After an early breakfast we traveled to the regional airport for our 5-hour flight to Calafate, a boomtown near Argentina’s border with Chile, (Patagonia) arriving around noon.
For 65 million years, the land here has been raised by chaotic volcanic eruptions and carved by massive glaciers, creating a series of jagged islands, interconnected fjords and channels, and mountainside glacial lakes. The area is named for the indigenous calafate bush—locals say eating its berries will ensure your return to this mystical region.
We transferred to our hotel, settled into our rooms and then took a walk around the small town.
After a quick lunch we met back at the hotel for a walk to the Laguna Nimez Nature Reserve situated about a mile from downtown El Calafate and very close to the hotel. This beautiful marsh area is worth exploring. The Reserve is situated at the edge of a great glacial lake, Lago Argentino. A nice path leads you around the preserve with many prime bird-viewing opportunities. The nearly flat path is of good quality and easy to walk perhaps 3-4 miles (4-6 km) depending on how many side-paths you explore. The trail winds beside the lagoons, through grassland, bush, sand dunes, and beside the turquoise waters of the glacial lake. Panoramic views of Patagonian Andes can easily be spotted in the distance while side paths lead to bird blinds, good places to escape the wind and blend in for better bird viewing.
For dinner we tried a little restaurant recommended for good salads and vegetarian options. It was quite delightful. We thought we had each ordered a glass of wine but they brought a bottle . . . what are you going to do when you don’t speak the language? The price was the same for the bottle as two glasses of wine in Seattle.
Rather than a bread basket diners are served carrot sticks with some kind of mustard dip, it was refreshing and the dip was really good although I have no idea what else was in it. The walls were adorned with children’s artwork, perhaps the owner’s child. Lovely little place.
Our hotel had a very homey feel to it with a large comfortable lobby and sitting areas, a game room and bar. It had the look and feel of a ski lodge.