K9 Capers – Chile to Argentina

May, 2011

Another border crossing, but this time it’s from Puerto Natales in Chile to El Calafate in Argentina, 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 at least once in their lifetime!

Puerto Natales, El Calafate, South America, ChileTravel

Only a short bus trip from Puerto Natales (Chile) to El Calafate (Argentina) this time, which takes just over 5 hours (CH$12,000) with the Bus Sur company, and leaves around 07:30 hrs.

You 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 are soon on our way again.

Turbo seems small, deserted, and dismal. I’m glad to push on to El Calafate.

El Calafate, Argentina, South America

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, which is geared up for tourists as a stopover to greater destinations such as Los Glaciares National Park (Perito Moreno), the Cerro Chaltén, and the Cerro Torre. Also close by is Lago Argentino, which is home to many Pink Famingos that are sighted on a regular basis.

If you find yourself in this town, then another remarkable trip that many tourists indulge in is the bus connection between El Calafate and Bariloche along Ruta 40 – it’s supposed to be amazing.

El Calafate offers 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 southern region of the globe.

Stumbling upon a store that sells good quality second-hand snow gear, I decided to indulge in a very thick snow jacket and snow pants, as I’ve been freezing ever since arriving in Patagonia.

We are not geared up for this bitter icy weather due to the continuation of travel from a month in Morocco, which saw warmer climes to Argentina.

At least the sun shone threw several times during our stay in El Calafate. This makes walking around town and sight-seeing a much more pleasant experience, instead of ducking into the first warm cafe at any chance just for a break from the cold.


I’m surprised to see that almost everywhere in El Calafate accepts credit cards – just confirms that this is a touristy town and geared up for travellers.

Looking for 35 mm film in South America?

So far, it hasn’t been easy to find film in South America, especially Black and White film. Sadly, although I left Australia with many rolls, I only have a couple left, so need to buy another stash from somewhere pretty soon.

I did manage to find Black and White film (“Lucky” brand) in El Calafate. But as the film is out-of-date, I gave the film a miss as I’m quite particular about fresh film.

Lugging a 35 mm film metal camera with lens around, which is heavy in itself, but add this to my DSLR Canon camera and zoom lens, then this is not too optimal whilst travelling.

Perito Moreno

As mentioned a couple of 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 the fantastic Perito Moreno glacier – renown for its incredible beauty and sheer size.

If you are interested, then please read my most memorable and amazing experience of this glacier: Moon walking on ice – Perito Moreno Glacier

Perito Moreno, Argentina, South America
Spectacular Perito Moreno Glacier!


Arriving in El Calafate at a civilised hour for once and not in the middle of the night, finding Las Cabaῆitas (AR$200, Double) is relatively easy in the daylight.

It is always comforting to have the first night’s accommodation booked when you arrive in a new town, especially when walking around with a 17 kg 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, they are family-run and safe, with mostly having 24/7 security and manned reception area.

Breakfast is included in this room’s price. A lovely morning surprise is when the owner delivers a different home-baked cake as part of breakfast, which arrives each morning at your door. A most welcomed gesture and a very kind touch. Not to mention that these cakes are wonderful and the aroma of warmly-baked cakes wafting through the cabin in the early morning hours, is divine!


Due to El Calafate’s remote location, food is expensive here as are the four available supermarkets.

The town is geared up for eager tourists and trekkers with loads of cafes and restaurants. Many grills grace the streets and meat is on every menu – lots of meat.

As our hostel has its own fully equipped kitchen, we made most of our meals to save cost, but also as the kitchen is a great place to meet other travellers and share wonderful travel stories.

Make sure you indulge in some Argentinian wine whilst here, which is amongst the finest in the world. If you’re a lover of reds like I am, then Mendoza’s Malbecs are excellent. The inky dark colour of this grape, makes for a wonderful winter beverage. For the white wine lovers, I’m told that the Torrontes grape from the north-west around Cafayate and Salta, is fresh and aromatic, and very good.

If you have cash to spare, then try the famous La Tablita for the best Patagonian lamb in the world, apparently.

Calafate Hostel y Hostería Hi

Ventured out for a meal one night and stumbled upon this gorgeous timber hostel along Gdor. Moyano that includes a lovely restaurant. If we hadn’t had our accommodation pre-booked, I’m sure we would have stayed here as it’s just a beautiful building.

The restaurant, pasta, and service are good, and meals are charged at reasonable prices.

Dog Update – K9 capers

It is in El Calafate that typically, 4 to 5 dogs would follow us all over town…and for hours.

Packs of dogs and 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, but he immediately woke up and continued to follow us once more, all over town. We just couldn’t shake this stray.

