South America – El Chaltén, Argentina

Our trip to the southern hemisphere was definitely divided into an urban experience and then the outdoors!

After spending the first half visiting unique cities and towns, we flew south into Argentina for the breathtaking scenery of Los Glaciares National Park in Patagonia.

Our first stop was El Chalten, Argentina…a small mountain village tucked at the base of one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been.  The setting that this small town is nestled beneath is majestic and awe-inspiring!

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To get there we flew from Santiago…over the Andes Mountains (wow!!!)…

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..to Buenos Aires.  Then from Buenos Aires to El Calafate where we rented a car and drove to El Chaltén.

The scenery along the way – Patagonian Steppe – reminded us a lot of our home in the high desert of Eastern Washington…

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The sun set before we made it to our room and the show did not disappoint.

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We listened to the wind pummel our room all night long, but when we woke in the morning, the day began beautifully and was much more calm.  No rain…little wind and clearing skies!

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We stayed in an Airbnb and it was about a five minute walk from our little house to the trailhead.

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The hike we chose was to Laguna de los Tres at the base of Mt. Fitz Roy.  It would be an 8 hour day and my phone registered 38,000 steps at the end of it.  The intial path was fairly steep and upwards with enticing views…

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Then it flattened for a long while and it was amazing to watch the landscape and environment change from desert-like to forest and grasslands to mountains, rivers, lakes and glaciers…

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Finally, we crossed Rio Blanco (no pictures…my camera was going to stay safe and dry over that river!) and finished the last quarter mile by hiking on MASSIVE boulders that had fallen and settled in the area leading up to Laguna de los Tres.

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The water…that color…unreal!  It was fresh and delicious and ice cold and tasted better than any water I’ve ever had.

Its hard to describe the beauty of a place like this.  My camera couldn’t do it justice.  Knowing that we had to leave it behind felt awful even in the midst of my incredible appreciation and happiness at being there.  As we climbed down, I kept looking back just trying to burn it into my mind – the sight of it – the way it felt to be standing there.  I had looked at images of this place so many times as I arranged this trip in the prior months, but being there in person was something else altogether.

We were so lucky too!  Patagonia is known for its unpredictable and quickly changing weather.  We had alloted only one day for this particular hike and to see these views was a gift from this beautiful landscape.

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