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  • Writer's picturePaula Cooper

8 November El Calafate to Buenos Aires, Argentina: Early Eco Enormous Exotic Extraordinary

Early morning delightful Spanish practice conversing with our young driver meant Calafate airport arrived too soon!  As promised, backpack crammed, my suitcase was lighter, but not enough to evade the internal flight surcharge!

Uneventful flight a chance to snooze! Looking forward to warmer weather and perhaps even wearing a dress! Buenos Aires further north than I thought. Very densely populated by the airport, tower block after tower block!

Disembarked, luggage collected we sped across Palermo to our hotel. Leaving our bags with reception we went for a wander through the nearby parks and quaint area by the hotel full of bars restaurants boutique shops and key ice cream shops! (A k look at he Italian heritage has translated into great gelato and pizzas Argentine style)

Negotiating google maps we found out way to Plaza Italia, and the first of the parks.

So when is a zoo not a zoo? When it’s a free eco park! On the former site of Buenos Aires zoo, (1888-2016), since covid, the park is now dedicated to saving species, rehoming animals, caring for sick and the aged. It even has its own hospital! Quite bizarre to see animals roaming free, birds of prey displays and come across elephants, and aged condors and camels! We encountered many Patagonian Mara families; rabbit like enjoying the sun! A lovely but very confusing amble; much of the former zoo is still out of bounds!

Crossing independence plaza we found eleven lanes of traffic in just one direction; 10 for cars, a bus lane and more for cyclists and pedestrians! Extraordinary.

Spying a sign for the Japanese gardens, having missed out in Santiago, we joined the queue. The place was mobbed; it was tranquil and pretty exotic, but not sure why everyone was lining up for photos. I joined an origami table; however the preamble took so long we left before any paper folding occurred.

Fancying ice cream, we finally found an Italian heladería near our hotel. I tried almond & coffee flavours, thinking a small cup would suffice; I received said tiny cup over-filled brimming with twice as much on top as below! Enormous.

El Gaucho (or should that be el Groucho after our early start!) was the name of our assigned room. The gaucho, a skilled horseman maintaining cattle was a vital part of the country's economics, becoming a hero in the 19th Century wars.

Using my best Spanish to order coffee, before heading out in search of dinner. Palermo a delightful semi pedestrianised area full of restaurants, bars with many murals reminiscent of Valparaiso. Argentine steak was suggested! (Although the chocolate volcano was better apparently!)

Journey to Buenos Aíres

(Calafate airport; Argentina map)


(Ecoparque; peahen; eucalyptus; elephants; bird of prey demonstration falcon or hawk?; Patagonian Mara; guanaco & rhea; flamingos; otter; ancient bactrian camel; ancient condor)

Japanese garden

(Garden with date; Buenos Aires from garden; lake; lantern; tree with messages; samurai)

(Origami; cherry blossom; bell; the lake)

Plaza Independencia

(11traffic lanes at crossing; monument de los españoles centre of roundabout)


(Street art; our hotel courtyard)

Argentine steak

We stayed at Legado Mitico, Palermo, Buenos Aires in Argentina.

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