Perito Moreno, El Chaltén & Bariloche

Perito Moreno

27th of January 2014

When traveling in Patagonia, stopping over in El Calafate and visiting the glacier Perito Moreno is must. The visitor center is easily reachable by bus from El Calafate for about ARS 145 / 14,50 €, and the admission is another ARS 130 / 13,00 €. If you want you can also take a boat ride (ARS 120 / 12,00 €) which will take you quite close to the edge of the glacier, offering a spectacular view. If you’re lucky you might even see a large chunk of ice breaking off.

The entire thing doesn’t come that cheap but in my opinion is still worth it. In saying that, if you are on a tight budget and have been to or are planning to go to Glacier Grey in the Torres del Paine National Park, you might want to consider skipping it since the two are fairly similar and equally impressive. Both glaciers, the Perito Moreno and Glacier Gray, are part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the world’s third largest reserve of fresh water.

The views over both glaciers are absolutely breathtaking. Apart from that there really isn’t much more to say. If money is not an issue, definitely visit both and take the boat tour at Perito Moreno.

 

El Chaltén

28th – 31st of January 2014

El Chaltén is considered to be the hiking capital of Argentina. There are a large variety of fantastic treks in the area that will keep you busy for days, maybe even weeks.

Since I only had two full days in the area, I opted for the two most famous hikes, the Laguna de los Tres and Laguna Torres treks, each taking about 7h return. The great thing about all the treks in El Chaltén is that you can do them for free. You can simply go to the visitor center, grab a map and go.

When doing the treks, you might want to consider doing the Laguna Torres first and the Laguna de los Tres afterward, since the latter one is, in my opinion, definitely the more spectacular.

When hiking the Laguna de los Tres you will follow a small path leading through forests and along crystal clear creeks. The final climb is really steep and takes quite some effort, but once you reach the top you will be rewarded with a breathtaking view of the lagoon with Mt Fitzroy in the background, a 3405m high mountain that is considered to be one of the toughest mountains to climb in the world. Until this day, only a couple of hundred people have succeeded in doing so.

Given the number of spectacular hikes in the area around El Chaltén, it is not surprising that it is considered to be the hiking capital of Argentina. If you’re traveling through Patagonia you should definitely find some time to visit this sleepy little town (which was only founded on 12 October 1985 in order to claim the land before Chile could) and do some hikes.

 

Bariloche

02nd – 04th of February 2014

San Carlos de Bariloche reminded me a lot of Switzerland. Why? Simply because the scenery is just as beautiful, and summer- as well as winter-time activities are very similar, if not identical, to the ones in Switzerland.

Unfortunately I only had one full day in Bariloche, which is why I needed to make the most of it—and what better way to explore than by bike? Circuito Chico Mountain Bike rents out bikes for ARS 150 / 11,54 € and will provide you with a map of the Circuito Chico, a 27 km bike ride that surrounds Lago Moreno and starts and ends at the bike rental station. By adding Colonia Suiza to your route, a small town that was first populated by Swiss immigrants, you can add another 6 km to the ride. And if you still haven’t had enough, you can add on a visit to Villa Tacul,a picnic area named for the native family that used to live on the peninsula before the protected area was created, which ups the total distance to 36 km.

On the ride you will pass by picturesque lakes with stunning mountains in the background, as well as breathtaking viewpoints. If you choose to, you can stop at little beaches or bays and just enjoy the view. Loads of restaurants along the way will happily provide you with food and drinks. Make sure you take your time when you do the ride so that you can fully enjoy the scenery.

If you still have energy after your bike ride, you can climb the Cerro Campamento (or just take the chair lift if you’re feeling lazy 🙂 ). Once you reach the top you will be rewarded with a breathtaking view over the different lakes and the mountains.

To round off a perfect day, I highly recommend going for dinner at a small restaurant called Alta el Fuego. It is the best steak I have had in my entire life and if you like steak, you surely won’t be disappointed. Make sure you book a table ahead; the restaurant is extremely popular with locals and booked out pretty much every night of the week.

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