This year, we’ve decided to have summer in February. And so we went south. A really far south. So far south the temperatures were not so high after all. But still higher than in Prague. Our passports are now richer by stamps from 3 new countries and we have countless new experiences. Without further ado, here is the first part of our TOP 15 from PATAGONIA.
Note: The list is not sorted by preference, but chronologically as we travelled through Patagonia.
This glacier is in reality a frozen river, and that is maybe why it is the only glacier on Earth which is still growing. On a good day it can offer so many shadows of blue you probably did not know there are so many. One can get the best idea of its size from the viewing platforms which are easily accessible for everybody. If you come here in the afternoon and are lucky, you can even see the towers of ice fall down.
We figured the best way to explore Perito Moreno would be on foot. So we went on the Mini trekking tour with Hielo y Aventura. First, they took us to the glacier on a boat, so we could admire it from water. After that, we were given crampons on our hiking shoes, a small lecture about how to walk with them, and we set off for a 2,5 h tour. We would be climbing up slopes, down again, across crevasses and through streams of melting ice, all accompanied by a very good speech of experienced guide. And in the end, he had a surprise for us – a glass of whiskey with ice from the glacier, which was about 350 years old, therefore older than any whiskey in the world.
One interesting fact: there are only two places on Earth where glaciers meet with forests and go almost to zero altitude – Patagonia and New Zealand. It is given by the fact that glaciers here go directly to the sea.
Lago Argentino and first flamingoes
El Calafate as a town is not very interesting, but explorers of the surrounding nature would probably spend a night or two here. That is to visit Perito Moreno and southern part of Los Glaciares National Park. The town sits on the banks of Lago Argentino, a huge glacier lake whose turquoise colour is stunning and looks so good in contrast with the surrounding brownish desert.
The town´s bay of the Lago offers great conditions for flamingos, which stand there and parade their pink feathers. It was our first time to see wild flamingos and they were so beautiful. Later we saw even more beautiful ones in Torres del Paine, Chile, which were flying and thus showing their black feathers on the lower side of their wings.
Laguna de los Tres, El Chalten
El Chalten is, on the other hand, a truly hikers´town. The atmosphere here is cool and relaxed. But it won´t last forever, as new big hotels are being build there without any urban plan. So go there now, in couple of years most of the charm will be already gone.
From Chalten, there are several options for hiking, including day hikes and also some longer hikes. Out of the short ones, the most worthy is the Laguna de los Tres, which is under the Fitz Roy peaks. Taking the official trail means hiking the same way there and back. We are not big fans of this, so we sought alternative ways. There is an option to preorder a minibus ride at the place where you are staying, which picks you up and takes you to the Hosteria El Pilar, a really small hostel with a few rooms, so don´t expect to get any supplies here. From there leads a well marked trail to the Poincenot campground, where it merges with the official trail. It is a rather easy and nice valley walk and offers views of another glacier, Glaciar Piedras Blancas.
From Poincenot, it is 2 more kilometres with elevation of about 500 m per km, so prepare for a hard climb up. It is well rewarded, though. Laguna de los Tres is beautiful and so blue. I have never seen so blue water before. And the peaks of Fitzroy on the background make for so beautiful, an almost kitch picture. The official 10 kilometre trail takes you then back to the town, an easy hike with beautiful views.