12/25/10

Biking in El Calafate


Anything that requires foot power excites me. I could easily set off walking around town but I wanted to explore El Calafate by bike. Christian, one of the hostel clerks, suggested renting a bike at La Barraca, an outdoor gear rental shop just off the town's main street. For only 15 pesos an hour (or about 3.70 USD), I got myself a really decent bike but supplied without any lock. Good thing that the route I had in mind was part of the suggested itinerary in the map I was given. "I could do this in 2 hours", I told myself.

Outdoor gear shops

A long time ago, El Calafate was mainly a frontier Patagonian town which became the center for people working in estancias (ranches). Now, thanks to tourism, El Calafate is bustling with activity. Surrounded by Lago Argentina and the vast steppe that defines this region, the town is mainly a jump-off point for visitors going to see the massive glaciers at Los Glaciares National Park. Others also head off from here to El Chalten for some incredible trekking (which unfortunately I couldn't do due to time constraints).

Asong Kalye in El Calafate

The town's center is easy to navigate since it's arranged in a grid pattern. Along the length of Avenida del Libertador hugs most businesses related to tourism. There are the usual money changers, restaurants, tour operators and outdoor shops. I pedaled past these, dodging unleashed dogs that happen to be friendly and into the outskirts of town I went, heading towards Laguna Nimez - an ecological reserve brimming with birds. The main attraction in this lagoon? Flamingos.

Bikes for rent @ La Barraca
Footbridge
My bike parked at the park office

It was an hour before closing time when I got there but the caretaker allowed me in after paying 10 pesos (about 2.50 USD). I was ready to explore but I was worried about the bike being stolen. The lady told me in Spanish to park the bike next to the office where I hope it's more secure. Following a copy of the park map, I walked gingerly along the soggy shore, looking at flamingos (the most easily recognizable) and upland geese and some other species of birds I couldn't identify (even with the booklet I was given).


Meanwhile, my neck was craning back at the little park office to check if my bike is still there. The whole circuit is about 2.5 kilometers long, on a grassy path which also gave a view of Lago Argentino. From where I was, on the opposite side of the lagoon, I could still see the distant park office and my bike - and I thought, well, since I'm the only visitor at this hour, might as well enjoy my solitude in the company of some feathered friends. By the time I finished the walk, I was surprised to find the office already close but my bike was thankfully still where I parked it.

Planks of wood kept the shoes from getting muddy
Upland geese: white male and brown female
Flamingos in flight
Don't know what this bird is

I resumed cycling just as the sun was dipping its last rays of the day. Down into Avenida de la Costanera I went, a road that follows the shore of Lago Argentino. Some locals were enjoying a walk in the promenade and I disembarked to take in this moment, to enjoy the view as another day ends for me in Patagonia.

Lago Argentino and iceberg
Flamingos
Lago Argentino





13 comments:

  1. Parang napunta na rin ako sa Calafate dahil sa pics mo. Thanks! Are those dogs self-supporting or do they have owners and homes they can go home to?

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  2. a dalmatian as an asong kalye. lol. bike is also a favorite activity when traveling.

    place is nice with a nice coastal view.

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  3. bertN,
    Plenty of these dogs were simply roaming around just like our askals back home - most likely, they have their own homes to go to later.

    dong ho,
    if I could bike in every place I go to, I'd do it - the rush of air is simply the best. It beats the tour bus anytime.

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  4. that's a good way to sightsee. i love this travelogue. more more more please.

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  5. im impressed, as always. ito ba ang resulta ng bagong dslr? what did you get? =)

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  6. dennis, you never fail to amaze me with your posts and fantastic photos.
    these can land in travel mags effortlessly!
    ang husay... *fan ako*

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  7. Photo Cache,
    coming up next is my glacier walk!

    Chyng,
    Hindi pa. Kabibili ko lang kasi (Nikon D7000). I used my Nikon D80 on this trip, its last after almost 3 years traveling with me.

    docgelo,
    maraming salamat Doc. Enjoy the New Year while you're in Manila!

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  8. awesome views. idol na talaga kita when it comes to traveling. galang-gala eh.

    here hoping for more travels and more blessings in 2011. :)

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  9. Nice views and pictures! Good thing you still have time to upload these photos, it's always been fun vicariously traveling through your blog.

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  10. You have new D7000. WOW!!! Magpopost ka na din ng video soon? Can't wait.

    Happy New Year! :)

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  11. Lawstude,
    Maraming salamat. Hope to see you do more travels in 2011 as well.

    Linguist-in-Waiting,
    It's been a slow process for me since going through so many pictures (and I took hundreds!) is so time consuming.

    Rizalenio,
    I do have it pero di ko pa ginagamit sa labas. We'll see. Happy new year too!

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  12. ganda ng shots sir! ganda pala ng mga askal dyan,
    happy new year po!

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  13. same here,i love touring around in bike as I can go on my own pace, I can stop whenever I see something that I want to photograph.
    I wish I have a better lens too like you, so I can take photos of birds. ang sarap sa feeling tignan, lalo na cguro kapag andun ka tlga at nakikita mu xa. :)

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