Wednesday, 8 October 2008

El Calafate - El Chalten - 35 hours on bus - Bariloche

We decided to splash out on a flight for half of our journey from Ushuaia to the next destination El Calafate as it cut out a slightly painful 12 hour bus ride through a tiny portion of Chile (meaning lots of borders, searching bags for fruit and meat and a silly amount of passport stamping!). The flight was with a company called LADE who are a state owned Argentinian airline run by the airforce (as most of you know, I´m partial to a bit of aviation love, so if it gets too boring just skip this paragraph). The plane was a tiny propeller plane with broken seats, the take off down the Beagle Channel into a big headwind coming in off the Atlantic was extremely hairy! The plane kept dropping as it was fighting the wind and Jo and I were holding very tightly on to one another (as the seatbelts were pretty useless too). As things settled though we got some amazing views of Tierra Del Fuego, as well as an inflight drink, so it wasn´t all that bad.

After landing in Rio Gallegos and a short bus ride (only 4 hours this time!) we arrived in El Calafate. From here we visited the awesome Perito Moreno glacier, we were both blown away by it. We stood for ages just watching huge chunks of ice splinter off into the lake below, the sound it makes is unbelievable! We also took a boat ride to the north face of the glacier which gave us a good appreciation of the height of the face (about 55-60m above the level of the lake).

From our cool hostel in Calafate we arranged a 2 day transfer El Chalten for 2 nights to visit the national park where we walked to the base of Mount Fitz Roy. It was a great walk, but unfortunately quite a cloudy and snowy day so we couldn´t see the mountain too clearly. We did see woodpeckers and condors swooping below us though.

Next stop was Bariloche in the Argentinian lake district. Annoyingly Ruta 40 (made famous by Che Guevara) that connects El Calafate to Bariloche is still closed due to snow, so it was back down to Rio Gallegos, then back up the east coast and cut across to Bariloche - a record 35 hour bus ride for us! As mentioned before though the buses in Argentina are first class however this was maybe a tad on the long side and the stale ham and cheese sandwiches didn´t really make up for it. Bariloche was beautiful though and on the first day there we hiked to the top of Cerro Otto (big mountain behind the town) which gave us great views of the town and the Nahuel Huapi lake that it sits on. The following day we took a bus out to one end of the lake to do part of the Circo Chiquito cycling circuit around the lake. Somewhat naively we thought that a ride around a lake would be fairly flat and given that it was only 25km we thought we´d cruise it. Unfortunately it also sits pretty close to the Andes so we set off for a leg burning, 4 hour bike ride up some pretty big inclines! Managed to find a completely secluded lake side beach for lunch though that made it all worthwhile! Think the guy in the hire shop found our John Wayne walking impressions most amusing after we´d returned the bikes!

We´ve now come across to Chile, to a small town called Pucon with an amazing backdrop of Volcano Villarica. The weather is improving and we were particularly pleased to hear that it´s been raining in London! We´ll blog again soon.

Hope everyone´s well.

Lots of love.

Al and Jo xxx

1 comment:

Tommo said...

Loving the imagery of swooping Woodpeckers :-)
I'm only jealous. Neil