El Calafate & El Chalten
31.01.2012 - 06.02.2012
View The Americas on Graemeandmel's travel map.
We docked in Ushuaia on time and having survived being seasick on the Drake Passage again. Captain Belugar said how lucky we had been with the weather during our expedition, in a Russian accent. A delivery boy showed up as planned with our final rabies booster vaccination, which the onboard doc administered. Then we said our goodbyes and headed to a cafe to catch up with wifi. Some ship mates met us for lunch before our flight to El Calafate.
We were dropped at the wrong hostel in town, the MarcopoloInn, rather than the MarcopoloSuites, easily done. A short hike across some windy scrubland and we arrived at the right place. They didn't speak much English and we have realised that our Spanish needs to improve a lot. The pousada was on one side of the old town airport runway, a ridiculously wide road with few buildings along side it making it a wind tunnel in a windy town. We had a mooch about the main drag, shared a pizza and got an early night, in a bed that didn't rock with the waves.
We were picked up at 7:15am, once they'd worked out which hostel we were at. .. Went for a boat ride in front of the Perito Moreno glacier wall, then got fitted with crampons and trekked over the ice. We got to look into deep ice crevasses on the massively impressive glacier, see water falls and finished with a glass of Jameson over glacial ice! Nice touch.
Dinner was more fantastic Parrilla shared with a couple of Antarctica expedition ship mates that we arranged to meAt up with.
The following day we got picked up early again and set off to see the second biggest glacier in Patagonia, Upsala, at over 500 square kilometres surface area. We had a boat ride to the icebergs in front of the glacier, which after Antarctica, didn't particularly impress Mel and I! However, we had an awesome lamb lunch at Estancia Cristina and were then shown around a museum about the farm.
Our exhausting itinerary dictated that the following morning we had to heave our backpacks on for a twenty minute hike to the bus station. Cant wait to send some of these cold weather heavy clothes home. The three hour bus journey along the famously beautiful Route 40 was spent asleep. Here we are about to slump to sleep again after completing some paper work, booking Mel a horse riding excursion which she's very excited about and having another lovely dinner. Argentinean Milanaisa, meat or chicken escalope, is a favourite of mine.
On our first full day in El Chalten, the capital of trekking in Argentina, we awoke to rain. We trekked for 2.5hrs in rain, wind and bitter cold up to a view point that we couldn't see anything from. We actually enjoyed it, it was good to walk at a pace that wasn't being dictated by little grannies for a change and to be out achieving something on our own. There wasn't a tour here, just us out in the very wild. We found a campsite and took shelter among the trees to make up our picnic; we'd bought a frenchstick and some jamom y queso, which has become a daily staple. We got back to town just as the sun came out (they say you can experience four seasons in one day here) but the views of the river and surrounding mountains are still stunning from the village. Some coffee and cake felt deserved in the afternoon. The bible recommended a restaurant called El Muno for dinner and we shared the best Parrilla yet.
Mel was due to go horse riding at 9am but when they didn't show up, our landlady kindly called them and found out that it was postponed until 2pm. It was pouring down so we couldn't do much other than make it down a dirt track to a cafe for hot chocolate and jamon u queso sandwiches. Mel was the only person on her horse riding excursion and the rain held off for most of the afternoon. She rode a horse called Capes Grandes and loved galloping in the mountains.
Today is a travel day; up at 6am to get the bus back to Calafate, taxi to the airport and the flight to Buenos Aires is delayed again, grrr. So that was four consecutive Areolineas Argentina flights that were delayed, the least punctual airline in the world? At least they give you an jamom y queso sandwich.