ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Argentina

DAY 78 (1 OF 2) – SENDERO AL FITZ ROY, PARQUE NACIONAL LOS GLACIARES (NORTH), EL CHALTEN, ARGENTINA

Today was our last full day at El Chalten, and also our final hiking day in Patagonia.  We woke up with great joy of seeing Cerro Fitz Roy against the blue sky.  The weather was finally on our side, and how lucky we were on picking today for hiking Sendero al Fitz Roy (about 9 hour return).  Often considered as the most important hike in El Chalten, this hike would get us to Laguna de los Tres, a glacial lagoon at the base of Cerro Fitz Roy.
Arranged by our host, a bus picked us up at our guesthouse at 8am and took us to Hosteria El Pilar, an alternative trailhead about 45-minute drive from El Chalten.  Perhaps it was the fine weather, it seemed that there were many hikers on the trail.  The first 3 hours was easy and pleasant.  Whatever we reached an opening in the woods we would have a great panoramic view of Fitz Roy and its surrounding mountains.  About an hour into the hike we came face-to-face with Glaciar Pierdras Blancos with Fitz Roy in the background.  Then an hour later, on the path before the campsite of Poincenot, it seemed that there was just a small evergreen forest standing between the majestic Fitz Roy and us.  After Poincenot, we crossed a river and reached the next campsite at Rio Blanco, where a sign reminding hikers about the upcoming steep and rocky route up to Laguna de los Tres.  This last hour of uphill hiking was by far the most difficult trail we had encountered during our entire trip.  Not only the steepness and roughness of the path, and the slippery conditions at certain wet spots, but also the extremely strong wind near the top altogether made this part of the hike really physical demanding.  Temperature dropped dramatically and the wind significantly picked up its strength when we got near the top.
At last we reached the lookout at the top of the rocky path where the panorama of Laguna and Glacier de los Tres and Cerro Fitz Roy dramatically unfolded in front of us.  The steep ascend was challenging, but the view at the lookout was unbelievably rewarding.  The gusty wind never really slowed down.  We picked a spot behind a large boulder to avoid the wind, sat down, set up the tripod for videos and timelapse, and had some apple juice, a chocolate bar and some nuts to reward ourselves.  Half an hour went by and we could see storm clouds moving toward us from behind Fitz Roy.  Minutes later, Fitz Roy was fully covered, and then came the icy rain, and lastly, the flurries.  We had no choice but to abandon the idea of checking out another lookout further down the side of the lagoon.  We decided to pack our gear before the storm turned ugly.  The wind was so strong at this point that we almost had to crawl out of the boulder area to reach the main path, because we simply had trouble standing up with the gusty wind pushing from behind.  When we reached the foot of the hill and saw the dark grey clouds behind us, we felt so relieved.  No more Fitz Roy.  Near the campsite of Rio Blanco, we filled our water bottle at a glacial stream and felt grateful that we had at least half an hour at Laguna de los Tres to enjoy Cerro Fitz Roy (from behind a rock).  The sun was out again while we moved away from the campsite of Poincenot, although Fitz Roy was still covered by heavy clouds, and it stayed that way for the rest of the day.  And according to the weather forecast by the park ranger, tomorrow would be a rainy day.  On our return, we were in no hurry to rush back to El Chalten.  We took our time to enjoy the serene beauty of Patagonia at this very last hiking day of our trip.
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Read more on El Chalten in 2013 South America
Day 74 – Patagonia Once Again, Ushuaia to El Calafate
Day 75.1 – Laguna Torres, El Chalten
Day 75.2 – Estepa Restaurant, El Chalten
Day 76.1 – El Muro, El Chalten
Day 76.2 – Laguna Capri, El Chalten
Day 77.1 – Laguna Torre Once Again, El Chalten
Day 77.2 – Domo Blanco Ice-cream, El Chalten
Day 78.1 – Sendero al Fitz Roy, El Chalten
Day 78.2 – In-house Dinner, El Chalten
Day 79.1 – Goodbye El Chalten

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought

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DAY 77 (2 OF 2) – DOMO BLANCO ICE-CREAM, EL CHALTEN, ARGENTINA

Despite the evenings are always chilly in Patagonia, we have developed a pre-dinner habit of having a 1/4 litre of homemade ice-cream at Domo Blanco when we returned to El Chalten from our hike.  Domo Blanco is the only homemade ice-cream shop we found in town.  They even offer a unique flavor made from the local calafate, the legendary berries that once eaten would “ensure” your return to Patagonia!

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Read more on El Chalten in 2013 South America
Day 74 – Patagonia Once Again, Ushuaia to El Calafate
Day 75.1 – Laguna Torres, El Chalten
Day 75.2 – Estepa Restaurant, El Chalten
Day 76.1 – El Muro, El Chalten
Day 76.2 – Laguna Capri, El Chalten
Day 77.1 – Laguna Torre Once Again, El Chalten
Day 77.2 – Domo Blanco Ice-cream, El Chalten
Day 78.1 – Sendero al Fitz Roy, El Chalten
Day 78.2 – In-house Dinner, El Chalten
Day 79.1 – Goodbye El Chalten

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 77 (1 OF 2) – LAGUNA TORRE ONCE AGAIN, PARQUE NACIONAL LOS GLACIARES (NORTH), EL CHALTEN, ARGENTINA

After a brief talk with the hosts of our guesthouse, we decided to hike the Sendero al Fitz Roy for Laguna de los Tres tomorrow.  As for today, we would like to give ourselves a second chance to see Cerro Torre despite the gloomy weather.  We knew it was unlikely to have a clear view of the spiky Cerro Torre, but enjoying the hike to Laguna Torre a second time was way better than staying in town.
When we reached Mirador Torre, we could see that clouds at Cerro Torre were even lower than two days ago.  We waited a bit at the lookout and decided go ahead to Laguna Torre.  The weather forecast suggested by 3pm the clouds might start to clear up.  We reached Laguna Torre at about 4pm, but there was no sign that the clouds would be gone anytime soon.  The wind was mild today and that might have prevented any possible clearing.  Once again we stayed at the stony beach and waited, but we could hardly see the foot of Cerro Torre.  We then shifted our attention to the details of the surroundings: colourful boulders, milky water, blue icebergs, etc.  On our way back we took our time to enjoy the scenery of the woodlands and river valley.  By the time we reached halfway back the sun was out again above us, though when we looked back towards the mountains Cerro Torre was still heavily concealed by fog and clouds.
When we got back to El Chalten, we met another hiker who made four attempts on Senda a Laguna Torre but still failed to see the peaks of Cerro Torre.  So be it, we would leave El Chalten without seeing the peaks of Cerro Torre.  Until next time…
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Read more on El Chalten in 2013 South America
Day 74 – Patagonia Once Again, Ushuaia to El Calafate
Day 75.1 – Laguna Torres, El Chalten
Day 75.2 – Estepa Restaurant, El Chalten
Day 76.1 – El Muro, El Chalten
Day 76.2 – Laguna Capri, El Chalten
Day 77.1 – Laguna Torre Once Again, El Chalten
Day 77.2 – Domo Blanco Ice-cream, El Chalten
Day 78.1 – Sendero al Fitz Roy, El Chalten
Day 78.2 – In-house Dinner, El Chalten
Day 79.1 – Goodbye El Chalten

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 76 (2 OF 2) – LAGUNA CAPRI, PARQUE NACIONAL LOS GLACIARES (NORTH), EL CHALTEN, ARGENTINA

It only took us about an hour and a half to reach Laguna Capri from El Chalten.  The short hike was often considered an alternative hike when the weather was not ideal to do the full day hikes.  As expected we couldn’t see Cerro Fitz Roy at Laguna Capri as the mountain was hidden behind clouds.  We sat down on a log at a small beach by the lagoon for almost two hours, but there wasn’t a single moment of a clear view of Fitz Roy.  The weather kept on changing from sunny to rainy every ten minutes or so.  Luckily our rain gear worked well to keep us dry.  On our way back, the scenery of Rio de las Vueltas down the valley was fantastic under the late afternoon light.
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Read more on El Chalten in 2013 South America
Day 74 – Patagonia Once Again, Ushuaia to El Calafate
Day 75.1 – Laguna Torres, El Chalten
Day 75.2 – Estepa Restaurant, El Chalten
Day 76.1 – El Muro, El Chalten
Day 76.2 – Laguna Capri, El Chalten
Day 77.1 – Laguna Torre Once Again, El Chalten
Day 77.2 – Domo Blanco Ice-cream, El Chalten
Day 78.1 – Sendero al Fitz Roy, El Chalten
Day 78.2 – In-house Dinner, El Chalten
Day 79.1 – Goodbye El Chalten

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 76 (1 OF 2) – EL MURO, EL CHALTEN, ARGENTINA

The weather today was far from promising.  As a result, we decided to spend the morning sorting out bus tickets for the coming days at the bus terminal, and doing a short hike to Laguna Capri after lunch.  Located close the end of the main street, El Muro is another local’s favourite.  We had a hearty meal there with decent grill meat before starting the hike to Laguna Capri.
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Read more on El Chalten in 2013 South America
Day 74 – Patagonia Once Again, Ushuaia to El Calafate
Day 75.1 – Laguna Torres, El Chalten
Day 75.2 – Estepa Restaurant, El Chalten
Day 76.1 – El Muro, El Chalten
Day 76.2 – Laguna Capri, El Chalten
Day 77.1 – Laguna Torre Once Again, El Chalten
Day 77.2 – Domo Blanco Ice-cream, El Chalten
Day 78.1 – Sendero al Fitz Roy, El Chalten
Day 78.2 – In-house Dinner, El Chalten
Day 79.1 – Goodbye El Chalten

