South Along Ruta 40


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South America » Argentina » Chubut
February 9th 2007
Published: February 22nd 2007EDIT THIS ENTRY

Through the CloudsThrough the CloudsThrough the Clouds

This is Fitz Roy as seen from the Cerro Torre mirador - OK, I was playing with the camera settings.
Southward to Patagonia, that was where I was headed. To Patagonia, the desolate, wind-swept, wide open expanses, the dusty, isolated towns, the endless sky stretching to the horizon in every direction and some of the worlds most dramatic mountain scenery - It is a place I have wanted to explore since I was very young.

My exploration of Patagonia started when I arrived in the lovely town of Bariloche. Bariloche is located on the scenic southern shore of Lago Nahuel Huapi in the heart of Argentina's famous and much visited Lake District. There is a 'ski-town' like feel to the place and a well developed tourist infrastructure, which made the place a pleasant place to relax for a few days. I was one of the foolish people who ignored everyone's warnings regarding showing up without a reservation, but I somehow ended up getting the last room in the hostel that I wanted to stay in - There were several other backpackers that were not so lucky and they wandered helplessly from one 'No Vacancy' sign to the next in a vain attempt to not have to check into an expensive hotel. I was staying in Hostel 1004, spectacularly located in
BarilocheBarilocheBariloche

The view from Hostel 1004 in Bariloche was amazing!
room #1004 on the top floor of one of the tallest buildings in Bariloche. The hostel was by far one of the best ones I have stayed in, with spectacular views of the snow-capped mountains rising to lofty heights above the far shore of the deep blue lake and of the lively town ten stories below.

My main reason for stopping in Bariloche was chocolate - Bariloche is the chocolate capitol of Argentina. My foray into one of the flashiest chocolate shops in town, Mamuschka, was a chocolaty delight. They had every chocolate imaginable, from chocolate teddy bears to life-sized chocolate cell phones, but what amazed me the most was their apparent ability to read minds - When I close my eyes and think of chocolate perfection only one thing comes to mind: extremely dark chocolate with lots of walnuts in it, which is a combination I have never actually found until I walked through their doors. I purchased a supply of chocolate that I hoped would last me for at least two weeks and then I headed out of town - Three days later, my chocolate supply had mysteriously vanished (I couldn't have possibly eaten it all, could
La TrochitaLa TrochitaLa Trochita

The Old Patagonian express resides in Esquel and was my main reason for stopping.
I?), and I longed to be back in Bariloche.

The demise of my chocolate supply occurred in the small town of Esquel. Esquel is a sleepy town nestled in a scenic valley of golden grass, surrounded by sweeping vistas of large mountains and the distant snow capped Andean peaks. Esquel's main claim to fame and my main reason for being there was its position on the southern terminus for La Trochita, a vintage narrow gauge steam train, which sometimes goes by the name of The Old Patagonian Express. La Trochita still makes regular journeys down its ancient steel tracks and is a great way to feel old Patagonia, even if it is a 'just for tourists' operation now. I showed up at the Roca Train Station on my first day in town only to discover that there were no seats available until the following morning. I waited around the station until the train left in a cloud of steam and smoke and then I rushed to the bus station just down the road. At the bus station I discovered that my plan B for the day was also not possible due to an incorrectly read bus schedule. Faced with
Across the Rail BridgeAcross the Rail BridgeAcross the Rail Bridge

On my first day in Esquel I had to invent an outing, so I followed in the footsteps of the guys in Stand By Me, the movie.
a lazy day in town, which I had had more than enough of in Bariloche, I quickly hatched a plan of 'Stand By Me' proportions and I returned to the narrow gauge train tracks and I turned in the direction the train had gone. After about an hour walking along the steel rails, including several rail bridge crossings that proved much less perilous than the one in the movie, I found what I was looking for. I took my seat in a lovely field of grass and wild flowers that was bisected by the tracks. A backdrop of mountains and trees completed the scene and would make an excellent picture once the train rolled back through. All I had to do was sit there and wait for the train to return! I spent the next two hours floating across the Pacific on the Kon Tiki, a book I had found in about twelve pieces in a book exchange in Mendoza and that I had just sewn back together the day before - My first attempt at book binding was a great success! I was taking my turn at the steering oar on the little raft when I heard faint mechanical
In EsquelIn EsquelIn Esquel

This is the field I stopped in for my photo Op with La Trochita - The grass doesn't look that thorny!
clanking and a glance in the direction of the noise revealed a stream of smoke rising above the trees just out of sight - The train had returned! I jumped up amid a sharp pain in my back side and quickly composed the scene and took two pictures before the train had passed - The pain, I discovered later, came from a large quantity of thorny burrs that had conveniently provided me with a cushion as I sat on the ground and now adorned the back of my pants in a spiny blanket (I was pulling those burrs out of some of the most inconceivable places for the next week!)

