Going one way from Chile to Argentina is difficult – it’s not possible to rent a car one way and private transfers on Christmas Eve in a Christian country is also not possible. So we took the bus. We caught Bus-Sur at 8am from the bus station and after a bunch of driving, two separate border checkpoints and one rest-stop, we made it to El Calafate. We arrived around 2:30pm at the station, jumped in a taxi and checked into Santa Monica Aparts, a small hotel in the center of town.
There are a ton of nice properties on the outskirts of town, but given we didn’t have a car and it was Christmas, we decided being walking distance to the main town center was smart. On arrival, we focused on errands since things would be closed early on Christmas eve and closed entirely on Christmas Day. We first dealt with yet another car rental snafu – National cancelled our car rental for no apparent reason, and with no notice. Then we tried to hit an ATM but it wouldn’t give us any cash (and there are only two in town), and then we focused on getting dinner – I was unable to secure a Christmas eve reservation in advance but fortunately we found dinner at Mi Viejo one of the many restaurants with lamb roasting in the window.
Kayaking to Perito Moreno Glacier
We spent Christmas Day visiting Perito Moreno Glacier. We were picked up at 10:30am and drove for about 1.5 hours to get to the glacier. We were dropped off at the top of the catwalks, and had about an hour and a half to checkout the various viewpoints of the glacier. The experience was peaceful, and then from time to time, it sounded like thunder, but actually, it was pieces of the glacier breaking off and coming rumbling down! An incredible sight.
Around 1:45pm, we made our way to the kayak center and got ready for another adventure. We met Fernando and his crew, who helped us get suited up in thermals, dry suites and boots, and then get situated in our kayaks. We were given some light instruction, mostly on what to do if we were to capsize, and off we went. We were kayaking through icebergs as we made our way to the glacier. We got pretty close and then ended up needing to raft the kayaks together and turn around – the weather conditions worsened and Fernando made a call that we needed to abort so we made our way back.
The tour ended up shorter than planned, but it was still well worth the experience.
Christmas Evening in El Calafate
Once back in town, we had dinner at Isabel Cocina al Disco – homemade pasta was delicious and we also ordered their famous “disco” which was basically meat cooked in a stew like fashion, with great flavours.
It was Christmas – many of the shops and restaurants were closed, but there were a handful of places open and plenty of tourists walking around on this beautiful evening. After dinner, I took the leftovers (we ordered way too much food) and fed the steak to the community dogs. We then got some gelato before headed back to the hotel.