After our trekking and kayak adventures, it was time to leave Puerto Natales and make the five hour bus journey eastwards across the border to El Calafate in Argentina. Whilst there we took the opportunity to visit the Perito Merino Glacier and watch it calving into the Brasso Nord of Lago Argentino- a remarkable sight, but very much a controlled “tourist” experience. For our next outdoor adventures we had to take another three hour journey northeast to El Chalten, the trekking centre for the Fitz Roy Range The first sight of Fitz Roy as you approach across the “esteppa” or semi-desert is unforgettable.
On Day 3 we resolved to walk to Laguna Torre, the viewpoint for the elusive peak of Cerro Torre, which is shrouded in cloud for most of the year. We had seen it at a distance on the day of our arrival. Would we be lucky again?
Buoyed by our success, we booked seats on a minibus to take us north up the valley of the Rio de los Vueltas the next day to Hosteria Pilar. From here we would walk round the base of the Fitz Roy massif and ascend to the mirador at Laguna de los Tres
On our way out we chilled and Mhairi took lots of photographs of wildlife and plants. The next day we'd planned to ascend Loma del Pliegue Tomboda, but the weather seemed wild up high, so we again dawdled and took photos
On our last morning we got up in time for dawn, around 5am and walked up to the first mirador above town for some farewell photos of Fitz Roy
While we were researching the “W” Trek in Torres del Paine, Mhairi came across the website of a company kayakenpatagonia.com/site/ that offered a three day kayak trip from Lago Grey, then down the Rio Grey to Serrano Village, then on down the Rio Serrano to the sea, with a further section in Laguna Serrano where a glacier drops from the mountains into the waters below. We’d originally planned to fit this trip on to the end of our “W” Trek, but the logistics proved too difficult. This meant we went out of the national park to Puerto Natales and returned (albeit by a different route) the next day. All the catering tentage and equipment was provided, so it again made life easy for us.
We spent four nights trekking the “W” Circuit in Torres del Paine Parque Nacional. We had decided not to bring camping gear but to use Rifugios and go full board. This was quite difficult to organise in advance, but was very simple (if expensive) once on the ground. We did the Trek in “reverse” ie east to west and stayed at Rifugio Chileno, Domos Frances, Rifugio Paine Grande and Rifugio Grey. On our last day we returned to Paine Grande and caught the catamaran back to Pudeto and the bus back to Puerto Natales.
One of the reasons there have been no blog posts is that for six weeks in October and November, “ScottishOutdoorStuff” became “SouthAmericanOutdoorStuff”.
We were lucky enough to get an invitation to a family wedding in Buenos Aires (our son-in-law’s sister married an Argentinian) and we took the opportunity to make a six-week visit. We took in the amazing Iguazu Falls, Jesuit missions near San Ignacio, the wetlands at Esteros del Ibera in the north, then flew west to Mendoza where we did some wine tours and visited the Aconcagua viewpoint in the Andes. We were then back soaking u the atmosphere in Buenos Aires for a week before the wedding. All of these were fantastic experiences, but a bit outside the normal territory of the blog.
The second part of our trip was to fly to Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego, then travel to Puerto Natales in Chile by bus. Here we had two outdoor adventures planned: trekking the “W” Circuit in Torres del Paine National Park, then kayaking down the Grey and Serrano Rivers.
I’ll take a separate photo blog for each of these adventures, then yet another for our treks around El Chalten in Glaciares National Park in Argentina
Ian and Mhairi's Outdoor Blog
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