El Calafete – a rollercosta of emotions

The next stop was back across the border into Argentina to see Glacier Perito Moreno. Our memories of what is truly a spectacular natural wonder of the world will always be overshadowed by the first real down point of the trip; where we both had thoughts of just going home.

Before I go into it, the pics below show this amazing glacier which completely mesmorises you, forcing you to simply stare at it for hours as it creeks; eagerly awaiting a large chunk of ice to break off and plummet into the lake below causing a thundering sound that echoes across the entire width spanning over 5 km. The realisation that this is the reminiscence of the ice age makes the whole experience even more magical.

The one main issue with all of the places we have seen in the south of this beautiful continent is that the governments have cottoned onto the fact that wealthy OAPs will ‘pay up’ to see the many ‘National’ Parks. Particularly in Argentina, where they leave you no other option but to take a tour bus into the parks, which on top of the hefty entry fee makes them an expensive excursion that can at times leave you thinking, was it really worth the money? This is especially true when stuck behind a whole tour group of slow walking, rude grannies that always manage to successfully push you to the side to get the view you have been patiently queueing to see, leaving you constantly questioning how far you can take the firm stance before the stubborn witches actually fall over from pushing into you! Forever labelling you a granny basher 😦

The ever soaring cost of the trip and the obvious misjudgement from our part on how much we were mentally prepared to spend on this adventure does play on the mind and effect some of the decisions you make when planning what to see next. It´s for this very reason that we decided to skip Bariloche and the surrounding Lake District since we had heard that it was effectively the Switzerland of South America.

This particular decision had taken some days to agree on, which would mean that we would take a flight directly to Santiago (missing out a large chunk of both Argentina and Chile) from a larger town we had already passed a couple of days prior enroute to El Calefate.

To cut a long story short, the cheap flight we had passed on due to our indecisiveness was no longer available resulting in us making a decision to make the 2500km journey using a number of different long haul buses taking 4 days and 3 nights at a pretty hefty price passing through the lake district.

Had it not been for a dear ‘traveling friend’ informing us of an altrernative cheap daily flight from a different neighbouring town (that would have got us there in half the time and at half the price) we would have been non the wiser to our huge error.

To make maters worse the first 5 hours of the first leg of the trip was onboard a pretty shabby coach which inaddition to the realisation that his would be home for the next 3 days made it quite a depresing moment. Thankfully we changed onto a superior bus and were fed, helping us to pull ourselves together and actually enjoy the wonderful sunsets across the endless plains of Patagonia (even Puft ended enjoying it!)

After 36 hours watching movie after movie, eating pretty awful food, we were happy to reach Barelocie for a quick overnight stay before taking the first of two buses the following day to get us to Santiago on Wednesday morning at 7am (please bear in mind that we left El Calefte at 4:20 on Saturday!)

Whilst it is very similar to Switzerland it was without question a beautiful part of the word that in hindesight we should have stayed at for a couple of days, particulary since the sun was shining and the hostel (a penthouse of an old 70s highrise) was the most welcoming place we had ever been too with amazing views and a cool bunch of fellow travellers.

Another highlight of the trip was the final crossing back into Chile which took us by the errupting volcano that has been causing havock with the flights due to the ash cloud which has covered everything in the region, killing trees and poluting the lagoons.


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