After a successful border crossing at Chile Chico, we woke early the next morning and drove nine hours along Ruta 40 in Argentina. The highway crossed remote deserts and steppe. There’s not much out there besides plants, guanaco, and armadillo, but it’s a popular highway for road trippers. The winds were super strong and seemingly always from the side, requiring two hands and attention on the wheel at all times as gusts pushed us around.
The drive had a couple gas stations along the way. The first accepted cash only. We didn’t have Argentine pesos, but they accepted Chilean pesos or US dollars. It was a super informal transaction. The gas station attendant used my phone’s calculator to calculate the conversion.
After successfully traversing 500 kms on paved and dirt roads, Ruta 40 eventually delivered us to the bustling town, El Calafate, a wealthy tourist destination among the mountains and glaciers on the eastern / Argentinian edge of Patagonia. At this point, I would say we had made the transition from northern Patagonia to southern Patagonia. We were relieved to have made it this far south, without only another few hours to reach Puerto Natales in Chile.
Our first order of business on our first day in Calafate: finding a skate park to stretch our legs after the long drive.