Saturday, April 16, 2011

FINAL POST: THE "BEST AND WORSE" OF AI CARAMBA 2011 (13-15 April 2011, Days 125-127 of 127).

A triumphal welcome to the last post of Ai Caramba 2011!!!

I made it. John "Attenboroughopoulos" Golfin, aka Johnny Cloudrunner has conquered Antarctica and all of South America visiting 9 countries, 68 cities/towns, 46 regions/parks/sites over a grand total 80,950km in 127 days.

This epic was captured in 2,211 photos (average 2.5MB) and 200min of HD film totalling 41.2GB.

My last journey was from Hotel Chez Joseph in Hanga Roa, Easter Island to Roscoe Street in Bondi Beach. Door to door, a mere 32hrs, 21 of those flying. 

I awoke to my last day on Easter Island and South America at 7:30am on Wed 13APR to a partly-cloudy but sunny day and went for my last and 83rd South American run! 

After packing and a final walk downtown I left the hotel at 11am for the airport. I was surprised that little old Easter Island had the computing power to check me in all the way to Sydney!
The flight from Easter Island to Santiago took 4.5hrs and my layover in Santiago was only 3hrs. In that time I posted the Easter Island blog in an airport restaurant with Wi-Fi whilst demolishing a bottle of Chilean 2009 Sav Blanc and a vego salad and wrap. It was down to the wire and my most exciting blog ever! I pressed the "post" button at 10:45pm, went through customs at 11pm, boarded the flight for Sydney on-time at 11.15pm and we took off on-time at 11.50pm.
I watched a movie then slept 10hrs all the way to Auckland. The trip to Sydney was very smooth and I was elated to embrace my parents and brother at the airport, 18 weeks after I had left them there. 

Sydney seemed like just another country to visit but it is so clean and tidy!!! The more I travel, the more I am convinced that Australia is the best country to live in, in the world!

The rest of this post summarises the "best" and "worse" of my grand adventure including a summary of the names of all places visited and a breakdown of distances travelled.

The pictures in this post are the "best of the best" of all other posts and the final nominations for the grand prize of "Best Signature Shot". 

The winner will be selected by a vote of attendees at the premier screening of the film "Ai Caramba 2011" at the White House in Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia, approximately 4-8 weeks from the date of this post. The winner will be sent a bottle of Moet & Chandon Champagne!

For those of you who cannot make it to Bondi Beach or do not live in Sydney, there will be a special post containing a u-tube link to the film. 

The special post will also contain instructions on how you can download the film to your PC and/or iPhone to watch over-and-over again without re-downloading.

Suffice to say, this grand adventure has been life-changing and Antarctica and South America are the most geographically extreme, untouched places I have ever seen. 

The other attraction of these continents is the rich, varying and interesting people and cultures that you can experience up-close and personal since, overall, tourism is still developing and is nowhere near saturated or overrun.

My one word to describe the positive of South America would be "Superlatives" because it's geography is so extreme it lays claim to 14 of the world's biggest titles (refer below). 

My one word to describe the negative of South America would be "Unfinished" since so many buildings stand incomplete, consistently, in all countries due to lack of funds and taxes on completions.

I recommend Antarctica and South America whole-heartedly!!!

I hope you have enjoyed the blog and the film promises to take the experience even further!

For those of you who wish to travel there, I have additional softcopy details that I can send you such as itineraries, costings etc. Just create a comment against this post with your email address and I would be happy to send this info to you.


As I sign-off from this trip, I have visited 6 of 7 continents (Africa is the last to go), run in all 6 continents, visited 54 of 195 countries in the world and run in 48 of these. I have now visited every continent except Africa (I do not count one day in Tangers, Morocco) - this will be my next big adventure in 4 or 5 years.

What a planet!

Travel-well and travel-safely.

This is John "Attenboroughopoulos" Golfin, aka Johnny Cloudrunner, signing-off, Houston!!!


Best Accommodation: Hosteria Lupama, El Calafate, Argentina.

Worst Accommodation: Refugio Paine Grande Camping Facilities, Torres Del Paine, Chile. (Worst Hostel was Hostal Los Andes in Alota, Bolivia)


Best Meal: New Year's Eve traditional Brazilian Feast, Rio Mutum Ecolodge, Pantanal, Brazil. (Honourary mention: Home cooked whole salmon with vegies, Ancud Hostal, Chile - 12AUD per person).

Worst Meal: Refugio Paine Grande Camping, Torres Del Paine, Chile.


Best Experience (Highlight): Completing my 30min jog of the Antarctic continent at Neko Bay.

Worst Experience (Lowlight): Baggage not arriving in Buenos Aires on my way to Ushuaia (for Antarctica).


