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Published: February 6th 2011
El Calafate, Argentina
I took a short flight, just over an hour, from Ushuaia to El Calafate. Now I am beginning my journey up north through Patagonia and also look forward to slightly cheaper prices after Ushuaia!
It was great returning to the Marcopolo Inn, a hostel I highly recommend, and my expectations were met again with its friendly staff and great rooms with my own ensuite bathroom which I got at a reasonable rate (around 35 GBP per room per night).
I was in El Calafate last year and I saw the Perito Moreno glacier (See Close up to the Glacier!
). I did not feel I need to go again. I was interested in visiting the Upsala glacier but prices were expensive and also the national park entrance fee the tourists have to pay on top was extortionate! The prices were simply not in my budget on this occasion and perhaps another time.
Instead, I did things that were wallet friendly around Calafate. I also enjoyed the cafe culture and also the calafate ice cream (a Patagonian berry which the town is named after), dulce de Calafate alofjares, chocolates and hot chocolate at the Ovejitas Heledaria and experienced Laguna´s Negra dark chocolate too. I
At the Laguna Nimez, El Calafate, Argentina
also would like to share a couple of highlights I experienced whilst I was there: Reserva Natural Laguna Nimez
I spent a couple of hours at this wonderful nature reserve. It cost me 15 ARP (around 2.50 GBP) to walk around the reserve. I saw a variety of birds including the Chilean flamingoes. A perfect place for bird watchers! I also saw wild Patagonian horses and I was so close to them! The pests of the reserves were the dos perros
that 'accompanied' me for most of the trail. They seem to either follow me or go ahead but only to stop for me to catch up! It was pretty disconcerting that both dogs attacked and went for the birds and the horses. I wondered how they got in as dogs are not allowed in the reserve and for obvious reasons! Fortunately, nothing serious happened but still I was a bit scared that they could turn and attack me! There was a mirador where you received great views of Lago Argentina, Argentina´s largest lake, and the Andes. I was so glad I went to the reserve and the real beauty was that I had the reserve almost all
El Calafate, Argentina
to myself. I cannot imagine the same with the glaciers! I only saw four to five visitors during my entire visit. I feel I was supporting responsible tourism, from paying the entrance fee, towards conservation and environment education. So in all it was a worthwhile visit. I do not think many visitors get round to visiting the reserve as they would priortise the glaciers, like I did last year, whilst in Calafate. Cerro Frias
I did a half day excursion to Cerro Frias, not far from the town centre. I did the same excursion last year when I was in Calafate but the differences were that it rained and we had obscured views at the summit and I rode in a 4x4. This time round, we had lovely weather and I decided to trek. Geoff and Gabriella, from the UK, joined me and so did Aturo, our guide, and the estancia´s dog, Yuka. After my experience with my dogs at the nature reserve, the day before, I was not sure about Yuka but he was a friendly dog towards us and he liked chasing the cattle! The trekking was a challenge for me at the beginning because of
the ascent was steep but at least we kept stopping for photos and learnt more about the Patagonian nature and wildlife once we reached wherever before descending. There we had amazing views of Lago Argentino, the Andes including the Fitz Roy Range and, also in the distance, Torres del Paine in Chile. We also saw guancoes in the distance and hares rushing by! The climb was well worth it for the views. Before we made our descent, Yuka was naughty and caught and killed a hare. My fears were reaffirmed again when this happened and what dogs can do when they attack other animals. I felt uneasy at that moment. It is a surprise considering that hares are so fast! After Kira was reprimanded, we made our descent. Not sure what is easier, going uphill or downhill! The trekking took us three hours in total and it was nice to see more of Patagonia this way. When we reached the Estancia, we joined others for an asado and also had Malbec to accompany our meal. After the asado, we were dropped off at our accommodation and I decided to chill for the rest of the day!
On the last
A Patagonian Horse
El Calafate, Argentina
day, I was struck with diarrhoea so I had to take it nice and easy especially for the next day´s long journey to Bariloche via the Ruta 40! Although I did not see the glaciers, I enjoyed my stay in Calafate and was able to chill a bit as well as seeing the local sights. Now I am ready for the rough ride on the Ruta 40! Will touch base again when I am in Bariloche.
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