Highlights of El Chalten and The Fitz Roy

After El Calafate, we caught the very early bus to El Chalten.  It took about 3.5 hours.  At first Bob was grumbling because we had to miss out on breakfast, but I think deep down he was pleased that I chose the early bus when we came across this:

El ChaltenThe never-ending road to nowhere finally led somewhere!  Here is our view from the road.  El Chalten is a tiny, but pretty, little town surrounded by big mountains.

El Chalten2This is the whole town.  The whole place pretty much closes down in the winter, from April to September.  If you want a party town, forget it.  People come here to go trekking and climb mountains.  Who has the energy to party after trekking up and down a mountain all day?  If you want to be entertained, you will have a difficult time of finding anything other than some restaurants and bars and cafes.  You might get lucky if there is some live music.

Because we arrived early, we were able to get the lie of the land and go for a little walk to the cascada (waterfall).  You can usually catch a glimpse of Fitz Roy teasing you in the background!

El Chalten1We got up early to walk up to view Fitz Roy.  Bob was armed with a map and supplies.  We took our walking poles.  It was our first time using them and we were so grateful we had them.  We were told that the beginning and the end of the walk was hard.  Little did we realise how hard the last leg would be, but in spite of everything it was worth the climb to see this:

El Chalten3

If I died after seeing this, it would have been totally worth it!  However, there was still more pain to come.  We had to get back down the mountain!  It took us about 8 hours and we were only 20 minutes later than expected.  We were told that we were lucky with the weather as Fitz Roy is usually covered in cloud.  The next day was too windy for trekking up mountains (I was secretly hoping for rain as my legs were killing me, but wind was good!) so Bob and I did a short local walk.  We found a nice place out of the wind near a pond and had a picnic and nap in the sun!

The day after, we went for an easier trek to Laguna Torre to see the glacier.

El Chalten Fitz Roy Web1This was most definitely an easier walk and I am glad we did it on our last day as we would never have been able to walk to the bus station early the next morning to catch the bus to Bariloche!  This walk took us six hours.  When we got back, we treated ourselves to a sauna and jacuzzi!

One of the things we enjoyed about walking in this area was discovering the amount of plants that are surviving in what seemingly looks like a desert.

El Chalten Fitz Roy WebThere are all manner of alpine wild flowers to be seen.  The creamy white ones on the upper right side of the photo can be seen everywhere and were my favourites.  They look like miniature anemones.  There are even alpine sweet peas.  There is also a wide variety of grasses and shrubs.  The ground is very dry and sandy and yet things manage to survive and even thrive.  Nature is amazing!

We really loved El Chalten and being in the mountains.  We didn’t have to worry about booking an excursion as we were right there and could decide for ourselves how much or how little we wanted to do.  We could have spent weeks here as there is so much to see!

El Chalten4We were challenged by nature, but not beaten by it!