In my last blog about Argentina, I tried to sum up my time in Buenos Aires in the briefest and most photogenic way possible. Like I said I had many preconceived notions about Argentina, and most were positive. For the second half of my trip, I visited Patagonia for about 3 days. This was perhaps the BEST part of my trip to Argentina. All expectations were met in this place, and where Buenos Aires fell short, Patagonia picked up the slack.
Parque Nacional Los Glaciares
After spending some time in Buenos Aires, we took a flight down towards Patagonia and visited an area known as El Calafate. The intent was to visit Parque Nacional Los Glaciares to see the one and only Perito Moreno. Minutes after landed, we befriended our taxi driver by the name Ramiro Ruiz who took us straight to Perito Moreno from the airport.
Seeing Perito Moreno in person was breathtaking and reminded me of how small humans are in compared to mother nature. I remember the silence as I got close to the glacier. The quietness was astonishing! This was perhaps one of the few times I’d experience such calmness in years. I recall, during my few hours in the park, I got to witness the melting and breaking away of large chunks of ice. When the ice broke off from the glacier and fell into the lake, it sounds like thunder as it rolled down the side of the glacier into Lago Argentino.
Within Los Glaciares National Park there is a small village called El Chaltén. It’s located in Santa Cruz province and is the starting point for any journey leading towards Cerro Torre and Mount Fitz Roy. The day after seeing Perito Moreno, we took the journey from El Calafate to El Chaltén to go trekking using the same taxi driver (Ramiro).
On our way to El Chaltén, we saw several guanacos, farms, Lake Argentina, and many splendid views of Mount Fitz Roy.
On the drive, our taxi driver Ramiro told us stories about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid in Patagonia. We passed by a place called La Leóna, which has a hotel, café, and shop and was a place where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid visited. He also said the reason they called it La Leóna was because of the lady-lions walking around; he said the locals referred to the pumas as La Leónas or lady-lions. He also told us other fun facts such as the wind that plague this area. He described it like the mistral in France which is a strong cold wind that blows into the southern part of France. I did notice that many homes on El Calafate located on open land planted certain trees around their property to help break the wind.
Our taxi driver Romero also discussed the different types of animals and told us that there were flamingoes, goose, dolphins, deer, guanacos, and culpeo. Then we ran into a culpeo on the way to El Chaltén.
Journey to Laguna Capri
View of Laguna Capri and Mount Ritz Roy
The intent was to trek towards Laguna Capri while also getting a glimpse of Mount Fitz Roy. I will be honest, but 30 minutes into the hike I wanted to quit. There were many steep areas and thorny plants. I was out of breath, and this part of the trek reminded me that I needed to start working out.
We started walking after 8 am and made it back after 3 pm, so this was the longest hike I had ever done willingly. When I got to Laguna Capri and saw the view, I knew it was all worth it! Words couldn’t describe the feeling, view, and serenity this place imparted on me.
The last stop before I headed back to El Calafate was to Chorrilo Del Salto which is a beautiful waterfall. I did not have to worry as this trek was shorter, but also offered a splendid view of a 20-meter drop waterfall.
The day after our trek to Laguna Capri, we walked around El Calafate and visited a reserve called Reserva Laguna Nimez.
A few prominent features of the town were the large population of dogs roaming the main street. Then there were the A-frame homes and the amiable people who seem nothing like those we met in Buenos Aires.
El Calafate also hosted a number of shops selling local handmade products that were 100% cute and memorable. We visited many of them but was ultimately drawn to Pasaje Amado which sold anything from cute clothing, bags, to candles and children books.
El Calafate was the total opposite of Buenos Aires, and the number one difference was how accepting and friendly the locals were. I can go on and on about this, but to be honest, this was shocking as I didn’t feel the same vibe from the Porteños so El Calafate was a welcome surprise.
Taxi Driver’s Name: Ramiro Ruiz
Taxi Company: Taxi Remis
From: Salta, Argentina
Language: English / Spanish
When we landed in El Calafate, we went to the taxi-stand and booked a taxi from the airport to the hotel. The cost was about 1,500 Argentine Peso, which was about $25USD or 22Euros. While driving to the hotel, we befriended our driver, who said he could take us to the glacier that same day. He took us there and back, plus took us to a local place to get a snack. Outside of how much it cost to get to the hotel, we tipped about $40USD or 36Euros. He did not tell us how much to tip him; we came up with this amount on our own. He also took us El Chaltén, to trek to Laguna Capri to catch a glimpse of Mount Fitz Roy. He drove us there and back and took us to lunch. He was absolutely the best host a person could have while staying there. I had a picture of his business card, but my phone crashed, so here are some images of our driver. In the end, I think we vastly over tipped him, but only on our insistence because we received an exclusive and private tour of El Calafate. Plus, it was priceless to get a local’s standpoint of life in this region of Patagonia.
If anyone runs into him before he moves back to Salta, tell him Sandra Bullock and Chimmie said hello.
While in El Calafate getting around was super easy and you could walk almost anywhere. It’s a very small town so it was not hard to get around on foot!