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Traveling in Argentina from Ushuaia

By February 6, 2019 No Comments

Here I am gonna talk about out trip through Argentina form Ushuaia, with a stop in Punta Arenas (Chile) then going to El Calafate y El Chalten, and possibly in some other cities if we have time

Today we are going to the national park Tierra del Fuego.

It is about 30min from the city center but in the end it took us one hour cause we spent a long time queuing to pay the entrance fees.

We decided to go camping…what a great idea! I love camping so much…

The bus dropped us where the post office, the most Austral one of the world, is. We spend more money in stamps and got our passports stamped 😀

We start hiking, and after 5min I realize than my bag is…very…very…very…heavy!!!! It is going to be quite hard for me to carry all of my things…

The views of the lake and the mountain are beautiful! The weather is perfect: sunny and no clouds (and no wind!!!). After 30min hike I am dead so I ask Quentin to have a break…my back hurts a lot. We stop on the grass in front of the canal and we have lunch.

Then we start again. We walk in the forest and recognize some of the trees and plants we have seen during the boat trip. Our bodies are in pain but we keep walking.

Two hours later we will have a longer break in a quiet beach were we would fall asleep then start again.

One hour later we end up at the cafeteria were the walks ends. We take a beer for Quentin, a coke and lemon pie for me, chill out a bit then walk to the camping.

The camping place is nice ; in front of the river and a mountain. It is quiet ; there is one single men, and a couple but we have enough space and do not have to put the tent to close to them. We are lucky because the weather is still nice but the wind starts blowing. We prepare the tent quite easily and quickly then begins to cook pasta ; this will take quite a long time because we took cold water from the river.

After dinner we go to bed.

Quentin wakes up and asks me what time I think it is.

I did not sleep very well (I wanted to pee but was too lazy so I got cold; and could not find the correct position) so I think it is 8am. He laughs and tells me it is 11.45am!!!

We wanted to go hiking 3h this morning and leave the things in the tent. But due to out long sleep we will have lunch, pack the tent and go hiking for less than 2 hours because we would like to have the bus at 3pm to go back to town (the next one would be at (5pm…).

After lunch and packing we go. It is quite an easy walk but with the bags it is a bit painful. We walk in the forest and end up in front of the Beagle. We will see some birds on the way.

We arrive at the bus 30min before the departure so we chill out. We are destroyed from yesterday.

It will take 30min to go back to Ushuaia. We go to the airbnb and take a shower.

Around 6.30pm we decide to go to see Thierry to talk about Antarctica even if I know we will not have much more information, and to say goodbye to Hélène.

We find Thierry and Catherine on the boat. We discuss during 30min and say goodbye. Then we meet Hélène for another 30min before we go eating “cebollas” in town.

The dinner was very good but we kind of run back to the apartment to go to bed because tomorrow we have to wake up at 5.30am to take the bus to Punta Arenas in Chile.

Today we get up very early because we have a bus to take at 7am.

Not easy to get motivated but we arrive on time. The bus does not really correspond to the description of the agency but it is comfortable.

It is 7am, the bus starts on time. We go back to the upper part of Ushuaia, we rediscover the mountains, it’s super pretty. Then at the end of an hour the landscape changes and becomes … boring … monotonous … There are big estancias. It’s pretty flat. At times we will see animals: guanacos, sheep, cows, horses and birds.

Around noon we arrive at the border Argentina: passport control, everyone gets off the bus. 15min later same story, but on the Chilean side. The dogs sniffed a bag and of course the only one that got off the bus is Quentin! (probably because of parmesan …). Finally they will not say anything. We start again, the landscape is still uninteresting but in some estancias they raise ostriches (yes yes!).

After a long time the bus stops and the assistant driver says something we barely hear but we face the water so we guess that it’s time to take the ferry. A big boat arrives, all bus drivers, cars and bikers will ride their machines while the passengers will take refuge on the deck or inside. The trip will take less than an hour and then we will take the road for a little less than three hours.

Once arrived (in advance!) The bus drops us in the city center, which is surprising. We decide to take a taxi to go to Airbnb. The driver tells us a lot of things we do not understand but we pretend to understand. The girl where we live is in a residential area. She has a shy little dog at first. The girl is super nice and speaks perfect English. I tell her that we have to practice our Spanish but she wants to speak in English … so we will speak to her in English. Her house is cute and we have a big room. She even proposes to do the laundry (Quentin benefits, it is true that his sweater begins to stink …).

We will go shopping, she accompanies us and takes the opportunity to walk his dog. The program of the evening will be simple: plan the next two weeks. It will take us all evening.

This morning we have breakfast with our host. She will explain how to go downtown in ” collectivos ”.

