Day 171: February 2, 2008 Perito Moreno-El Chalten

Trip Start Aug 15, 2007
Trip End Mar 01, 2008

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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Day 171: February 2, 2008 Perito Moreno to El Chalten

I arose around 8:30 and walked down to the YPF station and got some coffee and read the paper. I saw no evidence that last night's festival really happened. If it did, it was a well kept secret. Back at the hotel, the owner told me not to worry about the checkout time. He knew my bus wasn't until 4:00. I wrote in my blog and then noticed that I had never backed up my second memory card so I did that, which took half an hour.

While packing, I discovered that many of the samples were still damp. Since it was a sunny, breezy day, I took them into the garden and laid them out to dry. Naturally, a hundred or so little cylinders wrapped in toilet paper evoked the interest of anyone who walked back there. The owners' son was the first to comment, telling me his mother collected rocks. She then started coming out with her prize pieces, some of which were very nice. The seņor brought a young English couple back to show them a room. After he left, we chatted for about half an hour. I told them how to get to key places, including the restaurant.

They went off to the tourist information office while I picked up the samples. It was almost 2:00, so I went to the Buen Sabor and had a salad and french fries for lunch. The English couple came in when I was about half done. We chatted some more until about 3:00 when I walked back to the hotel. My cabbie from yesterday had given me his card so I called him up. He arrived a few minutes later and soon deposited me on the bus platform. I was surprised at how many other foreigners were on the platform waiting for a bus.

The Taqsa bus arrived a few minutes late and left a few minutes late. No one sat next to me so I could stretch out a little. We headed south on Ruta 40. The first 25 km or so were paved but then it turned to gravel and remained that way until around 3:00 AM. We only made one stop, at a place called Bajo Caracol. I bought a bottle of water there but they didn't have anything except junk food to eat so I decided to fast for the evening.
We traveled under a crystal clear sky that afforded us long views. The landscape was incredibly beautiful and unlike anything I have seen in Argentina before. Unlike the mesetas of eastern Patagonia, which are capped by sandstones, those in western Patagonia all appear to be capped with basaltic lava flows. The flat-lying strata of the plateaus, mesetas, mesas, and buttes are reminiscent of those of the Colorado Plateau and eastern New Mexico. Some stand more than 100 m above their surroundings and have a vertical cliff around the rim. Numerous tuffs are present in the roadcuts and volcaniclastic lake strata crop out in the big valleys.

There were too few clouds in the sky to make an impressive sunset but it seemed to take forever for the sun to go down. By my watch, it set at 10:22. Darkness gradually enveloped us as we continued through the night. Through my window, I could see Orion as I dozed off to sleep around 11:00. I slept soundly until we hit the bump onto the pavement about 100 km from El Chalten. I slept the whole way, awakening when we stopped to let about half of the people off the bus.
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Where I stayed
on the bus

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