El El Chalten with its rugged Andean setting really is the trekking capital of Patagonia. It is situated within Parque Nacional Los Glaciares and is a superb place to explore. It only has roughly 500 permanent residents and during the summer months over 60,000 hikers and climbers are drawn to this area by the great trails that lead to the base of the highest summit , Mount Fitz Roy , in the Fitz Roy massif, what a sight to see, especially at sunrise.
Long exposure before dawn, tricky with no tripod
Sunrise on it’s way, reflecting in the lakes below
Stunning red color dominates all round it at sunup
When we arrived we checked the weather forecast for the next three days , and as it was going to be very clear in the mornings, some sun during the day with breeze and a small chance of rain it was on with our back-packs and off we went for a 3 day / 2 night hike. We wanted to see Fitz Roy at sunrise so we camped for the night in a sheltered wooded area, the only facility being a Dixie ( toilet ) . At 4.45 a.m. we left camp to make the 3km hike , a steep uphill by headlight , to be in time for pre dawn and sunrise. However, we arrived quicker that we thought we would, so had a lot of time for photographs and also time to get cold as it took the sun a long time to get up, but as it started to rise the lakes below us turned a pink colour, then orange , spectacular, and then all of a sudden it hit Mt. Fitz Roy, stunning as the sky above was so so clear. At one stage you could see the entire reflection of it in the lake below. Some people actually brought their sleeping bags with them , a great idea , as they looked so warm and cosy.
Sleeping bags were a great way to wait for the sun
Back down for breakfast , packed up our tent and spent the day getting to our next campsite which was a relatively easy hike along by lakes and through forest and woodland areas.
Our tent on the right with the other campers just after sunrise
Sarah collecting water from a stream
The hikes were clearly marked, and had handy raised platforms over the wet areas
At this campsite we had views of glaciers but the Cerro Torre decided to hide in the clouds in the early morning, and it was only as we walked about 6km away from it , it decided to wake up, but disappeared just as fast. Really it teased us all day on our walk back , but when we stopped for our picnic lunch sitting up on rocks, we could see both Mt. Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre both at the same time, happy days, our third day of trekking was not all in vain! Eveytime you stop there is stunning scenery each side of you , also incredible clouds in the sky.
The moon over Mount Fitzroy and El Chalten
View from one of the hikes
Glaciers in the Morning
Another day we just did a one day hike, 24 Kms return trip, impressive or what ! and Merv carried his tripod all the way to the top. The last bit of this hike was really difficult, wasn’t sure I would or could make it, but never the less I wouldn’t give up , despite the snow under foot in places I eventually made it and boy it was worth it, a full 360 degrees view. There was no stopping athlete Merv , tripod and camera in full shooting mode, what a wonderful view of Fitz Roy , Cerro Torre (nice of it to oblige today) and the many glaciars and lakes below us. Once we got to the top it was really warm, even the rocks for sitting on were warm so we stayed about one and a half hours soaking up this breathtaking view. Plus there were a few more people at the top so we all chatted and exchanged travel stories, one Dutch, one English, one Swiss, three Canadians and us. Another wonderful day.
Canadian builders are everywhere….
A really good look around the mountains….
El Chalten – up and coming
This is an up and coming town, only in the last two years has it got an ATM machine, which let me tell you only works sporadically, and even though some cafes boast they have wifi , the wifi is even more sporadic , but despite that it is a wonderful place to visit and has a real relaxed and friendly atmosphere, I hope it never becomes too commericalised !