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.. the last frontier…..

.. the road to el chaltén

.. the road to el chaltén

 ….. today was the first day i felt like a proper backpacker… up until now i’ve had everything pretty much arranged with transfers included and i haven’t even had to carry my big rucksack on my back… 

.. but today i found myself trudging down the road (after getting myself wedged in the doorway of the hostel…!!)  to the bus station at stupid o’ clock in the morning  rucksacks strapped to  me back and front… there is an art to getting the balance right which I have yet to master…

… caught the bus to ‘El Chalten’ (human population 600, dog population 6000) which sits at the bottom of the Fitz Roy mountain range at the north end of the Glacier National Park…it’s a very curious little frontier town with lots of very twee little buildings and craft shops.. and hippy trippy music (twin peaks theme tune playing as i write this….!!) playing everywhere …..it didn’t actually exist until 1985 when the Argentines laid claim to the land before the Chileans got to it..

…. up until last year there was no paved road to El Chalten, indeed we started the journey out from El Calafate on dirt road.. the famed route 40 which runs parallel to the Andes which in many parts is still dirt track…

…this new sudden improvement in communication with the outside world has meant that tourism to the area has sky rocketed  … and it’s about the only place in the world saying ‘crisis…. what crisis???’….  they have only just put in an ATM machine and according to the lonely planet guide.. they have built a cemetry but so far they haven’t needed to use it…!!

… i only had the place as a ‘maybe’ on my list, but inspired by glowing recommendations from Patrick and Shona and having spent all that money on my techno trousers i suddenly fancy myself as a bit of a trekker… unfortunately since i arrived the mountains have been hiding behind the clouds and the weather has been somewhat dismal…  didn’t stop me hiring a bike (…. which i think Fred Flintstone might have built judging my the way my bones were rattling as i bounced over the potholes).. for some reason bike riding in the rain is slightly more appealing than walking, i suppose it’s because if the weather really sets in i can get home faster…

…. like everywhere i have been so far the autumn colours are stunning… and from what i can see of the mountains.. on a clear day they are going to be awesome.. just hope i get to see them…. tomorrow i plan to do one of the many hikes that go straight out from the village…

…. right now i’m heading off for supper then back to my extremely cosy room…  i’m staying with a local family in the annexe of their home.. it’s fab!!

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