It’s nice to have everything so near in this little town. You can walk around it in less than an hour. It looks amazing from the very moment of our arrival. All because of its location – between tall, snowy mountaintops of Andes.
We arrive around noon. This time we didn’t book a night so we head for the Tourist Information. A charming gentleman tells us that they are almost fully booked due to a bank holiday weekend but he tries calling two hostels and finds us a room after just a few minutes. Just for two days though. Without giving it much thought we agree because the price is OK and I guess we’ll think what to do next later on.
El Chaltén means a ‘blue mountain’ and is the Indian name for Fitz Roy mountain which towers over the city. It used to be a tiny settlement but it grew due to its perfect location as for a starting point for treks and iceberg excursions. Yes, it’s a tourist-oriented place and all is tourist-oriented here. Starting with the number of people and ending with the prices. El Chaltén is quite amazing though. It’s crowded but you don’t feel it. Maybe because everybody’s in the mountains and in the evening people stay in the bars and restaurants.
What should you see in El Chaltén then? Not much really, but it’s good – why distract yourself if there’s so many interesting tracks waiting for you around? There’s just a few streets in the city itself. What can you find there? Tourist Information which has been very useful from the start, helping us find a laundry to wash a few bags of dirty clothes, quite a few restaurants and bars in which you shouldn’t eat if you don’t want to go bankrupt, a few dozen hostels and cabañas (houses to rent). All looks pretty much the same – pretty, wooden or with wooden details, similar to each other. No touristic nightmares that could spoil the perfect image of the town. Every time I look at it I wonder why is it possible here and not possible in Poland. Why can other countries maintain a cool vibe in the mountains and charming little towns while Zakopane, Wisła or Szczyrk think rubbish is the best way to attract tourists? Maybe we have to learn. Maybe it will change one day…
One bad thing – the prices are high as hell. It’s at least two times more expensive than before and it wasn’t cheap either. And it’s cold too. About 10 degrees during the day. And strong winds are blowing from those icebergs. We’ll stay here for a few days since we’re planning to go trekking and have a closer look at the icebergs. That’s what’s coming in the next entries :)