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 75 (2 OF 2) – ESTEPA RESTAURANT, EL CHALTEN, ARGENTINA

What’s better than having a good meal after a long day of hiking?  Esterpa, the local’s favourite lives up the good reputation of Argentinean cuisine.  In a remote mountain town such as El Chalten which relies entirely on imported food from other cities, we were impressed by the quality of the dishes we had.  Esterpa drew a satisfying conclusion for our first day of hiking at El Chalten.
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Read more on El Chalten in 2013 South America
Day 74 – Patagonia Once Again, Ushuaia to El Calafate
Day 75.1 – Laguna Torres, El Chalten
Day 75.2 – Estepa Restaurant, El Chalten
Day 76.1 – El Muro, El Chalten
Day 76.2 – Laguna Capri, El Chalten
Day 77.1 – Laguna Torre Once Again, El Chalten
Day 77.2 – Domo Blanco Ice-cream, El Chalten
Day 78.1 – Sendero al Fitz Roy, El Chalten
Day 78.2 – In-house Dinner, El Chalten
Day 79.1 – Goodbye El Chalten

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 75 (1 OF 2) – LAGUNA TORRE, PARQUE NACIONAL LOS GLACIARES (NORTH), EL CHALTEN, ARGENTINA

In Chalten, there are two mandatory hikes for most trekkers: Sendero al Fitz Roy and Senda a Laguna Torre. The former leads hikers for a close encounter of Laguna and Glacier de los Tres with Cerro Fitz Roy in the background, and the latter for Laguna and Glacier Torre with Cerro Torre in the background.
The weather seemed fine in the morning in El Chalten. Cerro Fitz Roy was mostly visible behind thin clouds. The host of our guesthouse told us that the weather would turn bad tomorrow, and they suggested us to try doing the Senda a Laguna Torre, despite the fact that the chance of seeing Cerro Torre was slim. We thought it would be nice to take the less demanding Laguna Torre hike (7 hours return) on our first day of trekking in El Chalten.
It took us about an hour from the trailhead at El Chalten to reach Mirador Torre, a lookout with a panoramic view of Cerro Torre and the adjacent glacier and mountain range. Despite blue sky above us at Mirador Torre, we saw that the distant Cerro Torre was covered in clouds. Although from a distance, we could feel the strong cold wind coming from the direction of Cerro Torre. We continued walking against strong wind until we reached Laguna Torre an hour and a half later. The sky was heavy with drizzling and strong wind, but the scenery of the lagoon, floating icebergs, glaciers and snow-capped mountains was breathtaking. At the last 15 minutes of hike, the path was rugged with sand and rocks until we reached the ridge of a stony hill right before Laguna Torre. We walked down to the beach and sat down on a boulder. Under the strong wind, the clouds were moving quickly. We set up the tripod and did a timelapse to capture the moving clouds and their shadows on the glacier and turquoise lagoon.
After the beach, we continued our hike to Mirador Maestri. The 40-minute hike up to Mirador Maestri at the northeast shore of Laguna Torre was mainly walking on the ridge of a rocky hill. The constant gusty wind was always a threat, but we managed to reach the mirador that offered us a spectacular close view of Glacier Torre and the half-hidden Cerro Torre. We stayed at the mirador for about an hour to take a timelapse, while hoping for a moment of clear sky and a glimpse of Cerro Torre. Unfortunately clouds and fog kept on moving in our direction from behind Cerro Torre, bringing occasional rain upon us. It was getting late and we had no choice but to turn back. By the time we were halfway back to El Chalten, the sky was clear again. Though whenever we looked back towards Cerro Torre we could only see a thick layer of cloud. We reached El Chalten at almost 9pm, but the light was still pretty good. Overall we enjoyed this hike very much with its glacier, lagoon and mountains. Let’s hope for better weather in the coming three days!
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Read more on El Chalten in 2013 South America
Day 74 – Patagonia Once Again, Ushuaia to El Calafate
Day 75.1 – Laguna Torres, El Chalten
Day 75.2 – Estepa Restaurant, El Chalten
Day 76.1 – El Muro, El Chalten
Day 76.2 – Laguna Capri, El Chalten
Day 77.1 – Laguna Torre Once Again, El Chalten
Day 77.2 – Domo Blanco Ice-cream, El Chalten
Day 78.1 – Sendero al Fitz Roy, El Chalten
Day 78.2 – In-house Dinner, El Chalten
Day 79.1 – Goodbye El Chalten

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought