Tag Archives: el chalten

Our Top Sights: Argentina

1. Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls
Iguazu Falls

Sitting on the border of Brazil these waterfalls are one of the most impressive in the world. WIth abundant wildlife, pelicans, hummingbirds and the ever present Coatis there’s more than just the falls to photograph. If you’re travelling between Argentina and Brazil then this is a great place to cross the border, but if you’re not it’s still more than worth the detour. Looking for somewhere to stay, the Poramba Hostel offers a relaxed atmosphere towards the edge of town.

2. Perito Moreno Glacier

Perito Moreno
Perito Moreno

This 7km wide glacier is still advancing and so you’re all but guaranteed to see chunks of ice breaking off into the lake. The blue of the ice means that even on a grey day it’s an incredible sight to see. Boat trips up to the face of the glacier, or all day hikes across the ice, are easy to arrange and well worth the money. Trips to the glacier can be organised from nearby El Calafate, which is a great town to relax in for a couple of days. We recommend Hospedaje Lautaro, as Belen and Dario are probably the friendliest hostel owners on the continent.

3. El Chalten

El Chalten
El Chalten

The trekking capital of South America is a bold claim but El Chalten’s accessible hikes and stunning views live up to it. The Fitz Roy and Torre mountains tower over the town and short hikes offer crystal clear lagoons, glaciers and abundant wildlife. The small town lacks an ATM or petrol station but don’t let this put you off, there are plenty of good hostels and restaurants. If you fancy camping in the forests then gear rental is easy in town.

4. Cafayate

Cafayate
Cafayate

Fancy sampling some of Argentina’s world famous wine, then Mendoza isn’t the only option. The small town of Cafayate located in the Andean foothills is a small relaxed place where you could easily spend a week visiting the different vineyards. Many can be walked or cycled to and the ones further out often have sampling houses located in the town. We recommend Domingo Molina, up in the hills with unparallel views, or Bodega Nanni, an organic vineyard that is located just off the main square. The Rusky K Hostal is just a couple of streets from the main square and their grape draped courtyard is great for drinking all that wine you will inevitably end up buying.

5. Buenos Aires

La Boca
La Boca

The Argentine capital is worth visiting for more than a couple of days, with museums, great food and varied neighbourhoods, you won’t run out of things to do in a hurry. We recommend the Sunday antiques market in San Telmo and an afternoon walk around La Boca. Whether you’re staying in atmospheric San Telmo, stylish Palermo or colourful La Boca each Barrio has a unique feel and it’s worth moving around and trying a few out. For a better idea of the areas why not check out this post.

6. Tierra del Fuego

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“The End of the World” is a great place to visit no matter the time of year. Whilst the summer will offer whales and dolphins, there is still plenty to see if you go in the winter and the autumn colours are breathtaking. Catching a boat to one of the islands in the Beagle channel offers amazing views of Ushuaia and the snow capped mountains behind. Easy hikes can also be found in the Tierra del Fuego national park, a 30 minute drive from town. La Posta Hostel just outside of town offers the warmest rooms you could hope for on Antarctica’s doorstep.

 

7. Salta

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Nestled in the North West corner of Argentina, Salta is a great getaway from busy Buenos Aires. The old section of town is dominated by wonderful colonial architecture and the Plaza de Armas is lovely in the ever present sun. The cable car up the nearby Cerro San Bernardo or the MAAM museum are must see attractions. If you want to get out of the city, horse riding trips or El Tren a Las Nubes (Train to the clouds) are easily arranged at most hostels.

Argentina in Photos…

Just a select few…

Autumn Leaves and Sunny Skies: Trekking in El Chalten

After a few days in El Calafate we decided to go check out the “Trekking Capital of South America” El Chalten, located another 200km north in the Glaciers National Park. The weather outlook, in contrast to the last couple of weeks was predicting 4 days of sun and almost cloudless skies. With this in mind we booked onto an early bus and slept the 3 hours to El Chalten. We both awoke as the bus pulled into the last stretch of road leading into town and we’re glad we did. Situated virtually at the base of the Fitz Roy and Torre mountains, El Chalten must have one of the most breathtaking backdrops on the planet. The early morning clear skies made the last 10 minutes an event in their own right.

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Anyone heading to the “town” of El Chalten should be prepared for a change of pace. Only established in 1985 in order to settle border rights with neighbouring Chile, the central authority seemed to lose interest in development after people started living there. The main 3 streets have tarmac, after that it’s dirt tracks. There are no petrol stations, though the remains of one sit by the entrance to town. There is 1 ATM in town, however the chances of it working are so slim you’d do better playing the lottery. Finally most places only accept cash, so take every peso you plan on spending. The power seems to cut out for a bit every now and then as well.

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This all makes it sound far worse than it actually is. Despite the lack of certain amenities the locals have all of your comforts well in hand (as long as you remembered to bring cash.) The hotels, hostels, restaurants, bars and cafes are of a very good standard and you can easily pick up everything you’ll need for your stay in the area.

Trekking

El Chalten advertises itself as the Argentine capital of trekking and you can immediately see why. As our bus pulled into town we were first dropped off at the information center for what can only be described as orientation, it seems every bus El Chalten bound does this and its well worth it. The whole area, including the town, is in the national park so you get a run down of the rules straight away. After this we got a really useful talk through all the different routes and treks available straight from town. This is what I think makes El Chalten so good, most of the trails start from the town, once you’ve arrived and dropped off your bags you can just get walking.

Due to the amazing weather and the fact it was still before midday, we dropped our bags at the hostel and shot straight out of the door to do the short hike to Laguna Capri. Climbing straight up out of town you quickly gain the 350 meters in a series of steep rises before arriving at the viewpoint above Laguna Capri. A description isn’t necessary, here’s the photo.

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Not bad for a 90 minute hike from your bedroom.

After soaking in the view and eating a relaxing lunch we headed down to the lake to soak in the view from a slightly different angle. It is a really good view!

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Heading back into town was done at a much slower pace allowing us to catch all the local wildlife undisturbed. Condors were soaring past the craggy cliff sides and the woodpeckers seemed completely unperturbed by our passing.

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Our favorite trek in the area was undoubtedly the one to Laguna Torre, which we undertook on Day 2. Rising fairly early to beat the crowds we set off on the 6 hour round trip. The walk was described as having a 250 meter elevation out of town and was flat thereafter. This was a lie as its fairly undulating throughout. Despite this it was a lovely walk through the red and orange of the Patagonian Autumn. We recommend getting up early to do this walk not only so you give yourself enough time to enjoy but also because any mud is frozen making it easier. All the water running in the area is glacial melt water and it is perfectly safe to fill up your bottle at any of the streams you come across, which we did with great delight! Nothing beats fresh water from a stream. As we neared the end of the valley Lauren had to put up with me pointing out the interesting glacial geography, (using the same “interested” voice as when I’m trying to point out the local fauna or gaming). The final bit of the walk is up a short slope and then you get the most amazing view. I think the photo says it all again…

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With Glacier Grande at the end of the valley and Cerro Torre partly obscured by cloud we think this has to be one of the most impressive views we’ve had in South America so far. The constant cracking of the glacier resounding across the lake and the gentler sounds of the icebergs melting and bouncing together were the only ones to be heard.

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What made this all the more interesting was the appearance of a hawk, that had it’s sights set on stealing our sandwiches. It failed to get them but had a good stab at turning Mr.Ducky into a meal!

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Out of our Patagonian exploration we think that El Chalten has been the best place so far, here’s why.

Value for Money

Unlike most other places we’d visited, there’s no park entry fee. Once you’ve caught the bus there, your costs are limited to food and accommodation, which are reasonable enough for Patagonia. Since there are campsites out in the wilds that don’t cost you a penny, if you bring a tent you’re not going to be paying much at all.

Ease of access

With loads of really simple day treks, you can go out see amazing views and be back in time for dinner. This also means that unlike Torres del Paine it doesn’t matter if you get soaking wet in the rain, you can just hang your stuff up to dry at the end of the day. Even if you’re camping you’re never more than 6 hours from town.

Spectacular views

We didn’t get great views in Torres del Paine, but we think even if we had then the ones around El Chalten would give them a run for their money. If you can, we’d say go in autumn, the colour on the trees was amazing!

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So if you’re planning a trip down south, don’t leave this little town off your itinerary.