It is also in El Calafate that we observed a dog walking down the road, pass a local, which the dog didn’t follow, but 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? Do we have a different scent to locals?

Back to Puerto Natales

After the incredible experience similar to moon walking on ice on the Perito Moreno glacier, it is time to leave El Calafate.

South America is full of incredible experiences and mesmerising vistas so on to the Southern Patagonian Fjords, on a Navimag Ferry for a few days for more spectacular scenery.

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 this 4-day journey…

Visit Nilla’s Photography for more images. More posts on Argentina at Image Earth Travel.

Chile, Puerto Natales, South America
Return to Puerto Natales

27 responses to “K9 Capers – Chile to Argentina”

  1. Carolyn Avatar

    Seems as if they need a few spay-neuter clinics. Poor creatures. I hated seeing the condition of stray animals all those years ago in SE Asia. I wouldn’t have done well with a pack following me. I would have wanted to befriend them all.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      I’m exactly the same and SE Asia is particularly bad for homeless dogs. 🙁
      In fact, when volunteering in Thailand, a Thai lady that owned a shop also looked after 8 stray dogs out of her own purse and we rocked up with some food for them to help her out. I think this was rare in Thailand. It’s heart-wrenching how dogs especially are mistreated in Thailand.

  2. Aixa Avatar

    Spectacular photos of your trip 👍 We also saw a lot of stray dogs in Chile. At a traffic light on our way to the airport, a pack of dogs ran up and started barking at us. The driver told that our taxi drivers run them over and so the dogs hate taxis.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you! 🙂
      So it’s not just the tourist scent but the dogs do this to locals also?

  3. Patty Avatar

    Wow, I am in love with that first picture (surrounds)! Again, wow!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you!

      It looks like a painting to me…the only post-production to this photo is a little sharpening as the day was cloudy and dark.

      1. Patty Avatar

        Yes, exactly! Again, really beautiful. XxX

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Thank you! 🙂 x

      3. Patty Avatar

        Would you be so kind and allow me to write a poem or short story to go with it? Rather not, that’s ok too 😉

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        No problem at all. But please credit me as the photographer and link back to my Image Earth Travel and Nilla’s Photography sites. 🙂

      5. Patty Avatar

        Of course! I will inform you also, as soon as I’ve published it 😉 Wishing you a wonderful weekend, XxX

      6. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Thank you!

        Looking forward to reading your beautiful poetry or story. Have a great one. 🙂 x

    2. Patty Avatar

      I posted my short capture in words, to go along with this beautiful picture 😉

      1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        A beautiful poem to accompany my photo – many thanks Patty. 🙂 x

      2. Patty Avatar

        So happy you liked it and thanks again for allowing me to use your wonderful photograph. XxX

      3. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Absolutely! I’ve just posted a comment on your site but instead of saying “insignificant” I typed “significant” – whoops!
        Thanks again. 🙂

  4. globalhousesitterX2 Avatar

    Nilla, just don’t get me started on packs of animals and going out to dinner 🙂 Love the photo of the Spectacular Perito Moreno Glacier!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Funny as, so you know exactly what I’m talking about!
      I’ve got hundreds of photos as went a bit mad but a few more photos in this post: Moon walking on ice – Perito Moreno Glacier

      1. globalhousesitterX2 Avatar

        Yes, I do know what you are talking about 🙂

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        I’m yet to find out the reason for this…quite disconcerting.

      3. globalhousesitterX2 Avatar

        At this restaurant even when we fed the cat it scratched. We are animal lovers though sometimes dining in peace would be good 🙂

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Ha, ha maybe they know that tourists will feed them 😉

      5. globalhousesitterX2 Avatar

        Yes, there are a few gullible ones about 🙂

  5. The Year I Touched My Toes Avatar

    Yes the glacier is magic. We had beautiful fish meals in Callafate, Too long ago to remember what , but remember it was delicious. We had a magic four days here. Very special.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Now that’s one thing I didn’t try there and didn’t even think to try fish, as predominantly, all I saw was meat on the menu!

      It would be great to return as it is a special place but then again, many countries in this continent are spectacular.

      1. The Year I Touched My Toes Avatar

        Yes we probably will go to South America at some stage. My husband’s Spanish is pretty good and I haven’t been to many of the countries. Trouble is the world is so big and wonderful and I want to go back to a lot of the countries I have visited too! It isn’t as though you tick them off. Just have to prioritise I suppose ….

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Fully understand and I never tick countries off but like to spend a lot of time exploring and feeling the country, not just whizzing through.

        So much to see and only a lifetime to do it in! 🙂

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