Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

December 5, 2010

South America Overview

Filed under: South America — Tags: , , — steve_happ @ 4:20 pm

South America

I flew into Buenos Aries from Sydney after a horrendous 14 hour flight. It took me a few days to readjust my body clock. Meanwhile I was really enjoying going to the Costanera Sur reserve on the shores of the River Plate. It took me a few days to get to Esquel after stopping off at Bahia Blanca and Neuquen.

Grey-necked Wood-rail
Buenos Aries, Costanera Sur, Grey-necked Wood-rail (Aramides cajanea)


Talon skiing at La Hoya

I met up with a few Canadians at La Hoya. That is Talon above. I stayed up the mountain for a couple of weeks and then moved down into Esquel and stayed at a hostel for a couple of months.

La Hoya fly park, Jean

This is Jean, a ski instructor at La Hoya, getting some air in the Fly Park. They had some great jumps set up and everyone was getting into it.

Me Skiing
Me skiing la hoya

I got this photo taken by local photographer. I was skiing at the Sol piste. After leaving Esquel in late September, I had a marathon 48 hour bus ride to Salta in Northern Argentina. Then up to the border with Bolivia at La Quiaca, where I was strucken down with altitude sickness for about 3 days.


Into Bolivia with a train from Villazon to Oruro, bypassing the Uyuni salt flats. After a couple of days at Oruro, I hopped on a bus to Copacabana on the shores of Lake Titicaca.

Puna Teal
Puna Teal (Anas puna)

Copacabana was a really nice place if you avoided the tourist ripoff joints. I did manage to get sucked into a boat ride to the Isla del Sol which was a great disappointment.


I got a bus across the border to Puno, where we changed buses to get to Arequipa. From Arequipa, I hopped on the Lima bus and got off at the Paracas National Park. Paracas was fantastic. I got lots of photos of new birds along the shores, went on a tour into the desert on the edge of the ocean and had my first taste of cerbiche.

Inca Tern
Inca Tern or Zarcillo (Larosterna inca). Islas Ballestas, paracas , peru.

The boat ride to the Islas Ballestas was fantastic. We saw heaps of cormorants, boobies, sea lions and my favourite, the Inca Tern. After that, it was off to Lima where I stayed next to the beach at Barranco. There were lots of Black Vultures circling about the city, which gave an eerie feel to the place. I rented a surfboard up the coast at Huanchaco, then it was off to Chicama.


Chicama is the longest left-hander in the world. It goes for more than a kilometre. You have to jump off the wave down the beach and walk back out. The water is very cold so you have to wear a long john wetsuit and the current is very strong.

Oasis hummingbird
Oasis Hummingbird, Lobitos

Mancora is in the far north of Peru and is very hot. The water here is warm, so you can surf without a wetsuit which is a welcome change. Further south is the break of Lobitos which has some great surf. The locals really charged it and I got some great photos.


From Lobitos, it was down to Lima for a few days, flew to Puno, then back into Bolivia to La Paz, Cochabamba, Villa Tunari, Buena Vista, and the capital Santa Cruz. Back into Argentina to Salta, Rosario, Parana, Gualeguaychu and Buenos Aires, where I caught the plane back home.

November 27, 2010

Entre Rios Birds

Filed under: South America — Tags: , , — steve_happ @ 1:05 pm

Gualeguaychu Birds

Last evening I went for a walk over to the other side of the river at Gualeguaychu in Entre Rios, Argentina. I was not intending to take any photos of birds, but happened to walk past this duck pond where there some birds that came close enough to get a shot on my point and shoot camera.

The Black-necked Swan is closely related to the Black Swan (Cygnus atratus) of Australasia. It is found in southern South America, in Chile and Argentina and is partly migratory with some birds wintering in Paraguay and southern Brazil.

Black-necked Swan
Black- necked Swan (Cygnus melancoryphus)

There were a few of these little ducks swimming around quite close to the shore, so I managed to get off a pretty dirty photo. I had a good look on Arthur Grossets website but I could not identify this one. Do you know what it is¿ I have a feeling that it might be some kind of hybrid/domestic variation.

