Sunday, October 8, 2017

Patagonia 2017: The Plan & Día Uno

Patagonia 2017: The Plan & Día Uno – 2/8/17

Cathy and Rick brainstormed an adventure in Patagonia.  Sharon and Carol signed on for the ride.  Now, where is Patagonia?  There is no “exactly” but on a map of South America it straddles the border of southern Argentina and Chile kind of like this:

Buenos Aires, Argentina and Santiago de Chile are the gateway cities and all travelers pass through one or the other to get to Patagonia’s regions.  Our points of interest are in the regions called Southern Argentine Patagonia and Magallanes (in Chile).

Hiking the “W” circuit in Torres del Paine National Park was the initial inspiration for the trip and the Fitz Roy range in Los Glaciares National Park was a close second.  In my mind, visiting the two is a little like visiting Yellowstone NP and Grand Tetons NP (not quite as close together, but they are kind of a package deal when traveling such a great distance to get there).

We met a couple of times to determine our list of add-ons and work out the logistics.  Taking a rental car between Argentina and Chile is difficult, so we organized our itinerary around some bus transports so that a car was only necessary for a few days in Argentina.  Rick took on responsibility for the car rental while Cathy masterminded accommodations and bus transportation.  Carol and I offered moral support and gratitude.

The plan:
·         Fly to El Calafate, Argentina
·         Travel to El Chalten, Argentina
·         Dayhikes in Los Glaciares National Park
·         Visit Perito Moreno Glacier
·         Cross the border to Puerto Natales, Chile
·         Hike the “W” circuit of Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
·         Travel to Punta Arenas, Chile
·         Meet the penguins on Isla Magdalena, Strait of Magellan
·         Carol meets hubby for a 2-week cruise from Buenos Aires to Santiago via Cape Horn
·         Rick continues on for 14-day trip to Antarctica
·         Cathy and Sharon return to the U.S.

On a chilly day in February 2017 the fab four met at the airport for a series of flights from Charlotte to Miami to Buenos Aires to El Calafate (and a bus ride between airports in BA).  A mere mind-numbing 26 hours later, we claimed our rental car and cruised into town.

El Calafate is a gateway town to Los Glaciares National Park with its (small) international airport and plethora of accommodations, food and services for exploring the southernmost areas of the park and its star attraction, Perito Moreno Glacier.  It sits on the southern edge of enormous Largo Argentino.

A 15-minute drive took us all the way through town on its main thoroughfare, Avenida del Libertador, to our first overnight Air BnB, a bungalow at Cabanas El Amanecer with one bedroom, one bunkroom, one bath, a kitchenette and a sitting area [$26 per person]. We dumped our stuff and went exploring.

First order of business was stocking up on food for breakfast and lunches for the next several days.  We roamed among jewelry and crafts shops, some touristy and some authentic. Kept our eyes open for quirky art where least expected.

 It was a bit early for some restaurants to be open for dinner, but we found a gem:  Cervecería Artesanal.  The server brought us samples of some of their homemade beers as we waited for our food.

 This is where I was introduced to their version of “locro,” a traditional stew of corn, white beans, squash, chorizo, potato, and chunks of beef and lamb.  The fried egg on top was over the top!

The beginning of a traditional nightly toast to our great good fortune of health and happiness and the opportunity to explore Patagonia

We took the scenic route back to our bungalow along the shore of Lago Argentino.  Wait, what are those pinky-white things floating in the water? 

 Lago Argentino


Stuffed and exhausted, we charged phone batteries, took turns with showers, and repacked stuff to head into the interior of Los Glaciares National Park tomorrow. ZZZZZZZ

“When preparing to climb a mountain – pack a light heart.”  ~Dan May

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