Exploring South America – Part VI – Patagonia Bound

Flying to Patagonia is literally like flying to the end of the world. We were heading toward El Calafate (Argentina), which is nestled on the leeway side of the Andes mountains. Chile is situated on the windward side, and there are constant references to close proximity of Chile as the neighboring country. In fact, it only takes 2 hours by horseback , cross the Andes and you are on Chilean soil.

Our stay in El Calafate was for 3 days; A short stay in Alpine-like conditions. In fact, the town is crawling with Europeans with their expensive parkas and serious trekking outfits, boots and all. It is a one main street kind of town, with nice shops selling souvenirs, Yerba Mate tea brewing accompaniments and hand-made chocolates. Having hot liquids is always a welcome necessity when it comes to walking around El Calafate.

The big show in town is traveling 50 miles to Los Glaciares National Park to see the largest glacier in the world, Perito Moreno glacier (i.e. outside Antarctica and Greenland). No words can fully describe the first sighting of this magnificient glacier. It simply takes your breath away! We watched the ice cap from the balconies, hoping to capture the crashing (calving) of the ice into the Argentino Lake.

En route to the Perito, who can forget the Andean condors making an impressive display of soaring and motionless flights up into the air against a desolate Patagonian background? These incredible condors have the largest wingspan of any living bird measuring as much as 3 meters, and can weigh up to 26 pounds.
Because of the weather conditions, having four seasons in one day, and amount of walking, hiking and horseback riding, you need to be dressed right in order to be protected from rains, high winds, and cold weather conditions. Changing into dry, clean clothing, including dry Fannypants underwear is necessary to be comfortable on the long bus ride back into town.

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