The following morning at nine o'clock my chance came to ride on La Trochita. After watching the engine go through the long process of shifting cars around and getting on the correct track, I took my seat. With a long blast from the whistle and a lurch we were off. We slowly made our way through the outskirts of town and then we sped up as the guide on our car explained the history of the train. What had taken me about an hour to cover the day before
The Old Patagonian ExpressThe Old Patagonian ExpressThe Old Patagonian Express

Yes, I know that the train is a little blured, but I only got one chance at the picture and it is not that bad!
took La Trochita only minutes and then we were in new territory. We passed through forests for a while and then we emerged into open fields. Later the ground fell away and the tracks continued on a small ledge about mid-way up a steep mountain slope. The train continued on for a while longer, passing through impressive desert-like scenery surrounded by rugged mountains, and then we slowed and came to a stop at Nahuel Pan, the first north-bound stop and the turn-around point for the short journey I was on. We spent nearly an hour exploring the dusty little town where there were a few rustic cabins and a pair of neglected steam engines to see. Those interested also got to climb aboard the main engine and see the inner workings of an operational steam engine - In a brilliant move I nearly sent my lens cap into the stoked fire, but the engineer's quick actions saved the day! The engine turned around via a triangular set of tracks, hooked up to what had acted as the caboose on the journey from Esquel and we were off. Just before we re-boarded the train I discovered that if I relocated to
Look Mom I am an Engineer!Look Mom I am an Engineer!Look Mom I am an Engineer!

These are the old locomotives that we could climb on at our one stop on the rail route.
the snack car caboose I would be able to take pictures from between the cars and, as it turned out, from the very end of the train. There I stood, the cool wind in my face, hanging on to the open rail at the end of the last car of the train, nothing but narrow gauge steel rails and beautiful Patagonian scenery rolling away behind me - What a wonderful way to spend a day!

While I was in Esquel I also payed a visit to Alerces National Park at the base of the Andes. The park was established to protect the last remaining stands of alerces, which are massive trees similar to the sequoias in California. The park is centered on several large glacial lakes and the scenery ranges from green, forested slopes to glaciated peaks. The only option for seeing an alerce in the park is to join the Lacustre Cruise, so that is what I did. My 'safari', as it was called, started with a long ride through the rolling hills and forests that separate Esquel from the Andes. This is the same scenery that drew bandits Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to Argentina and
At Nahuel PanAt Nahuel PanAt Nahuel Pan

Our train in all its glory.
a mysterious life in exile - Their cabin still stands in Cholila, about an hour north-west of Esquel (that was my planned destination on the first day when I had my transportation issues.) We arrived in the national park and pulled up to a waiting boat, we boarded and we headed off into the blue expanses of the large lake. Our journey through the first lake took several hours and all along the way we were graced with steep, forested slopes of green and deep blue water. Occasionally there was a glaciated peak in the distance, but most of the peaks rising above the tree line were brown and craggy. We went around a bend in the lake and proceeded into a narrow, shallow channel with dense forest and mangroves growing right down to the shore. In places the rocky bottom was clearly visible through the clear, turquoise water - Were it not for the extremely cold spray coming off of the bow I would have thought that I was in the Caribbean or the South Pacific! The boat passed under a small suspension bridge and then we came to the end of the lake and a small dock. Next
How to Melt a Lens CapHow to Melt a Lens CapHow to Melt a Lens Cap

