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Each journey begins with a single step... Two kiwis escaping from the island to explore strange new worlds and boldly go where thousands have gone before... . .

El Calafate, the Perito Moreno Glacier & El Chalten, Argentina

ARGENTINA | Saturday, 3 October 2009 | Views [4951]

Costs pp: Bus to El Calafate 11,000 Chilean pesos, return bus to the Perito Moreno Glacier combined with a return bus to El Chalten 180 Argentinian pesos. Usually the bus to PM Glacier is 80p and the return bus to El Chalten 130p. Entry to PM Glacier park 60p. Boat trip to glacier face 50p. Hostel Marconi Glacier dorm bed 30p in El Chalten a very nice hostel. No cost for tramping in the park at El Chalten.

The bus trip into Argentina was over full on iced roads and the countryside was beautifully covered in snow, clear skies and a beautiful sunny day.

El Calafate is situated on the shores of Lago Argentino, the area is dry and tends to be windy. We were picked up at the bus station by our wonderful, funny, welcoming 'couch' Analia and her daughter Valentina (9yrs). We had our own room in her second little cottage and in the evening she made us a wonderful meal and we talked on into the night.

We are having a bit of trouble with our bank in that we went to withdraw some funds at an ATM in Bariloche but at the last part of the transaction it told us we would have a huge fee so we cancelled the transaction. Unfortunately all the banks there had the same fee so we had to pay it but withdrew the money at another ATM. On our bank account however both of the transactions showed, aagghhh, we are in the middle of trying to recover the first lot of non-withdrawn withdrawal!

4 Oct 09 - 5th in Oz so it's Corrins birthday today - Happy Birthday, thinking of you! Today we got a bus out to see the Perito Moreno Glacier. It is a magnificently huge glacier which is advancing at an incredible 2 meters per day! It is so white it's blue and is advancing down a valley into a lake, it is 5km wide and averages 74mtrs in height. It regularly flows so far into the lake it blocks the two sides off then on one side the water will build up until it breaks thru again.

Big chunks of ice fall into the lake all the time but we only got to see some small pieces come down. Amazingly they let both of us into the park for free because of Kent's leg, we didn't argue but spent the money saved on a boat trip out to the face of the glacier. In hindsight what Eugenio, our 'couch' in Rada Tilly, had told us was true, the best part was just walking along the walkways in front of the glacier, we could easily have given the boat trip a miss, it wasn't any better. We took heaps of wonderful pics so don't forget to look in the 'Perito Moreno Glacier' gallery.

5 Oct We headed to El Chalten a small village about 3 hours north of Calafate where the top of the Los Glaciares National Park is and more glaciers and torres. We arrived at midday and went for a short walk up to views above the excellent and informative Information Centre. It was a lovely day with a small cold wind. Unlike the people in Torres del Paine here they know exactly what the weather is doing and they told us tomorrow was going to be an even better day so we planned a big hike to see Cerro Fitz Roy 3405mtrs and the Glacier Grande which flows into Lago Torre.

Found a lovely little hostel to stay in and had a 4 bed dorm room to ourselves with an excellent ensuite and wonderful hot water. Headed off at 9am for our big tramp, we should have started earlier! The first part of the trek, up to Poincenot, took over 3 hours. We sat there viewing Fitz Roy as we ate our lunch then headed across towards Lago Torres on a trail that hasn't been used much this year and was under water in parts. That part of the trail took us past a few lakes, some snow and down thru some woods for 2 hours. It was now 3pm the trail back to town was 2 hours and our bus left at 6pm and we had wanted to go and see the Glaciar Grande which was another 2 hours walk. Darn, Carol headed on back toward town, after more than 5 hours walking she was a bit knackered. Kent decided to see how far he could get toward the glacier and headed off at a quick pace. He didn't get all the way and got to see the glacier but not the lake. He made it back to the village at quarter to six just in time for the bus back to El Calafate, where Analia was waiting for us with homemade pizza! How wonderful! A huge hug from us!

The next day was a day off and Kent spent it sorting out Analia's water pump which had an air leak and other assorted problems around the house (he is an amazing problem solver). Carol headed into town and sorted out the details of our flight to our next destination and the getting to the airport etc then hitched back out to the house. Carols backpack has been gradually breaking at the point where the shoulder straps connect to the pack, Kent has had to repair it yet again. Hopefully it will hold for the rest of our journey.

Next stop Perito Moreno, not the glacier but a town 1hr flying time or 20hrs bus trip to the north.


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