El Chalten - In's and Around's

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December 29th 2009
Published: February 2nd 2010
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This time, Omer and me (Lilach) would like to tell you about El Chalten and the Fitz Roy area
. But, first we have to get there...

Well, not much to say about the way from Los Antiguos - the border town with Chile, where I left you in my last entry, to El Chalten - it was a long boring GRAVEL road that took us 2 days to cover, making a night stop in the most miserable Argentinian town we have seen so far - Bajo Caracoles. We have crowned this town with the honor of having the weardest name we have ever encountered with, as Bajo Caracoles means in English "low snails". We are not familiar with any special breed or type of low snails that are endemic to the area - but we can tell you that life there is indeed as slow as a snail...
The only working business we have seen is the hotel, which is also the grocery shop (no vegetables, nor bread...) as well as the only gas station. Apart from that, there was the camping ground we stayed in. It was first deserted when we have arrived, but later someone - probably drunk - dropped by and said he is the owner. While we have started sorting out where will we put our tent etc. a group of 5 guys came to the campground - not surprisingly, 4 of them were Israelies and they had a lonely Australian they have just met in the bar (the said hotel / gas station / shop, I mean). I think we have already expressed the dominancy of the Israeli travelers in the area, but here we got another time to really face it. From them, we have learned that this camping also has 2 dormitory rooms which the owner did not even mention to us previously... However, after Nitzan just peaked at the 4-dorm room, she determined leaving no opportunity for anyone to say the contrary, that we are spending the night in our good faithfull tent, and the wind and the coldness of Patagonia do not deter her nor make her change her mind. The good thing about the camping (and this time I am not being cynical) was it had a very good Quincho / dining room, with proper tables, seats and heating. So, as usual, Nitzan and I put up the tent, the boys collected wood from around and behind the camping (As the roles were 10000 yrs ago), and Tal got to make his desired BBQ that he was drizzling over since early morning when we have put our feet back on Argentinian grounds - this time we had lamb chops.
Don't worry, indeed we had a very good night sleep in the tent, and even the known Patagonian winds that were blowing fairly strong in the afternoon, calmed down in the evening and throughout the night.
The next morning (I guess that for our partners in the camping, it was already noon, because when we only woke up, they were already gone to catch rides), we continued making our way south - but just at the exit from the village, we saw the Australian guy standing still waiting for a lift - the poor guy was there from 8 am, and almost 4 hours have passed and hardly any traffic passed by and those who did pass could not take him. Our mercy feelings, did not let us leave him there, and so, once again we squeezed the kids (and the trunk), and loaded him and his backpack. He was very happy to learn, that not only that he gets a lift, but that we go all the way to El Chalten, which was his next destination.
The highlight of the so boring and slow drive - again - on gravel road, was getting to see 2 Armadilos , one around noon time and one in the afternoon. Tal, the kids and Mr. Australia run after them to make sure they manage to get good and close-up pictures of this cute creature.

We have arrived to El Chalten at late afternoon, and after checking out a few of the local hostels and realizing they are all fully booked, we have found a nice campground, not too crowded, though with many people, and set it as our home for the next days.

The next day, though it was already noon time by the time we were ready to start trekking in the Glaciers National Park, we have decided to walk the trail to the Fitz Roy view point - a 14km walk (7 each way). The weather was great, and we could see the sharp peak of the Fitz Roy already from town. Shachar at the beginning of the walk, gave us hard time. He started to cry and said his legs are hurting after walking not more than 500 meters. But, after some cries, some negotiation and finding him a good wood stick to help him walk, he became a new kid and walked the whole 14 km (5 hours) very very nicely. We were even amazed to discover at the top and later again at the bottom, that we have not only made the whole trek, but even made it in the same amount of hours that was stated in the park leaflets. We were so surprized by this, so when we saw a park ranger next to the top, we talked to him in order to verify that the stated distance is correct, because it felt much shorter - but he assured us that indeed we have already walked 7km - who are we to argue...
The walk was beautiful - we walked through some woods, a river was flowing next to us and then we got to see the whole valley below and later to see the Fitz Roy sharp peak and some of the other mountains' peaks next to it. These are not the regular type of rounded mountains you normally see. All these peaks are massive vertical rocks - very special look. You can see how beautiful it is in our photos.

