It’s only a short 1,5 h flight from Ushuaia to El Calafate, a huge advantage in time compared to the bus ride. There is not much to see anyway. Vast plains as far as the eye can see. And then all of a sudden the Los Glaciares National Park’s mountain range shows up ahead. Although the sky was clear, the flight was bumpy and once we stood the plane was still shaking like a boat on rough water because of the wind (well, they say it’s wind, I’d call it a storm)! It’s always windy in this region, más o menos. And on a day like this it’s hard to walk, especially with a large backpack!
A 2 h busride further north lies the tiny town of El Chalten, the hiking mekka on the Argentinian side of southern Patagonia. At the ranger station we were told to tackle the parks most popular hike the next day: the 8h return hike to the Laguna de los Tres at the foot of Mt. Fitz Roy! Good weather is elementary for this hike as one can’t climb up the last part if it’s too windy or wet nor see anything of Mt. Fitz Roy! Apparently weather conditions are not the best, usually, but the next day proved to be one of those very few perfect days: mostly sunny, little wind and a high of maybe 15° C. I chose to walk from the acceso Hosteria el Pilar. A shuttle dropped me off there together with 15 others at 9:15 a.m. The beautiful walk along the river Rio Blanco leads up and down through low forests with great views of the Glacier Piedras Blancas. After 3 h I reached the Campamento Poincenot, filled up my waterbottle with wonderfully clean and tasty water from a stream, enjoyed my sandwich (created a new look, by the way, cap under hat… Don’t think it will make it onto the runway… ) and climbed another 1h steep uphill! But when finally reaching the top the view is priceless!
I was up there for 2 h, admiring Fitz Roy, Laguna de los tres (on the right), Laguna Sucia (on the left) and the Glaciers! I just couldn’t get enough. Also, even on this rare perfect day, there were almost always some clouds at the top of Mt. Fitz Roy and we all waited eagerly for those short moments when it was fully visible (which I captured with my Nikon, photos to follow some time soon). I happily hiked back to El Chalten in 3:15 h.
The next day was rainy and windy, so we almost all stayed in town, hopping from one café to another… In Argentina meat, beer and bread are generally cheap (some of you might love to hear that!), everything else is expensive. El Chalten is more than expensive. Plus, there is short supplies of almost everything, especially veggies and fruits. This is an example of the supplies in the biggest supermarket in town:
I was still on a cracker-tea-potato diet during the first days, so no meat and beer for me, unfortunately. But I finally ate a nice sirloin on my last eve, accompanied by a botttle of red wine shared with lovely Carole! What a life!