After about four hours of sleep, we dragged ourselves out of bed, as in theory we had to return the car today and drop Daniel at the airport. Daniel, still, shall we say, feeling the effects of the previous night, couldn’t figure out how on earth he was covered in mud, and worried that the airline may in fact turn him away, needed much encouragement to keep packing and not cleaning – it was getting tight! (He got on, but I’ve yet to hear if he made it through US Customs enroute to Canada). We zipped off to the airport getting there about 50 minutes before his flight, had a coffee, negotiated with the rental company to keep the car for another day, and headed off to do some looking around the area, and hopefully spot some animals. It didn’t take long to find some of the rheas and guanacoes (Amal had yet to see them), and then we headed west towards the glacier to see if we could spot some more condors or eagles.
Sure enough we soon saw a huge bird in a tree at the side of the road. We stopped and approached slowly, but it flew off and landed on a rock a few hundred metres behind. However this meant in theory it was easily photographable, if I could just get close. Approached it on an angle, and although it kept its eye on me, didn’t fly off, and when I reached the fence we were watching each other over just a few metres. Took some great shots – in hindsight it may not even be a condor but one of the giant buzzard eagles instead, and then it took off – and I ducked as it passed just feet above my head. Fantastic.
Along the road we finally saw some flamingos down on the ice flow, off the side of the road and down a hill. It took a while to scramble down and squeeze under a fence, and dodge the bovine landmines – but made it to the lake’s edge eventually and could see them relatively well with binoculars. We also saw a few of the unusual looking Argentinian hares – they’re quite big and don’t run quite like normal rabbits. I believe they’re known as Cavy or Mara (which aren’t actually rabbits/hares) but the pictures on the internet don’t quite look right (these seemed to have longer ears), so any other suggestions please let me know.
Got some food and headed back in to town and the hostel – to plan the next few days. Outside the Andes and the sun were giving us yet another spectacular show – the sunset was magnificent. Dan Santman from Forks, Washington had rejoined us – presumably because it was after sunset, and he and I dug in to another all-you-can-eat BBQ. We then spent a few hours catching up on the net and emails and spent some time planning. In theory in the morning we’d return the car and get a bus north to Puerto Madryn where you’re able to see whales and more from the town, and then on up to Buenos Aires – two 24 hour bus rides. However, we also found some information about combination continent-wide and Argentina-only plane tickets, but the terms and conditions and paths were a mission to read and comprehend and plan with at that time, so we resolved to head to the Aerolineas Argentina office in the morning and ask them, before getting on the noon bus out of town.
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