To get to El Chalten you have to pass through a town called Perito Moreno. The bus to Perito Moreno was fine. We were lucky because there were only 6 other people on our bus so we got to spread out and Mark and I sat behind each other to spread out to sleep. Our bus left at 6:45am and made its way down Route 40.
(Yes this is the main national highway connecting the north to the south…they hope to pave this section it someday..)
We stopped in some dead-end town for lunch and Mark and I went to the petrol station so he could use the bathroom and I look for some chairs to sit on to eat our lunch. While I was in the petrol station buying water some random guy that was paying for petrol asked me where I was from, the tugged on my fringe/hair falling out of my ponytail and said ‘Gringa!!!’ and had a chuckle, then walked away. Awkward turtle moment with the petrol station staff followed.
We arrived in Perito Moreno at 8pm and checked into our accommodation. Ok so we’ve all read books or seen movies where people go road tripping/on the run from the law through America or some place and end up in a crappy motel with dirty/crusty linen, a crack for a window, a hole in the floor of the bathroom revealing a bubbling potion of hair and goop in the sewerage, dirt in the wall, bugs creeping about and mouldy shower curtains. Well the hotel we stayed at was the inspiration for such stories. The problem was the town was so dead (to top it off it was a SUNDAY urgh!) that you could either stand around on the freezing cold streets with nowhere to go and nothing to see (the land was barren) or sit inside the hotel room.
We popped down to the supermarket and bought some ham, cheese and bread for dinner. We had an early night and slept in our silk sleeping bags that I bought in Vietnam.
Sleeping in a bit we decided to spend our last day in Bariloche having a go at bike riding and climbing up one of the local mountains.
We caught a local bus to Cerro Campanario and began the one hour walk that had been recommended at the hostel.
Unfortunately a walk didn’t accurately describe the steep nature of the trek we did, nor amount of ash on the floor making everything slippery nor the amount of hornets, wasps and bees that we would have to walk through hoping to not get stung.
(BUMBLEBEEEE!!! He was sooo FAT)
The view was amazing:
By the end of it we were puffed out and after admiring the view we decided to take the chair lift option down to the ground because it was almost 2pm and we hadn’t started our bike ride yet.
We walked the 2 kms to the bike shop to pick up our bikes and then began the ride around Cicuito Chico.
Unfortunately that day the wind had picked up and there was a lot of thick ash in the air making it had to breath. There were also lots of cars driving past kicking up the ash and dirt on the floor making it hard to breathe and see.
The other problem was having to ride our bikes on the road made for cars. Now I don’t think I’ve made much mention of the driving style here in Argentina. I don’t really know how to describe it. It’s a bit of a mix between a 17 year old P plater that is showing off to his mates, a drunk old man just swerving into other lanes and in general people not following road rules (although I’m not sure they actually exist here). We did about 1/3 of the cicuit and stopped to eat our lunch by a lake. We decided at that point not to do the rest of the circuit mainly to save our lives. There were too many blind corners and you’d have to pull over too many times. The sides of the roads were pilled with ash so you couldn’t just ride normally, it was easy to lose control of the bike (which we did a couple of times) and next to the edge of the road was a steep tumble.
I was worried that we’d end up getting hit by one of the trucks speeding by (speed limit = 20km/h aka 80km/h in Argentine measurement). We headed back to the bike shop to drop them off and head back to town.
By then it was late in the afternoon and we had a look around town at some shops then headed back to the hostel to shower and change before dinner. The hostel recommended a place for asado and we hoped it wasn’t a dud.
Sitting down the smell of the BBQ was amazing and we were looking forward to something delicious. We ordered a serving of Bife de Lomito (Sirloin Steak) cooked rare and a side of French fries. I also ordered a bottle of wine to share with Mark (aka I wanted to drink and Mark was dragged into it). A tasty Malbec was promptly brought to our table and I then got to drink ¾ of the bottle with Mark drinking the other quarter. Odd thing about ordering: when the waiter came up to us we went to order our wine as we hadn’t chosen the food yet and he said he couldn’t take our order he had to get the other waiter to do it. Then about ten minutes later the other waiter came and took our order for the wine. Then the original waiter brought out our wine and served it to us. A bit confused I guess the other waiter was their sommelier but I didn’t think it was necessary and he took so long to come get our order even though we could see he was just standing around the bar.
