We knew it was going to be cold, but we weren’t prepared for it. We stepped off the plane in our shorts and t-shirts, as the ice formed a layer over our little tanned legs. It was a nice relief from the heat, but we knew we needed more than a singlet or two. Our first day in El Calafate was spent shopping at the pricey, designer mountain equipment stores. Once we were all rugged up we were in much better spirits and set about about exploring the town. We were surrounded by snowy mountains and at the gateway to the Perito Moreno Glacier National Park.
The glacier was incredible. It was raining when we arrived. We walked around the board walks watching the ice crash into the sea and listening to the glacier move. It is one of the few glaciers in the world that is still growing. It was pretty cold at this point, despite our fashionable warm clothes. We had to stop for a chocolate caliente (a hot chocolate) to warm up. Then we went on a boat trip past the front of the glacier and through the icebergs that floated past. We stopped at the other side and went for a one and a half hour trek on the glacier. Just as we stepped onto the glacier the sun poked its head out. The ice shown a bright blue as we trekked along on our crampons. We walked through a few valleys and at the end we were handed a glass of whiskey on glacial ice. It was just amazing to be able to walk on the glacier. However, there was a little niggle in the back of my mind, once again, saying that there is no way this would be allowed in New Zealand.
The following day was my birthday. Ben and I were booked into the Imago Hotel and Spa for two nights. It was a 5 star resort and by far the nicest place I’ve ever stayed. For the morning we went on a horse trek at Estancia Alice. We rode our horses high up a hill that overlooked the lake and the mountains in the distance. The horses were lovely and very well behaved. We had two guides, one of whom belonged in a circus. Every time we turned around he would be standing on the horse or riding backwards or speeding along at a ridiculous pace. The trek was followed by an authentic three course Argentine meal. We had pumpkin soup, roasted meats and vegetables, a milky rice dessert.
That afternoon Katie and I went to the spa at the resort. We got a package that included a massage, a wrap and a bath. My masseuse spoke no English, which made for an entertaining experience as I had never been to a spa before. For the wrap we literally got wrapped up in glad wrap. I had a mask over my eyes and then she left the room. I had no idea how long I was supposed to be waiting there, not that I could move if I wanted to. We then went out for dinner in town. I ordered a steak and we got a bottle of champagne. For dessert I had dulche de leche ice cream, which is just the most delicious thing. My birthday was one that I won’t forget.