23 March 2012
Today wasn’t all that exciting. After an early start to fly out of Ushuaia – amazing views over the mountains as we departed, and long stretches of empty land until I arrived in El Calafate. Definitely realised what a big country Argentina is – and why I am glad to be flying for many of my long distances – the bus trips must be epic.
A group airport transfer was easy enough to arrange at the small airport and appeared the only way into town. The landscape was dry – almost like driving into a quarry – lots of dust with glimpses of a river and mountains in the distance.
The mini-bus had to go through a checkpoint and then we were in the city/ town or its outskirts. The first stop was one of the more luxurious hotels on the outside of town – but it was all on a dirt road!
A few minutes later I arrived at my hostel – again, still on a dirt road, and I thought I had made a serious error in my booking as I could still see no sign of a main street. The America del Sur hostel is really nice – they had a problem with their reservations and asked if I wanted to sleep on the floor of the lounge for free (which I declined – after a poor night’s sleep last night with a guy snoring like a freight train and my coughing I wanted a bed). Basic four bed dorm, lovely lounge with views of a lake and friendly staff – you don’t need much more from a hostel.
Anyway, once I had my map in hand – realised that I was only 5 minutes from town so I walked in (and through) for a couple of hours. The main road and surrounding two streets are the only non dirt roads in the town – can only imagine what it is like when it rains.
Nothing too exciting, walked around an interesting garden come museum, a quick lunch (where I though I ordered a warm chicken salad which turned out to be a plate of chicken, cheese and mushrooms – not sure what happened to the salad), and a stop at a bakery for a takeaway empanada and pastry for dinner back at the hostel (which has a lovely view).
I then planned the next 5 days in Patagonia – with a day trip to Chile & Torres del Paine tomorrow, then a few days further north in El Chalten for some hiking before coming back to El Calafate to visit the Perito Moreno Glacier. Looking forward to stretching the legs, getting some mountain air, and practicing landscape photography – as not sure what wildlife there will be.