During my exploration of the working steam locomotive I tried to stoke the fire with my lens cap, but the engineer saved the day.
came a short walk through rolling fields of golden grain and overgrown fruit orchards. We were told that the lovely scenery we were passing through was once part of a large residence that used to stand above the shore of the lake, which helped explain the forests and fields of eatable flora - It would have been an amazing place to live, though a little remote for me. We came to another dock on another lake and we boarded a massive, overcrowded boat to continue our journey across the park - Apparently the two lakes were once connected by a narrow, but navigable channel, but fluctuating water levels have left nothing but a series of rapids between the two. For the first few minutes of the second boat journey the scenery was similar to that of the previous lake, but after a while a giant glaciated peak loomed overhead in front of the bow. We proceeded to this lovely peak while our guide continued to explain the park's scenery - Sadly, due to a noisy boat and a poor intercom system, her voice sounded identical to that of the adults' voices from the old 'Charlie Brown' cartoons, "Wah,Waah,Wah,Waaah", and I
From the CabooseFrom the CabooseFrom the Caboose

Here I am hanging off of the rear of the train enjoying the wind in my face.
didn't understand a word! We stood still in the water for a while as everyone furiously snapped pictures of the large, icy mass and then we headed across the lake to another dock and the start of the alerce trail.

I was dreading walking through the forest with a stampede of noisy, talking tourists, so I was relieved when we split into two smaller groups. I went with the first group, but I hung back a bit with a few other photographically-minded people, which gave me at least a sense of the solitude that I expect to find when I go to the forest and it was an amazing walk. There were giant trees all over the place, their grotesquely twisting branches blotting out the sky, and the undergrowth between all of the large trees was filled to an impenetrable thickness with a bamboo-like cane. It was nearly an hour into the walk before the guide pointed out the first alerce we had passed along the trail - All of the giant trees we were seeing were not even the big ones! the trail was now running along a forested slope with the glowing turquoise water of the lake
In Alerce National ParkIn Alerce National ParkIn Alerce National Park

The clear glacial water of the lakes in the park made me think that I was in the Caribbean until I felt the cold spray on my face.
just visible below us. We descended a bit to an overlook with stunning views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. The unmistakable roar of rushing water shattered the silence of the forest as we came around another bend. The trail started following a small gorge with a rapidly flowing, white-water torrent at the bottom that ended in a lovely waterfall - It was a delightful portion of the trail and it was completely unexpected. The forest was now filled with alerces and remnants of the logging that almost wiped these trees off of the face of the Earth. El Abuelo, the grandfather, is the largest remaining alerce and is considered to be the second oldest living thing at 2600 years old. El Abuelo somehow survived the loggers' ax, but there are scars at its base that show just how close it came to an untimely end - A tree that began its life at around 600 B.C. almost became a house that would have lasted around 100 years, what a waste that would have been! El Abuelo had a diameter of 2.2 meters (nearly seven feet), but some of the trees that were taken in the logging days were
Into the ForestInto the ForestInto the Forest

Along the El Alerzal trail.
at least twice that size! Our walk through living history had come to an end and we headed back to the boat exhausted. The journey back through the lakes went quickly due to a few very nice conversations I had along the way with some very patient Argentines. Just before we pulled back into the last dock the guide said, "For those of you who were hoping to see a puma, look up there!", and in front of us at the top of a mountain across the lake, bathing in sunlight, was a giant brown cliff shaped just like a crouching puma!

Excluding flying, there are only two ways to travel south through Argentina to its southern masterpieces of Glacier National Park. Most people choose the comfortable buses and good roads along the coast. The more adventurous travelers (and occasionally the poorly informed ones) choose the apparently shorter Ruta 40 right through the heart of inland Patagonia - Naturally, Ruta 40 was the path south that I had chosen! Ruta 40 is known as one of South America's worst roads, not because of perilous, narrow mountain roads and lots of morbid carnage, but because of the vast, desolate expanses
Looking UpLooking UpLooking Up

Along the El Alerzal trail.
that its mostly unpaved surface passes through. Horror stories abound of stranded motorists who have had to wait for days to get help in a place where simply running out of gas can be a major problem. There are only a few companies that even offer passage along Ruta 40 and , therefore, the journey costs a good bit more than the nice buses along the coast - Yes, you pay more to travel on uncomfortable, hot buses along dusty, bumpy roads through desolate, seemingly unchanging scenery, but for those of us who relish the journey as much as the destination it is worth every peso!

