Adventures in Patagonia
You don’t have words to express some things, no pictures do justice. Patagonia is one such place. From the icy glaciers to the lagoons to the snow covered Andes range to the rivers originating from the snowy mountains – It is surreal…
Few places make you feel so small and humble. Patagonia is one such place – one of nature’s marvels. It made me wonder how far we traveled from home and truly felt special being there. To realize you are in the southern most part of the world inhabited by humans and Antarctica was so close was crazy.
A lot of once-in-a-lifetime experiences from this visit. Patagonia is something else, relatively untouched and pristine with purest water and glacial ice. We walked on a glacier, drank mountain spring water, saw the clearest lakes and rivers, watched and listened to ice rumbling and falling into the water, saw the origin of a river. Everything made it a marvelous experience.
We only visited the Argentinian side of patagonia. We flew to El Calafate which is about 3 hours from Buenos Aires.
Patagonia comprises the third largest mass of ice on earth!
The place is windy, like Chicago windy and weather is quite unpredictable. Be prepared with layered clothing even in the middle of summer.
Patagonia is known for its fire roasted lamb aka Patagonian Lamb and is a must try!
Being close to the south pole, the sun sets very late in the summer, like 10pm.
Our plan was to visit Perito Moreno glacier in El Calafate and do the minitrekking on the glacier, then drive to El Chalten and hike Laguna De Los Tres and Laguna Torre during our two day stay there.
El Calafate is a cute little town! Bustling with visitors and backpackers in summer but almost deserted in the winter. I was surprised by the bars, restaurants in this town that is in the middle of nowhere (at least by our standards ;))! The hotel we stayed was impressive. This view of Lago Argentina from the hotel was breathtaking.
Based on the hotel manager’s recommendation, we decided to explore the town on our first day.
First stop was Glaciarium – Glacier museum and Glacio Ice Bar.
Museum was good but the coolest feature was the Ice Bar. Everything in the bar is made of ice, including the walls and glasses you drink from!
The Glass deformed by the touch of our lips!
Next stop, Libro Bar – a bar and a library. Bar with books; you order a drink, grab a book and enjoy. Great bar for people watching as well.
Final stop, dinner at the best Parilla restaurant in El Calafate – Don Pichoun. And predictably, we ordered the Patagonian lamb and it was AMAZING! The best lamb ever! This view and the Malbec made the experience even better.
The Majestic Perito Moreno Glacier:
We visited the Perito Moreno Glacier and trekked on the glacier on our second day. Perito Moreno is one of the easily accessible glacier in the Andes range and is vast, like 250 sq.km, 30km long and third largest source of fresh water (thanks Wiki!). And this huge mass of ice moves about 2 metres every day! Insane!
Reminded us of “The Wall” from Game of Thrones!
We took a boat to the glacier and started our trek. We walked on the icy blue glacier, ate the ice, drank the glacial water, had drinks on top of the glacier with glacial rocks, heard the ice rumbling through the glacier, water leaking thru the crevices and all this with the mighty Andes in the background – other worldly feeling!
Our team of Explorers 😉
We drove to El Chalten the same day. We were amazed by the miles and miles of barren land just lying there untouched. Close your eyes and you can imagine building sky scrapers and shopping malls. 😉
It was a scenic drive thru Lago Argentina and Lago Viedma. We couldn’t stop staring through the window with eyes wide open as we got closer and closer to the Andes range.
Spotted llamas, sheep, several kinds of ducks, baby deers, horses, incredible wildlife everywhere.
El Chalten is located in the Los Glaciares Nacional Parque and is aptly called ‘the trekking capital of the world’. It was built in 1985. That’s how new it is! This town was something like in fantasy movies. Small (about 4×4 block) town surrounded by mountains and full of backpackers. We (I :D) decided to do two treks on two days. The second day only till Noon as we needed to drive back to El Calafate to catch our flight.
Laguna De Los Tres and Cerro Fitzroy:
We chose Laguna De Los Tres (a lagoon) hike on the first day as it is supposed to be the most beautiful hike culminating with the best view of Mount Cerro Fitzroy. Cerro Fitzroy is the most prominent peak in this part of Andes (it is on the logo of Patagonia clothing company). Apparently, if you can only do one hike in El Chalten – this is it!
The drive to the hiking spot itself was mind blowing – something I cannot express in words. My mind stood still enjoying all the beauty and tearing up in joy. It was a touching experience.
All the hikers and locals suggested it was a moderate hike and takes an average of 5 hours. The route we took was about 15-20km is my best guess. So we thought easy-peesy and did not even take proper lunch – just some fruits and nuts. It did not take us long to realize – moderate hike, my a#$!! It was the toughest, hardest and most dangerous (last 1km) hike I have ever done! But I have to admit, it was also the most beautiful one with amazing, amazing views.
Killer hike for this view!!
It took us a staggering TEN hours to finish the hike. The last 1 km to Laguna De Los Tres was the hardest, both going up and coming down. You climb a STEEP hill for a km and get down the rocky, treacherous path! And that was not the end of it! We had another 9km to actually go back to El Chalten!! In the end, we were toast! 🙂
The view up top was something that, again, cannot be expressed in words. I don’t think pictures do any justice. It was magnificent and surreal. Not just the lagoon and Mount Fitzroy, but the hike up and down was breathtaking as well. Mount Fitzroy popping up on occasions and teasing us, dense woods and trees like no other, and views of river flowing from the mountains, the sounds of water and birds, everything was unreal.
We saw the origin of a river – the melted snow finding a way to run down the mountain, crystal clear water in Laguna Capri. We drank water from the river and lagoons. It was so pure and tastiest water I have ever tasted. It was like a dream except for the crazy hike of course!
We were almost dead in the end but our stay – Patagonia Eco Domes, saved us. Fully equipped, heated domes with nothing but the views of Cerro Fitzroy (no cell coverage, no wifi). I was very impressed by the service we received at all the hotels in Patagonia.
Next day – Ugh! forget hiking, we could barely walk! We drove back to El Calafate and flew to Buenos Aires!
Patagonia is truly one of nature’s wonder!
I am Aswani Kurra. I am an engineer, dreamer and part-time wanderlust, writer and wine lover. I always had an urge to write, create and travel. So I created this space to satisfy my creative itch and combine all my skills to help you plan your Charming Escape.
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