Shortly after we ordered our food a giant wooden slab came out with two giant chunks of beef. This was then followed by an enormous bowl of French fries so big that Oprah on one of her fat days wouldn’t make a dent in. A large bowl of chimichuri (a fresh herby salsa) was also brought round. Digging into the succulent meat it just dissolved in your mouth and the chimichuri was the perfect mix to go with it. After getting through the slabs of meat and most of the wine we ordered some flan (crème caramel) with dulce de leche and cream to finish it off. We slowly plodded back to the hostel wishing that we had packed our bags before dinner and dreading the early morning bus to the town of Perito Moreno en route to El Chalten.
Rule: Being itchy is not fun!
After day 2 at Bariloche I noticed I had a few little insect bites on the side of my stomach. I didn’t think much of it until I noticed similar bit on my arms and then realised how itchy they were. I later mentioned them to Mark who showed me the bites on his legs and arms and chest. UHOH! Looking around we didn’t find bed bugs (thank god) and couldn’t find the cause of it. We told the guy at the hostel about it and he wasn’t sure what it could be and said they’d change our linen etc and clean the room for us that day while we were gone, and it also happened to be the day for pest control so they should hopefully get rid of what it was. Even after that we still got some new bites and none of us knew what it was but geeze it was itchy, and we bought some cream at the chemist for it. They washed our clothes etc for free in case whatever it was got in there. We never quite found out what it was and they felt really bad about it but it wasn’t really their fault.
After such exhausting days Mark and I were looking forward to a half day of horse riding, followed by lunch and then a relaxing afternoon or leisure. We woke up to an absolutely gorgeous sunny day with no rain or wind and were very excited that the weather seemed to have turned out well for us.
After being driven 15 minutes out of town and driving through the forest we arrived at a gorgeous cottage in front of a a lake. The scene was picturesque with the sun beaming down on us from the blue sky, the lake a rainbow of aquamarine with tiny fluffy ducklings swimming around their mammas and papas and spring flowers of every colour sprouting and smiling at us.
We went inside and had a breakfast with fresh jam, bread, pastries and hot tea/coffee/chocolate. After this we were lead out by Marie a tiny little French girl who looked ridiculously familiar but I just couldn’t put my finger on who it was. For fans of Game of Thrones Mark later told me that she looked like a slightly older version of Arya Stark and I went AHA! That’s it! As we were walking to the stables we met one of the dogs carrying a large stick. He seemed like he wanted to play fetch but if you tried to get the stick he ran away. Eventually he dropped the stick and I threw a new one for him. He came running back with it but wouldn’t hand it over. Eventually he’d drop the stick somewhere and then you’d have to throw another stick. I played with him while Marie got the horses ready. Eventually I stopped and had turned around to look at something when the dog ran up behind me a shoved my back and made me stumble forward with the force. Then he looked at me happily waiting for me to throw him a stick! It was a ridiculously energetic dog and ran with us the entire horse ride chasing rabbits, cows, birds and running circles around everyone.
We went inside and had a breakfast with fresh jam, bread, pastries and hot tea/coffee/chocolate. After this we were lead out by Marie a tiny little French girl who looked ridiculously familiar but I just couldn’t put my finger on who it was. For fans of Game of Thrones Mark later told me that she looked like a slightly older version of Arya Stark and I went AHA! That’s it!
As we were walking to the stables we met one of the dogs carrying a large stick. He seemed like he wanted to play fetch but if you tried to get the stick he ran away. Eventually he dropped the stick and I threw a new one for him. He came running back with it but wouldn’t hand it over. Eventually he’d drop the stick somewhere and then you’d have to throw another stick. I played with him while Marie got the horses ready. Eventually I stopped and had turned around to look at something when the dog ran up behind me a shoved my back and made me stumble forward with the force. Then he looked at me happily waiting for me to throw him a stick! It was a ridiculously energetic dog and ran with us the entire horse ride chasing rabbits, cows, birds and running circles around everyone.
We were each given a horse. Mark’s horse was called Pocco and I can’t remember the name of mine. We all got on and were shown how to get them to walk, stop and then turn them left or right. Once everyone was mounted on their horse Marie told us to get moving. Mark’s horse was closest to the front so all the horses lined up behind Pocco. Problem was Pocco wasn’t moving. No matter what Mark did, Pocco wouldn’t move a muscle. Eventually I got my horse to move out of the crowd and the others followed, but Pocco was trailing at the back.
Pocco had a calm temperament and was a bit lazy. Marie ended up giving Mark a branch to give him a bit of a wake to wake him up and get him moving. He eventually caught up but still lagged at the back for the trip.
