Day 1 El Calafate to Abandoned restaurant
Retraced our path back 30km from El Calafate to the turning north towards El Chalten. The weather was kind to us for most of the day and the roads were quiet. Jon stopped to take a photo of a guanaco next to a lake. In doing so, the guanaco spooked and ran straight across the road into the path of an oncoming car travelling at close to 100km per hour. Fortunately the guanaco made it with a few inches to spare.After lunch the wind picked up. As we cycled we watched a flock of very small birds attempting to cross the road. Unfortunately one got sucked into the front grill of a on coming car and feathers were spat out in all directions. Jon seemed to find this terrible event quite amusing, where Vanessa was distraught.
Around mid-afternoon we had both had enough of riding, as we had already clocked over 90km. We came across an estancia and Jon decided to go and ask if we could pitch our tent in the shelter of the building. Cycling down the long driveway towards the extravagant looking property, he was met by four local lads who explained that they only worked there and that he should ‘ask the boss’. Knocking on the doorit was answered by Pablo Escobar’s double, complete with football shirt, cigar and moustache, who said ‘no’ but did give directions to an abandoned restaurant 3km up the road, where we could stay for the night.
We cycled the last 3km and found the abandoned buildings by the river, we found an opening in the fence with bike tracks and took our pick of the abandoned buildings.Obviously these had been used by many cyclists, as the walls were covered with their messages.
Armed with only a bar of soap, Jon felt brave enough to take a wash in the icy water (as his Antarctic plunge had acclimatised him). We set up beds in one of the rooms and settled down to sleep, only to be woken shortly afterwards by the sound of scurrying footsteps, as the resident mice tried to get atthe food in our panniers. We shooed them away, but continued to hear them througout the night.
Day 2 Abandoned restaurant to Estancia Sainta Margarita
We got up super early as the sun was rising. Vanessa set off first as the sun was rising, as Jon packed his panniers.
The roads were quiet and the winds were calm so we covered some distance, stopping only for the odd photo when the majestic Andes and Mt Fitzroy came into view.
Vanessa used the excuse of tiredness and a dodgy knee to and the owner if we could pitch our tent in the garden of the only estancia for 50km. They clearly have several such requests and were only too happy to oblige; although he did have to share the garden with at least five dogs (including a very playful young basset hound that wanted to bite everything including our tent and bikes) plus several chickens.
Before settling down for the night Vanessa noticed a ute pull up with three guanaco carcasses in the back which were presumably fed to the farm dogs as they all started yelping. This explained the abundance of bones throughout the garden where we pitched the tent.
Day 3 Santa Margarita Estancia to El Chalten
We woke up super early to beat the wind. It was well worth the effort. Vanessa took off first and Jon soon followed. The road was smooth and the breeze was at a minimum, plus we had only 40km left to cycle to El Chalten and were keen to get into town. The views were unbelievable and the ambiance just right. It was like meditating whilst riding. The roads had few cars to speak of. A fantastic ride! We came across an American cyclists who informed that there was a ‘casa cyclista’ we should stay at in El Charlten and that it was the first day for a week that the weather had been kind enough for Mt Fitzroy to appear with its awesomeness. We both felt very fortunate to have such clear views as we cycled.We stopped 4km before the town to take photos at a lookout, then pushed on to the information centre.
We were in luck, as the gentleman explained that the following few days weather would be clear with no winds. Armed with this information we were pumped for the epic Mt Fitzroy overnight hike.
We found ‘Casa cyclista’ and settled in for the night. Oh, we did go for dinner and had the biggest veggie burger and chips ever, even though Jon had Pizza envy.