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Published: February 6th 2010
Patagonia Here We Come!
From the plane when we were descending!
I spent almost a week in El Calafate, a tourist town in Southern Patagonia and it is a three hour flight down from Buenos Aires. Calafate is the gateway to the Los Glaciares National Park. I stayed in a wonderful hostel, The Marcopolo Inn
, just outside the town and a 10 minutes walk to the centre. The hostel is probably the best I ever stayed in and I highly recommend it with its friendly staff. The first four nights I stayed was in a dorm, which was nice and I could not ask for nicer dorm mates. I then spent a few days in Chalten and returned to the hostel for two nights and stayed in a private room, which was great! I felt pampered and the room was more like a hotel room with an ensuite bathroom, big double bed and lots of space!!! I even had towels and condiments provided and there was a TV in the room. I thoroughly enjoyed my personal space and privacy during this time and it was appropriate when I had to be alone on receipt of sad news from home.
El Calafate is very touristy and commercialised but I felt it was not too
Love the cloud formations! Patagonia, Argentina
crowded like a lot of these tourist orientated towns. There is not much heart and soul in the town. The town caters primarily for the visitors with the ever ending tour agencies, souvenir shops etc. It is not a cheap place and I paid almost GBP prices for a lot of things even if it is a little cheaper than back home. I do not think it is place where budget travellers spend a very long time because of the high costs! However, the town was convenient to do my errands including organising travel arrangements, visiting the supermarket and banking. I enjoyed visiting Ovejtas
, a Patagonian chocolate/ice cream shop/cafe on a couple of visits to the town for a hot chocolate and Calafate ice cream!
The hostel booked most of my travel arrangements and organised the excursions I did including transfers to Chalten. I did day trips to see Perito Moreno Glacier at the Los Glaciares National Park (See Close up to the Glacier!
) and to Torres del Paine National Park across in Chile. (See A Long Day in the Park!
) I also did an evening excursion to Cerro Frias where we supposed to have got panoramic views of the surrounding mountain range. Unfortunately, it was raining and
Taken around 10.00pm in the evening! Patagonia, Argentina
we had obscured views across and down below. Still it was a lot of fun and we saw a number of animals including guancoes, bulls, cows, foxes, sheep and hares. I met Guillermo, Adriana and Santiago, a nice Argentine family from Buenos Aires, on the excursion and since then I kept bumping in them at Los Glaciares National Park and Guillermo in El Chalten where they visited the Viedma glacier. After the 4x4 ride, we visited an Estancia for a typical Argentine asado which was delicious and accompanied with red wine. It was a pity about the rain but this is a wonder of Patagonia in that you can get four seasons in one day even in peak summer!!! My last night at the hostel, it was snowing!!!
I spent time at the hostel relaxing and chilling out. I indulged in a massage on the first day which was wonderful. I met some great like minded travellers at the hostel over drinks and dinner in the evening and in the dorm including Noelina, Soo Jeong, Tom, Bradley, Kirkland and many others from all the globe! It is so great to be among like minded people and sharing the same
passion. I took dinner at the hostel on most evenings because it was reasonably priced and it is very expensive to eat out in Calafate. This is another "wonder" about Patagonia are the high prices. Anyhow, the meals the hostel served were good and value for money.
I am amazed with the scenery in Patagonia especially the Steppes with the vast open spaces and the cloud formations. The views of Lago Argentino and the surrounding mountains from the hostel were amazing. However, it is so windy here and I could hear it in my sleep.
Now back to very hot and rainy BA for the final leg of my trip....I look forward to returning to Patagonia soon!!!
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