ID required
Ringed Teal (Callonetta leucophrys)

This tree was on an island in the middle of the pond and it was absolutely full of what looked like egrets and some kind of cormorant. I could not see close enough to tell what they were exactly.

Tree full of Cormorants and Egrets
A tree full of Cormorants and Egrets

Thanks to

November 26, 2010

Parana to Gualeguaychu

Filed under: South America — Tags: — steve_happ @ 1:44 pm

Entre Rios, Argentina

After the river adventures of Rosario I moved further into the Entre Rios region of Argentina. This area is called Mesopotamia because of the similarity to the area between the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers in Irag. I hopped on a bus from Rosario to Gualeguaychu which is close to the Rio Uruguay which is on the other side of the Entre Rios area. The Uruguay River serves as the border with Uruguay. Gualeguaychu is actually on the Rio Gualeguaychu which flows into the Rio Uruguay. The next photo is from a river cruise that I took at Parana. People actually swim in these rivers. They are muddy and dirty.

parana river beach
A Beach on the Parana River

I went for a swim at Gualeguaychu yesterday and was not impressed. The water was filthy. yuk! But it was nice and cool at least. The weather here in Argentina is getting pretty hot, so a cool swim was welcome.

parana river
Parana River Ship

I am hanging out here in the sticks because I do not want to go to Buenos Aires yet. I will probably head there after the weekend for a few days. Less than a week to go on my South American Adventures.

November 20, 2010

Cruising the Rio Parana

Filed under: South America — Tags: — steve_happ @ 9:12 pm

Rosario River Cruise

Today I finally got to go on the river cruise on the Rio Parana at Rosario in Argentina. I had been waiting all week for it because it only operates on weekends and holidays. So today was the big day. I jumped on the 2:30pm cruise. There was another one at 5pm. This photo was taken on the way back down the river. This sailing boat is going against the current and seemed to be making a good rate of knots.

Rio Parana
Sailing on the Rio Parana

It was weird to see hordes of people on a beach on a river, but I suppose when you live inland you take whatever swimming opportunities you can get. Beaches for me are things on the sides of oceans.

Rio Parana
A beach at Rosario

Here is the city skyline of Rosario from the river. It looks all elegant and modern. It is in some ways and not in others.

Rio Parana
Rosario City Skyline from the river

Back in Argentina

Filed under: South America — Tags: — steve_happ @ 12:27 am

From La Paz to Rosario

Well, I am back in Argentina and it has been a long while since I made a post. It is a long story so here it goes. I got on the bus at La Paz and when we stopped for lunch half way to Cochabamba, my bag was missing with my camera and laptop in it. I had it above my seat. Some thief must have got on and lifted it while I was not looking.

I told the cops but there was nothing they could do. They just told me to report it to the tourist police. It is gone, end of story. That is why I haven´t been posting any photos. All I have now is the point and shoot, so it is tourist shots from now on.

Villa Tunari
The River at Villa Tunari, Bolivia

After Cochabamba, I stopped at Villa Tunari for a few days. I went for a walk in the jungle over the other side of the river. It was so frustrating watching black headed kingfishers diving for fish and not being able to take any photos of them. drat.

Jungle Trees
Aerial roots on some jungle trees.

The jungle there reminded me heaps of Australian Rainforests. I was thinking that it may have been some sort of Gondwanaland thing. I have not looked that up yet. After Villa Tunari, I went to Santa Cruz, which is a big hot smoggy city just like all the rest of them. Then a long bus ride to the border of Argentina and down to Salta, Cordoba, and now I am at Rosario. Here is a photo of the river.

Rio Parana
Rio Parana, Rosario

They were catching heaps of catfish from the river and there were heaps of swallows just darting around over head. I could have got some great photos, doh!

