One big glacier & more stunning views....22-26 Nov

Trip Start Sep 09, 2010
Trip End May 28, 2011

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Where I stayed
El Calafate and El Chalten

Flag of Argentina  , Santa Cruz,
Friday, December 24, 2010

Tuesday & Wednesday 23rd / 24th November

Got up early around 7am, had breakfast and then headed to the bus terminal for our journey to El Calafate and 28 hours of bus heaven or hell???? We travel a small part of the famous Ruta 40 – part of which is practically a one lane dirt track. We stopped off enroute at Commodore Riverado, thought it was the West Coast as we'd travelled from Chile, but it was in fact the East Coast and the Atlantic. We got talking to a Swiss guy called Daniel, he spoke German, so Katharina and him got chatting.

I had booked us into the Los Manos hostal, Daniel joined us. We are in a 4-bed dorm with another couple. I have to admit if I was with my partner I would absolutely hate to have to share a dorm. Anyway although the hostal is a bit of a walk from the bus station the rooms are ok, and it has a nice bathroom and a lovely hot shower hat which is very important after these long bus rides.  Headed into town and for dinner paid. 60 peso for a pizza and two small beers – that’s over 15 and the internet is 20 pesos about 5 for an hour. So you can instantly see the difference in the cost of living in Argentina compared toeru and Bolivia it would cost us 50p. We also bumped in Yannick, we were only speaking about him literally 2 seconds before seeing him a supermarket. He said he’d be at the glacier tomorrow and doing boat trip at midday, we said we’d try and get on the same trip.

Thursday 25th November

We get up early to get the bus to the Glacier which has been organised by the hostal for us. Not a good start though as Katharina and I get told by the miserable old lady who makes the breakfast, if that's what you call some bread and making your own coffee, that we shouldn't come to Argentina if we can't speak English....well you can imagine that didn't go down well. Katharina and I have found whilst travelling together, that in Argentina in particularly the women are not very friendly to us, and in general of all the countries I have visited the people are much most hospitible than here.

I can’t believe we are just a month away from Christmas, where has this year gone, it seems to go by faster each year...I am excited about spending it in Egypt, somewhere sunny and hot for the first time. We get an early bus to the famous glacier of Puerto Moreno at the Parques Nacional los glaciers.  We are there by around 10am, it is chilly I am glad I bought my Peruvian hat, gloves and scarf. They sun looks like it is trying to break through the cloud though. All I can say is wow, stunning, break-taking. I am very impressed and this rates up there with Machu Picchu. This is unlike anything I have seen before. I visited the Fox Glacier in New Zealand, but that doesn’t compare. I believe this is one of the biggest glaciers in the world, or the deepest. Unlike Fox you can’t walk up to the glacier you can only get close to it by boat. You can climb it but that was something like 500 pesos over 100...and having done it in NZ, no desire to do it again. Instead we spend around 2 hours walking along a well constructed wooden pathway overlooking the glacier. I take dozens of pictures from all angles to try and capture the glacier in all its glory, but I think this is one of those places that is actually difficult to capture the immenseness of on camera, but I try. It is pretty incredible just being here and taking it all in, the size, the blueness of the ice, and the sound of ice breaking awayfrom the glacier into the lakebelow takes your breath away.

We bump into Yannick and join him on the boat ride which takes an hour and takes us up close and personal within touching distance of the glacier and icebergs, I imagine this comes pretty close to what you can expect from Antarctica. The sun was now out which only helps to take more impressive pictures of the magnificent scenery. We then head back to El Calafate at 5pm, it has been a long day but well worth the 175 peso for the bus and entrance fee. So much better value in all aspect than the tour we did at Bariloche, 10 out of 10 to Puerto Moreno, one of my top 5 highlights of South America, maybe even Top 2..

Friday 26th November

Today we spend the day at El Chalten, a 3 hour bus ride from El Calafate. Daniel comes with us, but he is going to spend a couple of days here trekking so we say our goodbyes.  Again we are lucky with the we arrive so does the sun and blue sky. This is another 'wow factor’ place. Picture postcard El Chalten. This place is popular with trekkers, maybe doing 2 or 3 days around the lakes. But Katharina and I are not trekkers, so choose one the shortest of the walks, which still took a couple of hours. We went up to Los Condors and Los Aguiles, and so glad we did, although I have to say I really struggle climbing up hills. Katharina zooms up ahead of me, but I take it slowly and soak up the atmposphere.  Again we had fantastic views of the mountains in particular Mount Fitzroy – magical – Lord of the Rings type many pictures can one take of a mountain range...127 to be exact.  And here we do actually see condors up close...much better than at the Colca Canyon in Peru. Wonderful and well worth the 6 hours we spent on the bus to get there and back!
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