We'd been waiting to get here for a long time, this area is home to Perito Moreno one of the worlds most impressive glaciers, Mount Fitz Roy, vibrant blue lakes and open skies. We stopped in El Calafate for a couple of nights, our hostel was like a big wooden cabin with cosy beds and friendly people.
Most travel to El Calafate to see Perito Moreno Glacier and we were no exception. The following day we took a bus to the glacier and went for a walk along the boardwalks. The glacier was breathtaking. The ice glowed blue and every now and again huge chunks would fall crashing into the water below with a mighty thunder. As we walked the weather started to turn and so we retreated to a cafe to warm ourselves with a hot chocolate before taking one last look at the glacier and jumping back on the coach.
We spent the next day leisurely wandering around the quaint town. After booking our coach to El Chaltén we walked to the nature reserve and watched the flamingos on the lake.
The following day we packed our bags and caught the coach to El Chaltén, a relatively short drive away. As we got closer the landscape changed dramatically, we were faced with majestic mountain views. We had an obligatory stop at the rangers office where we were all given advice about the national park before walking across town to our little blue hostel. We decided to make the most of the clear weather and went on a late walk to a nearby waterfall, it didn't take long and was an easy stroll. We were rewarded with lovely views along the way and the waterfall was a pretty spot.
November 1st, two months travelling today! It was going to be a big day, we were up early to do the Laguna de los Tres walk to see Mount Fitz Roy. We'd been told that the walk wasn't too strenuous but that the last kilometre was a killer, it would be over 20 kilometres in total (10 there and 10 back). With our walking boots on we left the hostel and made our way down the road to the start of the hike. The first section was uphill and already felt like a struggle. We continued on passing beautiful scenery as we went. The walk was an interesting one, through woodland, past lakes, over rickety little bridges and sandy paths. As we walked we noticed little signs telling us how far we had come; 1/10 then 2/10 until finally 9/10, the dreaded last kilometre was before us. What started as a steep trail that stretched the legs soon became a tiring scramble. Despite the whipping wind I felt like I was burning up and had to remove layers of clothes. I was amazed at how some people whizzed up the path, the sound of their trekking poles tapping along the rocks became a distant sound as I was slowly moving up, step by step. Eventually we could see the snow and just over the ridge a moody Mount Fitz Roy stood before us. The wind was so powerful, I was nearly knocked off my feet a few times and had to huddle by a rock. We ate our picnic lunch surrounded by such grandeur before attempting to take a few photos. After, we started the long walk back, my knees were not happy on the way down.
After a couple of slips we made it to the bottom of the 1km stretch and decided to treat ourselves to some biscuits by the refugio, we watched birds in the trees and the other hikers as they started their walk up the steep trail. After a few minutes we began to walk again, we had 9 kilometres before us back the way we had come. By the last couple of kilometres I was nearly in tears, the strain on my legs and particularly my knees felt like too much to bear. As the finish line approached I felt such relief and couldn't wait to take off my heavy boots at the hostel.
The next morning; ouch! My legs ached and my cold had reappeared with a vengeance. We decided to take it easy and wandered down the road to a cute café named Mathilda for treats, we didn't do much else all day.
After our rest day we were feeling fit enough to go for a walk but the weather had other ideas. El Chaltén's main street had became a wind tunnel and huge downpours of rain scattered throughout the day. We did a very short walk to a condor viewpoint and saw excellent views of the town. The delights of Mathilda were calling so we popped in again for warming hot drinks and cake. I'm going to miss dulce de leche so much when I leave South America.
November 4th, our anniversary. Not just any anniversary though, we've been together for 10 years, a whole decade. With the weather still not playing ball we went for a fairly short walk to Cerro Torre viewpoint passing a waterfall on the way. Somehow I managed to hit my head on a branch and the relentless rain meant we got absolutely drenched. After a couple of hours out and about we returned to the hostel to dry off then made a quick dash to a vegetarian restaurant for our celebratory dinner. It was delicious and worth the fact that we each spent a whole days budget on it!
The next day we left El Chaltén and headed back to El Calafate. Our journey from El Calafate to 'end of the world' Ushuaia awaited.
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