El Calafate. A quaint little town. Streets paved with bricks. Log cabin styled restaurants and shops. But to be honest, there is not all that much to do here… In my mind, the only reason El Calafate exists is because of the Perito Moreno glacier which is the main attraction here. I’m currently writing this from El Chalten which is basically the same. What gives El Chalten its fame however is Mt. Fitz Roy. This mention of El Chalten and Mt. Fitz Roy will be the last unfortunately. Only had a day here and spent it trying to find a decent internet connection in order to throw these posts online so can’t really go into much detail. Anyway, on to the Perito Moreno glacier and the boat ride and nature walks which were done by us all.
Perito Moreno Glacier
The highlight of the visit. Our entire group signed up for the full day excursion to the glacier. It started with an 8am pickup from the hostel we were staying in. The bus took us into the national park (which cost 100 Argentinian pesos (ripped off?!?)) and which stopped a few km into the park to give us an opportunity to take a “walk” (more of a hike) along the lake shore which provided good views of the glacier from afar. After the walk, we jumped back on the bus which took us to a port where a relatively large boat sat waiting for us (it could fit about 250 people). It was filled mostly by Chinese tourists all with there cheap cameras snapping away as they do (I am not being racist here, it’s just a fact! :P) but there were two professional photographers on board which offered their services and had a photo printer on board. 30 pesos for a photo though so rather expensive and considering some of my tour mates have cameras even more fancy than theirs, there is no point.
The boat took us up to the glacier (about 200m away) and circled back and forth for a little while while people got there photos taken and enjoyed the view of the glacier. It was quite impressive. Some amazing deep blue veins ran along them. The entire glacier looked very much like a bubblegum meringue :P and I would have liked a taste! We were lucky enough to see a massive chunk of the glacier come crashing down into the lake creating a mini tsunami. As awesome as it was, thankfully it was not longer than an hour as I do tend to get a little seasick :(
After the boat trip, we jumped back on the bus and drove down to the glacier lookout point which had a bunch of walkways or “balconies” as they were called. Some great views of the entire glacier were to be had and since we had 3 hours to spend there watching the glacier, we were witness to many a crack and splash of bits of ice from the glacier body. After that, the bus took us back to the hostel but it was a good day out. I must admit, I had signed up to the trip under false pretenses.. I thought we 2would be able to actually walk on the glacier but that was not the case. The option to do some glacier walking was available here in El Chalten but to be fair, I needed time to catch up on this blog and I didn’t deem the cost of the excursion (500 pesos) worth it. I have walked on glaciers before and I will again in the future so it’s no skin of my nose. Next stop, Bariloche!!
All in all, it was a nice little town. I tried to find a cafe on the morning we left (around 9am) for some coffee and possible an empanada or two but EVERYTHING is closed till at least 10am. Completely different life-style in this part of the world. Reminds me a little of Greece where all shops close between 3pm and 5pm as the same happens here. In South Africa, closing time is 5 or 6pm but here, shops open till about 10pm with cafes (I know I’m supposed to have accents on words such as cafe but I cant figure out how to do them on this netbook and I cant be bothered to be honest :P) going till midnight. Bars and clubs don’t even think about closing till about 7am which is way different to what I’m used to (2am closing times). It’s quite obvious that the South Americans love to party and live life to the fullest. One of the reasons why I will be back! :D