From Esquel, the road started out paved and in good condition, which initially sent pangs of anxiety down my spine - Could the road be paved all the way down as the guide book suggests may be the case by 2007? As usually happens, I had nothing to worry about, because the pavement ended with a thud and, with the exception of a few oddly selected stretches of road, the pavement didn't show its face again for the rest of the journey. I know, most of you reading this can't probably comprehend my
The Turquoise LakeThe Turquoise LakeThe Turquoise Lake

Along the El Alerzal trail.
dreading of a comfortable ride along a nicely paved road, but I have spent most of my life reading stories of other peoples' adventures, which mostly occurred in a time and place where the actual journey was the whole story, and I feel that all of the modern comforts that we like to surround ourselves with actually rob us of the actual experience - I like to feel the intense cold of the Antarctic on my face, suffer in the searing heat and oppressive humidity of the jungle and rattle my way along the rough, remote interior roads of the world, feeling the grit from the clouds of dust in my teeth! At times on the first day we could just make out the snowy backbone of the continent to the west, but even the mighty Andes disappeared, leaving the perfect emptiness of endless pampas stretching to the horizon in all directions. We made our first stop of the journey in the small town of Gobernador Costa, which consisted of several buildings nestled between a short section of paved road and and some rocky hills just outside of town. In order to make the meal fit into our short lunch stop, the menu was fixed and consisted of one of the best pieces of pizza I have had in Argentina and some salad and, of course, french fries, the main Argentine vegetable. Our sweltering sauna on wheels made two more stops before we rolled into our home for the evening in Perito Moreno. The first stop was a bathroom break in the dusty little town of Rio Mayo, which had a strong, cool breeze that felt like heaven compared to our personal inferno on the bus. The second stop came at a scenic stretch of nothingness, a place ideal for capturing the perfect picture of endless pampas and of the dusty track that disappeared at the horizon in either direction - The desolation was beautiful! We rolled into Perito Moreno as the sun was setting. There was a spot that we passed in town where the warm light of the setting sun highlighted a field of tall, swaying grass and a few tall, slender, cypress-like trees that perfectly recreated a scene from a Van Gogh painting - I quickly handled my check-in formalities at the hotel and then I ran back to the field with my camera, but I was
Green and BlueGreen and BlueGreen and Blue

Along the El Alerzal trail.
too late and the scene had gone away with the sun!

The following morning started early with a cup of coffee and some cookies and then a few of us from the bus crammed ourselves into a small van and continued down the road, leaving our backpacks in the hotel lobby. We were headed to the Cueva de las Manos, or Cave of the Hands. The cueva, unlike what the name suggests, is located in a giant canyon with only a small cave-like feature associated with it. The site and the surrounding area has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to several superbly preserved 'cave' paintings dating over seven thousand years old. Most of the paintings at Cueva de las Manos are of hands, but there are also hunting scenes and geometric designs and one giant human foot. The site is not an easy place to visit due to its remoteness. It took us about three hours to get there, partially along Ruta 40 and partially on an even worse side road. The drive was amazing though and worth every discomfort associated with being crammed in a small van for hours on a rough road. The
The Whitewater TorrentThe Whitewater TorrentThe Whitewater Torrent

Along the El Alerzal trail.
scenery was more mountainous with several prominent features, including a giant, dark brown mesa standing like a sentinel over a landscape of rolling grassy hills. As great as the landscape was, the highlight of the journey to the cueva was the wildlife. We were continuously passing large groups of llama-like guanacos and ostrich-like ñandus, which are both indigenous species in Patagonia. We also spotted several birds of prey, lots of domesticated sheep, which is one of the most common animals in Patagonia, and I even spotted a Patagonian fox. The site itself was impressive both for the quantity and quality of the art work and for the stunning canyon scenery surrounding it. We slowly walked past all of the paintings open to the public as our guide pointed out the unique features and easily missed details of the multi-colored paintings - It was a surreal feeling seeing hundreds of hands identical to ours that were left on the rock well before most of the famous civilizations of antiquity had even considered building the grand cities that came later. On the way back up to the van after our very informative tour, our guide pulled a hand full of berries off
Nice SceneryNice SceneryNice Scenery

Along the El Alerzal trail.
of a scrubby bush and handed them out to everyone and told us to eat them - They were poisonous... Actually they were sweet, eatable berries called Calafate, which are very common in southern Patagonia and taste great despite the seeds. Our journey through the canyon came to an end just as another large group arrived, so we piled back into the van and headed back down the long, dusty road.