We prepare ourselves and we go. We should have the “collectivo” at the corner of his street. We see a panel with a small car and people waiting waiting we wait there. There are no schedules or signs of the coup we wait.

Twenty minutes later a black car arrives and picks up people. We catch that the “collectivo” is a kind of taxi in a good month. We wait again, and again, and again, then a bus arrives. Luckily this bus goes downtown! so we get in and let ourselves be transported to the city center.

It’s fast enough. The bus drops us in front of the tourist information center. The city does not look very very fun but hey we had a goal coming here (camera !!!!).

We walk, we’ll buy bus tickets for tomorrow, we visit a sober church, then a great museum on the different ethnic groups, Magellan, the conquest of Patagonia and local wildlife. Then we will see the cemetery which is quite interesting, there are large paths with interestingly cut trees.

After visiting the city we try to head to the Zona Franca (duty free zone where I should find my happiness). It is hard to find a “collectivo”, they are all full! Finally we will hit a sprint to take a bus.

Zona Franca is … uh … well, actually. They only sell Nikon and Canon and no hybrids !!! I am really disgusted. Suddenly I fall back on a compact gun (it’s useless!) Quentin offers me to buy me at a price declaw … he is nice my Quentin.

We decided to visit the replica of the Magellan boat. We take a taxi to go because it is far. It’s super nice! There is another boat under construction so we take advantage.

To return it will be a little more galley … we try to hitchhike and after a quarter of an hour a guy has pity on us and drops us off at the bus Zona Franca. We will take two “collectivos”. It’s pretty funny: you come home, you say where you go and he does not drop you away if it’s not on his way; in the meantime, people come in and out.

We finally arrive half an hour later at airbnb, just in time because it starts to rain! Our host comes back a bit later and tells us to look out the window: there are cows walking in the street! Definitely, Chile is interesting 🙂

This morning we woke up super early again : 5h45; we have to take the bus to go to El Calafate with a stop in Puerto Natales.

We take our breakfast with our host and then she drives us to the bus station. We will have three hours on the bus before arriving in Puerto Natales. Quentin will sleep all the way while I will be bored.

Once there, we sit down.; I try to get the wifi but the connection is bad. I see there is an office from the CONAF so I decide to go asking if they have camping places available for the night we are missing and if we may not be allowed to enter the park with a missing night. The girls tells me it is fully booked and that we will have to do a useless return to a campsite that is outside of the park! She tells me to check at the Fantastico Sur’s office in town. So I decide to take the taxi to go there while Quentin is staying with our bags. At the office they tell me it is fully booked but to contact them in case there in any cancellation. I go back to the bus terminal and inform Quentin. We are fed up…we wanted to save money and in the end we will waste a lot of time, energy and money just for one night in a stupid camping! We decide to go and buy the entrance tickets and bus to the park in order to avoid any new bad surprise later.

Four long and boring hours later, we finally leave to El Calafate. The road is nice until we reach the Chilean border, then it will become monotonous. On the way we will see some families of guanacos.

The bus terminal is quite far away from our Airbnb (that is already super far away from the city center…), so we decide to take a taxi. The taxi driver do not find the place so decide to call our host Carlos. Twenty minutes later we finally arrive there. His house is really funny; he built it himself with wood and natural things. He is a big fan of tango and one of his jobs is to do massages in hotels to guests (he learns how to do it in the Amazonian forest in Petu). He is very kind. I am happy cause I can practice my Spanish. He tells us that he does not understand when Chilean people talk to him so this comforts us!.

After a long talk we decide to go to bed.

Today nothing really exciting, we are trying to organize our next two weeks.  So we spend our time looking for agencies and then pay, pay, and pay…

But in the meantime we also had ice cream (I did), juices, beers, and hot chocolate (me again…).

Today we go walking around the Perito Moreno.

The sun is shining and there is no wind in the morning! Carlos is offering us to drop up at the hotel where the van is supposed to pick us up. This is great because we will not have to walk for thirty minutes to get there and breath the dust on the road.

We arrive at the hotel, this is a fancy one. On the way to the park, the road is amazing! Beautiful mountains, glaciers, lakes with incredible colors!!

We arrive at the park, the driver explains to us where is the meeting point for the pick up; then we start walking. The different views of the bridge are breathtaking. We take our eyes full. On the other hand we say that it is not worth the glacier Pia that we saw sailing; but it’s still beautiful!

We walk for two hours and once we have done the whole bridge we stay on a bench to observe the glacier and the ice falls for two hours before finding the bus driver. We had a lot of luck, we had a wonderful time.

On the return we take advantage that the van deposits tourists in the city center to go there (otherwise we have to walk an hour …). We will go to a cafe with a small class to do internet and have a snack (good for me and Quentin a beer …).

