Calafate is on the edge of Patagonia some two and half thousand klms south from Buenos Aires. It is the gateway to the Los Glaciares National Park and the mighty Perito Moreno glacier. Patagonia is wild, and in places barren but always beautiful . Its climate is temperate though while we have been here temperatures have been soaring into the late 20sc and beyond!! The area sits in the shadow of the Chilean Andes which blocks the storms and rain , though strong westerly winds gust across the plains.
The town itself, named after a small berry, is small with just one main street which stretches for a klm or two, and full of well healed and trademarked outdoor wear shops and teeming with restaurants, coffee bars, chocolate shops and inviting jewellery establishments!!!. It grew significantly when the airport , very small, was opened 10 years ago. Our hotel/lodge is perched above the very beautiful Lago Argentina the largest and coldest lake in the country. We ofcourse have only visited a very small part of this vast landscape which used to make its living from agriculture and cattle and sheep farming with huge estancias covering thousands of hectares. While some
of these still exists tourism is the great pull and top up to the local economy
We had one full day of a guided tour in our three day stay, accompanied by 40 other tourists!!!! We were the only Brits and while I had vowed never to go on one of those huge coaches ever again , I have to say all three of us enjoyed the day immensely. We were off to the National Park which thousands of years ago was covered with glaciers which sculptured the landscape. As the glaciers advanced these rivers of ice eroded and shaped the land carving out deep sided valleys. With the closure of the ice age, the glaciers retreated and the valleys filled with water which became vast lakes with a milky turquois colour, absolutely beautiful to see. We were off to see the the fantastic Perito Moreno glacier which is the only one still advancing at 2 ms a day and at sea level !!. It stands above the water 60 m high , is 30 km long and 5km wide. It is truly magnificent and is the counties talking point, they even follow its fortunes on TV! . Periodically
great walls of ice crash into the lake with a huge boom , while we were there smaller pies fell off to the sounds of cannon fire! We took a boat out onto the lake to get up close and personal and later Lucy and I walked the newly erected walk ways for around 3.5 kms to get fantastic views. It was stunning , the colours , pure azure were amazing it is just a pity that pictures do not do it justice. A fantastic day out!
The following day Lou and I walked around the town and then veered off ( having left Al ensconced in a small barette) to explore the Laguna Nimez , a small lagoon off the lago Argentina which is a local reserve harbouring a huge range of birds , other wild life and forna and flora. We did see flamingos though we were too far away to get proper pictures (I think Al is not yet confident to lend me his super zooming camera, as I have left mine in a bus on two occasions this trip already- both times returned – so no third chance for me!!!). We have dined ( and
Our first far off glimpse of the glacia
drunk ) well had a fab mael in the hotel the best lamb I have ever eaten , ate in the town and were wisked off to the local BBQ joint , thought I might loose some weight but doesn’t look like I will get the chance!!! Tomorrow we are off to the infamous tierra del Fuego - land oif fire- and I do suspect we may be wearing a little more clothing!!! We will say a farewell to Al as he takes on the huge adventure of sailing round cape Horn. I have asked him to keep in touch when he can , don’t suppose he will , he will be too busy hanging on for dear life and trying to hear what the captain is saying above the roar of the wind and waves!!!
Do keep warm , Ihear its a tad cool where you are!!!
Anther blog soon
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