We were reunited with our bus (and our backpacks) in the small town of Bajo Caracoles, which is where we had lunch, and then we continued our journey south, this time in an even older bus and with a lot more people. The journey rambled on in much the same way as the previous day, only the road was much rougher and the settlements much fewer. At one point our bus inexplicably skidded to a stop and one of the drivers jumped off and darted into the pampas where he proceeded into a humorous back and forth scramble that resulted in the capture of a small armadillo. We all piled off of the bus and started taking pictures of the strange animal, but it was clear that the
An Ax and El AbueloAn Ax and El AbueloAn Ax and El Abuelo

Along the El Alerzal trail.
small mammal was utterly terrified so the driver let him go. Instead of running back to the safety of the pampas, the armadillo ran straight under the bus and took refuge under the tires! Several attempts were made to shoe the poor animal out from under the bus, but all they managed to do was increase its terror. I couldn't watch the unintended torture any longer, so I crawled under the bus to get him out myself. The creature was petrified so I reached out to grab him by the shell, but, instead of cooperating, he ran straight for me and took shelter under my belly, which prompted me to jump a bit. My second attempt to capture him succeeded and I quickly took the animal out to the pampas and sent him on his way. Back on the bus, the person sitting next to me summed it up best when he said, "The poor animal is going to need a psychiatrist after that ordeal."

Southward we went through the pampas. At times the road was a good gravel road and at times it was nothing more than a few tire tracks through a field of dirt. Occasionally we
El AbueloEl AbueloEl Abuelo

Along the El Alerzal trail.
would pass a few tortured souls fighting their way south on bicycles - I say tortured souls, but there wasn't a time that I didn't wish I was out there with them, completely free of the restrictions of a schedule. Late afternoon arrived with a change, but it was not one of scenery, it had started raining! The sun shining through the clouds started playing tricks on my eyes - Through the windshield of the bus I could see a deep blue ocean stretching to the horizon and a sandy beach just up ahead of us at the end of the road. I studied the ocean, which my knowledge of geography told me wasn't there, for nearly ten minutes before I asked the person next to me if he saw it as well. The ocean was seen by everyone looking, but the beach never got closer. Eventually the ocean transformed itself into a ridge of low hills bathed in shadow behind a sun-soaked stretch of pampas, the beach, and the illusion was broken - It is easy to see how early explorers who regularly ventured off of the edge of the map could come back with fantastical stories of oceans
On the Dock at the End of the DayOn the Dock at the End of the DayOn the Dock at the End of the Day

Along the El Alerzal trail.
and lakes and islands that end up only existing in their imaginations, that is where legends come from!

The small sandwich I had for lunch had long ago disappeared and my stomach was reeling with the protests of a starving man. The view ahead left me with no hope that my burning hunger would soon be quenched, but, suddenly, a small cluster of white-washed buildings appeared out of nowhere at the base of a grassy hill in a valley that led down to a turquoise lake. I sat on the edge of my seat as the bus approached the small group of buildings and came to a stop. "You have half an hour", we were told as we filed off of the bus, across the rain soaked grass and through the door guarded by an ancient cow skull hanging above it. Inside we were warmly greeted by the entire population of La Siberia, dogs and cats included, as we were drawn towards the table piled high with a large array of prepared goodies. A glutton-fest ensued as the bus load of people devoured everything in sight, it didn't seem to matter that the prices were more on par with
Across the Clear WaterAcross the Clear WaterAcross the Clear Water

Along the El Alerzal trail.
a five-star resort than a dusty Patagonian town - My plate alone included a delicious piece of pizza, two empanadas filled with meat and, later, a piece of apple pie. I was in heaven! After my feast I walked outside into the rain and I took some pictures of La Siberia, my oasis in an otherwise parched land. There was an ancient truck outside that looked to have been abandoned prior to World War II, so the buildings must have been there for a long time!

After our dinner stop the rain picked up and the windows fogged, blotting out the scenery. Later darkness fell across the pampas and the road got rougher. Through the rain-soaked windshield I could see the lights of a large town approaching. Finally, the bus rolled through the flooded, gravel streets of El Chalten and came to a stop at our hostel. A traffic jam at the reception desk left me out in the rain for a little while, but eventually I made it to bed and I drifted off to sleep ending a very long day.

