Patagonia seems untouchable; a place of daydreams and fantasies with pristine mountains and peaceful waters. But what if I told you it’s more in reach than you think…
Argentinian/Chilean Patagonia had been on my bucket list for years, so after a long day (and a few glasses of wine), I booked a one-way ticket to Buenos Aires. I had no clue what I’d gotten myself into, but I came out alive and with some of the best experiences of my life. All thanks to spontaneity and a cheap bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon! These were my favorite things to do in Patagonia during my two weeks there.
This post wouldn’t be complete without mention of Patagonia’s National Parks, Los Glaciers and Torres del Paine. It’s here you’ll find some of the most breathtaking landscapes our Earth has to offer. My favorite was Mt. Fitz Roy, a hike that brought us 20 miles and 2,600 ft. to the mountain’s viewpoint. The trek starts at the base of Puerto Natales where you wrap around woodland and riverbanks before the sky opens to mountaintops. From here, you climb steep slopes until the blue glow of glacier water meets your eyes. Find a warm rock and unpack your picnic; you’re on top of the world.
Patagonia’s glaciers are the world’s finest, and Perito Moreno is no exception. Stretching nearly 100 sq. miles, Perito Moreno is the third largest icefield in the world after Antarctica and Greenland. If you can, take a boat to the South Face where you can hear water and shifting ice from the depths of the glacier. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot chunks collapsing into the water below. I’ve heard mini-trekking is also spectacular; you’ll walk atop the glacier in crampons and sip whiskey with glacier ice cubes (top on my list next time I visit!).
And finally, Torres del Paine, a favorite hiking and climbing destination for many. Amidst mountains, glaciers and milky lakes, you’re looking for three massive granite towers that the park is known for. Also look for guanacos, a herding animal that’s sort of a mix between a llama and a camel. They’ll even let you snap a photo…
Reference: Say Hueque Tours
The town of El Calafate is one of the most unique I’ve come across. It’s a small mountain town with abstract architecture, perfectly manicured hedges and colorful foliage (there were time I thought I was on-set of The Truman Show…). You could get lost for hours wandering the quaint neighborhoods and playing with the local pups. Pop your head into Laguna Negra for an afternoon hot chocolate; you won’t be disappointed!
Lago Argentino and Friends
El Calafate is positioned next to a large body of water; I ventured out to find what would surely bring beautiful views. And I was right; I’d arrived at Lago Argentino, the largest freshwater lake in Argentina. I sat down near a flock of wild flamingos for what (I thought) would be a peaceful nature watch. Suddenly, two sprightly dogs came barreling through the water. When the birds left, they focused their wet, smelly attention on me. After a quick pat, I said, “goodbye” and continued down the lakeside.
The dogs followed for 6 miles as we walked the lake, roads and neighborhoods together. Each time I’d thought they’d left, they’d run back to make sure I was with them. I finally lead them to town (or did they lead me?) where we reunited with what seemed to be their owner. A kind, young woman tied her scarf around the dogs’ necks and encouraged them to her car. I sat on a park bench reflecting on the strange friendships I’d just made, when suddenly a black blur came rushing from around the corner. The little black pup had come back to get me. He did this 3x before the owner tied the scarf tight around his collar, and that was the last I saw of them.
People (and animals) come in and out of our lives at the strangest of times. This happens a lot while traveling. You’re moving and meeting people at such a rapid rate, it’s hard to imagine sustained contact from any of them. I assure you though, it’s there if you want it to be. That girl on the tour could accompany you to your next country. That guy on the plane could enjoy a few nights at your destination. And that smelly-ass dog could share one of the best days south of the equator. Open your heart and take it for what it could be.
Flying into Buenos Aires
You’d think getting to Patagonia would be easy, but in fact, you must fly into Buenos Aires before hitching a flight to El Calafate 1,700 miles away. What I treated as a mere layover turned into one of my favorite cities so far. It was a bustling city of color, culture, food and flavors. Music playing in the air, street performers, and the smell of meat smoking. Don’t miss the art district of San Telmo (including their Sunday market), and enjoy one of the 40 drafts at Bierlife featuring many local brews.
Buenos Aires, I’ll be back!