March 2014 • Canon 60D camera
UNESCO World Heritage site
Part of the Los Glaciares National Park
Distance (round trip)
Duration (round trip)
Aprivate mini bus awaited us this morning to take us north of El chelten to El Pilar. This is where we would start our journey to see up close the magnificent Mount Fitz Roy. For this trek the first part was going to be easy and gentle. The second part will be tough — a steep high climb that was dependent on good weather. This morning the weather was cloudy and grey with a light drizzle of rain. The start of the trek was in the same area as the horseback riding I did yesterday. We started off with a pleasant walk on gravel with small bushes spotted about the place. The Rio Blanco river was to our right and as we moved further into land the scenery changed. The single trees dotted around the place slowly combined into a full forest.
The trees looked old and grey, like they were dead. It's the first time I had seen trees like this. 'Lenga' was the species and I dubbed this forest the 'graveyard of trees'. Reminds me of something you would see in The Lord of The Rings movie. Parts of the forest there was just as much as fallen trees as there was standing. It was also eerily quiet. Only from time to time if you listened closely you could hear a sound of a bird. The walk through the forest was a gentle gradient up.
On the left of the forest we viewed the Piedras Blancas glacier. Carving its way down to the foot of Monte Fitz Roy, it created a small lake at the bottom. Not as big or impressive as Perito Moreno Glacier but was just as beautiful. As we continued out of the 'graveyard of trees', we reached an open area where we saw a wonderful bright rainbow. The colours were vivid and clear. It must have been the closest I have got to such a clear and fully arched rainbow in my life. The weather had now started to brighten up and the trek so far had made us sweat enough to start shedding our layers off.
We continued on through the open plain. Surrounded by massive mountains on either side, the sun was out in full force and blue skies appeared. We then walked through another lenga forest to the Poincenot campsite where we stopped for lunch. Before continuing to the final stage of the trek we had some bad news... Our guide informed us that the winds were too strong for us to climb the final part of the trek. We were unable to reach the viewpoint to see Fitz Roy up close. Our guide did not want to take risks. It was a real shame but for 3 hours we had seen some wonderful scenery.
The lenga tree is a member of the southern beech family. It is part of a group of species found primarily in New Zealand and Australia, dating back from the era of the Gondwana Supercontinent (a collection of landmasses in today's southern hemisphere which included the continents of south America, Australia and Africa).
Our guide said we would trek through another route to make up for the missed section. We continued by leaving the lenga forest to an open grassy plain. Here, we were treated to some cloudy views of Fitz Roy. The snowcapped mountain towering above the forest of trees. This area also gave us the full experience of the Patagonian winds. In this region of Argentina, the winds are powerful all year round. It makes sunny days feel ice cold. The winds were so strong, gale–like on this part of the trek I could almost feel myself tipping over.
As we walked we crossed small streams from time to time. Planks of wood are used to cross the streams, but when a gust of wind blew strongly you had to stop and wait. There was a real sense that you could fall over as you crossed the stream. It was funny being at the back of the group (due to me taking so much photos) to see ahead of me as my group were trying to keep balance as the strong winds blew. It’s a shame the photos don't capture this. We headed to Laguna Capri and had a brief pit stop.
From here we trekked high up a valley and had breathtakingly scenery to marvel at. Bright and sunny it was amazing to witness such beauty. The wind was just as strong up here and we had to huddle as a group close to our tour guide to hear what he was saying.
We headed back down hill, zing–zagging on a path of a side of a cliff towards the town of El Chaltén. In town, we had something to eat and drink at a fantastic restaurant La Cervecería. I ordered a small pizza which was piled to the top with vegetables and cheese like no other pizza I have seen. Lisa and Rodrigo was on fire this evening cracking jokes and learning words in Spanish. The night ended in Heladería Domo Blanco, an ice cream cafe with some of the best ice creams you will have in your life!
It was an enjoyable day and the spectacular views was more than I imagined I would see on this trip. It was a bit disappointing not to make the whole Laguna de los tres trek, but which such breathtaking scenery all around you, it more than made up for it.
I was very surprised on how strong the winds were in this region. Also the weather can change every ten minutes. A wind-proof rain jacket is a must! Come prepared with layers that you can strip off and put back on again. Bring snacks/pack lunch and plenty of water/drinks as this is a long hike and will be stopping a fair bit. Tomorrow we are aiming to go on a much longer trek called Loma del Pilegue Tumbulo. I can't wait!
A picturesque journey to see a panoramic view of Patagonia