Glacier National Park is the crown jewel of Argentina's wonderful national park system. Located on the
Endless PampasEndless PampasEndless Pampas

Heading South on Ruta 40.
boarder with Chile in the extreme southern portion of Argentina, it is one of the most visited places in South America. The park is quite large and for administrative purposes it has been split up into two distinct parts, the northern sector consisting of the stunning Fitz Roy range and the southern sector containing some of the largest and most active glaciers in the world, outside of Antarctica. El Chalten is the gateway to the Fitz Roy sector and some of the finest trekking and mountain scenery on the planet. I arrived in El Chalten after dark in a rainstorm, so I had no idea what amazing sights awaited me just outside of the hostel. I had an excellent breakfast and then I stepped out into the howling, icy wind to take a look. I was immediately forced back inside for more clothes, but my brief glimpse was one of distant snowy peaks and large rocky hills right in town - El Chalten was a beautiful place! I explored town for a while on that first day and then I headed out towards Cerro Torre late in the evening.

The trail to the Cerro Torre mirador, which was my
DesolationDesolationDesolation

Heading South on Ruta 40.
destination, started right behind my hostel and climbed steeply through grassy slopes and southern beech forests. There was no sign of the jagged peaks that draw climbers from around the world, but the scenery was still stunning. I finally came to the top of a rise to the mirador and for the first time got to see the famous peaks - Fitz Roy was barely visible behind a closer mountain and Cerro Torre was in its usual state, completely shrouded in clouds. I sat at the mirador for nearly two hours before the receding sun ripped the shroud from Cerro Torre and its neighbors, revealing their massive pillars of stone in all of their glory. It was nothing more than a fleeting glimpse, because the clouds quickly returned letting me know that the show was over. I returned back to town just as the last vestiges of light disappeared.

The following day started much like the day before with a great breakfast, but by noon I was on the trail again. My destination was Laguna de los Tres at the base of the Fitz Roy range. The trail started on the outskirts of town and followed a well trodden
Rush HourRush HourRush Hour

Heading South on Ruta 40.
track up through a series of grassy hills and forests to a nice little mirador with sweeping views of the valley that El Chalten is located in. From the mirador the trail skirted a steep slope of grass and wildflowers before it again disappeared into a forest and there it stayed until it emerged into a small clearing and one of the most spectacular views I have ever laid my eyes on, the sheer faces and jagged peaks of Mt Fitz Roy and the Fitz Roy Range. I didn't need a break, but I ended up sitting there for nearly half an hour admiring a view that even the most gifted artists would have a difficult time inventing! I walked down hill through the forest for a little while longer before I emerged into a massive river valley filled with small brushy plants and trees. In the distance there was a giant, deep blue glacier that glowed like a beacon against a brown, stone backdrop - The valley was a lovely place to be! After crossing the river a few times and passing through a large boggy area, I arrived at the difficult part of the walk - A trail
A ÑanduA ÑanduA Ñandu

There were a lot of these guys on the way to the Cueva de las Manos.
I had first spotted from the mirador, which climbs steeply up to the base of Fitz Roy itself. It took me nearly an hour of calf-pumping scrambling to reach the top, but the view was definitely worth it. In front of me was a large turquoise lake with a backdrop of the Fitz Roy peaks directly behind it - It was amazing! I could have sat there all day were it not for the icy wind that incessantly blasted me at my vantage point above the lake and eventually forced me back down the mountain. My walk back to El Chalten was more like a forced march - I was racing an ominous, gray cloud back to town. Normally the imaginary carrot dangling in front of my nose that guides me back to town takes the form of a giant cheese burger, but today it was a towering piece of chocolate cake that I had seen that morning and it prompted a quick hike back - I managed to beat the storm that would flood the town for the entire next day, but the chocolate cake was nowhere to be found and I had to settle for a substitute.
To the Canyon of the Cave of the HandsTo the Canyon of the Cave of the HandsTo the Canyon of the Cave of the Hands

The cave is actually not a cave, but a canyon - There is a small cave-like feature though.

