El Chalten - day 1

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March 19th 2015
Published: March 23rd 2015
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Sarah: Another early start Wednesday morning to get our 7ambus to El Chalten, which is the base for a lot of the top walks in the region, in the shadow of Mount Fitz Roy, 3405m high. The sun was coming up as we made our 3hr journey, sending beautiful shadows across the mountains and we spotted some llama and rhea on the way!

El Chalten is a very small little town so we walked to find our hotel. Although only a 10 min walk, it felt a lot further than that with the old Patagonian winds blasting us back to our point of origin! We had been warned that there would be gusts up to 80km/hr. They weren't wrong! Luckily our room was ready when we got there and so we had pretty much a full day ahead of us. We took the advice of the locals and kept to an easy low level path to go and see the waterfall. We were walking along next to the milky glacial river, with some mountains either side, but unfortunately the big peaks were obscured by the cloud. The winds hadn't eased and were now bringing the rain with them to the party. We were well wrapped up, including sunglasses, which looked ridiculous in the rain but were good at protecting from the wind!

Walking in to the wind, we made it to the waterfall where we were well protected from the elements. It was pretty impressive and after the obligatory photo shoot we were ready to do the walk back in to the town and out the other side to another view point. It felt good having the wind behind us on the way back in to town, but alas alack, the rain came back and really soaked through our trousers (the waterproof and wind proof jackets were holding up well). It didn't look like it was showing any signs of shifting so we ducked back in to our hotel to dry off!

After a couple of relaxing hours we headed out to a nearby microbrewery, which again didn't disappoint on quality - the pilsen was delicious and all served with a never ending supply of salty popcorn surrounded by lots of other walkers having their post-walk rewards! After a quick drink we did a lap of the town to try and suss out our options for din dins. In the end we settled on a winery that also did some finger food. There was a wall of red wine for us to choose from to go with our dinner. We chose a bargain bottle and the mixed platter to go with it. The waitress brought our chosen bottle over, spoke in very slow Spanish so we could practice our linguistic skills and then presented us with the most amazing platter. We had cheeses, meats, aubergine, beans, tomatoes and bread, all of which was delicious. We had a window seat and could see one of the smaller mountains as we ate. It doesn't get dark until about 9pm here, but the mornings are dark until about 7:30 ish. FUN FACT: we are on about the same latitude as London, but are surrounded by glaciers and snow and ice! It makes me want to re-learn my geography A-level!

It's now time to go and sample the brekkie and head out to find a pack-up (Nick: that's a packed lunch, to our less-northern readers!) then set off on a bigger longer walk, weather permitting, but the wind isn't howling so much this morning so it looks good!


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