The next day, we have decided to make another walk, longer and harder than the one described above (22km and 7 hours). This, we knew would be too much for Shachar, though he walked bravely the previous day and we did not have to carry him, this will take him over his edge. Unfortunately, unlike in Peru or Bolivia, here you cannot find a "porter" - someone to carry him, nor horses or mules to do this job, as these animals are not allowed in the park on these treks. So, Nitzan volunteered to stay with him in the camp. In order to make it as easy as possible for them to pass 7 hours, and since we wanted to still drive that day 2 hours to our next destination, we have decided to leave to the walk really early in the morning, and try to get back by around mid-day.

From here I turn to Omer to tell you the story of that walk.

Hi, it is Omer

In El Chalten, me, my mom and my dad we went to a hike called 'Laguna Torres' (Towers lagoon). It was a hike of 22km and 7 hours walk back and forth and we made all of it.

When mom and dad woke me up at 6:30 at the beginning I didn't want to go because I was sleepy and I wanted to go back to sleep. But then I changed my mind and I said OK I will go. I got out of my sleeping bag, got dressed and went out of the tent and felt that it was very cold and it was rainy a bit. So, I asked my mom if I can take my gloves and raincoat.
We first had a small breakfast. And so by the time we started to walk it was already 7:30. Then, we had to walk to the beginning of the hike inside the town. It took us almost half an hour to get to the beginning of the hike.

We started walking a little bit down and then up. About mid way we got to a view point that from there you could see the glacier above the lagoon, but not the lagoon. The glacier was very big and far away. The trail was very nice, but the weather stayed cold, but though it was cold, I was hot from the hike and I took off my gloves and my raincoat.

About 5 minutes from the top of the trail I said I am tired and let's go back, but mom told me that we are very very close and I should not give up. So I turned on my Turbo and walked the last hill quickly to reach the lagoon.

When we got to the lagoon I was very impressed to see glaciers floating on the lagoon! It was the first time we saw glaciers floating.

We had a snack, and dad and me also played a little bit with a piece of ice. It was very cold again over there, so I put on my gloves again.

After eating, we started walking back, and dad went fast to get back to Nitzan and Shachar, while I walked with mom slower.

When we got back to El
Torres Glacier and Lagoona TorresTorres Glacier and Lagoona TorresTorres Glacier and Lagoona Torres

Unfortunately the weather was not great so we did not see the mountain peaks behind the glacier
Chalten, dad waited for us with the car and my sister and brother in downtown, and we did not have to walk all the way back to the campsite. When Shachar saw me, he run to me to hug me and kiss me.

From there we drove to another town, a little bit bigger called El Calafate - Nitzan is going to tell you all about it.

Bye, 😊

Just to complete the story of the day, I (Lilach) will add that Tal found Nitzan and Shachar perfectly fine when he arrived at the camp around 1pm. He was running all the way down, or should I say most of it, as on the way he stopped to make a "super model book" to a Magallan Red Headed Wood-Pecker he saw on the way. Any way, he managed to make it in half the time listed. Nitzan and Shachar had to spend only 3 hours together, as they only walk-up at 10:30, then they took a shower (like we have asekd them to do), had the breakfast we left for them and then played - he was the horse, and she was the jockry ... -
Magallan Wood PeckerMagallan Wood PeckerMagallan Wood Pecker

This is only a sample of the full book Tal made. And as Omer said it - this is what my dad got to see and I did not - UUFF...
this is THE game for Shachar in the last couple of weeks and we use it a lot also in the walks we make together, as this makes him run easily any hike.

We were all tired and happy, but just ready and on time to make the drive to El Calafate like we have planned to get there before dark...

Hasta Pronto,


Our full gallery of Fitz Roy and El Chalten


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