In El Chalten, there are 5 hikes that start from various points of town: Laguna de los Tres, Chorrillo de Salto, Laguna Torre, Loma del Pliegue Tumbado, and Laguna Toro.
All buses going into El Chalten are required to make a stop at the Visitor’s Centre for an orientation from the park ranger. Instead of listening to the park ranger’s lecture–because I cannot hear–I sized-up the other adventurers. Judging by the brand names on their technical gear, they were mostly European, but I was able to pick out a few Canadians from the crowd. (MEC, Canada Goose, La Cordee, are all brands that are a more reliable way of identifying a traveller as Canadian than the maple leaf patch!) I could see several ropes, carabiners, and climbing shoes sticking out of some people’s packs.
Mélissa gave me an overview of the park ranger’s address. The ranger had emphasized how the weather was often unpredictable and advised us to be well prepared for these sudden changes. The map that was distributed to us denoted the sections of the trails that were to be avoided in high winds.
In 9,000 years from now, the recent graffiti that have been done over the 9,000-year-old graffiti found in the Walichu Caves will be just as revered by archaeologists.
Guide: “You see this painting? What do you think it is?”
Hesitant tourist: “Is it a penis?” *goofy shrug*
Guide, pretending he’s impressed by the tourist’s observation: “Correct! Thousands of years ago, in the 1980s, teenagers bonded with one another by drinking a sacred liquid mixture made of fermented malted barley and wheat called Quilmes beer * . They would then sketch phallic images on the rock face to signify their brotherhood.”
El Calafate: the place everybody has in mind when they picture Patagonia. In reality, Patagonia encompasses the southern half of Argentina and Chile. The land area measures 1.043 million km² and is, to the guanacos’ delight, mostly flat.
I watched the terrain pass underneath me from 30,000 feet for the duration of the one hour and forty-five minute flight from Trelew to El Calafate. Other than blue ribbons of sharply bending rivers, I spied with my little eye a whole lot of earth-toned nothingness. It was the desert, the world’s 8th largest and the least-talked-about!
When Mélissa enthusiastically proposed the idea of snorkeling with the sea lions, I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I wasn’t into forced wild animal encounters. I’ve never held a koala or pet a tiger. Posing with animals isn’t fooling anybody into thinking you’re Tarzan: we know you’re just another tourist with money.
In my last post, I mentioned being slightly disappointed about our time in Punta Delgada with the all-female herd of elephant seals.
The biggest disappointment of my trip to Patagonia, however, would have to be awarded to the Argentinean croissant.
What made this so painful was how all these cafés had been hyped about offering it on their menus. “Medialunas!” Their sandwich boards would exclaim. They were such a popular menu item that they were often sold out. We had to try three different cafés before we got our croissant.
The title of my last post was “Suffering for adventure.” My trip may have started with hours of discomfort on a plane, but I had also escaped Montréal‘s first major snowfall of the winter.
It was -20°C (-4°F) the morning we left Montréal. When we touched down in Trelew, Argentina 24 hours later, it was 37°C (98°F). A temperature difference of 57 degrees… WHAT?!
I had checked the weather the day before and made myself fully prepared with shorts and a tank top stowed in my carry-on. While my Montréal pals were traipsing through thigh-deep snow, I was getting my sweat on!
My elbows and scarred up knees were exposed for the majority of our time on the Valdes Peninsula. I was showing off my articulation the day we visited the seemingly inarticulate Magellanic penguins at the Punta Tombo rookery, 250 or so kilometres south of the peninsula.