Patagonia - Argentina & Chile + Iguazu Falls travel blog

More adventures on the way to El Chalten,still in Los Glaciares NP!

For of the way we travel on Route 40, Argentina´s Route 66, popular of course especially with bikers. It runs from La Quiaca in the North to Ushuaia in the South. 3700 Km in a straight line but in reality more than 5000Km.

On the way our guide introduces us to Mate, the tea drunk by all Argentinians and with great ritual. It is made from a species of holly and used to be drunk by the poor as it is also a hunger depressant. It is a very social drink and everyone shares the same ´straw´, even strangers! It is slightly bitter at first but you eat little biscuits made of puff pastry and it is OK when you get used to it. We pass through an area where the Jesuits evangelised (The Mission film). The local tribe´s language is now being taught in schools to preserve it as the last native language alive in Argentina.

The road again is long and straight and there is just one stop en route, the now historical Hotel La Leona. A cafe, shop and home for artefacts family run by a gaucho family. The head of the family wearing his gaucho gear proudly! They do a mean Lemon Meringue Pie too. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid allegedly ran a farm here before they ran to Bolivia.

We are watching for our first view of the Mount Fitzroy range and suddenly it comes into view in the distance, unusually clear. It used to be called El Chalten in the local language meaning Smoking Mountain as it mostly had cloud streaming from it. Photo stop for the view and silly group pics in the middle of the road empty in each direction as far as we can see.

Back on the bus but something is amiss ... the roadside is soft sand and the back wheels are embedded. Everyone off to lighten the load, digging the sand out rocks behind the wheel do not work. All The luggage comes out and the men are pushing again to no avail and the bus slews to the side and keels a bit! Then two tourist buses appear one from each direction. How many men does it take to work out what to do next,about 17 it seems!!!!

After much discussion and rearrangement of rocks the driver reverses down and goes along a channel and takes a run up the incline 50 yds along and makes it to great cheers! How many bus adventures can one group have?? Mount Fitzroy at least is in a good mood and we have superb cloudless views for the rest of the journey but no more photo stops!

El Chalten is the newest town in , just 1000 permanent inhabitants, built to avoid land grab by Chile! It is truly a modern frontier town, just needs the tumbleweed! It is the place to stay for walking or mountaineering in the Fitzroy Massif area. Our hosteria is basic but in a great position for our planned hikes in the area. There is a Microbrewery in the town which has to be visited of course to build ourselves up for tomorrow and does delicious dark beer a bit like stout.

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