Day 11 - Back to El Calafate & Perito Moreno Glacier

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South America » Argentina » Santa Cruz » El Calafate
October 15th 2018
Published: October 16th 2018
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Woke up at 5:15am, had breakfast and packed our bags and walked the 15 minutes to the bus station and got there at 6:30am. This gave me an hour to hike to the Mirador Los Condors for a view of El Chalten with the mountains behind. However, it didn’t look promising as the clouds hadn’t cleared and there was light rain, so pur first bit of bad luck concerning the weather. I still did the hike anyway and didn’t quite make it to the top as I was worried I wouldn’t make the bus in time and the weather hadn’t cleared so it wasn’t worthwhile. Oh well, you can’t win them all and at least we did sight Mt Fitzroy in silhouette last night.

Our bus back to El Calafate stopped at the same rest stop and we got there around 11am as scheduled. We decided to buy bus tickets for the Perito Moreno Glacier and this meant we would leave again at 1pm and return from the glacier at 6:30pm. We had a bit of time to kill so had lunch at a café across the road from the station and the time went quickly. There wasn’t much point in going back hotel and then having to return again. We were able to leave our bags at the ticket office and off we went on the bus. The trip took about and hour and half to the rangers office of the glacier and it took quite a while as the ranger came on board and collected entrance fees from everyone. We didn’t have enough cash because of the ATM limitations but were able to buy by card in the office.

It took another 50 minutes after that before we got to the start of the boardwalks, after stopping again for a few minutes to drop off some people on a tour. It was not 3:30 which meant we had 3 hours to walk around. The glacier was pretty amazing and was even better than the huge Hubbard Glacier we saw in Alaska. This was because of the way it is presented . You can get very close to the glacier and you hear loud calving sounds regularly. We actually managed to see a small part calve off and Daisy just happened to be videoing it when it happened. Sometimes the sound was quite thunderous.

There were three main walks with three degrees of difficulty but because it was all metal boardwalks and steps, it wasn’t like the grading for hiking. We walked around together on the main central part and then walked another more difficult section with Daisy deciding to save her knees and wait for me near the top. I continued downwards a fair way until the boardwalk actually started to go away from the glacier. I think that perhaps this went back to a car park. I walked back up to where Daisy was waiting and we decided to go back early for coffee. However at this stage I was feeling pretty good and there was still an hour left so I decided to do the third harder walk which I thought may go to another side of the glacier we hadn’t seen. Turned out it just went closer to the section we could already see on the left. I figured I’d walk for 20 minutes and then walk back but It even though it said the round trip would take 1 hour 45 mins, I got to a quarter of the way to the third and final lookout and it had only taken me 10 minutes so I decided to do the loop and still got back to the bus with 20 minutes to spare. Daisy was already waiting at the bus because they shut the shop/café at 6pm. This Glacier is a must see if you ever make it down here, we enjoyed it immensely. I know also that the glacier walking would be great as well but we decided not to do it as we had done that activity before in new Zealand and we didn’t feel up to it this time.

The trip home was much quicker and I managed to get some long range photos as we were on the wrong side of the bus coming in. We got back around 8pm. We noticed though that the bus did drop off people in town which would have been easier for us, but we had to collect our bags from the station. However it worked out well as the man in the office said a taxi should cost no more than 150 pesos and we only had 200 pesos cash left. So we got into a taxi, showed him our hotel and asked but the man said it is metered so we thought, even better, no bargaining necessary. But then he put the meter on and it showed 350 as initial fee, quickly going to 500, so we immediately told him to stop as it was too much and we only had 200 pesos. He didn’t speak English but then he showed us 5 pesos and pointed to the meter. So the last 2 digits are just part of a peso. Then as he was driving I wasn’t paying attention when Daisy noticed he was driving too far away from our hotel and he then understood he was going to the wrong hotel so he turned around but stopped the meter which I thought was pretty fair. Then when we finally got home daisy gave him the two 100 notes but he just took 100 and apologized for the mix up. We were impressed with his honesty and hope all Argentine taxi drivers are like him. By the way 100 pesos is $3.85.

After checking in we decided to have dinner at the hotel’s restaurant because it had pretty good reviews and we weren’t disappointed. The mains were only about $10-12 AUS so it does seem that Argentina is considerably cheaper than Chile as someone told us.

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