We spent the morning going through the forest, through streams and open fields.
Towards the end we were riding next to the lake and it was an amazing view. We eventually made it to the shore of the lake and rode in the water for a bit. “Feet up everyone” didn’t really help when my horse just kept wanting to go deeper into the water!
After making our way back to the stables we had lunch waiting for us. A warm bowl of goulash (delicious) was waiting us to devour along with some red wine. We had some time to sit around outside and just soak up the beauty of the place and then we were taken back to our hostels.
The afternoon was spent being a bit lazy and buying a couple of things to take home.
Mark reminded me of this the other day. We were walking down the main street in Salta and I saw a dog with a giant firework in his mouth and said “HAha the dog stole the firework..how dangerous”. Then Mark pointed out that the dog would stop put it down, look around then pick it up and keep going. Then he noticed a guy following the dog. The dog was selling the fireworks for the guy!!!
I managed to get Mark to reluctantly agree to go white water rafting. We had originally planned to do this in Mendoza but had chosen to use our days there to do other excursions. I was glad we didn’t because when we saw the river there it was ridiculously low and didn’t look fun (aka scary) at all! We picked a tour with a 3-4 grade rating (5 being the highest rating) because the 1-2 sounded like it wouldn’t be as much fun. By we I mean I because Mark wasn’t keen on any of them. He did however accept the fact that he had to do this part of the trip for me.
Pouring rain and howling wind greeted us as we awoke which wasn’t a big bother as we were going to get wet with glacial waters anyways. I figured why not get a bit of rain on us at the same time. So it was luckily the best day to have picked to go rafting in icy cold waters.
After getting picked up and driven about 30 minutes out of town we arrived at our base camp. Here we warmed up with a cup of hot tea/coffee/chocolate and ate some delicious homemade jam with bread and butter. We were given our wet suits and waterproof jackets to change into and told to put on shoes that we didn’t mind getting wet.
Next up were helmets. To the regular person helmets are not a big deal. You pick one you put it on and you make it tighter or looser. Unfortunately for Mark this isn’t the case. His head is on the larger side of the spectrum and we were in a country with ridiculously small people everywhere (we were yet to meet a non-tourist that was as tall as him). They gave him the biggest helmet they had and it was uncomfortably tight. They told him the next option was the canoe and unfortunately he was stuck with what he had. By stuck I mean literally, the thing was so tight he didn’t even need to put the clip on so it wouldn’t come off.
Jumping on the bus again (this time with a trailer attached to the back with our rafts on top) we made our way to the river. After getting some basic instructions on how to sit, paddle and different commands we split into two groups of 6 and got into our rafts.
Mark and I were in the back of the raft and by that point I was sure Mark was going to volunteer himself off the raft and back into bus. Luckily he stayed in and persevered. He now tells me that when he got into the raft he realised he enjoyed water and was OK with the whole thing. He was apparently too proud at the point to admit that he wasn’t scared and so kept up the rouse for the first half of the rafting trip to save face and then admitted that he had ‘stopped being scared’.
Sitting in the raft the first thing you notice is the FREEZING cold water on your feet. You have to stick your feet in a slightly awkward position to essentially stick yourself to the boat so you (hopefully) don’t fly out.
We spent the first ten minutes on a very calm stretch of water having a go at following commands and keeping in rhythm with the lead rowers. Nikko was our leader sitting at the back of the boat and he explained the ‘emergency’ procedures and the three rules to follow if you fell out of the boat.
1) Don’t panic.
2) SMILE. If you don’t smile they won’t be able to get a good photo and the safety kayak rider wont help you. They were serious about this.
3) Position yourself on our back with feet infront of you and arms behind you so you can use your feet to push off anything you drift towards.
Directly after this was our first rapid. It was fun we all got a bit splashed and had a good laugh. As we went down the river Nikko told us how the river is formed by melting snow from the mountains and leads into Chile and then flows out in the Pacific Ocean. It’s a 5-day trip that he did 2 years ago. He told us to make sure we stopped at the right point at the end because otherwise the next place to stop was in Chile.
During certain parts of the year the trip becomes wither harder or easier. In winter the river level falls and many rocks are exposed making lots of the river too dangerous to navigate even for very experienced rafters (but Mark now thinks he could do it because he’s the best rafter EVER). Spring time (when we were there) is one of the best times to go because the water level increases but there are still quite a few exposed rocks to deal with. A balance between danger and fun. Summer time (the wet season) brings lots of rain and the river fills up about another 10 metres higher than in spiring and the river becomes extremely fast flowing but with less rapids. Our 3-4hour trip takes about 1.5-2 hours in the summer.
