El Calafate, Argentina
50° 19' S 72° 18' W
Dec 26, 2003 19:46
Distance 157km

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Text written in: English

El Calafate (26 - 28 December 2003)

Time to leave Chile again. For the third time in two months now but traveling through the south of Patagonia does not leave you with much other options. We left half an hour late at 9:30 because we were waiting for one passenger who was late. He did not show up at all and so we left for Cerro Castillo, the border crossing for today. It was about 80 kilometers to the border and it was the same route as I had taken before when I went to the Torres del Paine National Park. The place where we had stopped for coffee and a break on the 3 hour trip to that park appeared to be Cerro Castillo and the border post was actually right next to the small café. What a place for a border post again half in the middle of nowhere. It took quite some time before we were all stamped out of Chile.

The missing passenger showed up at the border as well. He was actually on time that morning in Puerto Natales but he had forgotten his passport in the hospedaje. When he came back from the hospedaje he did not see the bus in front of the bus company office anymore. There had been an other bus with El Calafate on it, but that was not our bus. It was just an empty bus and we were parked in the back so he did not see our bus. So he arranged a taxi to overtake our bus, but we were still waiting in the back for him. He arrived earlier than us at Cerro Castillo after all. Of course he was happy that he managed to catch the only bus of that day to El Calafate, otherwise he would have ben stuck there at the remote border post for the night.

The gravel road that had been perfect so far took a turn for the worse and was not more than a cart track for a while. After the very windy Argentinean border post, which was in an even more remote place, the road improved again and became a passable gravel road again. It was another 3 hours or so to El Calafate through the extremely dry and very barren countryside. El Calafate, a small tourist town of 4000 people. The main road was paved and about five perpendicular roads as well and beyond those it was all very very dusty gravel again. What a place for a town in that barren environment. Even near Lago Argentino, a huge lake of 60 x 20 km in size, it was all barren rock. In El Calafate that is relatively quite expensive I camped in the backyard of Hospedaje Jorgito for just 6 pesos per night. The garden was actually quite grassy and quiet, unusual for this town. So why the hell do you have to go there if it is all barren and dusty? Good question. Simple answer.