Best City/Town: Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Honourary mention: Copacabana, Bolivia and Paraty, Brazil).
Worst City/Town: Cuiaba, Brazil.

Best Region/Park/Site: Siloli Desert, Bolivia (Honourary mention: Machu Picchu, Peru and Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia)

Worst Region/Park/Site: Balesteros Islands, Peru.

Best Country: Argentina.

Worst Country: Paraguay.

Most Expensive Country: Brazil (overall, still cheaper than Oz).
Cheapest Country: Bolivia.

Best People: Bolivians.
Worst People: Gringos in my photos!


Best Airport: Santiago, Chile.
Worst Airport: Caracas, Venezuela.

Safest Place: Easter Island, Chile.
Riskiest Place: Caracas, Venezuela.

Best Airline: Santa Barbara Airlines (SBA, Venezuela) from Caracas Venezuela to Quito Equador: contrary to my brother's warnings that they sounded like the most likely airline to force his kids to my inheritance but that was not to be: they gave me 2 meals and 5 glasses of fabulous Spanish Trepanillio on a 2.5hr flight! It put Qantas to shame who count drinks in economy!

Worst Airline: Transmandu (Venezuela) from Canaima to Puerto Ordaz (1hr) who gave: Naaaaa.....thing!!!


Highest Run: 4,090m, Potosi, Bolivia.
Highest Trek: 5,482m, Mount Chacaltaya, Bolivia.

Highest Biking: 4,700m, La Cumbre, Bolivia.
Highest Sleep: 4,278m, Laguna Colorada, Bolivia.

Continents Visited = 2: 1) Antarctica (9days), 2) South America (118days).


Countries Visited = 9: 1) Argentina AR (24days), 2) Chile CH (18days), 3) Brazil BR (16days), 4) Venezuela VZ (4days), 5) Equador EQ (15days), 6) Peru PE (23days), 7) Bolivia BO (12days), 8) Uruguay UR (6days), 9) Paraguay PA (10min).

Cities/Towns Visited = 68: 1) Buenos Aires AR, 2) Ushuaia AR, 3) El Calafate AR, 4) Cuiaba BR, 5) Playa Estondida VZ, 6) Canaima VZ, 7) Caracas Costa Real VZ, 

8) Quito EQ, 9) Baltra EQ, 10) Puerto Ayora EQ, 11) Otavalo EQ, 12) Tena EQ, 13) Banos EQ, 14) Riobamba EQ, 15) Cuenca EQ, 16) Mancora PE, 17) Quanchaco PE, 18) Trujillo PE, 19) Lima PE, 20) Pisco (PE), 21) Palacas (PE), 22) Nazca (PE), 23) Arequipa (PE), 24) Canahaus (PE), 25) Chivay (PE), 26) Maca (PE), 27) Cuzco (PE), 28) Chinchero (PE), 29) Urubamba (PE), 30) Ollantaytambo (PE), 31) Lares (PE), 32) Huacahuasi (PE), 33) Yanahuara (PE), 34) Aguas Calientes, 

35) Puno (PE), 36) Uros Islands (PE), 37) Amantani Island (PE), 38) Taquile Island (PE), 39) Copacabana (BO), 40) La Paz (BO), 41) Sucre (BO), 42) Potosi (BO), 43) Uyuni (BO), 44) Alota (BO), 45) Salta (AR), 46) Cafayate (AR), 47) Mendoza (AR), 48) Maipu (AR), 49) Santiago (CH), 50) Valparaiso (CH), 51) Pucon (CH), 52) Ancud Chiloe (CH), 53) Castro Chiloe (CH), 54) Dalcahue Chiloe (CH), 55) Achao Quinchao (CH), 56) Curaco De Velez Quinchao (CH), 57) Bariloche (AR), 58) Buenos Aires (AR), 59) Colonia Del Sacramento (UR), 60) Montevideo (UR), 61) Salto (UR), 62) Concordia (AR), 63) Foz Do Iguacu (BR), 64) Cuidad De Este (PA), 65) Paraty (BR), 66) Vila Do Abraao, Ilia Grande (BR), 67) Rio De Janeiro (BR), 68) Hanga Roa, Easter Island (CH).


Regions/Parks/Sites Visited = 46: 1) Tierra Del Fuego National Park AR, 2) Martial Glacier AR, 3) Three of the South Shetland Islands UK, 4) Four of the Antarctic Archipaelago Islands AR, 5) Neko Bay Antarctic Peninsula AR, 6) Torres Del Paine National Park (Grey Glacier & 3 Towers) CH, 7) Rio Mutum, Pantanal BR, 8) Angel Falls, Canaima National Park VZ, 9) Six of the Galapagos Islands National Park EQ (Baltra, Santa Cruz, Plazas, Santa Fe, Espanola, Floreana), 
10) Mitel Del Mundo EQ, 11) Rio Napo, Amazon Basin EQ, 12) Ingapinca Inca Ruins EQ, 13) Huaca Del La Luna and Huaca Del Sol PE, 14) Chan Chan PE, 15) Huaca Pucllana Miraflores Lima PE, 16) Ballestas Islands (PE), 17) Nazca Lines (PE), 18) Chauchilla Nazca Burial Grounds (PE), 19) Patapampa Highest Pass, 20) Colca Valley and Condor Cross Colca Canyon (PE), 21) Lares Trek, Abra Aruraycocha Pass, 
22) Machu Picchu including climb of Wayna Picchu, 23) Lake Titicaca (PE) (BO), 24) Chacaltaya Peak Elev 5,482m (BO), 25) Moon Valley (BO), 26) The World's Most Dangerous Road (La Cumbre to Yolosa) (BO), 27) Cretaceous Park, Sucre (BO), 28) Cerra Rico Mines Potosi (BO), 29) Salar De Uyuni, Uyuni Salt Flat (BO), 30) Siloli Desert, 3 rock formations, 4 lakes, geysers and hot spring, 30) Cafayate Wineries (AR), 31) Waipu Wineries (AR), 

32) Casablanca Wineries (CH), 33) Hike to 2,250m up Villarrica Volcano near Pucon (CH), 34) Estancia Panagea, 40km from Tacuarembo (UR), 35) Salto Thermal Springs (UR), 36) Iguacu National Park and Falls (BR), 37) Iguazu National Park and Falls (AR), 38) IIha Comprida, Paraty (BR), 39) Praia Da Conceicao, Paraty (BR), 40) IIha Da Pescaria, Paraty (BR), 41) Praia Da Jurumirim, Paraty (BR), 42) Lopes Mendes, Ilha Grande (BR), 43) Lago Azul, Ilha Grande, 

44) Freguesia De Santana, Ilha Grande (BR), 45) Japariz, Ilha Grande (BR), 46) Parque Nacional De La Isla De Pascua, 12 sites, Easter Island.

Superlatives Visited = 14: 1) Most southern city in the world = Ushuaia (AR), 2) Largest wetlands in the world = Pantanal (BR), 3) Highest waterfall in the world = Angel Falls (VE), 4) Highest lake in the world = Lake Titicaca (PE) (BO), 

5) Highest ski slope in the world = Mount Chacaltaya (BO), 6) Most dangerous road in the world = Chuspiata to Yolosa (BO), 7) Highest city in the world = Potosi (BO), 8) Highest & Largest salt flat/lake in the world = Salar De yuni (BO), 9) Highest geyser basin in the world = Sol De Manana (BO), 10) Widest Boulevard in the world = Avenida 9 De Julio, Buenos Aires (AR), 11) Largest waterfall in the world in terms of number of falls = Iguasu Falls (AR & BR), 12) Biggest actual annual producer of electricity in the world = Itaipu Binacional (BR & PA), 13) Largest Art Deco Statue in the world = Christ The Redeemer, Rio De Janeiro (BR), 14) The most isolated place inhabited by humans in the world = Easter Island (CH).


Airlines/Aircraft Flown: LAN Chile CH (A340-400, A320-200, 767-300ER), GOL BR (737-700/800), Varig VZ (737-800), Aeropostal VZ (DC9-50), Transmandu VZ (BAE Jetstream 32), Independent VZ (Cessna Skymaster), Santa Barbara Airlines SBA VZ (767-300), TAME EQ (A320-200).

Total Flying = 24 flights totalling 71.5 hrs in the air!


Total Sleeps = 126: Hotels = 49 different hotels totalling 112 nights, Overnight Buses = 6 nights, Tents = 4 nights, Overnight Planes = 2 nights, Overnight Trains = 1 night, Hammock = 1 night.

Total Distance Travelled was 80,950km = 59,846km aircraft + 14,994km bus/van/taxi + 4,087km boat + 830km jogging + 702km walking/trekking + 393km train + 80km cycling + 18km swimming. That is: 59,846km air, 16,999km land and 4,105km sea. Total flights within South America was 36,220km. Total travel with Intrepid was 15,839km. It is 48,000km around the Earth's equator!


NEXT BLOG: Special post containing link to film on u-tube due 4-8 weeks from date of this post. Please register as a "Follower" at this blog so you can get an automatic email when I post the u-tube link.

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