El Chalten Travel Blog› entry 34 of 115 › view all entries
March 20th, 2008 – by: Saladin79
In reality, El Chalten, originally founded back in 1986, is no longer a teenager. I was randomly informed, by some Scottish bloke who visits South America as often as is possible to escape from Landan Tarn, that pre '86, the Argentinian government packed off any particularly ineffective civil servants from BA for a "stint of fresh air" down here.
The reasons behind the booming numbers of tourists are manifold, yet simple. The peaks that form the Fitzroy massif make a stunning backdrop for walking and, with the majority of paths good for either a half or full day walk, you don't have to be a camping acolyte to fully enjoy the place.
Also, on the financial front, the major bonus at Fitzroy is that there is no fee to enter the national park. This is unusual; most other national parks in Argentina and Chile charge foreign tourists through the nose for the right to tramp around their wilderness. However, not at Fitzroy, instead the park officials merely make a polite request for you to take care of the place and not to torch swathes of foliage by burning your bog roll like some woman did a few years back.
Of course the walking itself also has a good deal to do with the popularity. I did three day walks and loved all of them. The weather was generally excellent with no rain. Even better, once the low clouds finally lifted on the day of our walk to the lakes of Mount Fitzroy itself, the views of the peaks, rising sharp from the massif like jagged canine teeth, were simply stunning.
I found that this time spent walking was just what I needed to clear my head after leaving the bustle of the northern cities behind. Fitzroy allowed me a big old lungful of free and fresh Patagonian air and more than an eyeful of epic scenery. After the three days were up and it was time to move on, I still wanted more. My throbbing feet however, certainly didn´t agree. Toe blisters grumbled whenever I touched the ground, constantly reminding me that a trip to a second famous national park was on the immediate horizon. Torres del Paine and the famed W Trek were waiting just across the border.
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