Lakes, Glaciers and Mountains....Hello Patagonia

Trip Start Apr 12, 2011
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Trip End Apr 01, 2012


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Flag of Argentina  , Patagonia,
Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Staying at I Keu Ken Hostel, which is ten minutes up the hill from the bus station – not really appreciating this with the backpacks on but the views from the hostel make up for it (especially for the sunsets!) Very friendly staff – we gets kisses to welcome us and seems like a good place to relax for a few days, so much so that we end up staying five nights.

After our bus journey we're pretty much only fit to wander round the lake area at the centre of the town, spot some flamingos and get our laundry done. Sad it may sound but getting fresh laundry handed over to us may have been the highlight!

Next day, we take another lazy day with a walk up the road out of town to a viewpoint to see the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. A nice enough walk but we manage to pick up three dogs on the way (in Argentina and Chile even though most the dogs have homes, they are allowed to roam the streets during the day and follow you about just for something to do).  Now we have learnt to cope with dogs following you about town, but dogs following you about the main highway out of town especially when two have collars, and so definitely have homes, and the other one likes to chase the tyres of the cars as the drive past.  After a few stressful hours of trying to ensure our pack of dogs don’t get hit by cars, we get the dogs back into town all in one piece.

The sight to see in El Calafate is the glacier (Perito Moreno) at the foot of the Andes within an ice field in Patagonia (we did actually learn how this is formed – if you want to know you can email us, I can just hear the tapping of fingers on keys now...)

Today is the glacier trip day and Jonny has convinced me it’s vital to do the trip that includes trekking on the glacier, which means more ice trekking.  I’m not so keen after the volcano hike but I am assured it’s just a nice little walk... nothing like our previous trek.

Just to warn you, there are hundreds of photos of this on the flickr site but as the light kept changing, the glacier looked more and more impressive.  But in our defence even the guide was taking photos as a perfect blue sky over these mountains is pretty rare (the guide said maybe ten days a year he would see weather like this).

We arrive for the sunrise (cue photo taking), then get a boat across to the side of the glacier (more photo taking), then after a talk about the glacier we get to trek on the glacier (more photo taking), we are served Famous Grouse whisky with glacier ice (even more photo taking) and then finally, another boat to the balconies which overlook the entire glacier and we watch for the carving of the glacier i.e. bits falling off (finally the end of the photo taking )– but each view has been more and more impressive to understand the scale of this natural phenomenon.

The next day is Sunday and we discover that although supermarkets stay open for Easter despite being quite a religious country, they couldn’t possibly stay open for the May Day holiday and so Sunday turns into a very lazy day.  We don’t even cook for ourselves as the hostel cook a lamb stew for us and I try to break out the Spanish while Jonny finds the English speakers – between us we manage to speak to the whole hostel so we get A+ for being social and get to try magnum bottles of red wine...I think I’ll try avoid wine that comes in that size of a bottle. (We don’t manage to speak to the spanish girl who shares a room with us – she doesn’t seem to like talking or people very much so no great loss).

Our last trip in El Calafate was to El Chalten which is in the north of the Parque Los Glaciares and unfortunately closes down at the end of April so we decide on a day trip rather than go ourselves.  The reason for coming here is the unusual mountain range that overlooks the village and the good day trekking that starts directly from the town.  Again we’ve hit it lucky with the weather – blue skies and we can see for miles once we start our trek. The mountain is called Fitz Roy and is a bit of an unusual rock formation that remains one of the most difficult rock climbing locations in the world. We do the nice walk with views and a lake rather than any of the hard stuff so another fulfilling day of walking in the sun!

Since coming to El Calafate we liked it so much that we have decided that we’re not ready to leave Patagonia and head north with all the sensible people, we are going to try head south to the End of the World also known as the Land of Fire (Tierra Del Fuego). It’s only 18 hours on the bus and we’ve come so far already!
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Comments

Rtdmillar on

Brilliant blog and photos as usual.

dmillar1952
dmillar1952 on

Love the photos

MIKE on

Patagonia !!! I ´stay in the same HOSTEL !!!! PERRFECT AMBIENT !!!

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