Patagonia: Day 8-9

Our bus arrived to El Calafate around lunch time. Our first stop was the visitor center where we told about the park rules and given a map of the area and surrounding trails.

The trails for Los Glaciares National Park start in the town of El Calafate which makes it super easy! I didn’t have much of a plan since reservations are not required for the park. I figured I would see how the weather looked and then decide my route based off that.

Since it was nice and sunny, I decided I would head to Laguna Torre, have lunch, and then cut over to Camp Poincenot.

The hike to Laguna Torre wasn’t too bad from a difficulty standpoint, but there were a lot of people on the trail which got annoying after awhile. I made it up the lake where I had lunch. I didn’t stick around too long as the wind made it quite chilly, and I knew I still had a couple hours of hiking ahead of me if I wanted to make it to Camp Poincenot.

The hike to Camp Poincenot seemed like it went on forever, but that was mostly because I was tired from numerous days of hiking. I was glad to finally make it to camp and setup my tent. When unpacking my bag I also realized I had never thrown out my water bottle which had a cup of wine in it – score! That made dinner much better ūüôā

I went to bed fairly early, but did set an alarm. I wanted to get up early hike to Laguna de los Tres for the sunrise, but when I awoke, the wind was blowing quite hard and it was drizzling. I decided to go back to sleep and would re-evaluate in a couple of hours. The rain did eventually stop, but it was cold and there were still clouds covering the mountains. I was exhausted and decided I would rather hike back to town and try to catch an earlier bus back to El Chalten.

The cloud eventually did start to clear up on my hike out, and I caught glimpses of the mountains.

At some point on the trail, it started to lightly snow.

The snow didn’t last long, and with the sun out, it started to warm up.

Most of the trail back to town was downhill so I made pretty good time. I went to the bus station and found out about bus departures. I was able to switch my ticket to the 1 pm bus (I was previously scheduled for 6 pm). I had two hours to spare so I found a cafe with wifi, and grabbed some food. Yummm… carbs…

I got back to El Calafate around 5 pm. I grabbed my bags and walked to my hotel where I took a much needed shower. I then ventured into town. I walked around a little, but my feet were so tired! I found a nice rooftop restaurant and enjoyed some empanadas and wine.

The next morning consisted of breakfast, and then it was off to the airport where I began my long journey home.

Patagonia: Day 6-8

I returned to Puerto Natales in the afternoon. I checked into the Florence Dixie and grabbed some tiramisu from the bakery just around the corner.

I washed some clothes in the sink, used the wifi, and then headed around the corner to grab some dinner. I walked around a bit not sure where to eat, but ended up settling on Kawesqar Café. I highly recommend!

The next morning, the bus company Turismo Zaahj picked me up from the Florence Dixie to take me to Argentina. The bus was fairly nice and I was able to get in a nice nap ūüôā

Once in Argentina, we went to Perito Moreno Glacier. We walked along the walkways and checked out the overlooks, and then hopped on a boat that took up close to the glacier.

After the boat ride, we all hopped back on the bus and headed to El Calafate. I had the bus drop me off in the main part of the town so I could grab dinner. I found a pizza restaurant with free wifi.

After eating, I grabbed my bags and walked to the Cyan Calafate Hotel. The walk wasn’t too bad – less than a mile.

The next morning, I grabbed breakfast at the hotel and then walked across the street to the bus terminal. One of the companies will keep your extra bag(s) for just a few dollars. I had brought a bag with my spare food and some t-shirts (before I had left at the Florence Dixie hotel since I would be returning there). The only issue with this is you have to pick up your bags when they are open – if you return late in the evening, you may have to come back the next day. I have heard there are also places in El Calafate where you can do this, but I didn’t know much about it and the bus terminal was easy enough.

Since I was a bit early getting to the station, I was able to hop in line early and get a front row seat on the upper level – not a bad view!

Patagonia: Day 2-6

Day 2

I arrived in Torres Del Paine late in the afternoon of my second day. After completing the safety briefing, I grabbed my pack and started the short ‘hike’ to Central Sitio Suelo where I would be camping the first two nights.

