Huge Glaciers, an Ice Bar, and One Crazy Hostel

So clearly we are doing a fabulous job of keeping you all updated seeing how we are still trying to catch up from our time in South America. But hey, we are getting closer one blog at a time right? To refresh your memory, before getting into El Chalten was our crazy border crossing experience that ended in an awesome hitch right into town.

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The beauty of Patagonian Argentina

Our plan was to stay in El Chalten for about a week trekking through the beautiful Fitz Roy Mountain Range and recouping from the crazy border crossing experience we just had. But those plans were not fit for the time that we were there.

The entrance to El Chalten

The entrance to El Chalten

Apparently, we had got there right when a big storm was brewing and eventually when the big storm hit as well. We had set up our tent right before it started raining on us, and that rain turned into a torrential down pour. The storm had hit. Maarten and the two of us went out and grabbed some dinner and some drinks, then went to find our other friends that had taken the shuttle into town. After that, we went back to our tents and attempted to get a good nights rest.

This was the most delicious steak we have ever had!

This was the most delicious steak we have ever had!

The rest we were hoping to get was interrupted with the strongest wind we had ever experienced. Our tent was literally collapsing on top of us, so instead of sleeping through the night we sat and laughed as we held up our tent with our arms and legs! In the morning, we woke up to another extremely cloudy day where we couldn’t see the Fitz Roy Range. We made the most of our day walking around in the pouring down rain trying to find somewhere to exchange money, and eventually settling down in a nice little café playing games and drinking coffee while Heather napped in the tent. We checked the weather report, and talked with the locals, and the consensus was that the weather was supposed to be crappy for the next four-six days, so we decided we would leave town the next morning if it hadn’t cleared up.

{Traveler’s Tip.. Bring Pesos to El Chalten. There is nowhere to pull out money, and the exchange rate for USD to Argentine Pesos is not very good!}

That night we all went out to a great steak dinner, went back to Martin and GaBi’s hostel to play games and drink wine, and then headed back to our tents for a bit better sleep than the night before. In the morning, Maarten took off for El Calafate on his bike, and the four of us (Jason, Heather, GaBi, Martin) searched for the best place to buy bus tickets to El Calafate, attempted hitchhiking, and then eventually gave in to purchasing bus tickets for later that afternoon.

We planned on staying at a hostel that was highly recommended by many people, but when we arrived to the hostel, it was fully booked for quite some time. This was the first time we had run into the problem of a place being fully booked, along with most other places in town being booked out. We were definitely stressing for a bit. We were told to head up the road to another small hostel that wasn’t booked for the night. When we got there, the owner was arguing with another couple about some payment issues, and Heather got a bad vibe from the place. The group decided to still stay there anyways though, as we were all tired and wanted to put down our heavy packs.

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More of Patagonia’s country side!

The owner gave us a great deal on a room that the four of us could share, and that Maarten could also sleep in the next night. We took her up on it and booked the room for four nights. After getting settled in our room, we went out to the common area to relax for a bit before dinner, and try and figure out our game plan for what we wanted to do in the town. The relaxing part didn’t come too easy. The owner was arguing with her husband and their children were running in and out of us with sticks, literally crawling under our chairs and between our legs, and screaming throwing balls around the area we were all in. We all looked at each other just wondering what in the world we had gotten ourselves into.

We ended up having a great time in El Calafate doing the three major things to do in town: see Glacier Perito Moreno, visit The Glacierium (glacier museum), and experience The Ice Bar (a bar in an ice cave).

On the way to El Calafate

On the way to El Calafate

Maarten and the two of us took a BAFT tour, which is a tour that is less popular and more scenic. Instead of taking the route that thousands of other visitors take a day, we took a more rural route and were able to visit a farm and see a bit more wildlife. We then were dropped off at the glacier earlier than the rush of tourist, and were able to walk around and really enjoy the glacier for about an hour after all the other tourist left. It was such an awesome experience getting to sit in awe of the glacier for so long and really get to see it in action.

