Thursday, February 07, 2008

El Calafate

After our 5 day hike in Torres Del Paine, we took some time out to relax in El Calafate, Argentina. Unfortunately Jez was bed bound for a few days recovering from his fever. So I took the opportunity to go horse riding in Cerro Fria. Here we were promised views of both the Paine and its less attractive sister, Fitzroy. I wouldn't say they lied about that as it was possible to see them, but only through a telescope!
Meet my guide, Eduardo. He did a far better job of setting a Gaucho fashion trend than the pace of the horses.
Meet my horse, Willow. Now she was a hard worker! Always in the front with no tolerance for horses that lagged or stopped. Actually, very similar in temperament to my husband...
Afterwards we enjoyed an all-you-can-eat asado (BBQ). I felt bad that Jez was still on a soup diet but there is no shortage of asados in Argentina. I knew as soon he was better, he'd be back to his carnivorous ways.
After relaying the yumminess of the asado to my feverous husband, Jez regained his strength and we ventured into the heart of Gaucho land in search of the most comprehensive asado we could find: a sheep station called Estancia Nibepo.
Before lunch, we were given a sheep shearing demonstration. First the sheep's legs are tied together. Then the shearer pulls out a rusty old shear...
...15 minutes later, the sheep is shorn and the wool is ready to be turned into a toasty pair of ugg boots!
Here Jez tries to get some revenge on me for forcing him to cut his hair back in Sucre...
I knew Jez was back to his healthy best when he disappeared from the table and was found tucking in to the almost ready lamb. A moment later Jez was gently asked to refrain from eating the meat until it had been brought to him at his table.
Just before we left the farm, we found this rather oversized bee...we had heard of a type of meat-eating bee that could be found in Bariloche and couldn't help but wonder if these ones were of the same ilk? Then again, why would any self-respecting carnivore settle for lavender when in proximity to such a delicious asado?
A few days later, we went to see the jewel of El Calafate - South America's biggest and still growing glacier, Perito Moreno.
Perito Moreno
At the bus station, we waited patiently in line behind this cuddly customer.
The glacier backed up into the mountains and rested under the arc of a rainbow. It was as if we had reached the end of the world.
We could only go as far as the viewing platform. From this vantage point we could hear the loud cracking of the ice as it calved and smashed into the water causing huge waves that would last for several minutes.
Here we were warned why it might be a bad idea to venture further than the viewing platform...
Its not only people that are in danger from the calving icebergs. If you look closely at the following picture you can see a cruise ship. Its relative size gives you a picture of just how big this chunk of ice is. The ship could not approach any closer, because the waves and flying ice would endanger the passengers.
We were lucky enough to capture an impressive calving moment on camera.
Perito Moreno presented us with another opportunity to go ice hiking. However we had heard that the best place to do this was in a small town called El Chalten. You haven't heard of it? Don't worry, most people haven't. It is a brand spanking new town in Argentina...

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