Friday the 28th of March 2003- Day 38.
Trip to El Chalten takes 4 hours (more like five because of the road). Nealy 220lm to get there, but again bleak Patagonain Steppe. Between El Chalten and El Calafate there is one (1) “refreshment” stop, and since there is not much traffic, it is all the more important to have sufficient gas and the where-withal to handle problems that might arise.
You can see the snow capped mountains which is nice. Again just one house (hotel) to see on the waya nd stop and have a coffee. You can see the two mountains- Mount Fitz Roy and Mount Torre. Chalten is a small tourist town established in 1985 with about 120 pernament residents. One road in and out. Still there are shops, bars and lots of agencies offering tours. I had booked wirh Chaalten Travel at the bus station in Calafate to book 2 nights accommodation, transport to and from and an ice trek for 225P. This was better than booking the pieces individually which would have come close to 300P. You can book a tour day tour with De Glaciers hostel in Calafate for 315 for the same thing (and you have to camp out). They offer anothers day walking, but you can do this yourself as they are waymarked walks.
You do not need a guide for this. If you get a bus separatly it is 40P each way. The hostel Rio Grande is 22P and the ice trek is 125P. As soon as you get to town, you stop at the National park Office so that the staff can tell you about the park, the rules and regulations. You don not have to play to get into the park as you are staying there, They give you a free (English or Spanish) map of the area telling you what walks you can do and details of the free campsites. yes, free campsites are available but are not serviced. They just have a loo. The guides detailed animals to be seen including Pumas. The main points were that there were no rubbish bins, so everything had to be brought back ( even cigarette buts). No toilets, so bury excrement, dont go the toliet near rivers as the water here is deinkable from the rives, and dont use toilet paper as its takes two years to degrade here. The mean average temperature is 7.5 oc. Its cold, rainy and windy here all year.
We were lucky today as the weather was fine, and no wind or rain. We had clean views of the mountains which was unusual,. Fitz Roy is 3405m high and Cerro Torre is 3102m hight making them the highest summits in South America. Only very skilled technical climbers go to the top.
As soon as I arrived at 1.00pm, I booked to the hostel at 1.00pm and left for a hike at 1.15pm. The hostel is clean, and quiet. No party animals here. People are here to trek, camp, and relax. The rooms (4 per room) are shared dorms. No local for the first night and two English girls the second night. No locks, lockers availble so you hope that people are honest. The hostel is Albergue Rancho Grande (54-2902-492212) or email firstname.lastname@example.org
I took a trek to Lago de les Tres (4 hours up, 3 hours down). Nice day, nice trek with some great views. Busy with people coming and going. Walking back into town with Kate from London, was was on a RTW.