After saying goodbye to Chile, I crossed the land border into Argentinian Patagonia and began looking for some incredible mountains to explore. Like its Chilean counterpart, Argentina’s share of Patagonia is just as remarkable!
My first stop was the small town of El Calafate. The primary reason tourists’ come here is because it is a great base from which to visit the Perito Moreno glacier. This glacier, 70 meters tall above water and a further 160 meters below water is anything but small and visiting it is a must.
The best bit about going to the glacier is listening to it calving – the process of massive chunks of ice breaking off the glacier and falling into the lake. Some pieces of ice can be the size of a city bus and the sound they make is goosebump inducing.
The weather wasn’t the best when I visited but no matter – I was very happy to be outside in the rain watching this feat of nature.
As for the town of El Calafate itself, it is very touristy and personally, I feel it is a bit of a tourist trap. It is supremely expensive (even more so than the insane expense of Patagonia) and despite there being a million restaurants, I wasn’t blown away with any of them.
In fact, I had a rather disappointing experience: Patagonian lamb is meant to be some of the best in the world, so I decided to indulge and went to one of the supposed best restaurants to sample said lamb. I had high expectations and left bitterly disappointed. I should have rather bought 2 packets of Oreos and had those and saved myself the mortgage instalment.
From El Calafate, I made my way to the small town of El Chalten – the base town from which one can go hiking in the mountains. Despite being a small town, it was nothing like its counterpart and certainly was NOT a trap. I loved El Chalten – small, quaint, cut out for hiking and the mountains surrounding it. It is freezing but all the buildings are well-heated and cozy. It was superb.
Having been unable to get over the disappointment of the ‘best lamb’ in the world incident in El Calafate, I decided to see if the Argentinian beef was any good and went to a great restaurant in El Chalten and had possibly one of the best meals of my life. Faith in food restored!
Now for the hiking:
Unlike Chile, hiking around the Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina is entirely free and it is just as incredibly beautiful and maintained. You’re spoilt for choice as there are a number of day hikes you can do from the town (all the trails start virtually in the town).
I decided to focus on 2 of these trails, the first being Laguna Torre and the second (and jewel in the crown) Laguna de los Tres – the lake at the base of the famous Mount Fitzroy.
I had brilliant luck with the weather as both days were clear with virtually no clouds in the sky. It made the trekking really enjoyable. The biggest thing to factor into these treks is the distance you’ll cover – both days are 20km days, and in the case of Laguna de los Tres, the final kilometre is a killer. That being said, the views from the top make it so worthwhile!
From El Chalten, I made my way to Argentina’s capital – Buenos Aires. It deserves a post on its own!
Cheers for now.