As I left Villarrica, my home for the last three months, I took my final night bus, heading north to a city called Valparaiso. Valparaiso is a famous port city just a couple of hours from Santiago. I arrived early morning and made my way to the hostel where I dropped off my bags before going out to explore the place.
With all the dogs now back down at the house there wasn’t so much for us to do. Konrad and I started to build a new dog kennel, complete with two cube shaped dog houses featuring gently pitched roofs and terraces, a masterpiece! The French did very little and it was no great surprise or disappointment when they weren’t around for too much longer. I wasn’t planning on going into any detail on this but they’ve decided they were mistreated by Konrad and Inge and to a lesser extent me. For that reason I’ll give a little more detail as although this blog is about me and my experiences, Aurora Austral deserve a fair representation and Louis and Elodie have provided and publicised anything but that.
Early on the morning of August 18th Konrad, an Italian family of four and I, along with 22 of our finest Siberian Huskies set off to Argentina where we would team up with Hernan Cipriani, owner of Huskies de los Pehuenes, on our mission to cross from Argentina to Chile and back again. These two companies combined are the only companies who can offer this trip. It was first completed in 2009 where TV channels documented their successful completion as the first people to cross the Andes by dog sled. The number of people who have achieved this is less than 50. If successful, the guests would be the first Italians to complete the crossing and the two girls, aged 13 and 11, would become the youngest people to achieve the feat. More importantly (for me) I would become the first British person to achieve this!
The weather began to take a turn for the worse with warmer temperatures and a lot of rain. A lot of the snow melted and there was only just enough to keep the sledding going. The next guests to arrive were an Austrian couple who originally planned to do the Cruca de los Andes Tour. Being from Austria, German became the spoken language for the best part of two weeks which left me with very little to say.
After a handful of training runs we had our first enquiry for a one day tour. Most of the season was already booked up but the early amount of snow meant we could get started. Two Americans were the first guests of the year and they had a lovely day for it. Konrad, Inge and I took them out and apart from a few runaway sleds when they fell off and let go the tour was perfect.