Bariloche, El Catafate, Puerto Natales, Torres Del Paine, CHILE & ARGENTINA
18.01.2009 - 25.01.2009 17 °C
- Krystal typing -
Sunday the 18th of January
We woke up this morning with mighty sore legs from our mighty long walk the day before (doing a triathlon when we return with Amy is going to be quite a challenge!). We had booked a bus south along the famous route 40 to the town of El Chalten, but the bus wasn´t leaving until 9pm so we had the whole day to waste. It was a pretty uneventful day, Matt hit the internet cafe to update the blog while Monique and I went for abit of a window shop. We grabbed some lunch and then went for a stroll and played some cards on the grass in front of the lake. We treated ourselves to a huge argentinian steak that night, before braving ourselves for the 32 hour bus trip!
Monday the 19th of January
After a fairly decent nights sleep sitty upright (no semi camas - bed seats on this bus) we woke to the view of the flat plains of Patagonia with almost bare vegetation, which would be our view for the next day and abit. The dirt road we were on is known as route 40 and is the longest road in Argentina, stretching for about 5000km (which is about the distance of driving from Melbourne to Perth and half way back again), fortunately we were not covering this whole distance!
With all our spear time on the bus we decided that we didn´t actually want to stop at the town of El Chalten but wanted to continue on for few hours to the town of El Calafate, so at the next town we stopped at we quickly jumped out of the bus and arranged our tickets.
Night time came and we fell asleep in the same seats again!
Tuesday the 20th of January
After 38 hours on the bus we finally arrived at El Calafate!!! Yay! I went on a scout to find some accomodation, we booked our bus trip out to the Perito Moreno Glacier, and booked a bus out of the town the day after. Everything was organised so we headed back to our hostel, had a shower, finally grabbed a decent feed and some beer wine and vodka, headed back to hostel and cooked up a feast - first time we have cooked for the trip, was sooo good to have a home cooked meal!
Wednesday the 21st of January
To Monique´s delight we made some porridge, wandered around town and then caught our afternoon bus ou to the Perito Moreno Glacier in the glacier national park.
The Perito Moreno Glacier one of the earth´s most active glaciers, and one of the very few glaciers that is not retreating, infact advancing! What happens is the glacier advances over the lake Lago Agentino, which seperates the lake into two smaller lakes, kind of forming two natural dams. With no escape route for the water in one of the two smaller lakes, the water level can rise by up to 30 meters higher than the other (when we were there they were level though). The emormous pressure produced by the mass of water finally breaks the glacier barrier, so you can see huge bits of ice breaking off! It happens pretty often, as in a fair few times a day! It was an awesome site to see, you hear the ice cracking and then see massive chuncks of the glacier collapse, it sounded like thunder when the ice hit the water.
The site of the glacier was also pretty amazing, it´s about 30km long, 5km wide and 60m tall. It rises over a mountain valley to come down into the lake, so it sort of looks like a stream of ice coming towards you. Very impressive!
We hang around waiting for ice to fall and admiring the few for a fair few hours waiting for our return bus back to El Calafate. We cooked up some left overs from the night before, had some more drinks then hit the hay.
Thursday the 22nd of January
We grabbed a morning bus that crossed back into Chile to the town of Punerta Natales, which is a good town to bus yourself at to tackle to the Torres Del Paine national park. We arrived late arvo, dumped our bags and then went out in search of a company that would organise a trek to the national park for us. All the guide books we´d read say that you should book months in advance, as its holiday period for the Argentinians and they love to come out here and hike. So we were quite nervous as to whether or not we´d be able to get out there - as we (well I to Matt´s annoyance) hadnt organised anything!
Luckily enough we found a little agency that spoke english, and the lady was brillant, she organised everything for us. We planned and booked a 3 night trek with transfers, doing what´s known as the "W" trek, as it´s in the shape of a W.
After that we went to the supermarket and loaded up on food, as it was much cheaper to cook yourself then eat in the refugee. We grabbed some dinner and then called it a night.
Friday the 23rd of January
Up early, caught our bus out to the national park. To get to the starting point of our trek we had to catch a ferry across lake Lago Pehoe, which had spectular views of the towers (the major site at the park) and neighbouring mountain with glaciers on top.
We were off the boat by 1pm, walked about 50m to the refugio, which was more like a huge hotel! We were in a 6 man dorm, we dumped our bags and then headed out for the first peak in the "W" to the grey glacier. 11km out there and 11km back! We were ruined! The view of the glacier was pretty good though, we walked along a lake for most of the way and had some awesome view out over the surronding mountain ranges.
We stumbled back to the refugio at about 8:30 (it gets dark here at about 10:30 so that was no dramas). We headed to the kitchen and after a little wait for the stove we cooked up some hot dogs, drank some wine a french back packer gave us, showered and then fell into our nice comfy beds - glad that we were not tenting it like most of the others!
Saturday the 24th of January
We woke up like old man and woman with our sore legs! We had a campsite booked for that night, but decided wed splurge and stay in the refugio again if we could, we asked the lady at reception to radio through and books us some beds, headed out front had some breakie in front of the lake and began our next day of hiking.
The trek started out pretty easy, well for the first couple of kms until we reached the bottom centre bit of the W if you like. From here we had a little rest before heading up the centre bit to the second peak of the W, and from here it was all uphill! We scrambled up rocks and walked for about 3 hours before finally reaching the lookout point. The walk was abit of struggle but again the views were amazing, better than the day before. We had views to our left of a huge hanging glacier coming down the side of the mountain and to the right we had clear views of the parks famous rock towers.
We sat up top for awhile eating our tinned tuna and mayo bickies before reluctantly turning back around for the trip down! We got to the bottom bit of the W and then headed east to the next campsite, arriving at about 8pm.
We walked into the refugio and soon discovered they didn´t have or camping or lodge reservation on record. To make things just a tad worse they were totally full and had no spear tents to rent! After good 20 minutes or so of us anxiously waiting, the guy behind the desk finally came back and said he had managed to get us a tent. Which was a relieft, as after walking 25km that day we weren´t that keen on even walking a 1m further, especially at that time!
We cooked our dinner while the staff set the tent up for us. We headed over and soon discovered it wasn´t exactly the Tadj Mahal, it was a two man tent with a heap of holes in the bottom, set up over rocks! But hey, we had a place to sleep! We managed to get an extra sleeping bag for monique (Matt and I were carrying our own) as we were wondering how the three of us were going to fit in 2 sleeping bags zipped together! We also managed to get out of him a foam sleeping matt which we layed across the bottom of the three of us, layed out on rain jackets to stop the water coming up through the holes just incase it rained and then settle into bed snug as bugs in a rug - was a bit of a tight sqeeze, all 3 of us couldn´t lay on our backs at once!
Suprising we all slept pretty well (after matt rearranged the rocks below us) anddd it didnt rain!
Sunday the 25th of January
We said goodbye to our trusty little tent and were on the track just before 9, we had a huge day of hiking ahead of us, even further then the day before! 2 hours in, and after the weather started to turn a little (this national park is known for it´s notoriously bad weather, wed been blessed so far with blue skies and no raing - quite rare), Matt had the brillant idea of walking to the next lodge and not completing the 3rd peak of the W, and catching a bus back to town. We all decided we were done, and monique was over losing her stepping and falling in rivers knee deep!
We saw some amazing views but too much walking in one day for the all of us! We got to the lodge just as the weather started to looked very ordinary! got back to town, had a scrub headed out for a nice feed and a few drinks before falling asleep on some nice comfy mattresses!