Argentine Patagonia

Posted by  Daniël Cronk   in       7 years ago     409 Views     Comments Off on Argentine Patagonia  

After hiking Torres del Paine it was time to head on into Argentina. I had spent one more day in Puerto Natales recuperating from the hike and had some laundry done. As I was boarding the bus to Argentina I was talking to the bus driver and he was telling me about a fire in Torres del Paine, up near the Lago Grey sector. It started the same day that I had left the park, so I was lucky not only with weather but also that I was able to do the hike. Based on what I have been reading, it appears the Chilean government closed the park for several days, but have since reopened parts of it. It is my understanding that the entire western part of the park remains closed and probably will be for some time. I also have read on numerous boards about this incident that people will now have to go into the park with a guide and are no longer going to be able to hike it alone. No one knows how long this will last or if it will be permanent. Currently, they have an Israeli citizen in custody who is being charged with starting the fire; based on this persons nationality there also has been some negative out-lashing towards all Israeli's where signs are being put up in hostel/hotel windows saying that Israeli's are not allowed. I ended up spending 3 days in El Calafate, Argentina, with the big draw being the glacier, Perito Moreno. Among Earth's most dynamic and accessible icefields, Perito Moreno Glacier, is the stunning centerpiece of Los Glaciares National Park. The glacier measures 30 km long, 5 km wide and 60 meters high . . . Needless to say, it is HUGE and SPECTACULAR. Though these stats are impressive, what makes it truly exceptional is the fact that it is one of only a handful of glaciers that is actually advancing, approximately 2 meters per day, as opposed to receding. Because it is constantly advancing, often times it is possible to see the glacier calve glacierettes into the freezing cold, Lago Argentino. It was not my lucky day, as I did not see any really big calvings -- just a couple of small ones. I also did a glacier trek which proved to be pretty cool. They give you a pair of crampons and away you go, as long as you're not Greek, you'll be fine. In the group of trekkers there were 5 Greeks, and not a one of them could walk on the ice with the crampons and one of them proved to be terrified and needed the assistance of one of the guides the entire trek.

Perito Moreno Glacier

Perito Moreno Glacier

Perito Moreno Glacier

The Greek's during the Ice Trek.

After El Calafate, I bused it north to the tiny frontier town of El Chalten, which sits at the base of the Monte Fitz Roy mountain range. Again, it was time for some more hiking. Initially I had planned to camp, but, in the end I decided to get a room in a hospederia and do day hikes up into the mountains. As it was very clear out (when I left), I made the first hike to see Cerro Torre. The one thing I can say about hiking in Las Glaciares National Park vs Torres del Paine is that it is much flatter in Las Glaciares and there were not as many hills to climb or cliffs to scale, which made doing the day hikes easy and enjoyable. Cerro Torre is quite impressive, it is 3 granite "horns" jutting up out of the mountain proper. The hike to Cerro Torre is 11 km (each way) and took me about 2,5 hours each way. As I mentioned before, it was clear skies when I had left El Chalten into the mountain, however, by the time I arrived at Laguna Torre, which sits at the base of the Cerro, it was starting to cloud over; which is not uncommon here. It was still impressive none the less. The next day I made the 12,5 km (each way) hike to Laguna de Los Tres, which sits at the base of the southeast face of Cerro Fitz Roy. This trail is a bit more strenuous. It began with a nice 45 minute hike up the side of a mountain, but then continues gently through windswept forest and past a number of small lakes. The last hour of the hike is all up, up, up. Its approximately 450 meters up; but once you reach the summit you are rewarded with awesome views of the Cerro Fitz Roy, glaciers and glacial lakes. Definitely makes up for the strenuous work to get there. The hike takes about 4 hours each way, and as I had left at 5:30 in the morning I didn't encounter anyone at all on the trails. Once at the top of the mountain there was only 3 or 4 people there who were camping at campsite below. After about an hour more people started to arrive and soon it was quite busy. It was really nice, I just sat there and took in the environment. It is truly amazing scenery and the weather wasn't too bad; though the Cerro was in cloud cover by the time I arrived. The weather is very fickle in Patagonia. By the time I returned to the town my feet were dying from additional blisters. I had decided that my hiking boots had been designed by the devil, and thus, as I was not planning any more hiking on this trip decided to make a sacrificial offering to the nearest garbage receptacle and thus they are no more! My last morning in El Chalten I was having breakfast in the hospederia, waiting for my bus departure time, and in walks a couple from Little Canada (Minnesota; for those who do not know, it's a northern suburb of St. Paul). We had a good chat. They had been displaced here as they had originally based their trip around hiking Torres del Paine; but as it is currently closed due to the fire, they, like so many others, are coming to El Chalten for their hiking adventures.

Cerro Torre (very far left) and Cerro Fitz Roy (center)

Cerro Torre with some cloud cover.

Laguna & Cerro Torre

Magellenic Woodpecker gets his prize

Cero Fitz Roy

Cero Fitz Roy

Cero Fitz Roy

Laguna de Los Tres & Cerro Fitz Roy

My current location is Puerto Iguazu, which sits in the very northwestern corner of Argentina; on the border with Brazil. And that's all for now. 😉





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I am very passionate about traveling. My goal is to visit as many places and experience as many things as I can during my short journey on this earth.