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This was the road we took, which was off the beaten path, to get to the Perito Moreno Glacier.

You see a lot of wildlife on this tour!

You see a lot of wildlife on this tour!

We stopped at this farm. Here is a pic of an older Patagonian man and a pet lamb.

We stopped at this farm. Here is a pic of an older Patagonian man and a pet.

This was our first view of the massive glacier.

This was our first view of the massive glacier.

This was the second view we had. The glacier comes to a pointed piece of land, peninsula like. On one side, the right, which you are looking at is the outlet to the ocean. In the previous picture, it is technically a lake because the glacier seals that part of the water from reaching the other side.

This was the second view we had. The glacier comes to a pointed piece of land, peninsula like. On one side, the right, which you are looking at is the outlet to the ocean. In the previous picture, it is technically a lake because the glacier seals that part of the water from reaching the other side.

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A wide angle view of the whole glacier.

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To the middle right, you can see an iceberg that hasn’t totally emerged and flipped. The deep blues that it produces are amazing.

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We were so amazed by the colors produced, the massiveness of this ice, and the power it holds.

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We could have spent days here exploring!

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You can see a small splash in the middle of the berg where a chunk of ice had fallen.

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Nothin’ but ice.

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Heather and Jason at one of the observation platforms.

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The roar and thunder that the calving ice produces is something that can’t be experienced anywhere else but right here.

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A panorama of the glacier, Perito Moreno.

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The three of us having wonderful time at the Parque Nacional de Perito Moreno.

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Patagonia is the best place on earth we have ever been!

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Check out all those crevasses!

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More amazingness!

{Traveler’s Tip.. Take the XL Tour through BAFT. The extra time at the glacier, the pick up at the hostel, and the beer and empanada after the tour, all make it worth the extra 50 pesos or 5 USD.}

The following evening we took the shuttle from town to the Glacierium. There we learned all we could about glaciers, and then thoroughly enjoyed the ice bar.

First time in an ice bar.

First time in an ice bar.

Bottoms up!

Bottoms up!

Cheers!

Cheers!

So cold and fun!

So cold and fun!

Jason was definitely the only one is chacos and shorts!

Jason was definitely the only one is chacos and shorts!

Ice cups!

Ice cups!

Our wonderful bartender in the Glacierium ice bar.

Our wonderful bartender in the Glacierium ice bar.

The crew

The crew

Boy did we have to pee! Check out the sign on the ground!

Boy did we have to pee! Check out the sign on the ground!

Great times!

Great times!

{Traveler’s Tip.. Bring your ISIC card! You will get a discount for the Glacierium! Also, be sure to bring your camera into the Ice Bar. You are only in the bar for 20 minutes, but you will want to take lots of pictures..It’s so much fun!}

We spent the next day recouping and planning a bit for our big hike in Torres Del Paine, and then we boarded our bus to Puerto Natales.

…Where We Have Been And Where We Are Going…

When we got back from Canada, we made our way to Utah where we stayed for three weeks. After Utah, we ventured up to Idaho and spent a weekend at a cabin with some friends, then drove over to Yellowstone National Park where we met up with Heather’s dad. We camped in Yellowstone for about a week before taking off for Grand Teton National Park and seeing the picturesque mountains there. We spent about a month and a half back in our hometown reunited with friends and family before taking off for our friends’ house in Klamath Falls where we crafted tons and prepared for our friend’s baby that arrives in October. We spent our anniversary (July 18th) backpacking in the breathtaking Three Sisters Wilderness Area, celebrated the marriage of Heather’s sister, Lauren, and Dane August 1st, and then took off for a month long cycling tour from Seattle to San Francisco. We completed the cycling trip August 29th, and have made our way down to Southern California visiting lots of friends and family along the way. We will be down in Southern California for about another week before making our way back to Oregon to see our precious new niece and the baby our friend is due to have.

Jason got accepted into graduate school in Aberdeen, Scotland, so in December we will be making a big move over there!

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