I completed my journey along Ruta 40 with my bus ride to El Calafate, the gateway to the southern sector of the national park. The road was newly paved, but the scenery was great as usual. I spent several days in El Calafate living with the very friendly people at the I KewKen hostel and eating great food - The Patagonian lamb stew from Pura Vida was one of the tastiest meals I have had in a very long time! My trip to the park came on my last day in town and it was a lot of fun. There are few trekking options in the southern part of Glaciers National Park. The main draw is the massive glaciers and the star of the glacial show is the Perito Moreno Glacier. There are walkways that lead up to amazing vantage points over the advancing face and there you can watch the rapid advancement of the lovely blue glacier, including regular calving, and listen to the cannonade of the moving ice. I stood there for nearly two hours with my camera trained on a giant, beautiful serac that I knew was going to fall in. While I waited I got a
A View Across the CanyonA View Across the CanyonA View Across the Canyon

The cave is actually not a cave, but a canyon - There is a small cave-like feature though.
great show of smaller pieces of ice falling in the water with a splash. From time to time there would be a loud bang without any apparent movement, but a few seconds later a giant, dark blue berg would rocket to the surface like a leviathan from the deep. All of my waiting was not in vain! the giant serac I was watching gave a pop and a shutter and then began its spectacular descent into the icy water. The thunderous roar of the falling ice echoed across the land as the massive tidal wave rushed across the lake at an amazing height depositing large chunks of ice on shore well above the water line - Now it is clear why the boats keep such a distance from the face of the glacier!

The spectacular display that Perito Moreno Glacier sent me was a fitting end to my time in Argentina's Patagonia. The following day I said farewell to El Calafate and to Argentina and I set off across the boarder to Chile and the promise of more adventures to come.


Additional photos below
Photos: 49, Displayed: 44


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Lots of HandsLots of Hands
Lots of Hands

At the Cave of the Hands.
More HandsMore Hands
More Hands

At the Cave of the Hands.
You Guessed it, Even More HandsYou Guessed it, Even More Hands
You Guessed it, Even More Hands

At the Cave of the Hands.
A Hunting Scene, Yummy GuanicosA Hunting Scene, Yummy Guanicos
A Hunting Scene, Yummy Guanicos

At the Cave of the Hands.
The Terror Stricken ArmadilloThe Terror Stricken Armadillo
The Terror Stricken Armadillo

This is before I had to rescue him from a life of torment.
My Oasis in a Parched LandMy Oasis in a Parched Land
My Oasis in a Parched Land

This is the food building at La Siberia.
La SiberiaLa Siberia
La Siberia

Looking towards the lake.
In El ChaltenIn El Chalten
In El Chalten

This is my first view of El Chalten.
Waiting for SunsetWaiting for Sunset
Waiting for Sunset

One of the many spectacular views of the mountains while I waited for the shroud to be lifted from Cerro Torre.
Cerro TorreCerro Torre
Cerro Torre

A fleeting Glimpse.
Mt. Fitz RoyMt. Fitz Roy
Mt. Fitz Roy

The view from the mirador.
Through the ForestThrough the Forest
Through the Forest

Along the trail to the base of Fitz Roy.
At Laguna de los TresAt Laguna de los Tres
At Laguna de los Tres

I know, it doesn't look cold, but it is!
A Rainbow Over Glacier MorenoA Rainbow Over Glacier Moreno
A Rainbow Over Glacier Moreno

This was the normal sight at Glacier Perito Moreno.


23rd February 2007

Great Shots!
Love the pics of the Pat Xpress. Actually, I'm into trains and didn't know about this one, Thanx.
24th February 2007

I'm Still Here
Hey Keith, I'm still hanging on, enjoying your adventures each step of the way. k
5th March 2007

You have quite a thing goin on dude! Keep it rollin.
20th April 2007

Thanks for sharing your experience!
Two friends and I drove Ruta 40 about 12 years ago. I would love to do it again!
12th January 2008

Thanks for Sharing Your Adventures
We just drove from Mendoza to Torres Del Paine, mostly along Ruta 40. We loved reading your experiences and thoughts.
29th October 2010
Nice Scenery

Really mind blowing
Truly touch my heart. I comments from green country- my Bangladesh.
9th January 2012
Nice Scenery

Very Nice
This is very nice scenery and I have very charmed to see the same I thanks to who created it as well as who capture it.
21st July 2012

very nice
very nice scenery thanks for sharing
16th October 2013
On the Dock at the End of the Day

nice

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