Tag: Patagonia

Argentina Wrap-up

Wow, Argentina is a bit of a show-off – this will not be easy. We’ll do our best to narrow down our Top 10, come up with a bottom 5 and limit ourselves from going on and on about all the great food. Okay, here we go.

Top 10

  1. Salta Road Trip

    Salta Road Trip

    Lotsa Boulder friends – Getting to see Courtney and Jed in a different South American country, overlapping with Steph in Bariloche AND El Chalten, as well as connecting with Bern and having an amazing few days in Patagonia – we were feeling the Boulder love.

  2. New fun friends – We met Dave and Jesse, a hilarious couple, doing their own ’round the world thing; We connected with Estefania’s little sis in Buenos Aires and we got to meet and hike with other fun folks from Mexico to the Netherlands to Michigan!
  3. Salta road trip – After a lot of public transportation it’s quite fun to have your own car and get to be on your own schedule for a change.
  4. Luxurious bus rides – Nicest buses we have ever been on. Double-decker, super reclining seats, meal service, air-conditioning, movies, the works.
  5. Watching a giant chunk of the Perito Moreno glacier hit the sea – Yup. Would have loved to get a picture of it but you’ll just have to take our word for it.
  6. Unfair proportion of Patagonia blue sky days – We’d been warned about the regions notoriously unstable bad weather, but lucky for us it was (mostly) for naught.
  7. Frey Sunset

    Super-Trekking – Though one of the longest hikes Ted has ever done – the scenery, the weather, the hiking companions and the accomplishment made it oh-so worthwhile.

  8. Most amazing waterfalls on the planet – Iguazu is a sight to see. You can’t visit that place and leave feeling disappointed. Mother Nature at her best.
  9. Refugio sunset – You’re in the middle of nowhere at a backcountry hut and the sun is setting over ridiculously jagged, snow-covered peaks. Life is good.
  10. Biking the Circuito Chico – Northern Patagonia is a gem and this not-so ‘chico’ bike loop shows her off quite nicely.

Bottom 5

  1. 18+ hour bus rides x 4! – Yes, the buses are luxurious but 18+ hours is a really long time to be in transit.
  2. Cost of transportation – Yes, the buses are luxurious but you should not have to pay nearly as much as a plane ticket when the travel time is six times longer than a flight.
  3. The Glacier was well worth the hassle

    Getting ourselves from our fancy hotel to the glacier – We’re really stretching here but our fancy hotel made it quite a hassle (and an expense) to get us to and from the Perito Moreno glacier. As we were trying to meet up with our friends, we were a little bitter that our transit involved hitching to get there and walking 7km to get home.

  4. Expensive dorm beds (yes, we slept in a lot of dorm beds) – Just like in Chile, we had to do the dorm bed thing to save some money. However, when dorm beds are still expensive it’s a bit depressing.
  5. Leaving Argentina, meant leaving South America – And we weren’t ready to go yet! We heart South America and can’t wait to return one day…

Food and Drink

  1. Steak – Argentina is known for their beef and for good reason. We rarely go out at home and order a steak off the menu. In Argentina we did it quite a few times and were never disappointed. A special shout-out to our first Argentine steak in Cachi, to Disnevel Parilla in San Telmo (where we went twice, including our last night on the continent) and to the steak dinner we had with Ninon and her friend.
  2. Wine tasting with Courtney and Jed

    Wine – Like Europeans, Argentines drink wine like water. It’s cheap, it’s prolific and it’s delicious. We drank a lot of it.

  3. Family night – For our last night with our new friends in Patagonia we decided to whip up a dinner at the hostel family-style. Wine drinking, game playing and tango dancing ensued.
  4. Dona Salta’s empanadas – We asked several people in Salta where we could find the best empanadas in town and they all said the same place. Mmmm.
  5. Bariloche’s famous ice cream – So good we had to have it. Every day.

If you really want to see how amazing this country is, check out our “Best of Argentina” photo album, and then go see it for yourself.  Trip highlight for sure.

Picture of the Week

Southern Patagonia has been a wonder of nature.  Here’s a nice shot of Cerro Torre peak, from the trails near El Chalten, Argentina.  Go there.

Cerro Torre

The Super Trek

When our brief stint of luxury was over, we headed back to El Calafate and then back to the bus station in time to catch the afternoon bus to El Chalten. Wonderfully, our new friends, Bern, Dave and Jesse were on the same bus.

El Chalten is a hiking and climbing mecca. The famous Fitz Roy range (the range the Patagonia clothing logo is designed after) towers over the quaint town of Chalten. The little town’s population soars during the summer season as people come from all over the world to check this place out. Though El Calafate is a proper tourist town with all the restaurants and souvenir shops to prove it, El Chalten feels more like a frontier town with many of the roads still unpaved.

El Chalten

The hiking around town is extraordinary and you can literally walk from anywhere in town to the trailheads. There are two very popular hikes that people do and we all planned to do one the first day and one the second day, depending on the weather. The weather in all of Patagonia is notoriously unstable. We had been warned about rain, clouds, cold temperatures and wind being the norm and sunshine being an exception to the rule. We had lucked out in Torres del Paine, we had lucked out visiting the Perito Merino glacier earlier in the week, and we once again lucked out in El Chalten.

As the five of us headed out on what was meant to be a 6 hour (roundtrip) hike to Laguna Torre with a view of the majestic Cerro Torre peak, we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day. Even the ever-present wind was taking the day off. We were very appreciative of our luck and had a great hike to the view of Cerro Torre where we had lunch. On the way down, we got to talking and the group decided to take advantage of the amazing weather and press on towards the second popular hiking destination. The clouds can be so thick that they completely obstruct the view, so we decided to keep walking on the blue sky day.

