Hiking in paradise
El Chalten Travel Blog› entry 113 of 123 › view all entries
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.
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 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.