ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Patagonia

DAY 82 (1 OF 1) – PENGUINS AGAIN, ISLA MAGDALENA, PUNTA ARENAS, CHILE

Before our evening flight to Santiago, we took an 8am ferry to Isla Magdalena in Magellan Strait to see the Magellanic penguins.  Isla Magdalena is a much bigger island compared to Isla Martillo where we first saw the penguins near Ushuaia.  According to the guidebook, the Monumento Natural los Pinguinos on Isla Magdalena has approximately 60,000 pairs of breeding pairs.  The ferry ride took about 1 hour and 45 minutes.  During the ride, we could see sea birds, a sea lion, and many groups of penguins in the water.  As the ferry docked at the beach of Magdalena, groups of curious penguins were only metres away.  We got roughly an hour on the island.  Everyone had to stay within a marked path leading to a lighthouse at the highest point of the island.  Perhaps there were too many tourists on Magdalena and too much camera clicking sounds, this penguin encounter didn’t feel as intimate as last time on Isla Martillo.  Though this time we were lucky enough to see dolphins from the island.
On our return, the sea was calm with shades of blue and grey, like a watercolour painting.  We stood on the lower deck and quietly watched the sea and thick clouds moving over the horizon.  At 1pm we arrived back to the mainland.That’s it for us from Patagonia. We have so much fond memories of Patagonia in the last few weeks.  We will certainly miss this beautiful land.  We know we will come back one day.
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Read more on El Calafate & Isla Magdalena in 2013 South America
Day 79.2 – Perito Moreno Glacier, El Calafate
Day 80.1 – Icebergs, Lago Argentina
Day 80.2 – Glaciers, Lago Argentina
Day 80.3 – Glaciarium, El Calafate
Day 81 – El Calafate to Punta Arenas
Day 82 – Penguins Again, Isla Magdalena, Punta Arenas

Next Destinations – Santiago & Valparaiso
Continuing on our journey from post Day 83.1

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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 81 (1 OF 1) – EL CALAFATE (ARGENTINA) TO PUNTA ARENAS (CHILE)

At 5:30am, a prearranged bus came to pick us up at Lautaro Guesthouse. The departure from El Calafate concluded our visit to Argentina. From El Calafate, the bus took us to the Chilean border. At about 2pm we were back at Puerto Natales, where we spent our first night in Patagonia three weeks ago. This time, we came just for a bus transfer to Punta Arenas. We arrived at Punta Arenas at around 6pm. Tomorrow, we would take a evening flight to Santiago.
Bagged breakfast prepared by our guesthouse, Lautaro (2 photos below)
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Dawn (1 photo below)
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Christmas decoration at border control (1 photo below)Image
Bus terminal at Puerto Natales (1 photo below)Image
Approaching Punta Arenas (1 photo below)
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Read more on El Calafate & Isla Magdalena in 2013 South America
Day 79.2 – Perito Moreno Glacier, El Calafate
Day 80.1 – Icebergs, Lago Argentina
Day 80.2 – Glaciers, Lago Argentina
Day 80.3 – Glaciarium, El Calafate
Day 81 – El Calafate to Punta Arenas
Day 82 – Penguins Again, Isla Magdalena, Punta Arenas

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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 80 (3 OF 3) – GLACIARIUM, EL CALAFATE, ARGENTINA

After the boat tour in Lago Argentina, we decided to visit the Glaciarium (interpretation centre of ice and glaciers).  Located about 5 km from El Calafate, this new museum (built in 2011) uses various interactive media to present the beauty and provide information about glaciers, from its physical properties, formation, to environmental impact of glacial retreat at different parts of the world.  With an additional fee, visitor can also visit the “cool” looking Glacio Bar for a drink in a cup made of ice at the temperature of about -10 degrees Celsius.

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Read more on El Calafate & Isla Magdalena in 2013 South America
Day 79.2 – Perito Moreno Glacier, El Calafate
Day 80.1 – Icebergs, Lago Argentina
Day 80.2 – Glaciers, Lago Argentina
Day 80.3 – Glaciarium, El Calafate
Day 81 – El Calafate to Punta Arenas
Day 82 – Penguins Again, Isla Magdalena, Punta Arenas

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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 80 (2 OF 3) – GLACIERS, LAGO ARGENTINA, PARQUE NACIONAL LOS GLACIARES (SOUTH), EL CALAFATE, ARGENTINA

During the boat cruise in Lago Argentina, we visited four glaciers in total.  The first one was Upsala Glacier.  Although being one of the largest glaciers in the park, due to the poor weather and far distance, we could barely see Upsala from the deck of our catamaran.  The next came the small Onelli Glacier on a hilltop.  The real highlight came when our boat approached Spegazzini Glacier, where we could get really close to the face of the ice.  After Spegazzini, the boat moved through the fjord-like waterways for two hours until reaching the majestic Perito Moreno.  When we reached this final destination, there were occasional sunbreaks casting some dramatic lighting onto the blue sheet of ice.  Although touristy, the cruise was a relaxed and only way to reach all four glaciers in a day from El Calafate.

