Published: June 13th 2012June 1st 2012
Our journey back from Ushuaia to El Calafate again started with an early departure time. This one slightly less ugly than the one that brought us here, although not by much. We left at 5am. After grabbing a few hours of precious sleep on this bus, I woke myself up, put on my Ipod and took a look out of the window. After so many bus journeys, you can almost lose the enthusiasm to keep getting on and off buses, however when you have views like the ones out of Ushuaia, you remember why being in a bus for hours on end isn’t all that bad after-all. At times, for as far as the eye can see, your vision is filled with beautiful flat land plains that seem to go on forever, the only distraction being some alpaca’s or Llamas. Considering we had just been to the place that is known to be 'the end of the world', for me, it was looking out of the window on this journey where this term seemed more appropriate. It was one of those moments when it just hits you how amazing this journey had been so far.
Getting closer to El Calafate,
we arrived at the same water crossing we had on the way here, only this time the wind was up and the water looked some-what fierce. We boarded the transport carrier, and as before everyone made a dash to get outside to shake their legs out or have a sneaky cigarette. We were a little shy to do this due to how cold it was, however in the end, we decided to take a peek. No sooner was we out of the bus when a huge wave hit the side of the boat causing a huge amount of water to spray all over the inside of the carrier. We were soaked! We quickly dashed back into the bus where we were immediately followed by the remaining passengers of the bus. Once back on, it was a very long 30 mins with the vehicle carrier bobbing from side to side due to the fierce wind and waves, and it was all we can do to hang onto our previously consumed lunches!
Now safe and sound back in El Calafate, we made our way to our new hostel, America Del Sur and after a beer and some snacks got straight into
bed. The next day was to be Louise’s last here with us in Patagonia and so we didn’t want to waste it just sitting around. We considered two different things to do for the day, one being a horse ride and the other a bike ride round the lake of El Calafate. We opted for bike riding, and so we went down to the local bike shop and rented ourselves three bikes for the afternoon. After looking at the map that the guy in the shop had given us, we decided to do three things. The first was to take a long bike ride around the lake in order to admire the fantastic views towards the mountains, the next was to take in the nature reserve to see if we could spot some of the local wildlife of the area, and finally enter the caves situated a little outside El Calafate to see some old cave art. It looked maybe a little ambitious to do all of these things; however we decided to give it a try anyway.
About ten minutes into the trip, we knew that trying to do everything we had set out to do today would
be all but impossible. The map was a little misleading and what seemed like a leisurly ride around town would actually be more of a full on day of riding. Once we had set off, it didnt take long to reach the cycle path that navigated round the edge of the lake. Once at the lake however, we realised just how windy it was today, and riding into the wind became really tiring. We carried on regardless though, and after getting a fair way round the lake, we stopped to admire the views. By this point, we had picked up a stray Labrador dog who was eager to race us all along the path. Being quite competitive, I decided to rise to this challenge and gave the dog his race. It was pretty even most of the way, however we had to share the victories between us…this was a fast dog!
Coming back on ourselves round the lake, we then headed for the nature reserve that had been recommended to us. Due to the windy weather, it didn’t seem like this was going to be much fun, however after having rented some binoculars and wrapping up warm, we all
really enjoyed our time at the reserve, spotting all kinds of birds, ducks, flamencos and more on our way round.
After having spent an hour and a half or so at the nature reserve, we hopped back on our bikes and having decided that the caves were just a little too far outside of town, we instead took to the streets of El Calafate on our bikes in order to check out the rest of the town that we had yet to see. Whilst on this tour of the town, we managed to acquire two more dogs (the Labrador had since left us in favour of another dog). These dogs were as friendly as the previous one, and again were fans of racing push bikes. Not being able to resist, I then raced our new pooches. Having cycled down a few side streets, we had now entered some kind of dog ghetto, where there were no less than 20 dogs down this one street. As we had our 2 protectors, we were safe, however the barking behind us got out of control, and when turning to look at what was going on, about 10-12 of the street dogs were
now chasing after our protectors. It was a bizarre scene, and when we passed a few people strolling round the streets, we were met with some very strange stares, as if we had initiated this pied piper scenario of dogs on purpose. One dog actually decided to break the mould and rather than chas the pack, just decided to chase Louise’s bike instead…Louise didn’t find this quite as amusing as Donna and I!
We spent the evening reminiscing on the past 2 weeks or so that we had together and the amazing things we had seen. We did this in a nice Parrilla restaurant with steak and a nice bottle of red - coincidentally, how we had started our time together. Donna and I were again sad to see another friendly face from home disappear again, especially as Lou is such a good friend of ours. Had work and life not got in Lou’s way, I’m pretty sure she would have been happy to stay for a while longer too. But, all good things have to come to an end, and so, Thanks Louise for coming to visit us. You’re company over those two weeks was unforgettable, and we
look forward to sharing another bottle of red soon.
For the two of us, we were about to embark on the last of the countries in our Latin America journey. What amazing things would await us in Chile….there was only one way to find out!
There are more photos below