El Calafate is to be the next stopover by bus from Puerto Natales, for the main reason of visiting the incredible Perito Moreno Glacier and not just for the K9 capers. Everyone must see this amazing and still-advancing glacier, once in their lifetime!
You will cross back into Argentina from Chile, so make sure you don’t have any fruit, meat, or other, with you as it will be confiscated at the border.
With only a brief stop at Turbo to drop-off and pick-up more passengers, we were on our way again. Turbo seems small, deserted, and dismal, so, glad to push on to El Calafate.
Originally, El Calafate was a sheltering place for wool traders until officially founded by the government in only 1927.
El Calafate is another hub town geared up for tourists as a stopover to Los Glaciares National Park (Perito Moreno), the Cerro Chaltén, and the Cerro Torre. Lago Argentino, which is close by is also home to many Pink Famingos and sighted on a regular basis.
There are loads of cafes, restaurants (cheap and expensive), and all types of shops offering a plethora of snow gear as of course, it snows a lot in this region.
Stumbled upon a store, which sold good quality second-hand snow gear and bought thick snow jackets and pants. Continuing travelling from a month in Morocco, we are not geared up for this bitter cold weather. At least the sun shone threw several times during our stay.
I even managed to find (“Lucky” brand) Black and White film in town. Alas, the film was out-of-date, so I didn’t buy any. I am still lugging a 35mm film camera around, which is heavy but also with my DSLR Canon camera, not so good for travelling. So far, it isn’t that easy to find film in South America and especially B and W film. Sadly, although I left Australia with many rolls, I only have a couple left, so need to buy another stash from somewhere soon.
Almost everywhere in this town takes credit cards, so this gives you an idea that it is quite a touristy town.
As I’ve mentioned a few times in this post, the main reason for travelling to El Calafate is not only to kill time whilst waiting for the Navimag Ferry but mainly to visit fantastic Perito Moreno glacier. Please read my amazing and memorable experience: Moon walking on ice – Perito Moreno Glacier
Arrived in El Calafate at a civilised hour for once and not in the middle of the night and found Las Cabaῆitas (AR$200, Double) relatively easy in the daylight. It is always comforting to have the first night’s accommodation booked when you arrive in a new town, but especially when walking around with a 17kg backpack.
This ‘A’ frame-friendly timber cabin is very cosy and a cute abode. The owners are lovely and the hostel boasts a warm and friendly family-feel. I really like the hostels (hostals) in South America as typically, their family run and safe with almost 24/7 security and manned reception area.
Breakfast is included in the room’s price. A lovely morning surprise when a different home-baked cake as part of breakfast, arrives each morning at your door. A most welcomed gesture and a very kind touch. Not to mention these cakes are wonderful and the aroma of warmly-baked cake wafting through the cabin, is divine!
Dog Update – K9 capers
It is in El Calafate that typically, 4 to 5 dogs would follow us all over town, for hours. Packs of them – quite embarrassing!
To paint a picture, one day we had one stray follow us around town for kilometres. On venturing into a shop, the stray sat curled up in a ball in the sun at the door, waiting for us to come out again. Quietly emerging from the shop so as not to wake the stray, he immediately woke up and continued to follow us once more, all over town – couldn’t shake this stray.
It is also in El Calafate that we observed a dog walking down the road, pass a local, then turn around, and started to follow us instead. I would like to know, why the strays follow foreigners and not locals…can anybody shed some light on this for me please?
Back to Puerto Natales
I hope that the sea and weather are kind to us as once on the ferry, there is no getting off or turning back on the 4-day journey…