Since 1916, the landmark Hotel de Campo La Leona (tel. 011/5032-3415 in Buenos Aires, www.hoteldecampolaleona.com.ar) has been a rural roadhouse where today’s travelers brake for chocolate and lemon pie, banana bread, and tea and coffee.
Though the exterior looks much as it did a century ago, a Buenos Aires investor has totally transformed the interior, with a small souvenir shop in addition to a more spacious and cheerful dining room (with equally cheerful personnel).
Little more than a wide turnout alongside the road, at junction of RN 40 and westbound RP 21, it’s a useful stop for cyclists, either northbound or southbound, who don’t care to set up the tent; the four remodeled rooms, with private baths, cost US$80 d, US$90 triple, US$100 quadruple, with breakfast. Camping costs US$10 pp, without breakfast.
Under the same ownership, west of the highway, the more luxurious Estancia La Estela (www.estancialaestela.com.ar, US$130 d) offers custom-built accommodations with views of Lago Viedma and the Fitz Roy range, plus activities that include rafting, riding, and even archery. An entire house, sleeping six, is available for US$330.
Nearby, the recently discovered Bosque Petrificado La Leona is a badlands reserve of petrified forests and dinosaur fossils on nearby Estancia Santa Teresita, visited by guided tour only. For details on this full-day excursion (US$45), contact any El Calafate travel agency.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition