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ARGENTINA | Friday, 12 December 2008 | Views [971] | Comments [1]

Patagonia has to be one of the most amazing places I have visited, EVER!!

A trekkers dream come through, starting in Bariloche all the way down to El Calafate in South of Argentina and then over the border into Chile.

I just learned by the way for anyone that is interested the difference between hiking and trekking. Hiking is usually a day trip where you return to civilsation were trekking consists of more than one day and usually involves camping.

After my record bus journey of 33 hours on the bumpy Route 40 I got to El Chalten at 5:30am on a very windy and cold Saturday morning. Of course it wouldn´t be a proper South American bus trip without a bit of drama along the way. The bus decided to break down in the middle of nowhere but 45 minutes and a coathanger later we were rocking again.

Not one to hang around I got a few layers on and set off into Los Claciares National Park with Antonio from Italy and Ali from England who I met on the bus.

El Chalten sits nicely beside the starting point of the treks into the park and we headed straight for the main attraction, Mount Fitzroy. It took us 3.5 hours to reach the viewpoint at the top.

Just as I arrived I took about 5 pictures before the clouds started rolling in over the top of the Granite towers of Fitzroy. After some lunch we visited a glacier and then headed back to El Chalten for a well deserved steak after our 9 hours of hiking (remember, hiking is just the one day lol)  

Up and on the trails again the next morning at 10am. The weather was great and the cold wind which greeted us the previous day had gone. We hiked to another big attraction in the park, Cerro Torre. This hike was much easier and only took us 2.5 hours to get to the viewpoint.

Torre is a needle like peak with a glacier to the left and a lake in front with ice from the glacier floating around.

After lunch I headed back to Fitzroy for some more pictures as the weather was so good and then back to El Chalten in time for dinner.

The next day Antonio and I got a bus to El Calafate and we booked a tour to the Perito Moreno Glacier. This is one of three Glaciers in Patagonia which are not retreating. The glacier is almost 100 sq miles and 30km long with the face been anywhere between 40 and 60 metres high.

The tour took us to the boardwalks in front of the glacier were everyone waits patiently for some chunks to carve off. The afternoon is the best time to see this spectical when the temperature increases.

After a couple of hours listening to the rumble of the glacier and seeing a few nice chunks crash into the icy water below we went on a boat trip around one side of the glacier.

The next day we were on the road again and crossed over into Chile to a town called Puerto Natales.

This is used as a base for people who want to visit Torres del Paine National Park.

I met Paul from Holland in Mendoza, Bariloche and again in Natales. He was also going to trek the W trail in the park so we decided to share a tent. Antonio didn´t like the idea of camping so he decided to stay at the Refugios (hostels) in the park.

After getting all our gear and food we got the bus to the park the next morning and set off. 

The W circuit is the most popular as it usually takes between 3-5 days to complete. There is another bigger circuit which takes at least 8 days to get around but 3 sounded a lot better to us.

The main attractions here are the Fitzroy like peaks of Torres towers and Glacier Grey in the west of the park.

One of the advantages is that you can drink the water from the rivers and streams that comes from the melting snow and glaciers in the park so that saved on a lot of weight.

I didn´t really know a lot about the park before I got there which was great as I didnt have any expectations and was pleasantly suprise at how much there was to see.

On the second day we had a couple of rivers to cross which I didn´t know about. Two of them were a bit dangerous and an American guy fell into one and broke his nose.

He didn´t let it upset his trek and he even made me some porridge the next morning for breakfast as I offered to carry his bag back to catch the boat if he wanted to go to the hospital in Natales.

Depending on which side of the W circuit you start on will determine wether you get a boat on the first day or at the end. We started at the eastside of the park and had to get the boat back on the last day to catch the bus back to civilisation.

After three nights in the park I was glad to get back to Natales for a shower and a good feed.

The next day I was off again and said goodbye to Paul and Antonio and headed south to Punta Arenas, the most southerly city on the continent. I did a tour to see some penguins and also booked the bus to Puerto Montt which is halfway up the country. As there are no roads linking the north and south, the bus has to go into Argentina and then cross back into Chile just above Bariloche. I could have flown or got a boat but both options are very expensive.

I will make my way up through Chile in the next two weeks and hope to cross into Bolivia for Christmas.

To be continued!!





amazing, you must be in heaven....

  ANNE MARIE Dec 22, 2008 8:22 AM



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