We are flying to Santiago (the capital of Chile), via Sydney, leaving Melbourne early on Saturday 29 December.
Over the Christmas period, the Copahue volcano in Chile (about half-way down Chile's length) bubbled into life with what was described in the press as an 'awesome ash discharge'! Definitely not so awesome if you are planning to fly in Chile and Argentina.
The ash plume from Copahue has currently subsided from 1 mile high to about 660 feet. This volcano is not the same one that erupted in June 2011, causing disruption of flights across the southern hemisphere, as the ash cloud circled the globe, taking two weeks for its first complete circuit. The previous eruption (of Puyehue-Cordon)emitted one hundred million tons of ash, requiring power equivalent to 70 atomic bombs.
We are obviously hoping that 'our volcano' (as we are now calling Copahue) has a nice long siesta over January. As the winds are predominantly from the west to the east, any further ash clouds or eruptions are likely to have a major impact not only in Chile, but also in Argentina. To date, Lan Chile (on whom we are scheduled to fly south from Santiago to Puerto Montt) on 1 January) is showing all flights operating.
Yesterday we took advantage of the Boxing Day sales and bought cold weather clothing in Kathmandu (for the non-Australian readers, this is a trekking/adventure style shop). We are expecting a wide range of temperatures and climates in our travels. It will probably be under 10 Celsius in southern Patagonia (before the wind chill) and in the high 30s and tropically humid in Rio and Iguassu falls.
So, back to packing. When I next write, it will hopefully be from Santiago.