Once we got into Argentina we were technically in the northern portion of Patagonia but not until after our 24-hour bus ride to El Chalten did we really feel like we were. The bus ride was desolate along Route 40 until out of nowhere spikey, snow capped mountains appear. El Chalten is a small town on the northern portion of the Glacier National Park in Patagonia, which is home to the infamous Fitz Roy peak and multiple glaciers. Luckily, we came upon an amazing weather window for our days of trekking after this area had a summer of cloudy, rainy weather.
Again if we had more time this is a place to spend it, as there are many multiple day treks in the area. The town is small and quaint geared for people who love trekking, food, beer and ice cream. Argentina of course has amazing steakhouses everywhere but this area is known for its lamb. Every couple of restaurants on the main street had large windows with 2 or 3 whole lambs cooking over open fire. We splurged one night for a huge plate of lamb and Patagonian trout, which surprisingly was better than the lamb. The other evenings Zane cooked steaks paired with Argentinean red wine.
There are many great day hikes right from town and we did the 2 main day hikes since we had limited time. The first one was to Lake Torre, which gave views of the spikey towers that lie near Fitz Roy and a nearby glacier. Lunch was had in front of a lake of melted glacier water with icebergs throughout it. Unlike many places you can hike in the world, here you can drink directly out of the crystal clear streams that helped during the cloudless sunny day we had. The second day hike consisted of landscape that makes the top list of what we have seen on our travels, rivaling the scenery in Nepal. We took a bus to a northern trailhead to be able to do a big loop and not an out and back hike. The first glacier we came across was Piedras Blanco that had a waterfall flowing out the bottom into a lake. After standing in awe for a bit we started to hear some avalanches in the distances. The hike was fairly easy until the final hour of uphill to Lake De Los Tres, which is at the base of Fitz Roy. This lake was turquoise unlike the murky one the day before and had the massive Fitz Roy peak right behind it. It truly didn’t look real paired with a powder blue sky and whimsical clouds. The hike back was filled with us constantly stopping convinced it looked more beautiful each time we glanced back.
El Calafate, a 3-hour bus ride away, brought us near the southern portion of the Glacier National Park. Here lies the mammoth Pierto Moreno Glacier. Being in its presence made us feel like we were in Antarctica at the end of the world except for the hundreds of other tourists taking pictures around us. Nonetheless, it is like nothing we have ever seen and its vastness is hard to describe. Again we were blessed with a clear, sunny day that ended in some nice clouds at sunset. This change in light over our 4-hour visit made the glacier constantly look different. Right before our eyes we experienced some huge chucks fall off the glacier and crash into the Lake Argentina paired with cheers from the crowd!
Unknowingly we were in El Calafate for their Carnival Holiday. We caught the tail end of a festival with fire twirlers and a face-painted drumming band. The next day before catching our bus back into Chile we ran into our American friend, Cori, we meet back in Pucon. Our schedules lined up again with the same bus and we will be doing our next long trek together. Now back in Chile in Puerto Natales we are prepping for our 8-day trek in the famous Torres Del Paine National Park.
More Pics: (possibly the best ones we have taken thus far!)