The National Parks in this area are beyond belief. Some you have to pay an entrance fee and some are free. Camping is nearly always free.
Having got the Glacier bug in Torres del Paine we drove to the next Glacier which is called the Perito Moreno Glacier. As the crow flies the two glaciers are only 40km apart but it was over 300km to drive it and involved a border crossing.
We waited several days , in the nearby town of El Calafate for the weather to be right then hit the park at 8am .
The weather was amazing and our first glimpse of the glacier told us that this was going to a great day to remember.
We had booked a boat trip to the glacier and an organised walk on the ice itself.
Having recovered from this incredible day we made our way to the town of El Chalten . This is a touristy town nestled in the foot of a huge mountain range whose star feature is a peak named after a local guy called "Fitzroy"
We have noticed that lots of South American landscape features are traditionally named after locals called O'Higgins, Moreno and Fitzroy
Pat and I did a couple of local walks up to the lesser peaks that overlook the town. Neither of us are great walkers and the longer more serious walks appeared to be slightly out of reach . However :
Two things happened here that we will remember for ever.
Firstly, we met 4 young people who camped next to us who were truly inspirational and amazing ( you know who you are ).
Secondly the adopted us as their temporary parents and took Dad out on walks that I wouldn't ordinarily do, and for this I am very grateful.
We went for two days and stayed for 6 .
Still heading slowly North we set off and the Argentina Ruta 40 . This is one of the main roads that runs up this part of the country. Bearing in mind its a main artery to local towns, you think they could have put a bit of tarmac down.
One section of about 70km is the worst. Its Ripio and shakes everything to death. Half way along this section my brakes failed and my fluid warning light came on . It was instantly apparent that I had lost all the fluid in the rear brakes so we limped into a town called Gobernador Gregores in search of a mechanic , only to discover that they were in the middle of a three day national holiday. We arrived at 8pm Sunday and saw that the Tourist info was still open. I enquired about a mechanic and the tourist adviser quickly rang one and we drove around to see him. After a quick examination he saw that a stone from the Ruta 40 had severed a hydraulic brake pipe..
He asked us to return the next day and after 1 hour we were all fixed and £15.00 lighter. What a great service.
Back on the road we headed further up Ruta 40 to see a local point of interest called Cueva de los Manos.
This is a collection of human hand prints on cliff walls that date back to over 9500 years ago.
We did the tour , the heat that day in the canyon was nearly unbearable for us but made even more unbelievable by the fact that all the Guides were wearing overcoats and body warmers .
Now Archaeologists spent 25 years interpreting these pre historic hand prints and came to the conclusion that they didn't really know what they mean. ( I bet that was a long 25 years )
However, their best guess is that they were some sort of ancient version of kids using a magic marker to write their name on the bus stop.
You will notice in the last image that there is an image of a person.
Their best guess is that this is a Dancer by the shape of his limbs . Then again it could be a bloke who has managed to get a wasp up his arse..... Who knows .
What is apparent is that Man has survived on our old friend the Guanaco for thousands of years .
Just down the road out of site was Canadon Caracoles Chico. An incredible night stop.
Now this was Valentines day so who could have picked a more romantic overnight stop. What could possible go wrong
The flat base of this canyon has a dried up salt bed , or so we thought .
As you can see the base of the canyon had the consistency and texture of Apple Crumble . Crusty on the top and pretty wet underneath.
Pat, who has always wanted a foot treatment on Valentines day tested the crust.
It took 20 minuted to find the flip flops and another half an hour scraping the mud off her shredded legs.
My fault obviously
The choice was head North or go South again...... I wonder
Now a few post ago I rather unfairly critisied the Misfit animal called the Guanaco.
I sugested that God was maybe in some sort of experimental stage when he knocked it up.
I would like to retract this statement and intriduce you to a visitor to our door every night for 6 nights in El Chalten
I have come to the conclusion that God must have dreamt this one up the day after inventing the hedgehog and the Crusty Meat Pie.