Hiking to Cerro Torre

Cerro Torre, up close

Our hiking crew at Laguna Torre

The path we were on conveniently connected over to the other path and rewarded us with spectacular views of the Fitz Roy mountain range and a crystal-clear blue lakes along the way.

Hiking in the park

Rest stop

At another junction, the boys decided to head all the way up to Laguna de los Tres – the high view point for Fitz Roy. At the thought of an additional 3.5 hours of hiking on top of what we had already done, Jesse and I decided to head down.

We got back to town around 6:00 pm after a 10-hour, 16+ mile day of hiking, feeling pretty good about ourselves. We both got cleaned up and met for beers at the local brewery to wait for the guys. Little did we know that they wouldn’t roll in until just after 10 pm and 25+ miles of hiking! Luckily it stays light until after 10pm in Patagonia at that time of year because I wouldn’t have felt okay about them wandering in the dark. Jesse and I had just started to get worried when they arrived at the brewpub famished and exhausted.

Bern, Dave, and Ted

Laguna de Los Tres (covered with ice and snow)

The beginning of a LONG way down

We later learned that the full hike the guys did is known as the Super Trek. Needless to say the next day was a sleep-in and relaxation day.

For our last night in the area we decided to cook a big dinner at the hostel and drink some wine with all the fun new people we had met. As the night went on, we found our table growing larger and larger and before we knew it we were next door at the local tango bar! There were professionals on hand who were quite impressive, and many Argentine men who were happy to lead, and then there was our group that managed to have quite a great time with little to no tango knowledge whatsoever. It was a hilariously fun night and a great way to celebrate our last night in this amazing part of the world!

Family dinner and drinks

The Tango Party

Addendum – Our friend Dave is not a huge hiker, and the Super Trek basically broke his soul. Read his hilarious account of our day on his and Jesse’s blog.

Drinking Straight from the Stream

Cleanest Water Ever

This is the best-tasting, most refreshing water on the planet. Straight out of Patagonian mountain streams, you’re getting your water right from the source. And the best part – no filtration required! Even in the high mountains of Colorado, you have to filter back-country water to fight off giardia and other bacteria. In Patagonia, you just drink straight from the stream. Not sure why their water is cleaner than ours, but it was pretty awesome to refill from any stream we crossed.  Patagonia rocks.

Bern, filling up

Picture of the Week

This is the most awe-inspiring piece of ice you’ll ever see.  Photos struggle to capture its massiveness.  Perito Moreno Glacier in Parque Nacional de los Glaciers, Patagonia, Argentina

Perito Moreno Glacier

A Backpacker’s Cruise Ship

Except it’s not a cruise and it’s not just for backpackers. The Navimag Ferry is a converted cargo ship that takes passengers (and cargo) from Puerto Montt, Chile (in the Lake District) all the way down to “Extremo Sur” – Puerto Natales, Chile. The journey takes 3 days and 3 nights and is quite a unique way to travel the long distance between the two places – with the alternative being a 36+ hour bus ride. Rooms range from ‘dorm’ beds in a public hallway to private rooms with private bathrooms. However, the Navimag Ferry is far from economical so the private rooms are not an option for most.

The Navimag Ferry

Ted and I shared a window-less four bed bunk room with a lovely couple from the U.K. Our only criteria was that our roommates were normal and trustworthy and preferably non-snorers. We lucked out on all accounts.

Oli and Jo, our roomies

The boat travels all day and all night with only one stop on the whole trip. During the day there would be various presentations about the flora and fauna of Patagonia but mostly you entertained yourself by reading, talking with people or taking in the views from the outdoor decks.

Though we had good weather every day, we also had rain every day and lots of wind. One minute it would be lovely (though cold!) and everyone would be outside and the next you knew, it was a torrential down pour. But regardless, the views from the ship as you wove in and out of the islands, channels, and fjords heading south was pretty unbeatable.

Cruisin the Fjords

Cruisin the Fjords

Passing the time onboard

There was one night on the boat that we were not protected from any nearby land and we were exposed to the Pacific Ocean and its waves. We were all advised to take sea sickness medication and avoid drinking alcohol that night. Neither Ted nor I get seasick normally, but we thought we’d take the pills on this occasion – and I’m glad we did. The giant boat was dipping and diving in the 6m waves. You could barely walk straight without holding onto anything and in fact, Ted and I were eating dinner and through no fault of our own, the whole table with our trays of food (and us) just tipped over from one of the swells! It was quite hilarious though slightly embarrassing at the same time. We looked around, and other tables lost trays of food, but we were the only ones that managed to tip all the way over!

Rough Seas!

One of our favorite sights from the boat was a little detour we did to see a gigantic glacier coming into the sea. It’s called the Perito XI Glacier and it measures 6 km across and 80 meters tall. You can only access it by boat and it was breath-taking.

Perito XI Glacier

Another great thing about the ship was that passengers were allowed to visit the captain’s bridge which is the ship’s control room. It was a great view and very interesting to be in there when they were steering through narrow passages.

The Bridge

The last night on the boat is one big party. We met and talked with more people on the last night than we had on the rest of the voyage. We continued to run into our new friends for the next week around Puerto Natales as we all disembarked into the small town together.

Overall, the ferry was quite an experience and we’re happy we did it. It didn’t do great things for our budget but we were learning that Chile and Argentina were gonna to make that difficult for us all around.

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