And now for something completely different

Trip Start Feb 15, 2011
Trip End Apr 19, 2011

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Where I stayed
hotel glaciares de patagonia

Flag of Argentina  , Patagonia,
Tuesday, March 8, 2011

On Tuesday we left the heat and mayhem of Buenos Aires and took a 3 hour flight to Southern Argentina.

Patagonian steppe landscape lunar, barren, roads like looping ribbons weaving across miles of nothing.  From the air there are few signs of habitation outside the big towns and the distances are immense.  We are going to do the return trip by bus so this should be interesting.  First part of our trip that we have done by ourselves and we seem to have been cast into the wilderness!  Where's an Intrepid  tour guide when you need one (Come back Gigi, all is forgiven).

Fastest time through an airport ever!!   In 40 metres (and less than 10 mins) we passed passport control, collected our bags, chatted to the shuttle bus and taxi transfer desks and were on our way to the Hotel Glaciares de Patagonia.  Another 10 minutes and we reached the town,  down the old airport runway, up the hill and landed at a little chalet overlooking Lake Argentina (the largest Lake in Argentina by a mile or 60).

Probably the most helpful hotel owner ever.  No sooner than we were through the door of the Hotel Galaciares de Patagonia than we were being taken through a list of available excursions and before we went to dinner we had our stay mapped out and ready to go!  Feel a posting on Trip Advisor coming on.

After several weeks of heat and calm weather this place is a bit of a meteorological surprise with a mixture of sun, strong winds, rain, snow and good old English damp – and we’ve only been here three days!  Yesterday winter turned up with snow on the hills around the town and cold southerly winds. Temperatures range from quite warm to freezing across the day so our thermals are coming in use.  Geoff has suddenly woken up after three weeks of torpor and seems to be enjoying the return to more normal (for him) temperatures.

The town is quite wild west in parts with dirt roads and tin-roofed buildings but on the main street it’s all grockle shops, outdoor shops, excursion companies and restaurants.  Now why is that not a surprise.   Centre piece on  the main street is a massive casino but the town itself looks towards Lake Argentino which is where it makes its money from the thousands of tourists who come here to see the glaciers.  But it sort of all works and the food is good if a tad expensive.  Argentine parrillas – BBQ restaurants - are the best places to eat especially if you like big, fat , juicy steaks.  We are developing a taste for them…  Argentine people also very pleasant and keen to communicate with a couple of Brits with poor Spanish although Sue can now reserve a table fluently.

We came here to see glaciers and glaciers is what we have seen.  They are amazing sights towering 60 to 70 metres above the lake surface and apparently reaching 160m below the surface of the lake bed.  Yesterday we visited the Perito Moreno glacier which is our favourite.  While you stand watching it, huge shards of ice fall from the face and crash into the silky blue lake of glacier milk below.  Some are as large as small office blocks.  The noise is amazing.  You can see the glacier stretching back up the mountain behind.  I think it is about 7km long.  All the glaciers run from a massive bowl of snow and ice high up in the Andes on the Argentine- Chile border where it snows up to 10 hours a day 360 days a year .  It’s only about 2000m above sea level but it looks like the top of the world.

Today we took a boat trip (Todos Glaciers), quite expensive but quite spectacular.  We  visited the Upsala Glacier which is the biggest one in Argentina.  It’s difficult to get near because of the massive icebergs floating across its face but they are a sight to see on their own. Loads of pics of course – here is a just a selection.  We sailed 160km in all and saw 3 glaciers, lots of mountains, got wet, cold but had a great day.  And at the end there was a vivid pink flamingo sifting the lake reeds all alone.

Travelling North tomorrow so Sue rubbing her hands in glee.  Overnight bus to Puerto Madryn to see the birdies!  But before we do that just a short walk.  Geoff planned it - a gentle couple of hills up hill, down dale and around a little lake. Inevitably it went wrong!  The track around the lake disappeared under water but as we were short of time we had to go forward.  Sue's smart waterproof shoes showed their achilles heel when submerged in 6inches of water - the water gets in the top!  Geoff sensibly waded in bare feet.  Sue now travelling in chilly patagonia in flip flops.  But it was a very nice walk with loads of hawks and eagles and even a few flamingoes in the distance.
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