On Monday 31st we left the sunny Puerto Natales and took a bus to El Calafate, Argentina. Another long episode at the border, to stamp and smile :-)…
In El Calafate, we decided that we could go out to celebrate New Year and have a proper dinner. We even thought about trying this sheep on the barbecue… looked really good! Unfortunately, ALL the restaurants / pubs open were only serving the New Year’s menu, with a ridiculous price… so around 23:00, we went back to our hostel and decided to have a pizza or whatever in the bar of the hostel. Unfortunately (again) the kitchen was closing at 23:00! We were just 10 minutes too late… last option: cooking what we had. This meant: NADA! Pasta, cream and tuna! Yea that changed a bit of Christmas (pasta, tuna, tomato sauce). We put everything in a container and went to the hill of the city. On our way we could already hear people shouting and fireworks… ooops, we were a bit late. A few minutes later, we made it to the top of the hill, when the sprinklers to water the lawn turned on… we got pretty wet! But we were not the only ones! That is a bit stupid… (and who need to water a lawn in Patagonia? It is almost raining everyday!) Anyway, we found a dry spot a bit further, set up the blanket, opened the bottle of wine and had dinner with small fireworks around the city.
It wasn’t the BEST New Year celebration, but we made it our way! And we decided to try again the next day for the restaurant… (That was at least, one resolution!)
On Tuesday, the 1st of January 2013, we went to the Perito Moreno Glacier with a bus from the hostel. We made a small detour one the way to see a bit of the wildlife, saw a group of 15 condors, and went walking on the border of the lake to admire the glacier from far.
Afterwards, the bus drove us to the Glacier, and we spent 3 hours walking on board tracks in front of the ice huge wall.
The glacier is 250 km2 and 30 km long. His front is 5km wide, the wall above the water level is in average 50 meters high (and 130 meters hidden under the water). It looks really huge when you are standing in front of it.
The “best” part of the observing of the glacier is the collapsing of ice blocks. The blocks slowly lean away from the glacier an fall in the water. With a lot of noise! The noise comes sometimes 5 seconds later, so you only see the water moving and not the falling. We stayed 3 hours and didn’t get bored of watching, taking pictures and trying to get braking and falling ice in a movie (didn’t really work out…)
And one of the good videos that I found on internet which illustrate the kind of falling ice it could be: (and I have to admit that it is pretty funny to hear French, English and Spanish reactions, it was actually really like that… except that German is missing)
And we went back to the town, got our backpacks from the hostel and went camping. It was nice to sleep in a proper bed but it is more expensive! So we set up the tent again and looked for a restaurant with this entire sheep on the barbecue (cordero patagónico = Patagonian lamb), and found a table for later.
The restaurant was a really good one, la tablita http://www.la-tablita.com.ar/ we were happy with this lamb and grilled vegetables, and wine of course! That was our holiday meal 🙂
We went to bed, so full!
In the morning on Wednesday, we went shopping to prepare a short trip to El Chaltén with a bit of trekking. Usual food bought (pasta, rice, tuna…), we took a bus in the afternoon and arrived to El Chaltén, which is a small village without cellular reception. From the village, there is a view on the top of the Fitz Roy. All the valley and the surroundings look really nice. The only thing is the wind. A very very strong wing from west is blowing in the valley all the time. When I asked the guy at the camping if it was normal this wind, he said “haha yea, but usually it is worse!!” oops… anyway we set up the tent and decided what to do the 2 next days, knowing that we have the bus to get back on Friday evening.
We also had a barbecue with chorizos, for once the chorizos looked nice because we cooked them in an official barbecue place with a grid and they were not damage from the wooden stick!
So on Thursday, we went to the laguna Torre, at the base of the Cerro Torre. Really nice walk, showing the mount Fitz Roy most of the time, The cerro Torre was in the clouds, but when we got there after 3 hours walking it got better and better! The lake was beautiful, the mountains around as well, there was the end of the glacier the other side of the lake, there were icebergs in the middle of the lake, and blocks of transparent ice floating and on the side of the water to play with!
We had our lunch, took a lot of pictures and had a nap (hiding from the wind behind a rock, in the sun). 2 hours later we started our way down.
As Alex was almost dying because he was sick (yep, Alex had a cold (yea, a runny nose (at least 4 times a day he had to blow his nose(but let’s not forget, he is a boy, and when a boy is “sick”, he thinks he is dying)))) I think that is enough brackets… So, as Alex was sick and not in a mood to walk and really appreciate the hikes, we decided to keep the tent in the camping in the village and to do 2 days hike with small backpacks.
So after a resting night for both of us (it is exhausting to be in a good mood for 2), we left on Friday around 8am to go to the laguna de los tres, at the base of the Mount Fitz Roy. It was a longer and harder walk, but I really wanted to do it.
The Fitz Roy was a bit cloudy, but same as the day before, it got better later.
The hike was nice and not too hard for the first 3 hours, the weather was nice for hiking, Alex didn’t complain too much (at least less than the day before), it was fine! And we had nice views all along.
The last hour was really steep, it was exhausting. But again, and impressive beautifully amazing view. The rocks, the lake, the ice, the valley behind… we had lunch, Alex had a nap while I tried to make panoramic pictures with his camera, not always working the right way…
One hour and a half later, we started going down it went find even if there were a lot of people going up… We stopped on the side of the laguna Capri, nice view, and went down to the camping. Proud of Alex, who, even “sick”, made it 😉
We packed our stuff, the tent, and went to a café/restaurant to get food and internet before getting in the bus to El Calafate.
We arrived around 10pm to El Calafate, looked for a cheap hostel but it was full, so we went to the camping again.
And on Saturday morning we left early to get in the bus to Puerto Natales, with another boring and slow border crossing/ stamping/ papers filling/ smiling/ waiting/ food checking…
About stamps, by the way, my passport looks like a mess now… in 2,5 weeks, we got 8 stamps for crossing the borders… and a bunch of useless papers… (because when we get them they said it is really important and we can’t get out of the country anymore if we lose it, but when we don’t have them they just stamp the passport and they don’t even ask this paper… :-/ I still didn’t understand how it is supposed to work, even after in total here something like 17 border crossings…
And we got back to Punta Arenas on Sunday with another bus and to Santiago on Sunday night…
That was Patagonia, it was great even if a little bit cold for summer! But now it is really too warm in Santiago… and welcome back with a lot of city noises all the time, the alarms of the cars that I didn’t miss at all!!!