Patagonia! Part 1

Hola! So excited to share some tidbits from our trip to Patagonia with you!

Alex and I had considered venturing to Patagonia earlier this year but since November is the beginning of their spring season,  we decided now was the perfect time for a trekking adventure. Patagonia (a region which spans over 1M kilometres across the southern tip of Argentina and Chile) is so huge, we knew it was going to be logistics nightmare and would require a lot of planning. I gave myself 2 days to try and get a sense of what it would take to go it alone. Upon declaring a big “not happening” after 2 hours of reviewing bus schedules, we booked the 15 day End of the Earth tour with G Adventures. and with a click of a button, we were booked! I felt like a bit of a cheater but you know, pick your battles.

We flew into Buenos Aires from Toronto via Santiago on a Friday red eye (unexpectedly in Premium Economy – we fancy) and arrived midday, grabbed an Uber and headed to our Airbnb in the super cute area of Palermo.

We spent our two days in BA wandering the city, discovering rose gardens and sipping coffee in adorable coffee shops and even had a few delicious meals at restaurants recommended by our hosts.

We’re coffee drinkers now!


On Sunday, we went to the million miles long San Telmo market which is full of local vendors selling all sorts of knick knacks, leather goods, fresh orange juice and roasted nuts.

That night, we met up with our group for the 1st time for a short briefing, before heading to a little hole in the wall BBQ choripan joint, where we had some delicious and super cheap sausages and beer. I had already realized by this point that my preference for a vegetarian diet was going to be shot so I embraced ‘flexibility’ and the ‘when in Rome’ mantra and had a choripan. Pretty damn tasty.


Monday morning we flew (4 hours ish?) to El Calafate and then took a 3ish hour bus ride to El Chalten – a town that was established in the early 1980’s in response to the tourists flocking to the area for hiking in hopes of getting a glimpse of the towering Mt. Fitz Roy. Turns out our group was a good mix of people from all over the place (Ireland, Brazil, Germany, NZ) but we hit the absolute jackpot with our group leader, Federico (“Fede”) who might just be the loveliest and most delightful human I’ve ever met!

Out of the bus and into the mountains!

Good morning El Chalten! We started our first trekking day with the typical Argentinian (hotel) breakfast of white toast, sliced cheese and ham, a pile of very sweet pastries, coffee and a variety of yogurt drinks before setting out for Fitz Roy. Our hike was to be 8ish hours and approx. 22kms with an elevation gain of approx. 656ft to the view point.

The first bit was steep’ish up and then we travelled through the rolling Patagonian flats. One of my favourite things on this trip was being able to drink the water straight from the fresh glacier streams. Heaven.

We trekked on and on with amazing viewpoints along the way. Because there are only a few sections with tall trees- we had panaramic views most of the way.

The last km to the top was super tricky as it was through the moraine which means a steep climb with lots of loose rocks – but once we reached the top:

Water good enough to drink

There were two glacier lagoons at the top- Lagos de Los Tres, and then the “dirty lagoon” nestled downhill, which would have been worth the hike all on its own.


After spending some time with Fitz and basking in the unbelievably warm sunshine and unusual blue-bird sky we started our trek back down the moraine. I was worried about my knee given my current state of affairs, and although still a little achy on the downhill – the poles helped a lot to lighten its load.

By the time our hike was done- we had been gone about 10 hours and hiked 26km. A little slower than expected but we had a few fellow group members zig when they should have zagged. All in all a spectactular day.

Back in El Chalten, and fairly zonked, we went grabbed dinner and a few essentials.

The next morning, we opted for a glacier ice trekking on the Viedma Glacier about an hour and a half by bus and ferry. We finally felt those Patagonian winds we’d been hearing so much about, and almost got blown away a few times. We had to scramble across a huge red rock face and then down a very steep canyon (likely something that would not be allowed in Canada)before strapping on our crampons and heading on to the glacier.

 

The glacier is about 70kms long and full of crevasses and rock piles formed by the melting ice. Stunning. We got to try our hand at ice climbing before having lunch and a nip of Tia Maria before heading back across the ice and up to the ferry. Definitely an awesome morning – how often do you get to trek a glacier?


When we returned back to El Chalten, we immediately boarded our bus for a 3 hour ride back to El Calafate. Are you starting to get a sense of logistics involved for getting around?

Leave a Reply