Wednesday, 23 November 2016

El Chalten & Mount Fitz Roy National Park - Days 67 to 69

Have a look at our Youtube video of the hikes we did in Fitz Roy National Park:
Our trip so far: Central and South America

A near perfect reflection of Monte Fitz Roy in Laguna Capri

We trundled off, the 1.5km with our little wheeled rucksacks behind us (a good buy so far) arriving in good time at the bus station via the Santander bank, where we pay no charges, here or in the UK, for our three hour bus ride to El Chalten. It turned up 45 mins late, making us glad we didn't go for the half hour changeover time on our return before going to Puerto Natales. By which time I'd accosted some poor bloke, a big bearded American, in the queue, asking him when he was going to finish his book, where he was staying, he probably thought he'd pulled!

Sarah and Vaughan and the big yellow lorry they are travelling in
Relatively short bus ride but through much of the same sort of boring scrub landscape we've spent lots of time driving through, so thought perhaps I'd better give finishing my book a go. Success, by both parties, just before the scenery changed and 'Mount' Fitz Roy came into view.

Vaughan and Sarah showing us the inside of their lorry
Trundled the 1km from the bus station to the hostel, if we'd remembered we should have booked a transfer with the company based out of the hostel as we could have been taken all the way there. Ho hum, still, not as bad as people we know who were on the right bus, but forgot, walked the 1km with huge packs on, only to find the bus parked outside! We were greeted by a very nice young man telling us we were the lucky ones, we'd been upgraded to the hotel next door. Also that the last two days had been the only ones in the three months he'd been there that it had been sunny and not completely clouded in! It is a proper hotel, toiletries and everything, not to mention bowls of toffees all over the place! Goes for about twice the one we were booked into, hurrah!

Our up graded hotel in El Chalten
Thought we'd go out for a beer and have a look at the facilities in the hostel, after all, if we were going to cook, it would have to be there, and the Tripadvisor reviews all say the same things, kitchens small and not well stocked, probably to make you give up and eat in the hostel, serving food 24 hours (why?) walked out of the kitchen towards the book exchange to be stopped in my tracks as there was Sarah, the English half of the U.K./NZ couple last seen at Santiago airport. 
and our room - posh isn't it!
We knew they were doing 51 days in Patagonia in a big off road lorry/bus thing but what were the chances of that? Grab a beer and sit down for a good catch up, only for Nancy and Josie the French Canadians from the glacier to walk past! That was not quite so surprising, but there are a lot of hostels in town so still quite a coincidence, and we'd so nearly walked down the road, not up! Lovely evening.

On the Laguna de Los Tres walk
Up for a good breakfast, though all sweet, no savoury, before heading up, along with everyone else in El Chalten, to Laguna de los Tres, the standard hike to get the best view of Fitz Roy. It's a relatively easy 10km until the last km which is quite steep and just seems to go on and on. Good views and lunch before shouting rude comments to Nancy and Josie as they sauntered past from the lake edge. Good chat and made a dinner date at B&B the beer and burger bar before letting them head off, well they are both very quick, running down whenever possible, trying to encourage me to do the same, as they have both suffered in the past with painful knees, for which I carry my walking poles, running reduces the weight in each step apparently! Hmm, don't do running, and not sure the brain can process information fast enough!

Our first view of monte Fitz Roy
Back in time for a shower and quick look round town, not that that took long before, our date, met my American waiting for his burger, hope we are not all going to be disappointed. No, absolutely fabulous, and a happy hour pint, and good chips too! We decided not to join N&J for their sunset hike, another beer was calling, and we have English movie channels......

At Laguna de Los Tres with Monte Fitz Roy behind
Second day, second standard hike, Laguna Torre, recommended by N&J and Sarah and Vaughan. Interesting lake, with icebergs floating in it, slightly shorter than yesterday and relatively flat, till Brian stuck his oar in and decided that with a path on his GPS, not on the map that they hand out to all and sundry, and not on the 'proper' map we borrowed from Alex we could make a nice circular walk! Hmmm. Questioning people we met, everyone looked blank, but sure enough, at the point marked on the GPS there sort of was a path, they'd blocked it off, and didn't want you to use it, and it was very overgrown, but the other options were a lot further, so I was sent in to bushwhack! We did hit Laguna Capri where we expected it, and I suppose it worked, but there had been a lot more up than I'd allowed for when I set my pace on the way in! So, knackered, we bought a beer (from the supermarket at 1/3 the price of the bar) and some crisps for after our shower and decided we'd then go and treat ourselves to our first, and probably last, Argentinian steak, though actually we shared a meal as 400g of meat is quite enough for two. It was fabulous, made all the better with the thought of an easy day tomorrow!

