From Puerto Natales it is a quick hop to the Argentinian border where one is immediately reminded that the Falkland Islands (if you didn’t know) do indeed belong to Argentina (best to ignore that they were decisively defeated by the UK in 1982). The 30th anniversary of that conflict was being ‘celebrated’ while I was in the region and Christina Kirchner was stirring the pot with very blatant op-ed pieces published in several UK newspapers. Luckily for the UK, a sizable modern force of Eurofighter Typhoons, Gurkhas, Royal Marines and guided missile destroyers + significant local desire to remain British performs admirably against blue signs, a 70’s era military and a terrible economy.
Apparently a sizable chunk of supplies required to to sustain life on the Falklands are routed through Chile, creating yet another bone of contention between the two countries.
Politics aside, the road to El Calafate from Chile runs through yet another completely different geography. Through endless pampas-like (although not quite the Pampas) terrain we were treated to some of the best sunsets I have ever experienced. I can’t recall a Canadian equivalent to these landscapes, although images of American southwest come to mind. One can make out what I believe to be the Torres del Paine Massif in several of the photos.
El Calafate, home of the Calafate berry and gateway to Los Glaciers National Park. Probably not as well known as the more northern Bariloche (home to several notorious Nazi’s), El Calafate is one of those up-and-coming outdoor mecca’s of the Argentina mountain scene. Situated in the desert near the shore of Lake Aregentino, is not quite in the mountains yet…but pretty close. Like Ushuaia, there is a heavy European influence on the architecture/design as well as a North American love of SUV’s.
About an hour and half west of El Calafate is the mighty and utterly amazing Perito Moreno Glacier. The world’s third largest source of fresh water, the glacier also holds the distinction of being an expanding ice sheet. Simply unreal.