eye out for orphaned polar bears on melting ice sheets, John.

I was told there are only polar bears in the Arctic. my next post will be about what I saw in those 10 days.

Polar bears have always been and always will be in the Arctic.
But climate change alarmists would like us to believe they are drifting much further south so keep your eyes peeled.

seriously. You take a very detailed scientifically analysed issue and simplify it to the point you are wrong and being the alarmist. Its very well documented that the loss of sea ice in the arctic is affecting the numbers of polar bears, especially when its been show via satellite imagery that the Artic polar ice caps are much smaller and also been shown that polar bears mostly hunt for food on the artic ice.

If you want to take an opposing view on global warming, at least be serious about it and stick to something closely resembling a fact and not a passing flippant remark!

Back to the OP. Looking forward to reading more John. Antarctica is the only continent I have not been to and will visit there one day. I’ll pay the pesky mortgage off first! Although I’m heading to Cuba next year before the American tourism invasion!

HenryBG 1:29 pm 22 Dec 15

dungfungus said :

Polar bears have always been and always will be in the Arctic.
But climate change alarmists would like us to believe they are drifting much further south so keep your eyes peeled.

A brief perusal of the available scientific observations tells me,

1. Far from having “always been” in the Arctic, the Polar Bear evolved about 150,000 years ago due to selective pressures applied by climate change to one or more populations of the Brown Bear.

2. Rising temperatures and dwindling sea ice are reducing polar bear numbers among the most southerly of their populations and driving all bears further North.

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/jan/17/polar-bears-arctic-sea-ice

I *do* hope you find this information useful and are able to make use of it. As time goes on, it seems to be becoming ever-less defensible to hold contrary views to the results of scientific research.

dungfungus 11:31 am 22 Dec 15

John Hargreaves said :

dungfungus said :

To set foot on the soil of Antarctica is a rarity indeed.
The total ice-free area of Antarctica comprises less than 0.4% of the continent.
The ice-free regions, of which about 90% are soil forming, are located mainly on the continental coastline, particularly on the Antarctic Peninsula and in the McMurdo Dry Valleys in the Ross Sea Region.
Keep an eye out for orphaned polar bears on melting ice sheets, John.

I was told there are only polar bears in the Arctic. my next post will be about what I saw in those 10 days.

Polar bears have always been and always will be in the Arctic.
But climate change alarmists would like us to believe they are drifting much further south so keep your eyes peeled.

John Hargreaves 11:22 am 22 Dec 15

Acton said :

When you get to Ushuaia (el Fin del Mundo – the end of the world) I recommend a short sailing trip on the Beagle Channel. The tour is easy to locate and book down by the wharf.
http://www.tresmariasweb.com/en/115/excursions/
https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/Attraction_Review-g312855-d1907246-Reviews-Tres_Marias-Ushuaia_Province_of_Tierra_del_Fuego_Patagonia.html

Antarctica … an experience of a lifetime.

Thanks for that – we went to the National Park at Fin del Mundo and went on the train. brilliant – also we went by ship to Antarctica which meant a trip down the Beagle Channel. and back of course.

John Hargreaves 11:21 am 22 Dec 15

dungfungus said :

To set foot on the soil of Antarctica is a rarity indeed.
The total ice-free area of Antarctica comprises less than 0.4% of the continent.
The ice-free regions, of which about 90% are soil forming, are located mainly on the continental coastline, particularly on the Antarctic Peninsula and in the McMurdo Dry Valleys in the Ross Sea Region.
Keep an eye out for orphaned polar bears on melting ice sheets, John.

I was told there are only polar bears in the Arctic. my next post will be about what I saw in those 10 days.

MERC600 1:57 pm 21 Dec 15

Good luck with it all John.
Have wanted to go to South America since reading the travel book by Husband and Wife team Trish Sheppard and Iain Finlay..

Acton 11:16 am 21 Dec 15

When you get to Ushuaia (el Fin del Mundo – the end of the world) I recommend a short sailing trip on the Beagle Channel. The tour is easy to locate and book down by the wharf.
http://www.tresmariasweb.com/en/115/excursions/
https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/Attraction_Review-g312855-d1907246-Reviews-Tres_Marias-Ushuaia_Province_of_Tierra_del_Fuego_Patagonia.html

Antarctica … an experience of a lifetime.

dungfungus 8:59 am 21 Dec 15

To set foot on the soil of Antarctica is a rarity indeed.
The total ice-free area of Antarctica comprises less than 0.4% of the continent.
The ice-free regions, of which about 90% are soil forming, are located mainly on the continental coastline, particularly on the Antarctic Peninsula and in the McMurdo Dry Valleys in the Ross Sea Region.
Keep an eye out for orphaned polar bears on melting ice sheets, John.

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