Drive to El Chalten


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South America » Argentina » Santa Cruz » El Chaltén
March 1st 2014
Published: March 3rd 2014
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DAY 11 Today was another early (8 am) start for a 200 km drive across the arid pampas to El Chalten as a base for the next 3 days. As we have the minimum 8 travellers we have our own comfortable 12 seat mini van. Between each flying leg we have our own guide but on trekking days we also have an extra local guide skilled in all geological, botany and history aspects which has been fantastic. We will have our current guide (Martina) for 8 days before we fly to Puerto Montt.

El Chalten is a very small town situated at the top end of the Los Glaciares National Park. The town is relatively new and initially setup as a base for monitoring geo/political issues when relations were not so stable with Chile. The town sits on the top end of lake Viedma (another huge glacial fed lake) which drains into the La Leona river which feeds into the even larger Lake Argentino. This lake system feeds into the large and very important Rio (river) Santa Cruz which flows all the way to the east coast. Pre modern transport this was the only mode of access to the whole western region and allowed the large estancias to export their wool to the world.

Now the town is solely geared to service the tourist market for visitors to the upper end of the National Park and more specifically Mount Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre which will be the trekking destinations for the next two days. This afternoon we did a small hike up a hill overlooking the town with spectacular views to the Andes so it's hard to imagine how it can get better in the next 2 days but we have been assured it will.

Tonight we have our first group dinner together but booking not till 8 pm which makes for a late night but this is early by Argentinian standards.

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