Welcome back to another addition to Adventure Time! Today we travel to El Calafate
A little history
El Calafate is 316 km. far from Río Gallegos, and takes its name from the shrub Calafate, indigenous from Patagonia. Its fruit is an appetizing berry used for the elaboration of jam. According to the tradition, whoever eats calafate will return for more. But reality tells that those who come to El Calafate do not want to leave.
In October 1867, an expedition, promoted, organized and financed by Captain Luis Piedrabuena went up to the birth of river Santa Cruz under the orders of Guillermo Gardiner and his crew, who sailed along the southern margin of the river, what took them 33 days to go, and 16 to return. Along the way they crossed the river Bote, arrived near the present location of El Calafate, found the brook coming from the mountains and saw an island -Isla Solitaria-. They passed by Chorrillo Malo, continued to Lago Roca, while performing partial recconnossaince, and considered the possibility to find a pass to the Pacific. This expedition was important because they discovered the lake called by Moreno Lago Argentino, and set the conditions to facilitate future expeditions, by describing water, plants, pastures and animals.
In November 1873, second lieutenant Valentín Feilberg was appointed to explore the origin of river Santa Cruz. They marched on rowboats during 22 days, but the information they had was not correct, and thought they were rowing along the river Viedma. They hoisted the flag in a paddle and left a bottle with a document to prove their deed.
By the end of 1876 and beginning of 1877, Carlos Moyano and Francisco Moreno sailed and explored the river Santa Cruz from Isla Pavón. On 15th February 1877 Moreno called Lago Argentino the lake where that river originates. They continued to the north through river La Leona up to Lago Viedma. They reached river Chalía, lake San Martín and lake Tar, the name given by the aborigines. The information about Lago Argentino was known due to this expedition. The point where the north and the south branch split was called Punta Bandera and the Argentine flag was placed. They also baptized the lakes Frías Buenos Aires Moyano, Stokes, Fitz Roy and Punta Avellaneda.
In 1789, the glaciar Moreno was seen for the first time by Captain Juan Tomás Rogers, from the Chilean army and given the name of the director of the Oficina Hidrográfica de la Marina de Chile “Francisco Gormaz”, since it was that office which sponsored the expedition.
Years later, Hauthal, who was working for the Comisión Argentina de Límites called it Bismark in honor of the Prussian chancellor.
In 1887 Agustín del Castillo was in Lago Argentino and at the foot of mount Paine. In 1892, Alcides Mercerat, a French scientist, went on an excursion alon the river Santa Cruz up to Lago Argentino and and Cordillera del Paine, where he observed geology and gathered archaeological evidence.
So what is there to see?
A must, the Perito Moreno Glacier, 80km (50miles) away from El Calafate. Park entrance fee is the whopping 130 pesos (since March 1, 2013) and allows you to stay only for one day, no camping inside – you need to have left by 10 pm. You can see the enormous glacier just meters away from you, and listen all the sounds that the cracking ice makes 24 hours a day. And when a front wall of the glacier falls down, well, it is just amazing! It is the main point of tourism. Viewing platforms and easy trails (with quite a number of steps, though) make the visit and the observation easy and pleasant. You can visit many ranches (estancias), where you can enjoy the wild nature, perfect meals, and stay there in the middle of nowhere, relaxing from the big cities rush. Or take a boat excursion and see many of the glaciers and places in the National Park Los Glaciares. The colors and shapes of the ice-bergs floating in the lake are really awesome and inspiring, making a boat ride in a sunny day a fantastic day out. Another perfect point, is Onelli Bay, one of the most romantics sites here. Just bring your lunch box, a bottle of champagne, and chill it in the lake, or just add a piece of pure crystal ice. Wild nature can be seen just walking a few blocks away from main street, like in El Cañadón, or at Laguna Nimez, where you can see all kind of patagonic birds feet away from you. Wildlife and views, especially at dusk, make Laguna Nimez a must see, perfect if you have just arrived in town, settled your next days excursion and eager to go see some real Patagonia. At night, grab a chair and go outside. The non polluted sky shows stars like you will never see again, and don´t be surprised by satellites passing by!
And that’s all from our travel section this week. Be sure to tune in next time to see where we might pop up!
This blog is proudly brought to you by Sidra Baksh. Go check out our website for professional English, Spanish and Portuguese translation services!