Sola Patagonia and Halfway Marks
Well, last weekend I reached the halfway point in my study abroad experience. Two months down and two more to go! And how did I celebrate that milestone? I took a solo trip down to Patagonia!
While all my friends decided to go on an international student trip to Iguazu Falls (another stunning location that I’ll be visiting with my friend from the States when she comes down to Argentina in June,) I decided to very randomly book a trip to El Calafate. Prior to coming to Argentina, I knew Patagonia was one of my must-sees … But I didn’t realize how large it was! Seriously, for those who are as confused as I was: Patagonia is the entire southern half of the country, practically. It consists of dozens of beautiful cities and stunning natural wonders, and I had no idea where to go. I was debating among Ushuaia (the “end of the earth,”) Bariloche (chocolate! Mountains!) and El Calafate, which I had heard from friends was nice.
A quick glance on Tripadvisor confirmed my choice because upon googling “best things to do in Patagonia,” I was immediately met with oodles of information about the allegedly stunning Perito Moreno Glacier. Within the next twenty minutes, my flight and hostel were booked.
I’ve got a lovely friend studying abroad in England this year (hi, Lydia!) and she is a huge advocate for solo travel. I was very apprehensive about traveling alone as a foreign woman, but maybe I just chose a good location or I was antisocial (I wasn’t antisocial,) I had no problems. Actually, that’s an understatement. I had negative problems. Sure, it was a little confusing to check in and find the shuttle to take me to my hostel in Spanish, but beyond that, everything was smooth sailing. I met friends in my hostel to chat with at night, and I had companions on my day trip to the glacier or when I was walking around town.
But the glacier. I don’t get passionate about a lot of things, least of all, things that involve being cold, but seeing this glacier is something I don’t think anyone should miss on a trip to Patagonia. In general, the terrain of El Calafate is so vastly different from Buenos Aires, I was astounded to realize these two cities could thrive in the same country.
Beyond the sheer beauty of the city and its surrounding area, I highly recommend El Calafate as a destination for solo travelers. I came back refreshed and relaxed from my time alone at the bottom of the earth, and I was ready to resume my time in Buenos Aires.