Sun 31- Fly to El Calafate from Buenos Aires. On arrival we head straight to El Chalten. El Chalten is smaller and less commercial than El Calafate. In winter (out of tourism season) it only has 500 residents so dont expect any phone signal or banks. But its a great base to do day hikes into the national park. On arrival theres a power cut that eve so we decide to avoid waiting for it to restore and instead skip dinner in place for a good nights rest ready for our first hike the next day.
Mon 1st - its a beautiful day and we do our first hike to Fitz Roy. Its a fantastic hike passing through nothofagus tree forests, dry plaines, and seeing first peeks of the glaciers. its a long and steep way to the top across the morraines but made more pleasent doing the climb with polish couple we meet. We spy our first condors gliding through the air and when we finally reach the top an amazing view of the steep and dramatic mountain peek and glacier overlooking turquiose lagoons. You can always identify glacier water by the deep blue colour given by the minerals. we enjoy an empanada lunch (perhaps not the best hiking food but still our first day and getting used to how things work.. basically the only thing we managed to get from the bakery). after a while just sitting in awe we start our descent back to town... the journey back is always a bit more painful but we finally make it back... a total of 25km.. i think we well deserved our Austral beer and dinner in what was a familiy`s dinning room. at least i was able to watch ugly betty at the same time!
Tues 2nd- second day hike to cerro torre but weather is not as good with drizzle and the peak covered. beingonly the second day we're still motivated to do the walk and hope it will clear up by the time we get to the glacier front. unfortunately it doest and it just extremely windy. we take a brief lunch sheltering from wind behing some trees and rocks and then head back o town over the morraines. another 22km today and so we fall asleep the whole journey back to el calafate. on arrival however need to get back in the mood as hostel is celebrating their 8th birthday and there is a live local band playing (a lot of reggae influence )and bbq chorizo hotdogs. recommended with their tomato salsa and a beer.. soon wakes us up!
Wed 4- the next morning, we join a boat tour to a typical patagonian estancia (farmhouse) "cristina" upsalla glacier, the largest in the area.
eve bbq at hostel. fab salad to go with great grills!
Thurs 5- big ice trip. dinner in overpriced but swanky place in town.. dont think they were impressed by our cheapest main course order!
Fri 6- leave to head south to punta arenas but turn up to bus station to find that our booked bus no longer exists and is instead late in eve raher than 8am. head bk to the hostel instead to catch up on emails, rest and have a good crepe lunch. luckily the delay doesnt impact our plans in puerto natales.
Sat 7 - head to torres del paine national park. first sitings of lots of guanacos. fabulous lam like animals similar also to camels in the way they walk and sit. arrive to the fist refuguio around 4pm and settle into dorm where we meet 2 other isreali couples which we ll cross paths with many times over next 5 days. refugios are generally v expensive for what you get but after a long days hike we were always grateful for a proper bed to sleep in and clean hot shower! we finish our eve with a happy hour pisco sour cocktail ready for what awaits us.
Sun 8 sunrise on the torres all red. hike to top. stop off at Chiloe refugio to drop our backpacks to free ourself of the weight for the rest of the day.
Mon 9- walk to cuernos. pleasant .missed the short cut. arrival. nice cabanas with hot tub but no elctricity. v windy night..not much sleep due to howling wind. really thought we might blow away.
Tues 10- long days hike to french and italian valley
Wed 11- gray hike ad back to pudeto on the boat.
Thurs 12- bus to punta arenas. meet tdp italians who give us their reservation to la marmite restaurant, a v. cute family run place full of decor.
Fri 13th- trip to see penguin and sea lion colony.