The tail end of the Tucan Tour

I’m back in Santiago and my Tucan Tour has just ended. Another 3 week trip has flown by! This trip took my from Ushuaia up to Santiago – all by bus!

tucanA total of approx 4900km crossing the Andes and Chile/Argentina a few times but over such beautiful areas. But it did come at a ‘slight’ price – my tour group! As you well know – we were only 6 people, so it meant there was nowhere really to hide! People were nice enough – but it was worlds apart from my previous tour with G when i’d made loads of friends. Age did partly come into play on this tour (everyone was much older), but it wasn’t just that. Some people are very negative, or opinionated, or just have no self awareness… And so i am VERY HAPPY that the tour has ended and i’m alone with no bickering or snide comments or nose blowing going on!!! It’s not a Tucan thing – it’s just the luck of the draw as to who is on your tour group. One of the girls on G had had a bad experience on a previous G tour, so had chosen to pay the single supplement for her own room… and i get that! She wouldn’t have needed it we now know, but impossible to know when you book! If i was to do another tour, i would certainly choose G again – though i wouldn’t fully discount Tucan either. It really comes down to location, route, dates, price and availability… along with number of people and age range (if you can find this out beforehand)

Anyway – back to my trip! We’d just arrived in Bariloche – which i’d heard lots of good things about. It was certainly pretty but it didn’t wow me – again this could be the curse of having been to many amazing places! First things first, i knew that there were St Bernards there so i hunted them down for a cuddle! Sadly it’s a bit of a tourist trap and people hawk their dogs out for you to get snapped with… but they’re so cute!

She was actually called Brenda - like my aunt which made me chuckle as she didn't look like a Brenda to me!
She was actually called Brenda – like my aunt … which made me chuckle as she didn’t look like a Brenda to me!

Then we visited the town. There’s a nice main street filled with shops and restaurants / cafes which we wandered around. Lots of the shops sell hiking / climbing gear, so despite being in the mood for shopping and getting some new clothes, i wasn’t remotely successful! The town itself is cute – Swiss style places, lovely flowers blooming around, and a pretty church which i popped into and snapped a bit of too

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We chose not to stay at This establishment!

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As Toni was ending the tour in Bariloche we had a farewell supper that night. And it was a no brainer where we were going for dinner – everyone had bigged up a steak place which does amazing meat. It opened at 8, and was full by 8.01 so we needed to queue if we wanted to get in. So a couple of us went at 7.30 to walk over there. We got there and there was no queue at all – but within 30 seconds (i kid you not) a massive group of 28 people suddenly rounded the corner so it was bloody lucky we had got there just before them or we wouldn’t have got in! The food was as good as we’d heard. Despite still trying to find the steak that “you can cut with a spoon it’s so tender” i would recommend the restaurant if you’re in the area!

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My French roots mean i like my steak RARE!

We were due to head off to Pucon the next day early in the morning, but after a chat and some slight negotiation (beer!) i managed to convince the guys that we didn’t need to leave at 7am, but that we’d all enjoy a night out and then a more respectable departure of 11am! We were all happy about this, so went out for a few beers/pisco sours/wines (delete as appropriate) in a really nice pub

Fast forward to Pucon. This is a town now back in Chile and our penultimate stop before ending in Santiago. People go to Pucon for two main reasons. #1 is to climb an active volcano (Villaricca) and #2 is to go some water-based sports as they offer great kayaking and rafting

We were in Pucon for 2.5 days and two things were against us sadly. Firstly – we happened to be there over the RiverFest weekend – meaning there were some competitions going on and therefore most water-based activities weren’t possible. Secondly – the weather wasn’t on our side. It rained ALL day. You need good weather to climb the volcano. It’s a big volcano which takes about 4 hours climbing (at a 30-45 degree angle all the time) to get up to the top – so it’s hard work going up, but also down. The best aspects are that if you get to the top (time and weather dependent) you can look into the crater of an active volcano, AND that you can slide down some parts as it’s so snowy. All sounds great, but with the weather and all of us quite tired after a lot of hiking and long bus rides, the enthusiasm was waning and none of us chose to do it the one day it was technically possible!

However, Pucon will be dearly remembered by me as it was the location where my Secret Santa dinner took place! Remember that present i’ve been carrying around for the last 10 weeks!? Well it was finally time to open it! I (tried to) Skype the girls as they were at dinner, but technology was against us. I could hear, but not really see much as the restaurant was quite dark. But meanwhile they could see me, but not hear a thing as it was loud! We tried a few different things but resorted to live Whatsapp chat as people opened their presents!

Was nice to (try and) be part of our annual tradition, but i’ll prefer it when i’m actually with them!

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The present getting festive!
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Me and my pressies!
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The view from London!

Pucon is a sweet little town with markets and plenty nice restaurants to check out – but it was a shame we didn’t get to do the main event – though it was  technically open to us!

The Volcano climb that never was...
The Volcano climb that never was…

Final day in the bus and it was a 12 hour drive up to Santiago… We stopped along the way for lunch, a quick waterfall visit, and to see some pretty flowers! The flora and fauna has certainly changed as we drove up through the country – now we’re back in hot weather the colours we can see are abundant! And so pretty!

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I’m confident Iguasu will top this!

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And i’ve made it back to Santiago! I have three days here to enjoy and then i’m off to Buenos Aires…. exciting times!

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