And who should we see there? That's Nancy in front, Josie behind
Ha, we started talking to the lone lady sitting next to us who recommended another hike, I thought this had a viewpoint after a short while and we could just go there, but sadly I was a bit confused, this was another 'hard' rated climb, 4 hours in! It was a pleasant walk, but without much to see till we got to the top, or the viewpoint, which wasn't the top, but to the top we had to go, very steep, and a lot of a slog. Fortunately for Brian who should we find at the top but Nancy and Josie, so he didn't get the ear bashing he deserved. He was surprised to see them there, I would have been more surprised not to see them there, knowing they were planning their relaxing day yesterday!

And there they are back at the hostel about an hour before us
We let them go ahead though I did try a gentle jog for some of it, and we would have really made it back in record time, except we met an English guy who thought he was going to the easy viewpoints, I gave him my map and explained his mistake and took him back to where the path divided, though not before meeting a Spanish speaking family who thought they could pop to where we'd just been in a few minutes too. We left them heading off to the viewpoints too! Our good deeds done we arrived at the icecream shop two minutes before it opened, about an hour after Nancy had got there, but she was still waiting! Great icecream, back for a shower before meeting up at their new hostel for a quick beer before going over the road to the burger joint, which was so busy tonight it really couldn't cope, the food was just as good but arrived in random order, along with random beers. Oh well, we shared a table with a couple from Barnt Green, 10 minutes away from where we live, who have been travelling 18 months! 

El Chalten as we walked up on the Laguna Torres walk
Walking through meadows with amazing scenery up ahead
We had a fabulous evening, lots of laughter, before saying our farewells to Nancy who we will be sure to look up if we ever end up in Canada and Josie who we may catch up with later in this trip, who knows. We are all off to El Calafate tomorrow, them earlier than us to get their flight to Buenos Aires and us to catch our connecting bus to Puerto Natales.

And it was worth the effort once we were there
People go to amazing lengths to get a good photo
How about this one?
Does that iceberg look like its got a birds head and beak to you?
The deviation to Laguna Capri following a track on my gps where no map showed a path!
But we did eventually find our way to Laguna Capri and got this photo and the perfect reflection photo at the top of this entry
A condor flies overhead
And we spotted this red headed woodpecker on the way back
On todays walk up to Lomo del Pliegue Tumbado. El Chalten in the background
What is stopping that rock from rolling downhill?
A parrot/lorakeet
After a 2.5 hour walk in trees with little view we finally emerged onto open hillside. Our final target was that white pointed top just to the left
Getting into the tough steep part of the walk, but the views really opened up
Jackie consults with a couple of people on the way down to see if its worth it
The really steep part of the final ascent. Jackie was not happy and I'd already been called a bully!
But as we got to the summit who should we find there but Nancy and Josie. Look at the smile on Jackies face, I am saved from an ear bashing!
And the views were as good as we'd hoped. Monte Fitz Roy on the left, Laguna Torre glacial lake beneath it that we'd walked to yesterday, Laguna Capri just about in the centre that we took a detour to yesterday and El Chalten is in the distance on the right
A closer view of Monte Fitz Roy and Laguna Torre
This little chap was gliding around overhead on the summit hoping for scraps from the trekkers
Back down in El Chalten again. The mountain we climbed is just peeking out on the left behind that big mass of rock directly below that upturned 'T' shaped cloud
A final drink with our new found friends Josie and Nancy. We've done a lot together since we met a week ago on the bus from Ushuaia. We may see Josie again somewhere in South America, but we're only likely to see Nancy again if we visit Quebec in Canada. Farewell you two, we've had great times


  1. Great account of your few days in El Chalten - brought back many happy memories and we will get some of our photos out to compare the walks and the views you guys did. Can't believe how much the town has grown. When we were there in Jan 03 it was a few houses, one hostel and one smokehouse for curing lamb! More fab visitas for you to come with Torres Del Paine - very envious!

  2. Lovely how sociable this trip has begun. The photos are brilliant and I love the pic of Brian v much!
    V rainy here as you may have heard from news? Exeter was v wet! Drizzle day today.
    Not to worry, easy day with Monty baking.
    Take care, xxx

  3. Looks fantastic- such great views and icebergs too. You both look really well & happy I'm glad to see. Take care x