Soon the end of the trip in Southern Patagonia, with a stop in El Calafate to visit the incredible Perito Moreno glacier. A place that is so beyond understanding that no photo or video can make you realize how huge it is…
Nice surprise in El Calafate
Sunday 12th January 2018
We left early in the morning with Anne from El Chaltén to El Calafate. The sky was clear and offered us a last view on the Fitz Roy and the Cerro Torre as the bus was leaving. The road was once again amazing and ideal to contemplate. I cannot get rid of these endless steppes!
The sun was still there as we arrived in El Calafate, but with a lot of wind. We thought we would have nothing to do in the afternoon given the short description given by the guide but we were actually nicely surprised. The city is along the Lake Argentino – biggest lake of Argentina – with a superb turquoise-colour and mountains in the background, there are worst environments!
We had a walk in town, took some empanadas to take away and went closer to the lake to enjoy them. We then visited the Laguna Nimez Reserve, a natural reserve where plenty of birds live. All kind of species and most of all, flamingos with a flamboyant pink colour! We didn’t need more to be amazed.
We took our time during this beautiful walk, crossing different environments (small lakes, swamp, fields of daisies, reeds…) slapped by the wind and reaching a beach along the Argentino Lake.
The walk in the reserve is only 3-km long but it is so nice that it kept us busy for a few hours. We were expecting nothing from El Calafate so we were finally delighted. We came back at the end of the day and spent a quiet evening at the hostel. The never-stopping wind had been quite tiring!
Hitchhiking to Perito Moreno Glacier
Monday 13th January 2018
Everything is expensive here, and even more at this time of the year… so to save some money and as our hitchhiking experiences have always been a success so far, we decided to go the glacier hitchhiking instead of taking the bus. We then walked to the end of the city, ready with our small board and full of hope… and it only took us 5 minutes to find a driver!
We had the chance to be driven by Paulo, an Argentinian guy that works as a photographer at the glacier. He was very nice and we spent a pleasant trip with him, talking and sharing some maté (a good exercise for me to serve the maté without spilling it everywhere in the car, but Paulo coudln’t believe that a French girl was preparing the maté! 😉 )
Once we arrived at the glacier, Paulo had to follow a group for which he was the photographer but he offered us to bring us back at the beginning of the afternoon, perfect! We then started discovering this incredible place. 5 km wide, about 70 m high, ice growing (and falling) of 2 m per day… even when you are facing the glacier, you still can’t realize how huge it is. The turquoise blue of the ice, its cracks and impressive ruptures made the scenery incredible.
Like in Iguazu Falls, the hike was entirely on footbridges, which enabled to see the glacier from different viewpoints, more or less high. It is a touristic place but it is wide enough to leave space for everybody and let you fully enjoy the tour. I thought I would suffer more than that from the crows!
Back to the lake
We came back with our great driver, to who we promised we would come to see him in the evening playing in a bar / restaurant (he plays flamenco). The weather was once again great – we were apparently lucky because it’s not often the case in El Calafate! – so we decided to enjoy one last time the view on the Argentino lake with Anne and Gordan, a French guy that we had met at the hostel in El Chaltén.
For a change, it was very windy… but so beautiful! We spent a nice moment on the beach, enjoying this nice light and then had dinner in a parilla overlooking El Calafate, that had some good meat (for Anne and Gordan of course). But their salads and vegetables were fortunately tasty and generous so I was not to complain!
We finished the evening as promised with Anne at la Cantina, where Paulo was playing. We had missed his concert but spent a nice time talking with him and other Argentinians. We could not speak Spanish in El Chaltén as it was very touristic so it felt good to practice again!
Tuesday 14th January 2018
A rainy morning and a day without any other plans than taking the bus at the end of the day to Puerto Natales. These were our last hours together with Anne as we were going to follow different paths now. She would go to Ushuaia while I would head to Chile. These two weeks spent traveling together were a very nice adventure and it felt strange to already get separated!
To be continued…
Tips & practical infos
Bus El Chaltén – El Calafate: $450 – 19,50€ – Less than 2h with beautiful landscapes, several trips per day.
Hostel Nakel Yenu: $400 – 17,30€ per night in a 6-bed dorm with breakfast included. Located a few minutes from the terminal. Very friendly and welcoming staff, a strong wifi and a nice small terrasse. It only lacks plugs in the rooms!
Food & Beverage
Parilla Don Pichon: $150 – 6,50€ the salad (very generous), about $300 – 13€ for a piece of meat. Price not including the service ($40 – 1,70€ per person). Restaurant of good standards, not the style nor the budget of a backpacker. Nice view on El Calafate and a good place to eat meat. Generous portions and very good products.
Laguna Nimez Reserva: $200 – 8,6€ (or $150 – 6,50€ on Sunday) the entrance
Perito Moreno Glacier: $500 -21,60€ the entrance. Add $600 – 26€ for the bus transfer from the El Calafate to the glacier, but hitchhiking is easy at this time of the year.