DSC01401The shortcut road connecting the park to the Argentinean border was open. Gravel but maintained. At the border we picked up 2 backpackers who were going the same way i.e. to El Calafate. The starting point of our visit to the Glaciers NP. Route 40, a well know route for its bad conditions, was smooth tarmac. No issues (yet). After 33 km of smooth driving there is a rough and bouncy gravel shortcut. It saves a detour of 70 km. There was no rain etc (muddy and slippery when wet) so we took it. No problems. Bouncy and corrugated, especially in the middle section where the gravel was much coarser. After 65 km we were back on the RN 40 and continued on to a campsite in El Calafate. The town was in the middle of its annual lago festival so there were lots night performances in the arena. The campsites were busy and the streets full of local and international tourists. At the campsite we met again an English couple (Mick and Chris) whom we already met twice before. We decided to camp next to them and in the evening had a meal in one of the many  restaurants in town. Mick has a Toyota Landcruiser with a foldout roof tent. There were some issues with the car which he wanted to get fixed in town. Before leaving the campsite we discovered that one of our tires was leaking so we also went looking around for a repair shop. The tire had however several pinholes and the mechanic did not even want to put the inner tube in it because it would quickly collapse. The other rear tire also was bad. On the inside you could see the steal lining coming out. 72,000 km was the limit for these tires. We spent most of the day looking for 2 new tires and ended up at the same garage as where Mick was. The man speaks good English and helped us out. So in the end we stayed 2 nights in El Calafate. Beside all the night noises it was good to be here because Rudy was able to follow the thrilling 10 km skating on the internet radio. It was a great disappointment for him that Sven did not win. However it must feel much worse for Sven never to have won an Olympic gold medal for the 10 km after 4x trying.

The next day we drove to the Glacier NP and up close to the Perito Moreno Glacier. Over several kilometres of iron grated walkways you can come very close to the front of the glacier. You hear and see large chunks of ice falling off into the lake. The glacier front is a straight wall of ice some 30 meters high. Very much like the ice wall in the Game of Thrones. We also saw two red headed woodpeckers (bird) here and a hawk in the car park. Impressive. We drove out of the park and around the glacier lake to a side lake (Lago Roca). There we found a public campground with an unbelievable view of several glaciers on the horizon.

In the morning they were nicely sunning in the morning sun.

Today (16-2-2018) we drove back through El Calafate to RN 40 and then up north a bit for the next turnoff towards Mount Fitz Roy (3405 m). The rocky monolithic face is visible from a great distance. We were lucky. The sky was clear. In El Calten (another climbers resort) we drove some 37 km further on along a stream and through forests towards a glacier lake at the border with Chile. Since the river is high, it had washed over its banks and covered part of the road. On the way back we drove off the road and are now camping along Rio Electrico with a perfect view of Fitz Roy.