Upsala Glacier (1 photo below)Image
Onelli Glacier (1 photo below)Image
Spegazzini Glacier (3 photos below)Image
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Perito Moreno Glacier (8 photos below)
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Read more on El Calafate & Isla Magdalena in 2013 South America
Day 79.2 – Perito Moreno Glacier, El Calafate
Day 80.1 – Icebergs, Lago Argentina
Day 80.2 – Glaciers, Lago Argentina
Day 80.3 – Glaciarium, El Calafate
Day 81 – El Calafate to Punta Arenas
Day 82 – Penguins Again, Isla Magdalena, Punta Arenas

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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 80 (1 OF 3) – ICEBERGS, LAGO ARGENTINA, PARQUE NACIONAL LOS GLACIARES (SOUTH), EL CALAFATE, ARGENTINA

With the rain and cold temperature, today was certainly not favorable to do a full-day lake cruise.  Originally we planned to go ice-trekking on Perito Moreno Glacier.  Unfortunately a few days ago we discovered that all ice-trekking at Perito Moreno was fully booked up in the next few days.  We opted for the alternative of doing a lake cruise to visit the several famous glaciers along the west side of Lago Argentina.  At 7am the tour organizer picked us up from our hostel.  By 8:30am we were among the few hundred of tourists lining up at the dock to pay for the national park entrance admission.  It was the most touristy event we experienced in Argentina similar to the Iguazu Falls.  One after another, about five catamaran left the pier at Puerto Bandera, bringing hundreds of tourists westward to the first glacier, Upsala Glacier.  When our boat entered Brazo Upsala, icebergs of different forms and sizes began to appear.  The translucent blue of the icebergs was absolute captivating that even in today’s poor weather and lighting, the colour seemed to glow in the various shades of grey.  A close encounter of the icebergs was certainly something we couldn’t achieve without a boat.  The icebergs were so beautiful that many passengers, including us, were willing to brave the rain and cold winds to stand out at the boat deck as long as we could endure.
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Read more on El Calafate & Isla Magdalena in 2013 South America
Day 79.2 – Perito Moreno Glacier, El Calafate
Day 80.1 – Icebergs, Lago Argentina
Day 80.2 – Glaciers, Lago Argentina
Day 80.3 – Glaciarium, El Calafate
Day 81 – El Calafate to Punta Arenas
Day 82 – Penguins Again, Isla Magdalena, Punta Arenas

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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 79 (2 OF 2) – PERITO MORENO GLACIER, PARQUE NACIONAL LOS GLACIARES (SOUTH), EL CALAFATE, ARGENTINA

We left El Chalten in a rainy morning. Three hours of bus ride took us to El Calafate, a small town by the lakefront of Lago Argentina with facilities catered for all types of travellers who come for only one reason – Perito Moreno Glacier. Almost no visitor would leave Southern Patagonia without seeing Perito Moreno Glacier, the most famous glacier in South America. We arrived in El Calafate at about 1pm, just in time to catch the last bus (2pm) to the glacier. Rainy weather persisted well into the afternoon. We knew it would be a wet day for us, but some said a grey day was actually better for photographing the blue tones of the glacier. The visitor centre at Perito Moreno was full of tourists. Everyone was wet and cold from the rain. After having some snacks at the café, we then descended down to the viewing walkways. Nothing could quite prepare us for the first view to Perito Moreno. The gigantic ice wall was full of shades of blue with occasional thunder-like roars of carved ice falling into the lake. There wasn’t enough time for us to fully explore the extensive walkway system. We chose a platform closest to the rupture area of the glacier, set up our tripod and took some timelapse videos in the rain. We stayed for about two hours until it was time for us to catch the bus at 7pm.
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Previous Destination – El Chalten, reading from post Day 74

Read more on El Calafate & Isla Magdalena in 2013 South America
Day 79.2 – Perito Moreno Glacier, El Calafate
Day 80.1 – Icebergs, Lago Argentina
Day 80.2 – Glaciers, Lago Argentina
Day 80.3 – Glaciarium, El Calafate
Day 81 – El Calafate to Punta Arenas
Day 82 – Penguins Again, Isla Magdalena, Punta Arenas

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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 79 (1 OF 2) – GOODBYE, EL CHALTEN, ARGENTINA

It’s time for us to say goodbye to El Chalten, a unique mountain village inside Parque Nacional los Glaciares.  Pretty much everything here is catered for backpackers and hikers.  It is hard to imagine that during winter times, this busy little El Chalten would be deserted for a few months.

We had a really good time in El Chalten.  We enjoyed the hikes, the causal atmosphere of the village, and even the ever-changing weather.  Unlike Torres del Paine where we had to rush from refugio to refugio during the W-trek, at El Chalten there was always a temporary “home” where we could return to after each hike.  Considering the remoteness of this mountain village, the food was  great as well.  The Internet was really slow for most of the time, especially during bad weather.  We couldn’t see Cerro Torre during our stay at El Chalten. That might be the reason for us to come back again in the future.
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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

Next Destination – El Calafate & Isla Magdalena
Continuing on our journey from post Day 79.2

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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 78 (2 OF 2) – IN-HOUSE DINNER, KAU SI AIKE GUESTHOUSE, EL CHALTEN, ARGENTINA

After a long day of hiking, we had an in-house dinner at our guesthouse room.  Several things worth noting: smoke trout, and mushroom and lamb meat Patagonia, and a small bottle of craft beer from 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 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


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

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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 (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


DAY 74 (1 OF 1) – PATAGONIA ONCE AGAIN, USHUAIA TO EL CALAFATE, ARGENTINA

As expected we couldn’t get on the 6:00 flight.  We were among the 140+ people affected by the cancellation and couldn’t make it onto the 06:00 flight.  The staff sent us to a hotel back in Ushuaia, and suggested we should come to the airport again at 12:30 to try getting on the 13:35 flight.  We were again on the waiting list.  We did what he suggested and again the 13:35 flight was full and no one on the waiting list could get on.  Fortunately Aerolineas Argentina finally realized that they had to do something and sent an extra flight to Ushuaia for all of us who got stranded at the airport.  By 17:00, 27.5 hours after our original scheduled flight time, we finally took off from Ushuaia.  We landed at El Calafate at 18:30, and were delighted to find a direct bus to El Chalten departing from the airport at 19:00.  At 22:00 we finally arrived in El Chalten, the trekking capital of Argentina.  Now, let’s hope for some good weather tomorrow!
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Previous Destination – Ushuaia, reading from post Day 69.1

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 69 (1 OF 3) – MAGELLAN STRAIGHT

Today, we left Patagonia (would return in a few days) and headed south to the Island of Tierra del Fuego.  In the next few days we would be staying in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world after Puerto Williams of Chile (a smaller town at the opposite site of Beagle Channel).  It was a unique experience crossing the Magellan Strait, the famous channel that separates Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego.  During the 20-minute crossing, we had to get out of the bus and stayed in the passenger lounge of the ferry.  Our eyes were glued to the windows in the passenger lounge in hope of spotting  marine wildlife.  Happily, we saw a group of dolphins jumping out of the waves three times.

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Previous Destination – Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, reading from post Day 62.1

Read more on Ushuaia in 2013 South America
Day 69.1 – Magellan Straight
Day 69.2 – Arrival, Ushuaia
Day 69.3 – Fuegian Grill, Ushuaia
Day 70.1 – Museo Maritimo, Ushuaia
Day 70.2 – Chiko Restaurant, Ushuaia
Day 70.3 – Beagle Channel & Isla H
Day 70.4 – Kalma Resto, Ushuaia
Day 71.1 – Pier, Ushuaia
Day 71.2 – Fuegian Trees, near Estancia Harberton
Day 71.3 – Penguins, Martillo Island
Day 71.4 – Estancia Harberton
Day 71.5 – Kaupe Restaurant, Ushuaia
Day 72.1 – Post Office, Isla Redonda, Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego
Day 72.2 – Senda Costera & Bahia Lapataia, Parque Nacional Tierra Del Fuego
Day 73 – Stranded in Ushuaia Airport

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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 68 (2 OF 2) – LA MARMITA, PUNTA ARENAS, CHILE

At La Marmita, we had our first trial of king crab in Patagonia.

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Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

Next Destination – Ushuaia
Continuing on our journey from post Day 69.1

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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 68 (1 OF 2) – SQUARE, MUSEUM & CEMETERY, PUNTA ARENAS, CHILE

After experiencing the windstorms and unpredictable weather of Torres del Paine, we became interested to know how the first pioneers settled and then flourished in Southern Patagonia. In fact, Patagonia has become one of the most prosperous regions in Chile, thanks to fisheries, petroleum development and commerce. A 3-hour bus ride from Puerto Natales took us to Punta Arenas, the capital of the Magallanes Region.
Old mansions from late 19th century dotted along the main streets in Downtown Punta Arenas. While some seemed well maintained and had been transformed into modern use, many more looked as if they had been vacant for years. At Plaza Munoz Gamero, a statue commemorating the voyage of Magellan stood at the very heart of the city’s main square. Just steps away from the plaza, we arrived at Museo Regional Braun-Menendez, the former mansion of the Braun-Menendez family, one of the most powerful pioneer sheep farmers from over a century ago. After introduction of 300 sheep from Falkland Islands in late 19th century, sheep farming had become the most crucial industry in Southern Patagonia. The Museo Regional Braun-Menendez is divided into three parts: a section of the former residence of the Braun-Menendez family, an exhibitition on the history of exploration and Punta Arenas, and a temporary exhibition of artwork on loan from somewhere else.
Before dinner, we walked to the Cementerio Municipal, where grand mausoleums of wealthy pioneers and graves of the common citizens mingled. It was interesting to see the various cultural origins of the first inhabitants of Punta Arenas, including English, Irish, Croatians, French, German, Spanish, etc.
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Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

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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 67 (3 OF 3) – ASADO DE CORDERO, PUERTO NATALAS, CHILE

After 2 hours of bus ride, we arrived at the bus terminal of Puento Natalas. We checked in at the same hostel and shared our W-trek experience with our hosts. That evening, we went to a local restaurant for a feast of Patagonian roasted lamb with refreshing beers to celebrate our completion of the W-trek.

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Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

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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 67 (2 OF 3) – DESCEND, TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE

This was definitely the worse day of our visit in the park. The furious wind and heavy rain didn’t show a sign of stopping anytime soon. We left Refugio Chileno at 10:30am. We were cold and exhausted, and were glad that this would be our final descend back to the park entrance. On the cliff side trail near Chileno, the wind was so strong that most hikers, including us, had to stop advancing and keep ourselves from falling off the cliff by holding tightly on any fixed objects we could find, big rocks or strong branches and waited for the wind to pass. God knows how long we had waited but at some point when one hiker started moving again, we all stood up one by one, balanced ourselves and continued walking again. The wind got weaker after several turns down the hill, but we had no intention to take any break until reaching our final destination, Hosteria las Torres, where shuttle buses would take hikers for the final 7.5km to Laguna Amarga, the main park entrance where all buses to Puerto Natales would depart. Our clothes were soaked by our own sweat when we arrived at Hosteria las Torres. Good that our GORTEX gears worked well to keep us dry from the rain. There was almost 3 hours of waiting before the shuttle bus departed at 2pm. We decided to sit down at the hotel bar restaurant and treated ourselves with a delicious and meaty Patagonian pizza and soft drinks. At the hotel, we saw hikers, including some familiar faces, arriving one by one. Some unfortunately came down with bruises, cuts, and broken ankle, requiring assistance from their travel-mate when walking. Although we didn’t see the orange sunrise at la Torres, we were both happy for our trekking experiences, and glad that we survived the mighty Patagonian wind. The beauty of Torres del Paine is not only about mountain glaciers and turquoise lakes, but also the power of survival of all living things under all kinds of hostile circumstances of mother nature, from the tiny orchids that withstand the giant winds, to all the trekkers that brave the unpredictable weather for a dose of the pristine Patagonian experience.

