The best gym in the world, and other competition for Queenstown NZ

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Would you not want to be spending time in this gym? Fresh air,  a view to die for, lake and mountains around you, and all free! Some great local government initiatives here.

We’re in El Calafate, named after the little Calafate berry that grows here everywhere. It’s a bit like the blue berry and has all sorts of health benefits, like protection from ageing!

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El Calafate is situated at a cracking spot, on Lake Argentino, the biggest freshwater lake in Argentina. It’s got amazing birdlife, including flamingo’s (!), great cafe’s and restaurants and a load of activities on offer for different levels of adventure seekers. From a NZ point of view it definitely has a Queenstown feel and I would dare to say it could compete.

The real reason for this town though is the proximity to the Perito Moreno Glacier, the only glacier in the world that still grows/stays stable as opposed to retreat. Pretty amazing for sustainability researchers!
There are different ways of experiencing the glacier. Walking on the ice, taking a boat right up to it, or viewing the enourmous 5k wide, 70m high ice-wall from the very well maintained tracks of the national park. As the glacier moves 2m a day, you will be hearing the thunder and seeing the splashes on the water when the pressure forces ruptures. It is an incredible impressive site!

And when in the national park, even without the ice, its totally worth walking a bit more. The vistas of the mountains around the lake… yes Queenstown watch out!

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Today is just a regular day in the Andes

Rami, our local guide warned us that today we would see less mindblowing nature and a bit more regular touristy sites. Well after the spectacular day through the Puna desert, we were not expecting an equally exciting day, so that was OK.

How wrong we were…A few impressions of our regular day

The old man apologised for the chaos is his little private museum in a tiny little village in the middle of nowhere. He had an amazing collection, including ocelot skins, armadillo skeletons, age old pottery, tools and  a mummy!

Yes Argentina has got Salt lakes too! It hadn’t rained here for a while so the salt was not as white as it could be, but it was still so impressively close to snow that one could not resist doing a “salt” angel.

And then we just hit a regular 4000m +, crossed over the Tropic of Capricorn, met with some locals in one of the highest towns in Argentina, spotted Guanacos, saw some intriguing recovered rock-art (in a museum) and witnessed the amazingly handcrafted rail bridges of the Tren a las Nubes.

And of course don’t forget “el condor pasa” in the background…

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Just an ordinary day indeed..

Andean High Mountain life

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When we drive north from Auckland, we drive past a field full of Alpaca’s. They seem happy enough in the green paddock. But seeing their family roaming around in the Andes is something else. They fit in. They are happy. And so cute! They belong, as do the condors, the suri (a type of ostrich), the cacti, the pre-Inca historical forts of Tastil and colonial villages.

As does apparently “el condor pasa”, performed live, or suddenly being blasted through some speakers we didn’t even know existed for breakfast, lunch and dinner..

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