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Argentina, as expected has proved to be an entirely different culture. The people are generally of European decent, the food is excellent and inexpensive, everything runs properly and everybody smokes all the time. Linguistically, as far as I am concerned we might as well have changed languages completely! Argentinean Spanish has a pronounced Italian twist and words are commonly truncated and there is a lot of slang. Further North it was obvious I wasn't a local, but here brown hair is common and if I didn't catch it the first time the sentence is usually repeated faster the second time around. Hardly helpful.

delicious empanadas Argentina cuisine local mouth-watering typical dish empanada de carne queso pollo

Any commentary on travelling in Argentina would certainly talk about the food. It has been exceptional. Local eateries in Ecuador and Peru would commonly only serve a quarter of chicken, greasy fries and rice - hardly a balanced diet for weeks on end. Here grills, or parrilla (pronounced something like "parrijha" in Argentina) are the norm for lunch. A huge steak with a choice of quality sides typically costs around US$3. Wood-fired ovens are common in parts of the country, and tasty empanadas (often like a samosa in shape but usually with combinations of beef, onion, cheese, or chicken) are among the staples.

After Chile we arrived in Salta before heading South to Cordoba and Mendoza. All cities were charming, clean and we ate well. However, they were all the sort of town where the only thing for a stranger to do was shop.

Our first town of tourist interest was Bariloche in Argentina's Lake District. Bariloche is, during the winter a ski resort town with snow covered mountains behind and a lake in front the location is certainly picturesque. As this is the Southern Hemisphere spring the ski season was over, but the flowers were out and the area was beautiful despite being cold and windy.

From Bariloche we headed South again to El Charlten with kiwi friends Tom and Bridget to see the Moreno Glacier, one of the few glaciers in the world still growing. It is a huge ice field that ends in a lake. As the glacier progresses large chunks of ice break from the edge and thunder into the lake.

Moreno Glacier southern Argentina tourist attraction boat ride falling ice walls melting splashing

After Charlten we headed to El Calefate, home to the Fitz Roy mountain range and national park. Fitz Roy and the surrounding mountains are huge vertical cliffs of solid rock surrounded by scree, sub-Antarctic forests, glaciers and rivers. We arrived around lunch time and headed off in the early afternoon on a 4 hour walk to a look out point. For the first few hours we made our way through the forests and over boggy fields before starting a bit of a slog up hills of loose stone and sand.

El Calefate Fitz Roy Mountain range national park Argentina

We arrived at the look out point and were welcomed by whistling, icy wind and spectacular views. I made the suggestion that we should take a different route back, a bit off the beaten track. The others agreed and we headed down towards the lake at the foot of Fitz Roy. The walk down ended up taking 2 hours of sliding down scree before following a stream through the forest to the lake. When we arrived at the lake the river was predictably wide and deep, fortunately we found a rope and made our way over. By this stage it was after 10 and the sun had just set. We walked down for 2 hours, the last hour by torch-light, before arriving back at the town a little after midnight.