I’ve spend the past four days with my girlfriends Sofija and Savannah getting to know one of Argentina’s most famous regions.
On Monday took an Aerolineas Argentinas (the infamous nationalized Argentine Airline) from Buenos Aires to El Calafate. I’ve taken six Aerolineas Argentinas flights since I’ve been here in Argentina, and Monday’s flight was the only one to arrive on time. I landed around 7 PM, and, upon meeting up with Sofija and Savannah had plenty of time to explore the adorable town of El Calafate since the sun doesn’t set until after 10 PM.
El Calafate served as our base in the region from where we took three day trips. On Tuesday two the three of us did our best to bundle up and headed to Perrito Moreno Glacier. While it isn’t the region’s largest glacier, it is isn’t most famous (and most touristy). We viewed the glacier up close from various viewing docks and then took a boat ride to get a closer view. It was great, but we all agreed that the whole experience was a bit touristy. Still numb from our day’s excursions, we returned to El Calafate and purchased more sweaters, gloves and hats.
A little more prepared to brace the cold (I still can’t get over the fact that this is summer weather), on Wednesday we headed north to El Chalten to hike and view Mt. Fitz Roy—the mountain featured on the clothing line Patagonia’s symbol. We hiked uphill to a viewing point for a little over two hours only to find what we were afraid of—we weren’t going to be able to see Fitz Roy because the day was so overcast. However, even though we didn’t get to see Fitz Roy, we did have a pleasant surprise—SNOW! Given that we’ve been experiencing 90 degree weather in BA lately, the snow definitely helped us get into the Christmas Spirit.
Today, Thursday, proved to be our best day yet. We woke up at a painfully early 6 AM and took a bus to a loading dock where we boarded a boat to Estancia Cristina. On the way to the Estancia, we got up close and personal with Upsala Glacier, the region’s largest glacier. Upon arriving at the estancia we boarded 4-wheel drive vehicles that took us to a viewing point high up in the mountains where we had a spectacular view of the glacier. From there we hiked 9 miles through the Valle de los Fosiles in order to get back to the Estancia. The views were stunning, but we were greeted by both snow and rain. Not the most pleasant hiking conditions, but it was an experience nonetheless.
After three days of hiking and baring temperatures far colder than I’m accustomed to, our bodies are sore, but it was a great last trip in Argentina—right now we’re on our way back and I’ve got three days until I head home to the States! Patagonia was a great exclamations point on what has been a fabulous five months—after all, it would have been a shame to live here for five months and not get to know one of Argentina’s most famous (and rightfully so) regions.
(photos to come)