Argentina: El Chaltén to El Calafate – Wind and a glacier

Much mention is made of the wind in these parts.  We are told that we are lucky (well-judged, we thought) to be heading mostly south and more east than west at this time of year.  Cyclists heading the other way and those who have recorded their journeys for us talk of impossible, route-changing head-winds.

Looking back is unavoidable
Heading east, propelled at more than 30km/hr for long periods by tailwinds we’re glad we’re not fighting. I even accelerate up a hill with my feet on the top-tube!
Days end, a building sighted – potential shelter, so we duck down the track. It proves one of the best finds of the trip
A disused Observatorio a few km beyond the La Léona Hotel – we cook on the steps before retiring inside for the best sleep we’ve had in quite a while. Safe from the wind – bliss!
Some of the locals running to keep ahead of us – no wondering what type here – Emus.
Turning back into the wind on the last stretch towards El Calafate, teamwork prevails. A rotation of leaders, holding their place for a kilometre or two while sheltering those behind transforms the experience for us. Thank you to Marta and Thomas for sharing the work with us.
The reason we made this side-trip – the Perito Moreno glacier.
The ice birthed up in the mountains
Regularly breaking off at the leading edge
The glacier, always advancing, fills this gap leading to a spectacular explosion when the head of water bursts through
The whole complex is serviced by a profuse collection of walkways

While we’re in El Calafate we try to hatch a masterplan – and fail.  We feel a bit better for trying, but will have to leave hints for others to succeed.  El Calafate is only a little bit north of another destination – the Torres del Paine national park.  There are some tracks that head straight through between the two.  Obvious?  Yes, but unfortunately there’s an international border in between with no official crossing points…  Others have speculated and mostly succeeded by doing the crossing illegally.  Thomas, Marta, Sarah and I decided to take the legal approach and visited Gendarmeria in El Calafate.  The answer – possible.  But only if you jump through lots of hoops and give dates – the whole process taking a quite a while.  So there’s hope if you’re stunningly well planned or if you catch the right people at the right time…

We sigh, and set out to cycle to much longer way round to the Cerro Castillo border crossing and Torres del Paine – our final destination before heading for Punta Arenas and a flight back to Australia.



  1. Sarah & Tom,
    I’m actually quite sad that this will be coming to an end soon. It has been really fun watching this unfold for the last few years. I will miss you, I will miss this.


    • Scott

      Thankyou for flattering us with your readership! As you know there will be more adventures to come, some that will hopefully involve you more directly.

      Tom and Sarah

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