September 27, 2010

On the Border

Filed under: South America — Tags: — steve_happ @ 11:14 am

La Quiaca

It has been a while since I wrote my last post. I have been sleeping for about 3 days due to getting Altitude Sickness. I did not realize that La Quiaca is at more than 3000 meters. doh! I should have broken up my journey from Salta to La Quiaca. One day is too quick to go 3000 meters. I could have stopped at Tilcara or any of the places on the way for a night. That would have probably been the thing to do. Now for the symptoms of Altitude Sickness – a raging headache and a stomach ache. It is also incredibly difficult to exert yourself in any way and just walking around is exhausting. It is also harder to breathe because of the thinner air or oxygen content or something like that.

All I have been doing is sleeping and watching TV for about 3 days. That is what you should do, just relax, drink lots of water and not eat too much. I was lucky that the hostel I am staying at, The Hostel Copacabana, has a TV in each room. I got a double room all to myself, all for ten bucks. La Quiaca is on the border with Bolivia. You just walk across this causeway and go through the border into Bolivia. It is windy and dusty here and there is not that much to do. At night, the all-night discos blast out their latino-doof until four in the morning. I am starting to get used to sleeping at night with lots of noise going on.

La Quiaca
The Border town of La Quiaca looking towards Bolivia

Now for my journey from Salta. It seems like so long ago. I started off at the bus terminal in Salta and caught the 10:30am Balut. I headed north through Jujuy which is quite nice and hilly and green. Then the country gets drier and you start seeing cacti and dried-out river beds around Yala. We kept climbing up the mountains through these dusty pueblo-like towns such as Tumbara, Maimara and Tilcara. Tilcara looked like a pretty cool place and I think I might stop here on the way back to Salta in a couple of months. I arrived at La Quiaca about 6pm to complete mayhem and chaos. I walked down the road and booked into the hostel.

Later that night I wandered around town looking for somewhere to eat. I finally found this restaurant and had bife de Chorizo with chips and a salad. It was awesome. I have not eaten much in the last few days but I am finally starting to feel better. Tomorrow I am off to Bolivia, but I am not sure where I am going exactly. It is either to Sucre or Oruro. I thinking of taking the train to Oruro tomorrow. It takes all night and gets into Oruro in the morning.

September 24, 2010

North Argentina Travel Notes

Filed under: South America — Tags: — steve_happ @ 12:56 am

Travels Notes for North Argentina

I am just going to put some notes here for travel tips in Northern Argentina. I will be heading that way in about a month, so I am starting to make some plans and research some options.

La Aurora del Palmar

Get a bus from Colon to drop you at the entrance. Stay at the Refugio de Vida Silvestre La Aurora del Palmar.

Esteros del Ibera

The access point is the town of Colonia Carlos Pellegrini. Don Justino Hostel ( ) or Rancho Inambu ( ), Posada de la Luna. There are no ATM’s in town. Take a boat ride.

Puerto Iguazu

Good acess to Iguazu falls national park. Hostel Stop is at Av. Victoria Aguirre 304. There are regular buses to the park. Get your ticket stamped at the park for half price on the second day. If going by plane, 4 Tourist Travel will drop you off at the door of the hostel for $ 15 ARS.

Parque Nacional Chaco

PN Chaco is 115 km NW of Resistencia and 5 km from Capitan Solari. “The municipalidad (city hall) in Capitán Solari provides information on locals who rent rooms to travelers at a fair price. One such is Señora Nilda Ocampo.” (LP) There is camping at the park.

Parque Nacional Calilegua

Buses go from Jujuy to Libertador General San Martin. The park entrance is at Aguas Negras, 12k north of Libertador, where you can camp. Hotel Los Lapachos in Libertador is at Entre Ríos 400.

La Qiaca

La Quiaca is on the border with Bolivia which is ten blocks from the bus terminal. Villazon is the town on the Bolivian side but there is nothing much there. La Quiaca is 7 hours from Salta and 4 hours from Tilcara. Hotel Frontera is on the corner of Belgrano and Syria. It may be worth a trip to Monumento Natrual Laguna de los Pozuelos which is 11 kilometers from the village of Rinconada. Several buses a day run from Salta terminal. The trip takes about seven hours and cost about eighty pesos. It seems that you cannot buy Bolivianos in Salta. I tried at the money exchange but they would not sell me any. Check for yourself in any case.

