Well-fed and well-rested after our first major foray into hiking, we set off for El Chaltén, Argentina’s trekking capital.We said goodbye to Chile, and hopped on a bus to El Calafate. We originally thought of staying in this town, but its one major highlight is Glacier Perito Moreno, supposedly a wonderful sight to see, but has become such a tourist sight that the prices are ridiculous to get to it and see it. Seeing as the buses alone were so expensive, we decided to focus our next few days on El Chaltén, equally as expensive to live, but home to some of the world’s greatest hikes, free of charge.
We arrived to the cutest town (only created 30 years ago) surrounded by huge rocks and snow capped peaks. We hadn’t had anything booked so spent the next hour wandering the streets looking for the cheapest accommodation, which Katie expertly managed and haggled. Basic but did the trick with a well equipped kitchen which we would spend a lot of time in seeing as eating at restaurants was a little beyond our budget here. Patagonia is a wonderful place, but boy is it stretching out budget!!
There were so many different hikes available to us that left straight from the town, so we spent the next few days exploring some of them. We went to Laguna Torre, a 5 hour round trip hike with wonderful ‘miradors’ / viewpoints along the way. The end result is a lake surrounded by peaks and a huge glacier which cast off icebergs which can be seen just floating around in the lake. We stopped and had our packed lunch here – what a lunch with a view! Going back to eating lunch at my desk is going to be seriously weird!!
One hike also took us to a cute little waterfall, and another to watch the sunset over the town – however as were leaving for that one, the waiter in the restaurant we were at (ok so we treated ourselves to steak and chips once) smartly told us that to see the sunset you need the sun, which had been hidden all day by cloud. Fair point, so we stayed inside and played cards instead.
Our final hike, which we’d planned as our biggest one on our last day, saw us take a bus to El Pilar, the start of a 6 hour hike back to town taking in the main ‘sites’ and the best view of the towering Fitz Roy mountain range. Sadly, we started out nice and early which also meant we got covered in rain for the first two hours, couldn’t do one of the sections as it was too windy (and we were too cold…) so it ended up being a very wet 4 hour hike. Oh well, we treated ourselves then to a ‘glühwein’ and cake before another dinner of pasta and more games of cards.
Safe to say that after two weeks of hiking, we are pretty exhausted but feeling good. Although quite looking forward to heading back north into warmth and cities soon.
We caught the bus back to El Calafate where we stayed a night, treating ourselves to wonderful Argentinian empanadas and my first taste of an Alfajor, a local treat of two biscuits with dulce de leche inside!
The next day we started our long bus journey to Puerto Madryn in Welsh Patagonia. Everyone we’ve met en route so far has said they couldn’t face the bus journeys to get to the Welsh section, so we seriously hope it’s worth it!
Bye for now x