When I started researching our trip to Chile and Argentina it became apparent that Patagonia was a must see. Although I will admit the planning for it was some of the hardest research I had done, and everything seemed so expensive!
After further research I determined there were two things I really wanted to see. The first of them being Torres Del Paine. We flew from Santiago to Puerto Natales, took a bus we booked online called Bus Sur to Punta Arenas and stayed at El Patagonico hostel, which was a 10 minute walk from the bus station. Andres, the owner, was very helpful in arranging our bus the next morning as well as giving us advise on how to get over to the Argentina side of Patagonia as that was very confusing during my research. We took a bus early the next morning to Torres Del Paine National park. The first view of the mountain was breathtaking.
It was hard finding a place to stay, as hotels were around $300 a night! Thankfully we ended up finding tents right in the heart of the national park for $80 a night called Fantastic Sur-Central Campsite. They were even elevated and came with a foam pad and warm sleeping bag. Because we knew food was expensive we brought our own snacks including beef jerky, granola bars, nuts and fruit – and of course don’t forget to bring water! A camel pack would have been ideal. Also note – gas/carbonated water is extremely common here so make sure to double check the bottle if you don’t want gas water make sure it says “sin gas”. We are not fans of carbonated water and made that mistake a couple times since they put them all together.
I obviously did not do enough research when it came to the hike, because it was MUCH longer and harder than I expected. Keep in mind we are NOT hikers – were more walkers and bikers – on flat land and only if there is a reward in the end like ice cream. Nevertheless over the river and through the woods to the top of the mountain we went!
It was extremely windy! At one point my hat flew off, but Rob was so brave and saved it off of the cliff! My hero 🙂 The weather differentiated a lot along the trip as it was windy on the cliffs, and cooled off in the woods, than was hot on the rocks – so make sure to wear layers! It was around 60s which was perfect for hiking, but we were very happy we had our coats for when we got to the top of the mountain as the temperature had dropped and it was so windy.
I guess you could say the view of this 8 hour round trek was worth it, but never do I ever want to go on a hike this long again. And to think people choose to do this for 10 days?! No thanks I’ll stick with eating, drinking and sitting by the beach. But, respect to those who partake and actually enjoy this challenge. We rewarded ourselves with a $20 pizza once we finished the hike.
The next day was a full day of travel. We had to check out of our tent at 8 a.m. and the bus, called Always Glacier, didn’t even arrive until 4:30. The campsite offered free hot water so we enjoyed some “healthy” ramen noodle soup for breakfast. We were pretty hiked out so instead we chose to relax. Thankfully it was a nice day so we laid around outside all day reading and watching tv shows on our phone until the bus finally came. We drove to the border in which we had to get our passport stamped inside a store (random I know), and changed to another bus and finally arrived in El Calafate. We hadn’t booked a place yet, but thankfully we met another couple on the bus and just went with them to their hotel and thankfully they had a room for us! The hotel was called Kalenshen Hotel Cerro Calafate, and bonus – it was only $50 with a poll and breakfast included! That night we enjoyed a bottle of Malbec with our new friends (Argentina is known for it’s wine). I usually don’t like red one but this one was pretty good!
The next day we went to explore the city, only a 10 minute walk from our hotel – and boy was it cute! It looked like a picturesque ski town. We enjoyed going to shops, getting ice cream and lunch. We decided to wait until the afternoon to see the glacier as we were told it was less crowded and more likely to see the glaciers crack from the sun beaming down on it.
The main attraction to see on the Argentinian side of Patagonia is the Perito Mereno Glacier, and we were on a mission to see it for as cheap as possible along with our 2 new friends. We found it was less expensive with 4 of us to get a taxi vs. take a bus. So after asking at our hotel, checking for Uber/Lyft(which they don’t have unfortunately), asking a taxi station for rates we found it was better just to hail a cab as all the hailed cabs had a printed piece of paper with the same rates. The best part about the glacier was only about a hour away AND we didn’t have to hike! Instead it was just a bunch of easy walkways.
We were mesmerized upon arrival. This glacier was huge, and we were so close to it! We kept hearing the crack of the glaciers as pieces of the ice would break off and fall into the water and create a loud cracking noise. We kept missing the ice break off but could heard it and kept running closer to the action like little kids. This is one of our favorite pictures from the trip as we were taking some cute couple pictures, until we heard the crack and our friend was nice enough to keep taking pictures of us – until he realized what was going on 🙂
That night we went out with our friends to a brewery in town call La Zorra. I kept it healthy with a delicious salad, and since I don’t drink beer I stuck with water. But everyone else seemed to enjoy the beer that was served there – they actually have IPA’s! It almost felt like home.
The next day we flew to Punta Del Este, Uruguay. Stay tuned to hear about the Hamptons of South America.