Our nine fantastic days in El Chalten came to an end as did the amazing weather we had been having. The mountains were dramatic as we sped away from the town following the northern edge of Lago Viedma, not too disimilar to a big version of riding away from Mt Cook village leaving a Nor´west storm in the hills.
For the first time in the trip we had long straight roads through the pampas but also we had a strong tail wind pushing us the 90km to the junction with the north-south Highway 40. It was our fastest 90km but our bums were sore by the time we stopped for a deserved lunchbreak at the intersection – payback for ignoring our bikes for 9 days.
The favourable winds continued pushing us along enabling us to make a 150km day – not like us at all to go that far! We stopped at Hotel Leonie famous for the month long visit of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid when they were on the run and before they got shot dead in Bolivia.
We climbed up above the Rio Leonie and were intending camping back down at the river but the views from the high terrace we were on and a house (implying water) was too good an opportunity to miss. The family staying at the house were more than happy for us to camp behind a windbreak and to fill our water bottles.
Not the high mountains, river and lake views we had been having but a fantastic site none the less and some roadside scrap metal for us to tie our tent down with. Coincidentally Juan Jose, a Venezualen cyclist who we had been crossing paths with for a month and with similar tastes in campsites) turned up so we had someone to invite over for dinner.
Next day we had a great downhill run to Lago Argentino and a fast wind assisted 50km to the junction with the side road that led to El Calafate. Payback time for the 30km grind up to the tourist town, straight into the headwind. With 3 of us we drafted our way up there taking turns breaking the wind!
El Calafate is of the Queenstown genre and famous for the tours to the Perito Moreno Glacier snout. Having seen our share of glaciers the only reason we needed to divert there was to get cash – we didn´t have Mr Cassidy´s initiative in bank robbing and the ATM in El Chalten had been dry.