Nestled between the mountains, a 3 hour drive north of El Calafate, is the town of El Chalten. Set up by climbers as a base camp for their ascents of Mount Fitz Roy and its surrounding peaks. Years have passed and what was once an empty little town is now considered “the trekking capital” of Argentina. Still remote, the town is now filled with hotels, campsites and restaurants catering for ambitious climbers and holiday day hikers.
El Calafate is a small town in the far end of Argentina on the west side of Patagonia. The town is famous for being the closest town to visit the Perito Moreno glacier from. El Calafate got its name from a shrub producing berries, that look like blueberries. The locals here make tasty pies, jams and liquors. In town it’s quite complicated to avoid the tourism swell and all the infrastructures that come with it. The main street “av. del Liberador” is a string of cafes, tour agencies, souvenir shops and restaurants which are not really friendly to the backpacker wallet. However, it is impossible not stay in El Calafate for a couple of nights as it is the only way to visit the Perito Moreno glacier. Continued
After our 7-day trek of the “O” in Torres del Paine, we took a brief recovery in Puerto Natales. We needed a few days to recover as we had organised to return to the National Park for another two weeks. The reason for heading back was to volunteer with Agrupacion Medio Ambiental, better known as AMA Torres del Paine.
Once we set foot in South America and started to meet other travellers there was one question asked over and over. “Are you doing Torres del Paine?”. For sure, a multi day, self sufficient trek in Torres del Paine voted the 8th Wonder of the World was on our list ! But every time we heard it we were still months away from being in Patagonia. While watching Brazil vs Columbia in Rio’s brand new, and not often used Olympic stadium, a Dutch guy informed us this was a MUST. “But make sure you book it in advance”…
We took a very expensive, 24 hour, bus from Puerto Madryn to Rio Gallegos. Then, we made the choice to go to Punta Arenas in Chile and not Ushuaia where Jenny had already been a few years back. We decided to take a direct bus to the south of Patagonia and skip the east coast as there were not many places on the map where we could stay, and without a tent, we thought it would make our life more complicated than it needed to be.
Also, we were at the end of February and autumn was about to start in this side of the world. We didn’t have much time to loose as cold, rain and snow could hit us while ascending on the west side of the continent. So we arrived in Punta Arenas on the 1st of March after more than 30h of travel. Exhausted and excited to find the King Penguins of Tierra Del Fuego.