We woke up to a very quiet and very windy Christmas morning in Los Antiguos. Our plan was to drive to Perito Moreno (the city not the glacier), about 60km from Los Antiguos and find someone to fix our tire, because we realized that it was actually flat. We packed up and were on the road by 6:30AM and arrived in Perito Moreno an hour later. There were 2 gas stations, Petrobras and YPF, both were open but just for gas,the convenience store was closed. We filled up and asked the attendant if there was a place to change our oil and get our tire fixed. There were many auto shops but because it was Christmas, everything was closed. After driving around looking for open places it was 9AM, so we decided to put our spare tire on, with help from the attendant at Petrobras, and go back to Los Antiguos. Then, Dani suggested that we nap for an hour and then see if anyone was open at 10AM to fix our tire (seems to be the time most car shops open in Argentina).
At 10 we were up and it was a Christmas miracle but one shop was open and fixed our tire in less than 30 minutes and for just AR$100. We were so incredibly happy and excited and decided to continue with our original plan to go to El Chaltén. We went to YPF (which is much cheaper than Petrobras) and filled up our 2 extra gas containers because people told us there were no gas stations on the way, so we wanted to be safe. They were pretty much right. After Perito Moreno the road is newly paved but there is nothing for a long while except for a few wild animals and a lot of desert. No more pretty snow-capped mountains and no trees, just shrubs and desert terrain.
About 1 and a half hours after Perito Moreno there is a very, very small village, just a couple of houses, that has a gas station and “hostel.” However it was Christmas so the “station” was closed (it was one pump that looked like it barely worked) and I wouldn’t rely on such a small place that could easily run out of gas. By that time it was about 12:30 PM and the moon was still in the sky, it was really interesting because we were going very far south in the southern hemisphere.
We continued on our journey, excited that the roads were paved and we were making really good timing. The only problem we had was that at this point in Patagonia, because there are no mountains to block it, the wind was extremely strong. You need to be very cautious because the wind easily moves the car, so be careful. Other than that it was smooth sailing until the next city, Gobernador Gregores. This was such a cute little town situated, literally, in the middle of nowhere and was so incredibly windy, we couldn’t imagine why anyone wanted to live there but people do. There was an YPF in the town and we were going to fill up (just to be safe) but the attendant said there was absolutely no gas and the gas truck wouldn’t arrive until about 6PM. We were really lucky because we had enough gas to get us to our destination but there was a big tour bus that was out of gas and full of people. So don’t count on these cities having gas, be prepared for nothing.
This next part of our journey was bad. Right after Gobernador Gregores, the road is unpaved for a bit less than 150km. The roads aren’t terrible (unlike our Chile experience) but it was still very stressful to drive on unpaved road with a lot of big rocks. The worst part was that while we were driving on crappy unpaved roads, just a few meters near us was a freshly paved road that no one could access. They blocked any and all points that would allow people to use the road. It was extremely frustrating. At one point, however, we did manage to sneak on the road only to go a few kilometers and have to turn around because there was a large ditch that could be overcome.
While on that road, about 20km outside of Tres Lagos, the only city after Gobernador Gregores, we heard any an extremely frightening noise come from our car when we changed gears. We were so scared of breaking down in the middle of the desert on unpaved road. We managed to make our way to Tres Lagos’ only gas station/car shop. They had gas but the mechanic was gone for the holidays and there was no service, no internet, and the only phone we could use was at the police station. We didn’t manage to call a tow truck and the guy from the gas station didn’t want to tow us to El Calafate (about 150km away) but he said that if we stay steady and don’t switch gears we could get there. So we drove, very cautiously and nervously to El Calafate which took about 2 hours. Luckily we arrived at our hostel (which we had reservations for on 12/27) and they had open spaces for 12/25 and 12/26. It was truly a Christmas miracle and this hostel was amazing!!
- Left Los Antiguos @ 6:30AM
- Arrived in Perito Moreno @ 7:30AM
- AR$290 = Gas [AR$7.74/L]
- AR$38.67 = ATM Fee (AR$1000)
- AR$110 = Tire
- AR$157 = Extra tank of Gas [AR$7.04/L]
- Left Perito Moreno @ 11:30AM
- AR$14 = Cookies
- AR$150 = Gas [AR$7.90/L]
- Arrived in Tres Lagos @ 6PM
- Arrived in El Calafate @11PM
- Total = AR$760