The sights of El Chalten and El Calafate
07.03.2013 - 10.03.2013
A tiny town known only for its trekking and famous views of Mount Fitzoy mountain range, El Chalten becomes quite deserted once the weather turns cold. We again lucked out with the weather, managing to hike up to Laguna de los Tres on a sunny, cloudless day, but stayed just for that as the next day the weather turned gloomy and overcast again. After our last 3 day stint in the Lakes District, it was nice to be able to do the hike without the burden of carrying all our camping gear and food with us, making it a steep, but otherwise relatively easy trek to the mirador.
Other than the few short trails, the town really doesn’t have much else to offer, and even food-wise the pickings are pretty slim. There is only one supermarket in the town, boasting vegetables far from fresh and only very basic foods. Needless to say that after our one fantastic, we hightailed it out of there and headed back to El Calafate for a few days.
After spending two nights in Chalten, the still-small-but-larger Calafate was a pleasure to pass the next few days. We managed to spend one beautiful day at the majestic Perito Moreno Glacier, and enjoyed a nice picnic lunch while watching chunks of ice the size of small islands break off the edge of the glacier, each with a thunderous roar.
This amazing glacier is one of the few in the world not receding in size, and in the light of the day gleamed an exquisitely brilliant blue.
Not as well known were the horse riding tours. We booked a tour for the day as we had time to spare and were planning our next hike in Torres del Paine according with the weather predictions online, and were extremely pleased that we did. Not only did we get excellent weather in both places, but the horse ride itself was spectacular. Owned by an Argentinian bred Hungarian called Gustavo, the vibe of the small hacienda just outside of town was homey and welcoming. We were greeted by a few of the many dogs he kept on the property, 9 of which joined us on the ride, supposedly to “ward off pumas”.
To our surprise, as we trotted along the hillside near the blue Lago Argentino, the dogs would race off to stalk and massacre to numerous hares foraging in the grass. Each time the same lead dog would lope back with their kill, placing the bloody mass of fur at their master’s feet, after which Gustavo would hang the limp carcass on his saddle to drain. It was very rustic indeed.
After a delicious picnic lunch of cold cuts, cheeses, and wine, we headed back to the farm, and ended the day watching him skin and gut his prize for the day, 5 large hares, which he claimed were to make empanadas for dinner. Not traditionally touristy, but it made for an interesting day anyway.