Patagonia – Heaven on Earth

Posted: February 26, 2013 in Argentina, Chile, South America

Well, heaven on Earth if you a) believe in heaven and b) picture perfection as long, rolling plains with endless, massive skies.  Wildlife everywhere, huge mountains, glaciers that groan and moan as they slowly melt, quirky small towns with great food and delicious beer.  Walking trails through national parks that can only be termed jaw dropping, divine campgrounds with great facilities, and the views……….

Arriving in El Calafate, one of the major gateways in to Southern Patagonia, we were both prepared for horrendous rain, famous Patagonian winds, and freezing temperatures.



Yep, Mirella is concerned!

Yep, Mirella is concerned!

10 days later, we have come up with a theory.  The locals have realised they are on to a seriously good thing.  They have decided to swamp local and international media with concerns about the weather conditions to ensure that tourism numbers stay low, and the locals are then left to enjoy paradise alone.  I would imagine after these 10 days that a lot of water needs to be imported to fill the lakes and rivers, as none seems to fall from the sky.

Torres del Paine

Torres del Paine

As per the previous post, our first visit in Patagonia was to Perito Moreno Glacier, truly one of the natural wonders of the world.  We left El Calafate on a bus travelling to Chile, and a small town called Puerto Natales, where we would stay for two nights.  Natales is the jumping off point for Torres Del Paine (pronounce pie-knee, who knew?) National Park.  I was very keen to do the circuit in the park, a gruelling 10 day, 110km walk, and Mirella was insane enough to trust me in joining me in this endeavour.

We arrived in the park after a 3 hour bus ride, and had to contend with scenery like this:

Torres del Paine

Torres del Paine

We were willing to push on regardless of the terrible views, and we walked 20km to our first campsite.  The campsite was beautiful, middle of nowhere, and we had had a big day.  Unfortunately we ran in to some issues with our feet, as they were not prepared to walk 20km with laden packs.

Foot damage

Foot damage

The blisters on both of our feet were too severe to push on for the next nine days, so we thought laterally, and came up with a plan that would keep us in the park for a few more days, and allow us to do some simple day walks sans packs and boots.

We spent the next four days camping in the park, at some great campsites, and were able to see and experience incredible sights.  The gallery below highlights all the park had to offer.

After seven days in Paine, we reversed back to El Calafate, and then caught a bus on to El Chalten, Argentina.  Another famous trekking area in Patagonia, and with our feet recovered, we were ready to test them out on a 2 day hike to Laguna Torre, with hopefully some astounding views of the local mountain range.  We arrived in dense cloud (no rain though!), and could not see any mountains.  With our hike the next day, Mirella was convinced that her innate ability to create great weather (as it has been for our entire trip to date) would hold up, and we would wake to cloudless skies the next morning.

El Chalten

El Chalten

Was there ever any doubt?  Sunshine beat down on us as we walked 16km in to the park and enjoyed stunning views of mountains and glaciers, more pictures in the gallery below.

So, back now in El Calafate, we hop on a plane tomorrow to Ushuaia, the southern most city in the world.  In two days we board a ship for Antarctica, a life long dream fulfilled for us both, upon our return we may have a photo or two to share….

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