South America

Best of Patagonia 2014 / 2015

Rachel Williams

Rachel Williams  |  13 August 2015

Top 5 Patagonia experiences from 2014 / 2015 as told by our amazing & dedicated crew, Melinda & Franco.

"As we start to get ready for our 2015/16 season in Patagonia we thought we'd highlight some of the unique experiences our passengers were able to enjoy last season.  Although none of these activities are guaranteed on our tours, we will definitely be open to all sorts of exciting new adventures.

At 03:00am in the morning our Wild Patagonia and Lakes District Discovery tours were visiting the quaint little town of Pucon in Chile. We were awoken to the volcano sirens ringing through the town.  As the lava spewed over the back side of the volcano (away from town) we watched for about one hour from the safety zone where our hotel was located.  What an amazing sight to see.

Viva Expeditions Patagonia Travel Villarica Eruption

Our Wild Patagonia and R40 + Carretera Austral tours travel through remote areas  that feel a little like yesteryear.  Huasos (cowboys) still herd cattle down small dirt roads and giving way to a chicken or a pig is a common occurrence.  We were lucky to catch a local cattle market early one morning.  Huasos bring their cattle to the loading pens while men on horses steer them into different areas depending on their size, breed and sex.  A platform looking over the pens allow buyers a great view of the cattle on sale.

Viva Expeditions Patagonia Travel Cattle Market

When travelling the world trying the local cuisine is a must. On our Wild Patagonia and Southern Explorer tours we have the chance to try Centolla - King Crab.  These monsters of the sea are found off the Pacific Coast of South America.  While in Ushuaia, Argentina there are plenty of places to try the sweet, succulent meat of the King Crab. Whether chilled, steamed, broiled or baked, tucking into one of these monsters is certainly an experience.

Viva Expeditions Patagonia Tours King Crab

All throughout Argentina, Chile and Uruguay you'll see many locals carrying a thermos.  Hot water is a key ingredient of MATE (maa-te) - a herbal like tea infusion made in a gourd shaped cup.  Traditionally the bitter tasting tea/herbs are from the northern Misiones area in Argentina but modern MATE drinkers infuse it with citrus, mint or lemon.  MATE is a communal drink shared with friends and has a lot of quirky rituals to follow.  Franco our Viva Driver loves MATE and loves to welcome people to try it on our tours.

Viva Expeditions Franco drinking Mate

On all of our tours we hope to catch a glimpse of the unique wildlife found in Patagonia. Condors, Guanacos and Armadillos are high on the list but one elusive pussy cat always seems to sit at the top - the Puma.  Last season we were lucky enough to see not one, not two but THREE Pumas in the Torres del Paine National Park, Chile.  What started as a bad weather morning with hiking trails closed ended with an adventure drive across the park.  Through wind, rain an even snow we eventually found sunshine and these majestic creatures playing hide and seek.  

Viva Expeditons Patagonia Tours Puma .

These are just some of the things we hope to experience again this season as well as much more.  The adventure is about to begin and we can't wait to see what's in store."

Mel and Franco

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