After each rapid we all had to stick our oars into the boat and raise them up a yell out as a group in celebration of our survival. We all had a chance to be at the front of the boat which is the scariest/most fun part because as the boat goes into the rapid and points down into the water a giant wave comes over the top of you and crashes down around you. As Mark says; you become one with the river. The front people also have to lead the boat in terms of rowing rhythm and listening to the commands from the leader. It goes like this Nikko (leader) yells out a command, two front rowers follow command, rest of the boat follow their rhythm. Unfortunately the rest of our group either didn’t hear this, understand this, were a bit too deaf or just a little bit too dumb to get the concept. The guy in front of me kept rowing at the wrong pace to the woman in front of him, the other lead rower wasn’t rowing in unison with the other leader. When we swapped and there were new leaders they didn’t pay attention to Nikko and would row when he’d say to stop or just randomly stop rowing when he wanted to have a chat. Mark and I got to the front and were both like thank god! We agreed that we were the BEST rowing leaders of the entire trip. In perfect unison, lightning fast reactions to commands, keeping the team together and spirits high. Yes indeed, we ruled as leaders.
Enough about our awesomeness though. All up there were ten rapids with names like The Devils Intestines, The Exorcist, Relax! and Deep Throat. It was all great fun and full of laughter and screaming and shivering.
Drenched, cold, and starting to get very tired we made our way through the final 3 rapids. These were the ones that were likely to result in someone falling out of the raft or the raft capsizing so it was very important to remember the rules and follow instructions. We got through the first two fine. Then we reached the final one.
This was just past the Chilean border and if we didn’t get off at this spot there was not another stop for a VERY long time and you’d be stuck in Chile. This important stop was also only 2 metres from the final rapid. This meant that as soon as we passed the rapid we had to row very quickly to the edge of the river. We made it through the rapid and began to paddle furiously to the edge. Paddle and paddle and paddle and paddle. Only problem was the boat wasn’t moving. We had gotten stuck on top of a rock and between a tree an couldn’t move. Trying to withhold our laughter and keen to get warm and dry we all had to move to different parts of the boat to try to dislodge ourselves and poor Nikko had to get out and swim in the water and push the boat. Finally after about 10 minutes we got ourselves off the rock and quickly paddled to the shore.
Jumping out of the boat we all realised that our feet were frozen and numb. Unfortunately we also had a very large and steep climb to get to the car on the road.
Walking very carefully because I couldn’t feel my feet they kept sliding underneath me and trying to roll. Not great because my left ankle is already damaged enough from various ankle sprains when I was younger so I had to go slowly whilst wanting to just run up get changed into warm dry clothes.
Getting changed in a converted barn with a field of sheep poop all around us was interesting. My pants that I’d left on the bus had fallen on the floor while we were rafting and were covered in mud so luckily I had brought a pair of shorts with me that day to change into. Also luckily Kiera had lent us some very handy quick dry towels that we had chucked in our bags as well.
Wearing warm clothes we got a cup of hot sweet tea to warm us up as we made our way to base camp. We had brought a packed lunch and thought it a waste to not eat it and so hadn’t taken the option of buying a meal that was prepared as we rafted. The smell of a hot, tasty asado filled the room as we walked in and Mark and I looked at our cheese sandwiches and instantly regretted our decision.
After lunch we had a look through the photos that one of the team had taken as we rafted and had the option of buying a CD with all the photos and some video of the trip on it for 100 pesos.
Also there are no photos for this blog from my trip because I need a CD drive to upload the photos so they’ll have to wait until later. So I’ve added other peoples photos for effect.
The photographer was also the driver and if you chose not to buy the CD you also had to find your way home…
Heading back we were all thoroughly exhausted and looking forward to some very hot showers and a rest.
At 9am we were picked up for our hiking day. The 9am pick-up was a nice change to the 6:30am pick ups we’d been having and gave us time to get breakfast. We drove about 45 minutes out of town to the National Park.
(Before the walk we made a little friend)
We began our 45 minute walk through the forest. On our bus was a group of 4 Italians (3 old 1 young), a couple (1 Brit 1 Kiwi) and a couple of others that we didn’t get to know. During the walk the guide would stop and explain the different trees and plants we could see etc. Unfortunately the Italians took over the tour at this part. They made him specifically do the talk to them in Spanish as the young one translated it for them in Italian and then when he came around to explain it to us in English they would talk so ridiculously loud we could barely hear him. We saw trees with massive holes in them from the large Magellanic Woodpeckers that live there. We saw the yellow fungus called Pan De Indio which the native people used to eat.
