Our last stop in Patagonia was El Chalten, with its magical Mount Fitz Roy (3441m)! From El Calafate we took an early morning bus which took us on a 3h ride through deserted steppes inhabited only by lama-look-alike Guanacos and ostrich-look-alike Nandus. Before noon, we arrived at El Chalten, a little town at the heart of the Andes and at the foot of Mount Fitz Roy. Indians call Mount Fitz Roy ‘Chalten’ (i.e. volcano); indeed its high peaks that are often hidden in the clouds create the impression of an erupting volcano.
After dropping our bags in a small hostel we started our hike to ‘Loma del Pliegue Tumbado’, a 20km hike with a 1000m ascent to the top (1490m). Leaving El Chalten behind us, the hike took us first through small hills, up and down and up again, till we reached a plateau with breath-taking views on the mountain and the valley. We then had to climb through a forest, walking alongside a river from where we refilled our drinking bottles, and continued the climb for more than 5 hours. “Suba, suba, suba, suba…” like the locals say. The last 30 mins before we reached the top were the hardest and gave us a Tongariro (volcano we climbed in New Zealand) déjà vu feeling. We had to climb using our hands and feet, finding our way between massive rocks. We finally reached the top and were rewarded by a 360 degrees view on the valley of El Chalten, the Mount Fitz Roy, the turquoise blue lago Viedma and the Glaciar Grande. Amazing!!! According to locals, this is one of the most impressive views on the region. On our way back we tried to spot a Puma, as they usually appear at sunset, but were unlucky this time… We arrived back at our hostel, as usual, completely exhausted 🙂
Next stop: Mendoza (Argentina)