02.27.2013 - 03.03.2013 71 °F
The bus ride to El Calafate was very scenic and the seats comfortable. I managed to sleep quite a bit, which was an unexpected surprise. The only uneasy surprise was the amount of police stops conducted within Argentina. I recall at least six police checkpoints and they boarded the bus on several of those to check Id's; a couple of people were also questioned. They were polite, it was just something I didn't expect to encounter.
From what I understand for my next bus trip to Ushuaia, I will pass into Chile then back into Argentina. I heard a story that you are given a receipt of some sort at the first border crossing that you must present at the the second crossing. In this story I heard, one woman lost her receipt while in route and was delayed in Chile for five days to get everything straightened out. Good thing I never toss anything!
Anyway, back to the trip scenery....I've provided several shots from my bus window - pretty much in order of my trip:
My second town, El Calafate, is beautiful - great sunsets from my hostel on a small hill above town. Here are some lovely shots from and within the hostel:
I've already had an eventful couple of days here in El Calafate. The big outing that everyone comes for was to Perito Moreno - the glacier I mentioned in my last post. Just stunning and saw lots of calving ice - even managed to get some videos, but won't be able to upload those until I'm home. In the meantime, I've shared some of the photos below:
This is a shot from the very top platform
From the next platform down closer to the glacier
Couldn't resist the self-portrait
The piece of ice floating in the water is what I filmed coming down
Is it just me or do they look like hands?
Had to get a close-up of some of the colors
I missed the big one of the day! Do you see the piece still barely hanging on?
After my trip to the glacier, I was inspired to lookup some info about it. In terms of size, it's 3 miles wide, 558 feet tall (240 feet of that is exposed above the water), and has a length of 19 miles. It is a part of the Southern Patagonian icefield, which in its entirety has the world's 3rd largest reserve of fresh water, behind Antarctica and Greenland. Pretty impressive, at least to me.
Yesterday, I went on a lovely horseback ride in an estancia (Argentinian ranch) and the weather was perfect. We were surprised with another long range view of the Perito Moreno glacier. We had a parrilla (Argentinian barbeque) lunch and some Argentinian malbec (red wine). Here are some pics from the day:
Great scenic shot with Perito Moreno in the background
Me, my horse, and Perito Moreno
Other views along the way
I loved these chaps!
Other horses on the estancia that followed us for a bit
Saying ciao (goodbye) to Imposter (my horse's name)
So far I've managed to luck out on all of my excursions to have at least one English-speaking participant. With my glacier outing, I ran into another traveller from Australia I had bumped into in my last town Bariloche (this is not an uncommon experience down here as everyone takes similar routes). This traveller from Australia has Vietnamese heritage and is named Angus (which makes me think of Scotland). I wonder how many odd looks he gets when he introduces himself? I'm pretty sure I did as I picture a big burley guy with red hair and a kilt.
I've met about a dozen travellers from Australia at this point and they have all seemed rather adventurous and very friendly. Yesterday, I had two very sweet sisters from Australia on my horseback riding trip. Travelling like this (backpacking), is very common in their country. I didn't necessarily have Australia on my bucket list, but based on everyone I've met from there so far, I think I've now been persuaded otherwise.
The past few nights I've been rooming with a couple from Ireland at the hostel here. I love listening to their accents when they talk.
I have a few more days here and am looking forward to some relaxation time. I realized yesterday that I am only a week away from my trip to Antarctica! And now today, one more day down!