Hiking in paradise

El Chalten Travel Blog

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Not a bad view down t'road!

I only wish I had a bit more time to see Patagonia.  I made the decision to only spend one day in El Chalten, at the northern tip of Parque National Los Glaciares, as I have a lot to fit in before I fly off to New Zealand.  So I set off on the earliest bus from El Calafate (see previous entry for combo ticket) at 8am, and I was pretty happy to see that for the second day running we had perfect clear blue skies.  It really makes a difference to your opinions of a place if  you get decent weather when you visit and my view is that 'some you win, some you lose' when you travel.  I visited some great places and had crap weather, so I was glad that it was my turn to have some pristine sunshine for this little episode.

First view of Mount Fitzroy/El Chalten

As we approached El Chalten village (purpose built for tourism in 1985), we had a spectacular first glimpse of Mount Fitzroy (or 'El Chalten' as the locals know it), a brown looking granite rock protrouding up from the snow-capped hills.  The driver stopped for a couple of quick photo stops, which was cool, before we arrived at the visitors centre at about 11.30am.  They give a great talk (in Spanish and English) to all the tourists and hikers about what to do in the park and precautions for protecting the national park.  The maps contained loads of information about the various treks and camping available including times, difficulty etc. 

I had to be back for a return bus at 6pm, so I opted to go to for the trek to Laguna Capri.  The weather was so good, I was able to trek in just a t-shirt all afternoon (although I did have to carry loads of other clothes just in case the notoriously changeable weather had a turn!), so it turned out to be one of the most relaxing and enjoyable treks I have done on my entire trip.

  I got to Laguna Capri after an hour, and the view was fantastic - El Chalten's reflection in the lake just looked serene, with the peak itself jutting up into the sky.  It was a beautiful stop for a bit of lunch - my empanadas tasted even better because of the view!  One of the best viewing points for El Chalten is at Laguna de los Tres.  According to the map it was another 2.5 hours away, but I thought I'd have a go at getting there as I'd got to Laguna Capri a lot quicker than the map said.  However, when it got to about 2.45pm and I had only got to the campsite before it, I knew that I wouldn't have time to get there and then back to the bus by 6pm, so I decided to turn back - real shame, another sodding hour and I'd have made it.  Never mind, I quite happy to head back having got some great photos and had a really enjoyable day in the mountains taking in this awesome piece of nature.
The beautiful Lake Capri, with Mount Fitzroy (El Chalten) in the background

I got back in time to have a quick drink before the bus took us back to El Calafate.  It was still light when I got back to my hostel at 9.30pm - the days here in summer are amazing...and they get even longer in December!  I'm glad I made it to El Chalten - its an absolute must on anyone's Patagonian itinerary.

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Not a bad view down troad!
Not a bad view down t'road!
First view of Mount Fitzroy/El Cha…
First view of Mount Fitzroy/El Ch…
The beautiful Lake Capri, with Mou…
The beautiful Lake Capri, with Mo…
View of El Chalten village from th…
View of El Chalten village from t…
El Chalten
photo by: mountaingirl