Hostel Copacabana is on Pellegrini and about 4 blocks from the bus terminal which is on Belgrano.

September 23, 2010

Finally Get To Salta

Filed under: South America — Tags: , — steve_happ @ 10:36 pm

It’s a long way to Salta

I finally made it to Salta in North-west Argentina. I made a massive misculation on the buses and it was a 2 day bus ride and not one. I should have stopped in Mendoza for a night and broken the journey up into two stages. I misread the times on the schedules and thought I would be there the next morning. The first night I was freaking out because we were in Neuquen and it was like 2 in the morning and I am thinking I am going to miss my 11pm bus from Mendoza. I cannot believe the number of bus terminals I have been to in the past two days. They are just a blur. You even have to pay to go the toilets at the terminals. You give the attendant 50 centavos and they give you this great chunk of toilet paper. In one toilet they put kerosene in the piss troughs. That was a nice smell. Although it is a bit of a toss-up between the smell of stale urine and kerosene.

Salta, North-west Argentina

Ha ha that digression was funny. How very rude! I ended up in Mendoza the next morning and only had a two hour wait in the terminal for the next overnight bus. I spent the time at a cafe using their Wi-Fi and trying to rearrange all my hostel bookings. The country really changed north of Mendoza around near La Rioja. It is very dry and desert-like. It reminds me of the Australian outback, similar to the Wimmera or Mallee country. There are low bushes and very stumpy trees and they stretch for miles and miles. I would hate to get lost in that country. It seems very harsh and unforgiving. We had some rain during the night Catamarca way and today it is overcast and quite muggy.

I got a taxi to the Hostel La Salamanca and it only cost 5 pesos. Its only about three or four blocks from the bus terminal. As soon as I checked in I hit the sack for a snooze. A shower was even better and then I went for a walk to Centro. North-west Argentina is heaps different from Patagonia. I think I am starting to see the real South America. Patagonia and Buenos Aires are so European. Salta Centro is very busy with heaps of shops. I strayed into a market and got accosted by hawkers wanting me to buy some of their stuff. I was not used to that. I must learn how to deal with that sort of thing again.

I was hearing a few birds from my window so I got out the camera and took some photos of some swallows wheeling about over-head. I do not know what sort they are yet. I have to look on the internet to get an identification. They look pretty similar to our Australian swallows, but. Blasted WiFi keeps cutting out on me. Will have to do it later. I finally got some internet connection and it seems to be a Blue-and white Swallow which has a Spanish name of Golondrina Barranquera.

Blue-and-white Swallow
Blue-and-white Swallow (Pygochelidon cyanoleuca)

I went for a walk in the park and saw heaps of sparrows, and then heard a Great Kiskadee and tracked him down. I had been hearing one all the time in my room but I had failed to connect the dots. A Southern Crested Caracara flew past and landed in a tree. I think I had seen him earlier wheeling overhead. There were heaps of raptors on the road on the buses the last hop – mainly Chimangos, Andean Condors and probably American Kestrels. I even saw a caracara by the road.

After a walk around the park, I went for a ride on a gondola up a mountain. I was hoping to see some birds up there, but the bush had been burnt out and was looking really sparse. Anyway, I was too tired to enjoy being a tourist and just went through the motions. There is a photo of the city I took from the gondola up the page somewhere.

Salta bird list

Great Kiskadee
House Sparrow
Southern Crested Caracara
Blue-and-white Swallow
Eared Dove

September 13, 2010

Birding at Arroyo Esquel

Filed under: South America — Tags: , , — steve_happ @ 2:18 am

Arroyo Esquel Birding.

This morning I took off birding instead of skiing. I thought it might have been too icy up the mountain but it turned out all right. But anyway, I had a great day photographing birds and found lots of new ones. As soon as I crossed the street I spotted a Shiny Cowbird up in a tree near a house. I then walked along the train line to the Arroyo Esquel and headed up-stream. There were a couple of Teros at the start and also an Eared Dove having a feed on the grass.

