Calafate (July 7 - 12, 2016)

On my last location post, I explained how we quickly skedaddled out of Chile. That maybe wasn’t so smart. The border town in Argentina felt like a ghost town. There were people, but all the stores were practically closed. The tiny town had an awkward amount of baby item stores. We found a frozen yoghurt place and the gas station restaurant to be the only places serving food. No method of accommodation even exists in this town. We asked several locals who couldn’t come up with a single option. And that was the biggest dilemma.

The bus agency was open, being afternoon, the next bus to our destination, Calafate, didn’t leave until late evening. With a layover, the schedule had us arriving at 12:30am. With no internet available and having done no research on Calafate yet, we didn’t even know what to expect! Will they have available accommodation? If yes, will we even be let in at 1am? We had no choice. We bought the crazy expensive ticket. $32 dollars for a few hours costed more than Chile! Unbelievable. During the bus ride, I was worried.

 Found Calafate map during the bus layover. Took photo in case it's accurate and could provide help at destination. Useless.

Found Calafate map during the bus layover. Took photo in case it's accurate and could provide help at destination. Useless.

Arriving in Calafate, the town was much bigger than expected. This is a good sign that we have more options with accommodation and one of them must let us in, no? Our battle plan comprised of relying on a bus station staff to know the best bet to find hostels. We weren’t the only ones. Our friends had the same idea.

Our friends were people we ran into at the bordering town. They desperately needed a money exchange (banks were closed as well) and while inside the bus agency asked us where we exchanged ours. They came in on the same bus to Argentina and apparently took the same bus to Calafate with us as well. The couple spoke decent English, and to our benefit they were Spanish speakers. Obviously they had the same issue as us. So we decided to team up on our search for a hostel.

Streets were dead. Barely any street lights. Knocked at 4 hostels already and no sign of life. Desperation kicked in. Finally, a lady opened up. $6 a night is not bad. A cheap, shitty hostel. Literally. On the first morning, during the early hours, I went for a shower and realized too late that this bathroom is where their two dogs and one cat do their business overnight. Later I learned the lady cleans the floor in the morning, but I beat her to the punch. My friend held post outside because none of the bathrooms locked or had shower curtains. Risky situation. I’m not relying on the vacant/occupied sign users manually have to turn.

 Beautiful Perito Moreno Glacier

Beautiful Perito Moreno Glacier

Laziness, the cheap price, and bad cleanliness reviews of other hostels kept us there. Our friends stayed as well and turned out to be good resources. All of us planned on going to the Perito Moreno Glacier. They negotiated a taxi fare which was cheaper split in four than paying for the bus ($21.67 per person). The personal driver was awesome and provided us with great information about the glacier and the town during our ride.

At the glacier, we strolled along the boardwalk to view the ice structure from every angle. The huge hunk of nature has an average height of 60 meters above water and stretches another 120 meters below. We constantly heard the thunder and crackling from the glacier. Pieces of the structure would fall, some of them were big, creating a reaching splash. Spending 3 hours staring at the ice, I was amazed by its presence. Didn’t think I could stare at frozen water mass for that long and be entertained.

 Panoramic photo of the glacier by my Colombian friend, Juliana.

Panoramic photo of the glacier by my Colombian friend, Juliana.

Returned from our excursion, my travel buddy and I had few days to kill before our flight to Buenos Aires. Taking the bus would have been just as expensive. The travel cost had us removing couple other destinations out of our plan. Questioning if there was a bus at all for our route underlined the cost factor. We just wanted to get out of Argentina, but still see the capital. Our hostel friends flew out a day prior, but forgot their microfiber towel in the kitchen, where they had hung it to dry. We were going to deliver it to them, but our flight got postponed to the next day due to bad weather. Yay for spending another night at the poopy hostel. My first WorkAway experience in Buenos Aires was awaiting.


Cost breakdown of Calafate (5 days with total cost of $171. Average daily cost is $34.20.)

  • Hostel: $33.33 (5 nights)
  • Transportation: $93.13
    • Busses: $50.13 (initial transportation to the city. 3 busses)
    • Taxis: $43
  • Food: $22.54
    • Meals: $17.97 (6 meals)
      • Groceries: $4.57
  • Activity: $22 (Glacier Park Entry Fee)