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Published: October 27th 2019
Our invigorating trip continues in Santa Cruz region, where we were about to be blown away by the incredible forces of nature. We based ourselves for 2 nights in El Calafate for a day trip to the world famous glacier Perito Moreno, and it was a destination not to be missed. As we took the coach towards the glacier, we caught a glimpse of what to expect, but it was really when we approach Perito Moreno while on the cruise could we fathom how massively huge it was. Standing right in front of it makes one feel just incredibly tiny, and to think that was just the tip of the iceberg (pun not intended!). We got through a safety briefing and a guide on the history of the glacier's formation before putting on the crampons and starting trekking on the ice itself. It was a very unique experience walking on frozen water, and encountering ice formations in all shapes and sizes. No two crevices, potholes and tunnels in front of us were the same. There were some melted galcier water which we drank from, and it was the freshest purest water we ever drank! After we completed the ice trekking, we
stood on the walking platforms to observe the glacier front face-on, a varied viewpoint. We heard thunderous cracking sounds every 10 minutes or so and were lucky enough to see a part of the ice berg collapsing right in front of us! I've learnt since young that "nothing is more yielding than water", and this is really a personification of that phrase, in every form.
When we went back to El Calafate, we had a funny experience in a superb restaurant, "La Zaina
" with personalised service. The waitress was asking for our names so she could serve us better, and I replied "Call me, Yong". The next thing i know, i had a new Korean name "Conmeyong". Steph couldn't stop laughing and addressed me as "Oppa Conmeyong" for the rest of the trip. Talking about Pronunciation and how Singaporean's English (or rather my English) is not very easily understood. Anyways, at the very least, service was really top-notch and the lamb stew was super tasty. That's more important! Back on our hostel, we also had interesting conversations with other travellers, and the common notion that came out was that it’s so true people from all nationalities have common alignment about
nature's beauty while travelling but back home at work in the corporate world, they will just screw each other over. The mesmerizing effect of travelling and seeing the different (and common) perspective of people!
The highlight of our Honeymoon came next, which is also the leg i was looking forward to the most when i planned the trip. We took a coach from El Calafate to El Chalten and the road in to El Chalten town was perhaps the most memorable road I've taken in my entire life. Even without being in the driving seat, having the panoramic view of the entire mountain range in front of you with just a straight road leading towards it, gave me the feels. I could have let my eyes wandered into the wilderness for hours. Along the way, we also managed to catch glimpses of Guanacos, the native Andean mammals, doing their daily stuff. A couple of hours' journey ended in a blink, and my heart was already pumped up by then, eagerly anticipating the adventure ahead. I remembered clearly seeing the iconic El Chalten monument at the entrance to the town, with the exact same backdrop in real life as that
crafted in the monument, and i proudly exclaimed to Steph: "Wah, we are in Heaven!" We were blessed with superbly great weather which allowed us to see the Peaks of Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre clearly from El Chalten town itself.
The town is pretty compact, with restaurants, guesthouses and some shops dotting the couple of roads running in a square grid. We walked towards our guesthouse and checked in with minimal fuss, before searching for lunch and a equipment rental shop for our intended camping for the next 2 days. Even after doing much research, only when physically here did we realise that there's actually only 2 rental shops renting out a range of equipment from mess tins to tents and mats. We are lucky enough to get our hands on a twin tent (the last available one), bunsen burner and mess tins. We also got some supplies, such as fruits (apples ftw!) and instant noodles (maggie mee ftw too!) before setting off on our trek shortly before 4pm.
It was a slight race against the sun, as it was estimated to take around 3.5 hours to reach Camp Poincenot, the base for our 1st night, and
we were hoping to reach before it gets dark. Not only were we racing against the sun, we were up against our own inertia of stopping at every turn because the trek was just too picturesque. The route for the first part was quite steep before reaching a more gradual ascent. In almost an hour, the mountains would be in plain sight, and the struggle is real to keep our eyes both on the view and where we were walking on! Along the trek up, we even bumped into the french couple whom we did horseback riding with back in Bariloche. What coincidence. We rationed our photo-taking stops while being cognisant of the time we had left, and Steph was in full mode for trekking, going full speed, perhaps weary of not wanting to trek in the dark. With the late afternoon sun setting behind the mountains, it created a glowing effect on the mountains, as-if smoke is emitting from them. The mountains' on fire! The terrain varied as well, as we passed by different vegetation and water bodies. We crossed paths with multiple streams full of clear turquoise water and we reached Poincenot campsite with still some day light
to spare. Kudos to the wife for impressing me with the speed and endurance for this leg; perhaps its the crisp air and insane scenery that motivated her... We had the most simple yet delicious dinner with mess tin cooked maggie mee and hard boiled eggs, and refuelled for the next long day in our comfy tent, wrapped up in the comfort of our sleeping bags.
The next day's summit ascent began at 4am as we were determined to reach the top (Laguna De Los Tres) before first light. After prepping our day bags and topping up ample water, off we go... towards the wrong track! We were amongst the first to set off from the base camp and unknowingly went on the wrong path for a good 10 mins, before realising something's amiss. We were further away from the line of headlights seemingly heading towards a different direction. Thankfully we backtracked and managed to meet other trekkers back on the "orthodox" path. The climb to the summit was not easy, given the steepness, but surely and slowly, with the help of ample gummy sweets and water breaks, we finally reach the top before the sun came out! We
couldn't hide our excitement as the majestic towers stood right in front of us. We also couldn't hide the cold.. especially when the wind blows in our direction. As first light approached, the warm and fuzzy amber-ish glow from mighty sun casted across the ambient surroundings. The granite towers, that is Fitz Roy, came into light from warm red to bright yellow, and the less than a minute transition felt like eternity as we watched in awe. Seeing in pictures a glowing Fitz Roy can never be compared to this first-hand experience of sight, sound and feel. Steph puts it aptly that being up there was the happiest moment of the trip and i can't agree more. The harder you work for something, the sweeter the reward.
We spent a decent amount of time admiring the views while enjoying pre-breakfast with biscuits and an apple, before making our descent back to base camp. You know, sometimes in life, we try to push boundaries, go beyond the plan and try to stretch ourselves without fully accessing the risks and rewards? The trek after leaving Poincenot felt totally like that. As we approached the fork in the route somewhere 1/3 from
the campsite, the original plan was to head back the same route we came up from. However, seeing that we still had ample time and good amount of pace in our strides, i foolishly suggested to take the longer route that goes round towards Laguna Torre and then back to El Chalten (it's akin to walking on the other 2 sides of the triangle instead of a straight path). Don't get me wrong, the scenery along the way was gorgeous nonetheless and varied. We even chanced upon a couple of woodpeckers doing their daily routine! The main issue was that we ran out of rations halfway and having to deal with a hungry and tired wife who just wants to have a good rest back in civilisation isn't easy for any guy! As expected, the 2nd half back was slightly more torturous and less enjoyable, especially for Steph. Huffed and puffed we did, as we counted the kilometers left from reaching El Chalten. The best and most relieving feeling came when finally saw El Chalten in the end. I literally ran towards it!.. only to see the wife lumbering behind with a face that's pitch black, and a stomach hungry
enough to eat up one whole hippopotamus.
"The roughest and toughest is over. GOOD JOB!!" were my famous last words, before i had to endure moments of deafening silence for remaining for the day... Oops! We had a sumptuous lunch before conking out for the rest of the day and night. Yes, that was how shag... and fulfilled, we were 😊 A rough honeymoon, no less!
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