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  • Writer's pictureKirk

El Calafate Patagonia - Self Drive (Part 1)

Updated: Oct 2, 2023

On a trip to the Argentina side of Patagonia I visited the beautiful, scenic area around El Calafate. I flew into El Calafate airport from Ushuaia and rented a car from there. It was December so it was their summer time, but still quite cool.


I've chose to break this up over two post as there is just so many pictures and scenes to cover. To me, this is the heart and soul of what is called Patagonia (no, not the clothing brand). The real beauty of the land resides here.


There are a couple choices where to stay in the area. There's the larger El Calafate and the smaller, more quaint village of El Chalten. I chose the larger town because I knew El Chalten would have a younger backpacking crowd and I didn't feel I would fit in. But I think I made the wrong choice after my drive through the small village.


El Calafate is a launching point to see the Los Glacieres National Park. I already covered a portion of this trip in this post regarding Perito Moreno Glacier:


The park is more than the glacier. It's huge, encompassing about 1.5 million acres or 600,000 hectares. The park gets its name, obviously, from the glaciers which is a main attraction of the park. And the glaciers are beautiful:



The glaciers cover about half of this huge national park, but there is so much more to this than the glaciers. The countryside is so serene and beautiful. I was there during their busy season of December but I still felt the peace and solitude. Mainly because the park is so big the visitors are well spread out, other than the most popular of sites like Perito Moreno Glacier viewing point.


I'll start with my drive to El Chalten.


Yeah baby! Pink Flamingos Argentina style.



Hear how hard the wind was blowing in these videos? You can hardly hear my narration. It was like that all the time in the open areas. Not so in the wooded areas.


Wild llamas on the run. What are they so afraid of? I talked nicely to them!


So peaceful here (other than the wind).


See the rainbow?


When your morning starts like this, you know it's going to be a great day! What a great drive.


This drive went on for a few hours. I made frequent stops along the way to enjoy the natural surroundings. This is all part of the National park:


I eventually arrived in the small village of El Chalten:


By the time I arrived the weather had changed. It had become more dreary with a misty rain coming down. But that just added to the mystique of this isolated village. I stopped here to eat a late breakfast.


Then it was on past the village to the isolated scenery beyond. Here's where it got much more desolate and serene.


To this point the roads had been paved. Beyond El Chalten I encountered mostly graveled roads, however, they were mostly well maintained.


The road beyond the village. Now it's getting fun!


A rocky reminder that I'm bordering the rugged Andes mountain range, the divider between Chili and Argentina. In fact, El Calafate was only relatively recently decided to be in Argentina after settling a border dispute (peacefully) with Chili.


The scenery has been fantastic to this point, but it's only going to get better. I'll pick it up from beyond El Chalten on the next post tomorrow.

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