El Calafate, Parque Nacional Los Glaciers, Ruta 40

May 2, 2008 - El Calafate, Argentina

After torres del paine and puerto natales we headed north to the town el calafate in argentina again it is a small town situated near the Parque nacional Los Glaciers and we booked into a hostel for a few days so we could watch the champs league football and go see the glacier - not mush else to do in that town unless you want to lose a fortune in the casino or spend a fortune on horse riding and ice hiking etc

We hired a car to go to the glacier on the wednesday worked out about the same as the four of us getting the bus plus we'd be able to see it to our own schedule (i.e. be back in time for the liverpool match on tv at 3.45 in the afternoon over here - yes yes i know the pool lost ah well - ah well we have to give the other premier teams a chance in europe every now and again) The Glacier was an amazing site with house sized chunks floating having just fallen off - we seen a few smaller chunks fall off into the lake but gave up waiting for more to drop off after a while - the Glacier itself is 50 - 55 metres tall at the front edge and it stretches back as far as the eye can and curves around the mountains and valleys of the area - altogether there is 13,000 square kilometres of glacier in that national park alone - alot of ice - we where hoping to get a glacier ice cubes in a nice cold drink nearby but the locals are obviously not so enterprising yet (need to send in a few kerry lads - they could teach them a few tricks about getting money out of the tourists)

Other than that El Calafate was pretty much in off season - everything closing down - local pubs having end of season parties - very very quiet in the hostel so we where glad to be leaving when we did to be honest - turns out its tricky to get transportation links out of the place and buses only go on mondays and thursdays - plus the bus to bariloche was just going to be a regular bus no cama or semi camas on that route (and for our longest bus journey of the trip so far) I wanted to stop in chile in a place called futelafu as it is known for having good white water rafting but the transportation links where difficult and i think its out of season and would have brought closer to the town of chaiten in chile which would have been a problem (see below)

We left on a bus that goes up Route 40 (south america's route 66 or so they say mainly because it was the road that che guevara took on part of his travels around south america - but he never went further south than bariloche so its bit of a tourist con me thinks) the journey was due to take 37 hours but ended up taking 48 (a full 2 days on a bus nightmare) we where trapped in a small town on route because of a volcano of all things

i'll ellaborate later have to run get dinner in the hostel they serve it in 10 mins

to be continued......

Ok so the bus from El Calafate takes a route up along a very barren and wind swept route on the eastern side of the andes - alot of vast nothingness with snowcapped jagged peaks in the distance - the land is very arrid most of the way as it is in the raincloud shadow of the andes (i.e. clouds are all rained out on far side of mountain range) Niall wasn't too impressed by this patagonian landscape but i thought it was kinda cool although i wouldn't wanna hang around to long - Needless to say i can see why Patagonia is one of the least densely populated places on earth. The famous road Route 40 itself is just a dirt track really and the bus struggled along at a top speed of 35km/hr fairly slow progress to say the least, we stopped off in a few small towns nothing to exciting to report from these - although was famous for cheerys (called Los Antigous) exciting stuff I know - soon after leaving it around half way through our journey we pulled up in a small town for a unscheduled stop and found out soon that the reason for the stop was that there was a volcano erruption near the town of chaiten in chile which released alot of ash into the air and made visibility poor for driving - so we parked up outside a little pizzeria/pub for the nite (that place had a bit of a wind fall that nite) We got moving the next morning and onto El Bolson and Bariloche - was annoying at the time but was an interesting journey


3 Comments

Megs:
May 5, 2008
to be continued.....

Its just like lost.
Shay:
May 6, 2008
Brian, I have just caught up with your exploits and it seems like you are having a great adventure. Keep up the good work. Your photos are class and I love that I am learning so much from reading your entries..eventhough I have been in Argentina myself just 8 months ago. Great stuff!! Shay
Dad:
May 6, 2008
Brian, your blog is keeping us well informed and is very good. Your pictures are excellent, keep it up. Wish I was young again!!
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