The Argentina border crossing process was much more sophisticated than what we have experienced thus far, especially compared to Bolivia. You are required to pay the reciprocity fee ($160!) online with a credit card, print your receipt, and present it at the border. A fantastic use of technology! Our entire bus of 40+ people got in and out within 30 minutes (vs. 2 hours from Peru to Bolivia, and not everyone crossed). I consider this a pretty nice welcome.
After a six hour bus ride (usually only 5 but our bus apparently had trouble refueling at the gas station), we finally arrived in El Calafate at 8pm. Then we learned there were no buses to El Chaltén for the night (last one was at 6pm) and had to find a hostel. Ideally we would’ve caught the 7am bus from Puerto Natales to El Calafate but apparently you have to book bus tickets more than a day in advance. I really can’t imagine what it’s like here in peak season. You must have to book months in advance then.
The hardest part to all of this was dealing with the worsening cold I picked up from the freezing nights along the W Trek. Congestion, runny nose, cough, dehydration- not fun while traveling and trying to figure out last minute changes. But on the bright side, we saw this beautiful sunset!
We took an 8am bus the next morning to El Chaltén, which made two stops: one 30 minute pit stop at a lake house and another at the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares administration office where they explain the rules and treks in the park. It’s pretty cool that they have this quiet, little town within the park boundaries. The weather was so clear when we arrived, we could see Mount Fitz Roy in all its glory looming behind the town.
People come to El Chaltén primarily for the great trekking and rock climbing in the park. There are many trails in this park for those who want to do a few short day hikes or longer ones for those who want to camp. Since we were left with only one day and I was sick, we decided to do the short hike to Laguna Capri. The map says it’s 2 hours each way but we got there in one.
The trail was very easy to navigate and the views were amazing. We even saw a woodpecker along the way! My camera has poor zoom so this was the best I could do. You can kind of see him pecking…
Despite the easy hike, my cold took all the energy out of me. I passed out and slept through dinner. Slowly getting better! Glad I was able to make it up one hike to see Fitz Roy!