Drive from El Calafate to El Chalten

The flight from Buenos Aires to El Calafate took a while. Argentina is a long country – 3694 km – and El Calafate is not even close to the end of the road.

I’d flown here to see the magnificent spires of granite, snow and ice. Specifically Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy which I’d been dreaming about for years! I also thought I may as well see the glacier, Perito Moreno that constantly calves gigantic chunks of ice into Lago Argentino.

The flight and a car rental were some of the only things I had actually pre-booked before the start of my trip. I’d seen footage and photographs of the drive in to the town at the base of the peaks, El Chalten and didn’t want to be trapped behind a nose grease smudged bus window for my first look at these magnificent mountains.  The rental of the oldest and crapiest car in Argentina was extortionate, but I figured the photos would make it vale la pena – worthwhile.

My rental started the following day, so after settling in to my hostel in El Calafate, I booked a bus ticket to Los Glaciares National Park to visit the glacier. The multiple kilometre long wall of ice is best seen with a boat ride, which I did.

I was impressed, which is saying a lot seeing as I had only recently escaped winter in Canada and had seen quite enough ice over the past four months! I shot endless photos, and waited patiently with my camera on record to try and capture a big piece of ice falling in to the water. It did not happen.

That night I shared a dorm room at I Keu Ken hostel with three Germans. One, Philip, was a cheerful chap with a good sense of humour. He was thinking about going to El Chalten, so I offered him a ride the next day, which he immediately accepted.

The exit to El Calafate is littered with hitch hikers heading for El Chalten and it was impossible to drive past the Russian girl on crutches and her boyfriend – who actually looked even more pathetic than she did. They were the first of eight people that were to sit in the back seat of my car over the following three days.

The drive was just as spectacular as I’d hoped, and although the peaks were mainly obscured by clouds, I was not disappointed with my decision to have rented a car.

Accommodation is scare in popular El Chalten, and you pay a premium to stay at sub-par places. We perhaps succeeded in finding the worst! Bad beds secured, Philip and I went for dinner at an Italian restaurant and bumped into a Danish and French girl that he had met a while before.

I was passed like a relay baton from one friend to another, and the next day I said goodbye to Philip and drove the girls from one camping rental place to another so that they could get what they needed for their 3-day hike. I went with La Petite Francesa and The Great Dane up to the campsite below Laguna de Los Tres and helped them pitch their holey rental tent in the rain. We pushed on to try and reach the Laguna, but the mist and slippery path made it pointless. On the plus side I learnt the Spanish word for slippery – resbaladizo – and had my first taste of mate tea, drunk the traditional way, shared, and through a straw.

We said our goodbyes and promised to meet up again. I happily returned to my much improved new hostel for a dry, yet sleepless night.

I was on the trail to Loma del Pliegue Tumbado before five! The stars entertained me, while the moon lit my way. The 24 km hike took me 10 hours – much longer than it should have.  I was stopping a lot to admire the scenery and take photos. When I finally turned to return, I wanted to walk backwards so that I could still admire the monolithic mountains. It’s truly an awe inspiring buena vista!

The next day included hitch hikers, many more photos; champagne priced petrol and a USD$50 overdue charge for returning the car ½ hour late.

Patagonia was an expensive place but it was worth every – not so precious – Argentinian centavo!

Decent in to El Calafate, Patagonia
Decent in to El Calafate, Patagonia
Perito Moreno
Perito Moreno
An Authentic Argentinian
An Authentic Argentinian
More Ice
More Ice
Blue ice
Blue ice
Perito Moreno, the glacier feeding Lago Argentino. I took a boat ride beside the impressive ice cliffs.
Perito Moreno, the glacier feeding Lago Argentino. I took a boat ride beside the impressive ice cliffs.
Hielo azul
Hielo azul
A dead tree with Perito Moreno in the background
A dead tree with Perito Moreno in the background
The metal walkway leading to dramatic views of the Glacier
The metal walkway leading to dramatic views of the Glacier
The vast and impressive Perito Moreno glacier which eventually succumbs to Largo Argentino
The vast and impressive Perito Moreno glacier which eventually succumbs to Largo Argentino
Bees on a thistle.
Bees on a thistle.
Philip the German, pondering the value of a floating fence.
Philip the German, pondering the value of a floating fence.
The floating fences of Patagonia. It’s easier to string them up between banks than follow the contours of the ground. Perhaps not so effective though?
The floating fences of Patagonia. It’s easier to string them up between banks than follow the contours of the ground. Perhaps not so effective though?
Philip breaking the rules
Philip breaking the rules
 The impressive Cerro Fitz Roy partially shrouded in clouds.
The impressive Cerro Fitz Roy partially shrouded in clouds.
At the time, Philip and I did not know that these animals were called Guanacos so he dubbed them Badungos and I’ve been calling them this ever since.
At the time, Philip and I did not know that these animals were called Guanacos so he dubbed them Badungos and I’ve been calling them this ever since.
Cerro Torre and Cerro Fitz Roy are amongst the cluster of mountains on the far right.
Cerro Torre and Cerro Fitz Roy are amongst the cluster of mountains on the far right.
El Chalten, the little town that is the starting point of epic adventures
El Chalten, the little town that is the starting point of epic adventures
The Great Dane and la Petite Francesa
The Great Dane and la Petite Francesa

BVM_8637

The first rays of dawn touch Fitz Roy (Right) and Cerro Torre
The first rays of dawn touch Fitz Roy (Right) and Cerro Torre
Cerro Torre. The highest one.
Cerro Torre. The highest one.
 Remnants of the best beef I’ve ever tasted.

Remnants of the best beef I’ve ever tasted.
A few hikers I passed on my way down.
A few hikers I passed on my way down.
 The harsh landscape below the peaks

The harsh landscape below the peaks
 The harsh landscape below the peaks

The harsh landscape below the peaks
Jumping for Joy
Jumping for Joy
Descent
Descent
The end of the road. The furthest point before catching ferries and walking to Chile
The end of the road. The furthest point before catching ferries and walking to Chile
The timeless beauty of Cerro Fitz Roy
The timeless beauty of Cerro Fitz Roy

 

This entry was posted in Uncategorized

2 thoughts on “Patagonia

  • Tamara 31/12/2016 at 9:47 pm Reply

    I thoroughly enjoyed everything I read on here! I am taking it upon myself to rate your blog a whopping 5 whole stars as I actually laughed out loud countless times at this computer screen (a true rarity for me). I’m sure this is something you have heard before but, your photography work is divine!

    • Blaise 05/02/2017 at 5:36 pm Reply

      I’m glad I made you laugh out loud. Mission accomplished! Thanks for reading my blog Tamara.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *