Saturday, December 24, 2011

Patagonia visit

Since we were coming to Argentina to spend the some time during the Holidays with my mother, Steve and I decided to do a side trip to southern Chile and visit the National Parks, Torres del Paine and El Calafate in Argentina. The trip started with multiple flights to get to Punta Arenas, Chile on December 15th. It is the first time both Steve and I have visited Chile and the remote south is really beautiful and with very nice, warm and welcoming people. After 5 flights we arrived to Punta Arenas after an amazing flight over the Andes and the souther Cordillera Blanca, we were able to see the third biggest ice fields in the world, exit glaciers and Mount Fitz Roy from the plane. The next day after a morning run along the Straits of Magellan we took a bus to Puerto Natales, a small chilean town were the busses that go to Torres del Paine depart and we're able to secure other busses to go to El Calafate and back to Punta Arenas the following week. The trekking in Torres del Paine was amazing, there are two circuits, a big O that usually requires stay in tents some nights and the W which we were able to do staying in Refugios along the way. We did not need to bring a tent, sleeping bags nor food or cooking gear, the Refugios provided bed linens or sleeping bags and gave us breakfast, dinner and a bagged lunch. The scenery is fantastic, green valleys, waterfalls, glaciers, huge granite mountains, rivers and lakes, the trails are well maintained, December is not too crowded and most people we met were from all over the world and great to share a meal, a room or the trails (France, South Africa, England, Germany, Australia, America, Spain and more). We finished the W in 5 days, with the longest day being 10.5 hours of trekking and the shortest 4.5 hours. Back in Puerto Natales on the 22nd with some time to do laundry and have a nice fish dinner. The past two days we spent in Argentina in El Calafate, where we went to see a huge glacier, Perito Moreno at Lago Argentino. The visit included a boat tour that brings you 300 meters from the glacier and then walking in a series of catwalks to look at the glacier crack and break and fall into the lake. We spent almost 3 hours looking at one spot that kept cracking till the last 5 minutes before our bus left the whole section of the wall fell in the lake making an amazing view with sound effects. Tomorrow it is Christmas day and we will be in busses back to Punta Arenas and on the 26th we will visit a penguin colony before going back to Buenos Aires to meet my mother and go to the beach. More to come.