After a 10 minute walk, I arrived at the campsite and checked in. Since it was late, most of the good campsites were taken, but I was able to find a small spot along the river.

The refugio was located just on the other side of the river so after setting up, I headed over there and grabbed some wine and enjoyed the wonderful weather.

Day 3

I woke up to find it overcast and rainy. I wasn’t sure how great of a view I would get, but I still wanted to get an early start on the hike to the base of Las Torres.

About an hour into the hike I had to stop and put on my rain jacket and pants. Looking back at the storm had me a little worried, but I continued on.

It continued to drizzle a bit. After an hour or so, it did start to clear up a little… less rain, but still a lot of low clouds… the sun did poke through every now and then which was promising.

I finally made it to the top. The last part of the hike seemed like it went on forever… a lot of uphill through a rock garden!

I hung out at the top for a bit, but it quite windy and chilly. The number of people up there started steadily increasing so I decided to go ahead and head back down beat the crowds. The weather was much better on the way back down!

Day 4

I woke up and packed up my stuff and began my hike to Los Cuernos. It was already sunny out which was nice.

Most of the hike was along a gorgeous turquoise lake.

I made it Los Cuernos around 1 pm – quite early! I checked into my cabin for the night and unpacked my bag. My cabin was up on a hill overlooking the lake, and not far from a fairly large waterfall.

Since it was so early and the weather was so perfect, I decided I would go ahead and hike to the Britanico overlook. It was going to make for a super long day, but I didn’t want to risk waiting until the next day and possible having horrible weather.

I didn’t take too many photos the first hour or so as I was in a rush to get to the main trailhead by 2 pm (the park rangers will not let anyone start the hike after 2 pm). I made it to the trailhead with 5 minutes to spare!

I finally made it back to Los Cuernos and was exhausted. My cabin looked even more inviting after a long day of hiking.

I decided to grab a bottle of wine from the refugio and enjoy the sunset from my front porch.

Day 5

When I woke up and saw the weather outside, I was immediately happy I had hiked to the Britanico lookout the day before. With that said, the storm clouds caused a rainbow to form over the lake! I went ahead and started my hike to Paine Grande in hopes the weather would clear up, and maybe I could make it Refugio Grey and go kayaking.

The wind was incredible – there were times I thought I was going to fall over! It was also causing water to spray up from the lake. Brrrrr

I made it away from the lake and crossed the river.

I was hoping the weather would improve once away from the lake, but boy was I wrong. It got much colder and much rainier. At one point, I had to stop and put on all of my winter gear – gloves, hat, etc. I turned back at one point and saw the storm I had hiked through. I felt bad for the hikers I passed headed that direction. Glad I had the worst behind me!

I made it over the ridge and to the next lake and could see blue skies. Yessss!

An hour or so later I could see the lake Pehoe where I would be camping.

I checked into camp and setup my tent. They had some windshields setup which I took advantage of.

I debated hiking to Grey Glacier, but I knew kayaking was out of the question due to the high winds and constantly changing weather. I decided to grab some wine and hide out in the refugio.

Day 6

I woke up super early on the last day to hike to Grey Glacier.

The hike goes through a small little valley with super high winds. At times, I had to stop and put my poles down to brace myself so I wouldn’t fall over!

The intense wind continued along the lake to the point that little white camps were forming!

I made it to lake Grey and could see chunks of the Glacier. I knew I was getting close.

I made it the first overlook for Glacier Grey. The wind was so intense I had to sit on the overlook to avoid being blown over!

Looking at the weather and knowing how intense the wind was, I knew that kayaking was out of question for the day. I decided it would be better to turn back and catch the early catamaran back so I could get back to Puerto Natales early evening and try to get a good hot meal.

Patagonia: Day 1-2

The first day or two of my trip was spent traveling down to Patagonia region. I stayed the first night in Puerto Natales, arriving in the evening just in time to catch the sunset.

The next morning I grabbed breakfast at the Florence Dixie hotel, and then wondered around town a bit until the grocery store opened around 11 (since it was Sunday, most stores were closed). The morning was very overcast, but still allowed for a nice walk along the water.