(Small growths of Pan Del Indio on some dead wood)
(Woodpecker had his way with this tree)
At the end of this walk we got back onto our bus. Mark and I had been sitting on a row with 3 seats, me at the window, Mark next to me ,Italian lady next to him. When I got onto the bus the Italian lady (I will call her Spaghetti for the sake of this story) was standing at her seat having a chat with the other pastas behind her. I said to her in Spanish, then Italian, then English ‘Excuse me’ and she just looked at me with a blank look. I pointed to my jacket on my seat and indicated that I was trying to get to my seat and she just looked at me like whatevs, then handed me my things. I explained to the young one with them (because he knew English) and he said to her that I was trying to get to my seat. She then said ‘Hmmph No, no, no, no,no’ and went and sat on my seat. The Kiwi and Brit infront of us who we’d been chatting to on the walk were just like ‘WTF how rude?!’ When we stopped off at the next spot for the next walk it was raining, windy and obviously very cold so before getting off I wanted to put on my jacket. Spaghetti had jumped up as soon as the bus had stopped ready to get off the bus. I’m always the last person to have my bag packed or be ready to go somewhere so she stood there glaring down at Mark and I as I put on my layers. We took some good photos at the lookout and when we went back to the bus Spaghetti was waiting at the door for us to get on. She had re-arranged our things on the seats so that we were back in our original places. We had a good laugh about her afterwards. In general the Italians on this tour were the most annoying group. When the guy was explaining stuff on the bus in Spanish they were quietly listening, but as soon as he stared saying it in English they were talking so loudly that we couldn’t actually hear what was being said (and we were only in the 2nd and 3rd rows and the guide was using a microphone!).
The bus drove us to the base of our next destination Los Alceres.We began or next walk and soon discovered that it was slightly more challenging than the first. This, at first, was mainly because we were climbing up the mountain. I was behind one of the old Italians so we got left behind from the rest of the group a bit. Eventually we overtook the Italian and started going a bit faster to catch up. Around this time the tour guide had also done the same thing (he’d been at the very back of the group) and realised that he couldn’t actually see the other half of our group because they had gone so far ahead. He ran ahead trying to find them and at one point wasn’t sure if they’d taken the right path at a fork in the road. He had a look at the wrong option and it was basically a dead end and didn’t think they went that way. He told us to just keep to the path and at any forks to go on the path to the right and then began running up the path to look for the rest of the group. About 20 minutes later he came back and still hadn’t found the group so he ran back to the fork he had first thought they might’ve taken. We kept on walking and eventually made it to the waterfall where we found the missing group members. A while later the guide caught up with us all again, although he looked slightly pissed off and rather tired.
Now normally I would put up a lovely photo to go with the story of how nice that waterfall was just to illustrate the point. Unfortunately after the last stop Mark had asked me for the camera. When we got off the bus for the walk Mark thought I had the camera (as I usually do) and set off on our walk. We got to the waterfall and after admiring it I found a perfect spot to put the camera on timer mode and get a photo of Mark and I next to the waterfall and so I asked Mark for the camera. A quick exchange of ‘No you have the camera’ followed until we realised what had happened. So this will forever be known as the waterfall with no photo.
Here is a link to someones blog with a photo: http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-photo/johannawallther/1/1263402212/alerces-waterfall.jpg/tpod.html
Regardless of photographic proof that we go to see it, the waterfall was enormous and the water was sparkling. After such a long sweaty walk (the weather went from raining and windy to sunny and humid plus layers of clothing) we all had the urge to make our way to the base and have a swim.
We made our way from the viewing platform in front of the waterfall to the actual top of the waterfall. From here you could look over the edge and realise just how far down the water was falling and the force that such massive amounts of water must have. All the water comes from melting ice/snow at the top of all the mountains around us.
After we all had a small break and admired the lovely view across the park we began the walk to the bottom. It was slightly easier going down but some parts were slippery and you had to be careful not to lose your footing. At the bottom I was reunited with my camera and we were taken to a place to have lunch.
