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South America » Argentina » Santa Cruz » El Chaltén
December 25th 2011
Published: February 3rd 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

That, in case you were wondering, was the sound our jaws kept making as they repeatedly hit the ground as we hiked around the - I suppose that would be jaw-droppingly - beautiful mountain scenery around the tiny village of El Chaltén, a few hours north of El Calafate and barely a few miles from the Chilean border, perched right on the edge of the Campo de Hielo Sur or Southern Patagonian Ice Field.

This mesmerising scenery occupies the northern sector of Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, and is dominated by two exceptionally beautiful mountains, Cerro Fitzroy and Cerro Torre, around which most of the day hikes in the area are located. Until now Argentina has been wowing us with ever wilder and more stunning views.

I will eat my words if we see anything more awe-inspiring than this.

El Chaltén, possibly Argentina's youngest settlement - built in a bit of a rush to strengthen Argentina's claim (yes, again) to an area whose sovereignty is still a bit nebulous - a tiny, windy place, nonetheless made a lovely base for five days of hiking in the national park. The Argentine weather gods certainly smiled upon us, granting us day after day of blue skies and unimpeded views of Fitzroy and Torres, both notoriously shy. A wonderful place, too, to spend Christmas atop a mountain drinking in the sublime views with an empanada and an alfajor. A superb end to three extraordinary, eye-opening months in Argentina. Chile lies just a few miles away, beyond the forbidding ice field - all 4,300 kilometres of it, north to south. And that's where we're heading!

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