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14th March
written by Hazel

Justin has been doing an awesome job filling you in on our “W” hike, but we’ve been really busy since then as well, so I’ll try to catch things up!  We had a day of recovery after all of the hiking and two awesome nights at our favorite hostel in Puerto Natales.

The next stop on our agenda was El Calafate, Argentina which is known almost exclusively for its glacier.  We took a bus to get there and had a very easy 6 hour ride, spending only an hour at the Chile-Argentina border crossing.  We weren’t quite prepared for what El Calafate would be like since it was pretty different from Ushuaia and Puerto Natales.  Firstly, it was EXPENSIVE.  Especially the food.  Secondly, it seemed to be built just for the tourists and while the other towns had shops for tourists and tours for tourists, this place had a kind of Disneyland overpricedness to it.  We were very lucky though because we stayed at a wonderful hostel (Hospedaje Lautaro) run by an incredibly welcoming family who did masses to ensure that we could make the most of the glacier and the town.  They also provided a very tasty breakfast each day.  We were also able to save a bit of money by using the kitchen instead of the overpriced restaurants.

The first night in town we cooked dinner and then went and did a little beer tasting at the local brewery, Sholken. The beer was interesting!  We agreed that their pale ale was the favorite, but the dark beer tasted EXACTLY like beef jerky.  They must use hickory or something in the process.  I have never had a beer that tastes like meat before!

Beer tasting!

The next morning we headed out for our glacier adventure.  The Perito Moreno Glacier is an enormous glacier at the southern end of the Patagonian ice field.  It is unique because not only is it growing, but it is also at a much lower altitude than most glaciers.  The front face of it is over 4 kms long and between 50 and 70 meters tall.  This thing is HUGE.  We did the “mini-trekking” which is an all day tour where you go and look at the glacier from a very expansive viewpoint and then get to put on some crampons and walk on the glacier.

Perito Moreno

North Face of glacier


There were several viewpoints and we had about an hour to walk between them taking photos.  It was absolutely beautiful and we were surprised how loud the booms were as chunks of ice fell off the front of the glacier into the lake.  Sometimes really, really large chunks fell off.

Ice Chunks

It started raining towards the end of the time at the viewpoints, but we got lucky because by the time we finished lunch the rain had stopped and the sun was breaking through the clouds in time for our glacier walk.

In the sun

We got our crampons on and set off onto the ice!


It was amazing how much traction they provided and how you could really easily walk up and down the hills on the ice.  We walked for about an hour and a half and got to see some cool features of the glacier.  The guides were great at explaining the workings of the glacier and I actually learned a lot I hadn´t known before.

On the ice

After we walked for a while and took way too many photos we came down into a little valley where there was a surprise waiting for us.  Our guide took his ice axe and began hammering at the side of the glacier, collecting the ice chips in a bowl.  And then they handed out whisky with glacier ice to everyone on the tour!  Not what we were expecting!

Glacier whiskey

It was an awesome day and an incredible glacier.  They pack an amazing number of tourists through each day, but somehow it didn’t seem too bad.  Maybe because it was really well organized.

That night we went back to our hostel and got ready for our next adventure – El Chalten!  This town is known for being a rock climbing capital and is pretty much in the middle of a giant national park.  All of the hiking trails begin right in the town.  It is only a 3 hour bus ride from El Calafate, but we decided to go in the morning, hike, spend the night, hike and then come back to El Calafate the next evening.  We were lucky we planned it this way because the first day we were there it was absolutely freezing with some of the strongest winds I’ve ever felt.  We liked the town much more than El Calafate and were pretty happy to make the decision to put off hiking.  We found a waffle restaurant/cafe with a chess board and spent almost the whole day working on my chess skills in the nice, warm, yummy smelling cafe.  And it paid off because the next day was calm, sunny and perfect for hiking!

In town, El Chalten

We did most of a hike up to Laguna los Tres in order to get good views of the Fitz Roy mountain.  It was impressive!


Fitz Roy from the Mirador

Beautiful hike!

Fitz Roy!

We were nice and tired out for the bus ride back to El Calafate.

Because our trip is so long we haven’t always been able to plan things out in advance.  El Calafate is pretty far south in Argentina – like 3/4 of the way down the country.  And it’s a big country.  We had hoped that we could cancel our flight from Buenos Aires (way up at the top of the country) that will take us to Santiago, Chile (not at the top of that country) and continue to travel north and see the sights.  But annoyingly the airlines said they would charge us over $500 to turn our flight into an overland leg.  So that is why we found ourselves on a flight from El Calafate back to Buenos Aires even though it’s at least a thousand kms out of our way.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a terrible flier.  I hate it and it makes me very, very anxious.  I thought this flight was going just swimmingly until we began our decent.  Into massive banks of cloud.  It got bumpy and then we noticed that something was up – we were going in circles.  The pilot got on the intercom and announced that he wasn’t sure when we would be able to land and that we’d be going in bumpy circles until we got permission.  Not my favorite.  It all worked out though and about 30 minutes later we were on the ground safe and sound in Buenos Aires.

We went back to the hostel we stayed in when we first arrived in this city, and I have to say, it’s nice to be back here.  We like it!  Today we took the opportunity to do some of the tourist things we missed last time we were here.  First, we went to the Japanese Garden, which has the largest koi I’ve ever seen.  People feed them, so when they see your shadow they practically leap out of the water at you!  There were also lots of birds to be seen.

Hungry koi

There were hundreds



After that we went to the museum of Latinamerican art, which had a lot of really funky pieces.  Highly recommended!

We spent the afternoon going out to La Boca, a barrio towards the southern end of Buenos Aires which is known for being the birthplace of tango (and also for their soccer team!)  It is a working class neighborhood, but there is a section pretty much built for tourists with colorful buildings, lots of art and street vendors, and cafes with tango demonstrations.  It was fun to see and the colors were amazing, but we ended up leaving after 45 minutes or so just because it felt a lot like a tourist trap.

La Boca
Statues everywhere!
My new tango partner?
A cool dude
Artwork everywhere

So that’s what we’ve been up to!  And I’ll be impressed if anyone makes it through this marathon of a post!


  1. Jess

    Hey for some reason having trouble seeing your homepage! Looks like you are still having a blast- looking forward to seeing you in May!

  2. Mom

    Hi Guys!! hope you are having fun with Nigel–its been difficult w/o your web page opening but Dad got around it!!
    Happy Anniversary!! I cant believe its been a year already! what a life you’ve had so far
    Love you Mom

  3. 21/03/2011

    This inspired me to go to Patagonia sometime. To me Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls are excellent destinations for the one who like to see new places.

  4. 21/03/2011

    Happy Wedding Anniversary! A group of us went for dinner at Sawadty’s after evensong and we drank a toast to you! Great to be able to get back on your blog and catch up with your activities. Amazing photos. Hope you are having fun with Dad. Lots of love, Mumsies

  5. Leah-anne

    Hi guys – thanx so much 4 the postcard we loved catching up with your travels. Like everyone else we’ve tried logging on but haven’t bin able to catch yas. We would really luv to catch up with you both when you return to nz so would luv to know where your flying into closer to the time. Catch up soon take care xxx

  6. kathy glovier

    Hello! evrything you have done looks and sounds like so much fun and interesting! I laughed at your comments about the koi…. If you ever get to western PA, we will take you to Pymatuning, where you can feed carp so thick, they say you could walk on them! Not as pretty as koi, though. I ahve to get thom reading your beer exploits- he will enjoy those!

  7. Hazel

    Thanks for the comments everyone! Sorry for the downtime on the webpage. We´ve been busy, so there are new posts in the pipeline.

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