Next up was the walk to Tronador or the Black Glacier. El Tronador is a mountain covered in snow which compacts under new snow creating ice. Gradually as the pressure builds pieces of this snow ice break off and fall down the mountain. This process causes an extremely loud noise which sounds like thunder hence the name El Tronador (or in English ‘Thunderer’). As the broken pieces make there way down they collected dirt and rubble and end up looking black and brown by the time they form part of the glacier at the base of the mountain. So when looking at the glacier it looks black and brown. Hence the name Black Glacier.
(That black stuff in the background is the glacier and the chunks in the water are bits that have fallen off)
So the tour was sold to us as a three part hike with the final hike a walk to Tronador glacier. Our bus dropped us off at the parking lot 10 metres from the viewing platform to El Tronador. We did the 30 second hike to the platform. Easiest hike ever. Not sure why but it ended up being a good thing because it was unusually windy that day and FREEZING COLD. The guide said he’d never been there when it was so windy and cold. We took some photos but were stopped because the wind kept flicking ice and water on to the lens of the camera.
We were amazed at the sight we could see though and at the ice floats all around the glacier. We’d never seen anything like it before. After about 15 minutes the cold started to get to us all and we made our way back to the nice warm bus (I think the guide was happy that he didn’t have to stand outside much longer). After that we made our way back to our hostel.
After spending the morning working out what we wanted to do for the next few days (3 part hike to El Tronador, white water rafting, and a horse riding day) we went out to see Cerro Otto (Otto Mountain). We caught the free bus to the base of the mountain and took the cable car to the top (Mark wasn’t keen to do the walk up but was happy to do the walk down). The cable car had in the middle an enormous cement chunk that they’ve added to help keep the car stable as it goes up the mountain. The wind can get so strong that they don’t let anyone onto the cars. It was freaking scary! We were swinging side to side and about halfway up the entire thing just stopped. I was like OMG I do not want to be stuck here/die here. After a few minutes it began moving again.
We could see from our car below us people were climbing up the mountain. Before we left I’d been told there were two options 1) was 4km away from the base with the cable cars and 2) was at the start of the cable cars. Option 2 was the option NOT to take. The people we could see had taken option 2. You felt really bad for them. It was a ridiculously steep incline, the ground was 10-20cm thick with ash and they were just slipping and having to semi crawl up the mountain, dragging themselves step by step. We reached the top and after looking around and soaking up the incredible view of the lakes and mountains all around us we began our walk down the mountain. Or at least we tried to. Clearly marked signage is not their forte and after we finally found what looked like a path down the mountain we hoped to god it didn’t end up connecting to the one we saw people struggling up!
We made our way down and enjoyed seeing the different trees and plants, seeing Bariloche from up above, and walking past ski resorts (closed for the summer). After a while Mark began to wonder if we were on the right path and if we were ever going to make it home. Every now and then we’d look out over the edge of the mountain and see Bariloche city at a large distance. I figured we had to be on the right path to something, it was a road with cars occasionally coming past, other people occasionally on the track and no other real option for us to take to have gotten lost on. The ash in the air wasn’t too bad, the only problem was when cars drove past or big gusts of wind came through and picked up the ash on the floor and blew it into our faces.
(The path NEVER ended!!)
We finally reached the base of the mountain and arrive at a large road. We couldn’t quite work out from the map if we needed to go left or right and so we asked at the petrol station. She told us to go right (we had thought the other direction was more likely) and she seemed a bit unsure herself. We figured she would know better and took her advice. Luckily we did and about 30-45 minutes later we walked into our hostel super tired and covered in dirt/ash.
Later that night whilst enjoying dinner and a bottle of wine we got to chatting to a couple of girls at the hostel. They had done the same mountain climb that day, except that they did the walk up and took the wrong path and were some of the people doing the walk/crawl up the mountain. No one had explained how to properly do the walk and they just wanted to give up but would’ve had to do the walk down hill. On the way down the took the path we took, but decided to try out some shortcuts you could see through the bushes. Unfortunately a lot of the short cuts were dead-ends including one involving crawling through the bushes and ending up at an electric fence. After watching a movie we all went to bed.
Now luckily we saved up during the year for this trip and we have holiday pay coming in while we are here because it is not as cheap as it used to be. Yes it is significantly cheaper than Australia, but the prices in the 2008/9 Lonely Planet are at least half of what they currently are and I don’t know how people living here can afford it. Inflation is at something like 20-25% pa and the further south you go, the more expensive it gets (in El Chalten prices are almost double what you find in Bariloche). After talking to various people we’ve met throughout the trip they all say the same thing about the cost. A dinner out could easily be the equivalent of someone’s fortnightly pay.