The bus ride from Puerto Natales to El Calafate took a little longer than expected with a long wait at the Chile/Argentina border and our bus running out of petrol along the way. Thanks to the bus driver who pulled in to a closed gas station and hopped off the bus leaving the full bus of passengers sitting for 45 minutes wondering what was going on – apparently even locals can’t tell when things may or may not be open! As for border patrol, the only highlight of that hour-long wait was Will looking at a framed picture on the wall and saying “how funny, they have the Argentinian beauty queen on the wall” in which I explained that it was no beauty queen, rather the Argentinian president Christina Fernandez de Kirchner.
Anyhow, after finally having our passports stamped and finding someone to open the gas station for us we continued on the road and arrived in El Calafate late in the afternoon. We walked to America del Sur hostel located up on the hill of the small town with a beautiful view over the surrounding mountains and lakes. Once we were settled we walked along the main street of El Calafate, passing the numerous tour agencies, souvenir stores, overpriced parillas (grill restaurants) and chocolate cafes that line the streets. The town survives off tourists visiting the surrounding National Parks and you sort of feel that it has lost a lot of its original identity as a result. We had our first Argentinian empanadas and found a cheap yet nothing-to-write-home about steak before we were off to bed as we too were off to explore Los Glaciares National Park in the morning.