On the return we meet a couple of Canadians who approached us in the cafe yesterday when they heard us speak French. They are super nice. They were also crossed at Perito Moreno so we had a good laugh.

The return will be shorter than expected; Quentin found a shorter path. On the other hand we will take a lot of dust on the face by going to Carlos.

Arriving Carlos came back so we talk; he listens to a Colombian group that I know and like. He listens to a lot of good music so I take the opportunity to ask him lots of good music to put me on my hard drive: D He is passionate about tango and music suddenly it’s funny when he talks about it is all excited !

The evening goes quietly then we go to bed because tomorrow big day on the glacier, we cannot wait !!!

Today is the D-day where we are gonna walk on the Perito Moreno. We are super excited but the bus will pick us up in a hotel located 20mins away from Carlos’ house.

We wake up at 6am, try to get ready in the dark and quietly (he is sleeping in the leaving room so we do not want to wake him up). It is a bit chilly outside but we can see the mountains. All the dogs shout at us on the way. As we may wait 45min we start watching an episode of a series on Netflix.

On the bus the lady tells us things about the landscapes around El Calafate y a lot of things about the glacier; this is very interesting. We also learn that we will spend one hour in the park to see the glacier. We are happy even if we spent the day there yesterday. Then we should take a boat (great surprise!!) and hike to the glacier.

The views in the morning are beautiful. It is darker this morning but this gives other colors to the glacier. We are hoping to see some ice falling down. We see quite a few but not the big one Quentin was waiting for yesterday.

We go back to the bus and go to the port to take the boat. Here again the view is stunning. It is great to see a glacier form the boat, we really enjoy this moment.

When we arrive, several guides are waiting for us to prepare the stuff for the hike and explain everything. They split people into several groups.

The first part of the hike is to go to the area of the glacier where we can start climbing. This will take us 45min. The views are magical! There we put the crampons and we start walking on it. They are super heavy!!! But this is quite funny. We see the different parts of the glaciers with amazing colors (blue, turquoise…), the guides explain a lot of things, it is very interesting. On the way we also see some ‘’lakes’’ with beautiful colors. We keep hiking during three hours and then go back. We had such a wonderful experience there.

After such a great day we decide to have dinner were we had a beer and cake last night. They do burgers with guanaco meat and Quentin wants to try. The weather is still nice in El Calafate. We enjoy our last time here because tomorrow we go camping to Lago Roca.

This morning we take our time, wake up at 8am. We managed to explain to the taxi driver where to pick us up this morning so we only have to walk three minutes with our bags.

Today we have one hour drive in the small van to reach Lago Roca. Quentin wanted to go because there are several nice walks to do, the area is very nice and there is a big camping area. On the way, the landscape is amazing, we can the other side of the lake, and the Perito Moreno.

Once at the camping, the owner explains to us how it works (time where there is electricity, showers, toilets, and where to put the tent). We chose a great place to set up out tent, in front of the lake. It is great!

It is very warm outside and the sun is shining. We set up the tent and take our time to arrange our stuff inside and have lunch on a bench. In the afternoon we decide to do the walk along the lake. It is beautiful and the weather is perfect despite the small wind. The views are amazing, we can see the glacier and the mountains.

We take the time to appreciate the landscape then we go back slowly. We decide to start cooking. There is a young Swiss guy alone so we discuss and have dinner together, then we say goodbye and go to bed.

This morning we were supposed to wake up early to go hiking, but the weather was not great: rain and clouds all over the mountains, so no interest. In the end we spent most of the time in the tent; we went out thirty minutes outside to have munch then went for a nap.

In the middle of our sleep a ranger came to tell us to move the tent cause tonight it will be super windy and there are the branches on the tree that may fall on our tent. So we try to find the motivation to pack our things and then move the tent with unbuilding it. We did it very well! We found another spot between two small trees.

Around 5pm we decide to go for a walk; there is an estancia at 4km from the camping. On the way we will see several rabbits running around, and some cows. At one point some cows started running when we approached them and behind there was a big bull waiting for us. We decided to chance road and turn to avoid walking nearby.

We arrive at the estancia. It looks a bit sad; maybe this is due to the bad weather. There are horses so we decide to go and see them. They look so sad!! They do not move and look at the ground. They all are in a small place probably waiting for the tourist group having a coffee time in the restaurant. We stay five minutes then we decide to leave, this place is a bit sad. We walk along the lake as we did yesterday. We will have walked almost three hours in the end.

When we arrive we prepare the food, play scrabble, then go to bed. If tomorrow the weather is nice, we should go on the top of the mountain.

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