Further up the creek, I spotted some Teros hassling a pair of Brown-hooded Gulls and about 3 Speckled Teals. The Spanish name for the Speckled Teal is Pato Barcino.

Speckled Teal
Speckled Teal (Anas flavirostris)

I went further up the valley and followed some birds up the hill where I spotted a few Long-tailed Meadowlarks. Their Spanish name is Loica Común.

Long-tailed Meadowlark
Long-tailed Meadowlark (Sturnella loyca)

I think this one is a young bird or a female.

Long-tailed Meadowlark
Long-tailed Meadowlark

There was a Grey-hooded Sierra-finch up the hill as well. The Spanish name for them is Comesebo Andino.

Gray-hooded Sierra-Finch
Gray-hooded Sierra-Finch (Phrygilus gayi) .

I think this bird is a House Wren, but I am not really positive about it. The Spanish name is Ratona Común.

House Wren
House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)

Here is a Chilean Flicker and the spanish name is Carpintero Pitio. It is funny how the woodpeckers are called Carpinteros which means carpenter. I guess it makes sense, because they are both working on the wood.

Chilean Flicker
Chilean Flicker (Colaptes pitius)

There were a few Austral Thrush up the hill as well. I came down and followed the creek back to the road and then followed the train line for a while until I spotted an American Kestrel flying past.

American Kestrel
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)

He flew past and settled on the top of a branch. The spanish name for the American Kestrel is Halconcito Colorado.

American Kestrel
Haloncito Colorado

I managed to slowly walk up to him and he did not get spooked at all.

American Kestrel
American Kestrel

And at the end of my walk a flock of about ten Black-chinned Siskin flew out of the bushes next to the train track and settled on a bunch of bushes. The spanish name for them is Cabecitanegra Austral.

Black-chinned Siskin
Black-skinned Siskin(Carduelis barbata)

Arroyo Esquel bird list 12/9/2010

Shiny Cowbird
Eared Dove
Speckled Teal
Southern Lapwing
Brown-hooded Gull
Long-tailed Meadowlark
Gray-hooded Sierra-finch
House Wren
Chilean Flicker
Austral Thrush
American Kestrel
Black-chinned Siskin

September 9, 2010

La Hoya Skiing – Luna and Flypark

Filed under: South America — Tags: , — steve_happ @ 12:16 am

Spring Skiing at La Hoya.

It is not officially spring in Argentina yet, but someone has forgotten to tell the snow about that. The snow has been very wet and sticky this week. The other day it was actually hot with the sun beating down on us. Today was overcast and a bit cooler with not much wind at all. There must have been a bit of a freeze overnight because some of the runs had chunky hard bits on them. I call them ice-blocks, others might call them biscuits or similar.

Rochelle at La Luna
Rochelle snowboarding down the La Luna run

I went up the mountain in the morning with Scott and Rochelle and we did a few runs down the Sol piste before heading over to the La Luna run. I went down first and set up my camera to take a few shots of Scott and Rochelle. After a couple of runs we met up with Bruno and we went for a few runs with him.

bruno at Luna
Bruno on the La Luna run

After lunch, we headed off to the FlyPark, which is the park set up for jumps and rails etc at La Hoya. It was not the best of days for photography or for going off jumps because of the overcast sky and flat light. I took a few shots of Scott jumping over the blue wheel and the rainbow.

bruno at flypark
Bruno at the FlyPark

Bruno went up these boards that were set up. I have no idea what it is called.

Scott at Flypark
Scott jumps over the round blue thingie

After the blue wheel and the rainbow, Scott, Rochelle and Bruno went off a little jump.

Bruno at the Flypark
Bruno grabs a rail going over a jump

The snow is melting fast at La Hoya. I do not know how long I am going to stay here. If the sun melts it is no point hanging around. I am hoping for some more snow. Wishful thinking perhaps, but one must keep a positive attitude.

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