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Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

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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 67 (1 OF 3) – LAS TORRES, TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE

We woke up at 2:45am, and could hear the sounds of drizzle and strong wind outside. Electricity was cut since midnight and we had to get ourselves prepared in the dark with our headlamp and flashlight discreetly without disturbing other hikers. After a “flash-light” breakfast, we put on our winter hats, gloves and jackets, had our hiking poles in hand, and packed our cameras and tripod in the backpack. Leaving the rest of the luggage at a locker, we left the refugio at 3:30am to embark on the final section of our W-trek up to Mirador (lookout) las Torres. The iconic granite towers of las Torres (Torres del Paine) are the symbol of the park, and hence the national park is named after them.
The past few days of hiking got us familiar with the trail conditions and signage, so even in the dark we could easily spot the right path in the woods, and cross the right streams without hesitation. Walking in the dark with only meters of visibility from our headlamp gave us a unique feeling: we were more focused on the trail while hearing became more sensitive than usual. Our eyes quickly got used to the dark only after minutes of hiking. The sky gradually brightened up at around 4:30am. At 5:00 when we reached the campsite closest to las Torres, we no longer needed our headlamps. The “Mirador” sign pointed towards a boulder path uphill. For the next hour or so, it would be the most difficult session of the W-trek. The sky was dull and our faces were cold. The rising sun beyond moving clouds formed a strip of orange glow along the horizon outside the valley. We both hoped that by the time we reached the top, there would be sunbreak to cast an orange glow on the famous granite towers. The chance was slim, but we didn’t lose our hope. Walking against the strong wind and rain on boulders for about 45 minutes, we could finally see the rock towers of las Torres and the glacier lake. After 4 days on the W-trek, we finally reached Mirador la Torres, our final destination. No magic moment, no orange glow on the peaks, but at least the towers were visible despite the mist. At the lookout, there were about 30 people scattered on the rocks. Some were sitting inside their sleeping bags while some were posting for photos in the wind. We set up our tripod and made a short timelapse.
After about 15 minutes, the weather got worse, rain had turned into snow and we could no longer see the towers. The wind had picked up its speed and we all had trouble keeping balance. One by one we found our way back down the boulder path carefully. On our way down, we encountered a few more people willing to brave the weather for the mirador. We were delighted of reaching Refugio Chileno safely at about 9:30am. We rested a bit, dried ourselves, and had a cup of warm water and a sandwich at the dining hall while watching all other people preparing rain gears and backpacks for their departure. At 10:30am, it was our turn to leave the refugio with all our belongings safely wrapped in rain covers.
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Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

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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 66 (2 OF 2) – REFUGIO CHILENO, TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE

After 3 hours hiking on gentle terrains along Lago Nordenskjold, we finally reached Valle Ascencio where a relatively steeper ascend up to Refugio Chileno was about to begin. The cliff-side trail winding up the valley was narrow and rocky. Rio Ascencio was rumbling down the hill on our right. Angela was quietly hoping for a dry day tomorrow for us to safely descend down to Hosteria las Torres on this very same path. 10 minutes before we arrived at Chileno, we finally saw a small mountain lodge across the river. We crossed Rio Ascencio via a wooden bridge and were glad to arrive at Refugio Chileno in mid afternoon. Located at midpoint between Hosteria las Torres and the Mirador las Torres, Refugio Chileno is a good base to explore the granite towers of las Torres. In front of the refugio, we could see clearly the magnificent rock towers of las Torres at the far left. We were planning to make the final ascend tomorrow before dawn to see the sunrise at las Torres. All we needed was fine weather. Inside Chileno, the small dining hall was packed with hikers. The refugio was fully booked. In each dorm room, 8 bunk beds that at times stacked 3 high were tightly placed against the wall. Outside the window, the ever-present Patagonian wind shook everything in its path, from tree branches to the glass and metal panels of the refugio. After dinner, we arranged a 3am breakfast with the refugio, and quietly went to bed to get some sleep. Of course, it was difficult to fall asleep at this early hour (9pm), but we got to try.

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Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

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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 66 (1 OF 2) – CUERNOS TO VALLE ASCENCIO, TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE

There were strong winds and scattered showers throughout the night. By morning, the rain stopped. From the porch of our cabin at Cuernos, we could see a rainbow stretched over the turquoise water of Lago Nordenskjold. After breakfast, we were all set to go for today’s journey to Refugio Chileno. Walking due east until we hit Valle Ascencio and then north up the valley to the refugio, the hike would take about 6 hours. It was a fine day if not the persistently strong wind. We were glad to have our hiking poles to keep our balance at windy spots and during stream crossing at several occasions. After hiking for 3 hours along Lago Nordenskjold, we turned to the shortcut for Chileno that would save us an hour. Another hour and a half took us to the trail at Valle Ascencio, where many dayhikers were rushing up and down Mirador las Torres.

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Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

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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