By midday the weather improved and the sun started making an appearance.

I grabbed some last minute snack items, and fuel canister, and then got on the bus to take me to Torres Del Paine.

Patagonia (The Overview)

In November, I flew down to Patagonia to embark on what would be my first big solo hiking trip. Planning the trip took a lot of time! You have to make reservations months for campsites and buses months in advance for high season (November to March). I relied on numerous blogs to put my trip together. Below is an overview of transportation companies I used, hotels, campsites, etc. 

  • Day 0
    • Fly from Atlanta to Santiago (Delta Airlines)
  • Day 1
    • Arrived Santiago early morning – it took over 2 hours to get through passport control! Give yourself plenty of time!¬†
    • Fly from Santiago to Punta Arenas (Sky Airlines)
    • Take bus from Punta Arenas airport to Puerto Natales (Bus Sur – make sure you email them and tell them you want to be picked up at Airport and not at the main bus terminal in downtown Punta Arenas)
    • Walk from Puerto Natales bus terminal to hotel (stayed at Lady Florence Dixie)
  • Day 2¬†
    • Picked up some food (snickers, cashews, etc) at grocery store across street from Florence Dixie – WARNING: not all stores are open on Sundays, and those that are, do not open until 11ish¬†
    • 2:30 pm bus to Torres Del Paine (Buses Mar√≠a Jos√©)¬†
    • Paid park entrance fees, listened to safety brief, and then hopped on another bus which takes you further into the park (the second bus does not require reservations – just walk up and pay)
    • Camped at¬†Camping Central Sitio Suelo – Fantastico Sur (campsite less than 1/4 mile from where bus drops you off)
  • Day 3¬†
    • Day hike Las Torres Base
    • Returned to Central Sitio Suelo – Fantastico Sur¬†
  • Day 4¬†
    • Hiked to¬†Los Cuernos¬†– Fantastico Sur – checked into cabin and dropped off stuff¬†
    • Day hiked to Britanico lookout (my original plan was to do this the next day, but the weather was great so I went ahead and did it – not for the faint of heart)¬†
    • Returned to Los Cuernos
  • Day 5
    • Hiked to Grande Sector – Vertice
  • Day 6¬†
    • Day hiked to 1st overlook for Grey Glacier¬†
    • Returned to¬†Grande Sector and packed up stuff
    • Took midday ferry across lake Pehoe¬†
    • Bus back to Puerto Natales (Buses Mar√≠a Jos√©)¬†
    • Walk from bus terminal to hotel (stayed at Lady Florence Dixie again)
  • Day 7¬†
    • Bus picked me up from hotel and took me to Argentina. We went to¬†Perito Moreno Glacier along the way (Bus¬†TURISMO ZAAHJ)¬†
    • Bus dropped me off in downtown¬†El Calafate¬†
    • Had dinner in town before walking to¬†Cyan Calafate Hotel
  • Day 8
    • Walked to bus terminal (across the street from Cyan Calafate Hotel) and caught bus to¬†El Chalten (booked bus through Bus¬†TURISMO ZAAHJ, but ticket for¬†Cal-Tur). I left one of my bags with one of the other bus companies.¬†
    • Hiked to Laguna Torre, and then to Camp Poincenot (camped at Poincenot)
  • Day 9
    • Hiked back to El Chalten
    • Took bus back to¬†El Calafate (booked bus through Bus¬†TURISMO ZAAHJ, but ticket for¬†Cal-Tur)¬†
    • Walked from bus terminal to¬†Lagos Del Calafate hotel. From there was able to walk into town and have dinner.¬†
  • Day 10
    • Hotel booked a shuttle to airport for me night before – I do not recall the name. You can also take a taxi
    • Flight from El Calafate to AEP BUENOS AIRES (AEROLINEAS ARGENTINAS )
    • Had to take bus to get to main airport (do not recall bus company name, but you can walk up and buy a ticket in the airport – the buses run every ~ hour or so)¬†
    • Flight from¬†Ministro Pistarini International Airport to Atlanta (Delta)
  • Day 11
    • Return to Atlanta