Tuesday, 15 April 2014

El Calafate, Argentina: Asados & Glaciers

After an awesome time in Torres Del Paine and Puerto Natales it was time to enter my 8th country on this trip. My original plan was to go to the "End of the World", Ushuaia, the most southern town of Argentina and the most common departing point for Antarctica. Exchanging about $5K ($3.5k if you wait last minute and negotiate) will get you an 8 day trip with 3 days on Antarctic soil (ice/snow). A little out of my budget and the season had just ended... The penguin colonies had already left Ushuaia so I decided to go straight to El Calafate.

Many of these signs on buses in Patagonia...

El Calafate is little town on a big lake. It is very touristy due to its proximity to possibly the most beautiful thing in Argentina (besides the women of course), Perito Moreno Glacier. Perito Moreno is actually a very rare type of glacier. It is one a of very few in the world that is actually growing in size. This is surprising because the southern ice field covering the south of Chile and Argentina, which this glacier and many others are part of, is shrinking at a rate of 1km per a year.

Soon after settling in I was off to the supermarket with a Belgian girl. A couple of Argentineans that were planning an Asado (BBQ) promised to cook everyone else´s food as well. Before this day Australian steak had easily been so much better than every other country I had visited in terms of price and quality. Argentina definitely lays a big challenge to being The King of Beef.

The next day I had to replace my shoes which had been ripped apart in Torres Del Paine, there was a reason I was the only person in runners on that trek. This was followed by a late night asado organised by the hostel. 40 people, a chef (well, a guy dressed as one anyway), salad, wine, beer and 7 different rounds of meat. All this for 11-16 dollars (depending on Blue rate or Official rate... I will explain later). After over 1 kilo of quality meat I was very satisfied and had to turn down an 8th and a 9th plate (sorry vegetarians but this was an awesome night).

The next day I was off to Perito Moreno Glacier with an Aussie girl, Jess. We witnessed someone blow drying their lawn on the way to the bus. After arriving in Los Glaciars Nacional Parque we started things off with a 1 hour boat ride bring us very close to the glacier. The noise that could be heard when shattering ice fell into the water was intense followed by a 10 metre splash.

This glacier is truly beautiful and another must see in South America. It is possible to go trekking on this glacier (for about $150) but I opted against it as I was told about another more remote glacier where it is possible to do ice climbing.

The next day Jess and I both happened to be going to the climbing capital of Argentina... El Chalten.

Lessons Learnt:
Be prepared to eat lots of meat if you come to Argentina.
Argentineans are much louder and more talkative than Chileans.
Argentinean guys are stereotypical Italians. Accent, talking with their hands and always singing (most Argentineans are of Italian decent not Spanish).

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