El Chaltén & the Fitz Roy Mountains, Patagonia, Argentina – Part One

“I’ve been to Hollywood
I’ve been to Redwood
I crossed the ocean
for a heart of gold
I’ve been in my mind,
it’s such a fine line
That keeps me searching
for a heart of gold” Neil Young – ‘Heart of Gold’

Now I find myself across the border, in Argentina.. With a heavy bag, and a heavy heart, but not with a heavy wallet – the spending has really picked up its pace since exiting Bolivia. The Argentine peso has slipped almost 100% against Sterling over the last 6 months. Nobody seems to have told the hotels and restaurants I’ve been patronising though.

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Woods near the Perito Moreno Glacier, Los Glaciares National Park, Patagonia, Argentina

Landscape near El Chaltén, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina

Landscape near El Chaltén, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina

With my thick, predominantly cotton clothing, aviators and alpaca wool hat, I didn’t fit in here. Everyone else was clad in non-sweat, hi tech, gore tex clothing, and carrying walking poles too. But where would I fit in looking like this? The 70’d probably. El Chaltén didn’t exist then, it is younger than I am, founded 28 years ago, and has expanded into the number one destination in Argentina for hikers.

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Evening light on the Fitz Roy Mountain Range, El Chaltén, Los Glaciares National Park, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina

Landscape near El Chaltén, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina

Landscape near El Chaltén, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina

Moonrise near El Chaltén, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina

Moonrise near El Chaltén, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina

Dusk at Estancia la Quinta Ranch, El Chaltén, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina

My first dusk at Estancia la Quinta Ranch, El Chaltén, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina

My first impressions of Argentinian Patagonia are very good, the skies are a deep azure and the wind hasn’t followed me over from the Torres del Paine. I’ve been staying at a ranch a few kilometres outside the town of El Chaltén. I didn’t realise it was so far out when I booked online, upon arrival I lugged by bags across town to where Google Maps promised the ranch was, only to discover the mistake – the ranch was miles in the opposite direction! The setting made up for the out of town location though, it was so picturesque, with the rolling hills and verdant fields, the animals, I was there for 5 nights in the end, before tearing myself away from the ranch (Estancia la Quinta). Thats what places like El Chaltén do, you just come for a couple of nights and end up staying for weeks. I met lots of travellers who had to come to work in the towns restaurants for the season.

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Sunrise over the Fitz Roy Mountain Range, El Chaltén, Los Glaciares National Park, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina

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Male hiker (me!) enjoying the view of the Fitz Roy Mountain Range, El Chaltén, Los Glaciares National Park, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina

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Evening light on the Fitz Roy Mountain Range, El Chaltén, Los Glaciares National Park, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina

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Sunset behind the Fitz Roy Mountain Range, El Chaltén, Los Glaciares National Park, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina

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Dawn sky on the road from El Chaltén, Los Glaciares National Park, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina

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Landscape near El Chaltén, Los Glaciares National Park, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina

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Evening light on the Fitz Roy Mountain Range, El Chaltén, Los Glaciares National Park, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina

Moonrise near El Chaltén, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina

Moonrise near El Chaltén, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina

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Sunrise over the Fitz Roy Mountain Range, El Chaltén, Los Glaciares National Park, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina

“Walking is a virtue, tourism is a deadly sin.”
Bruce Chatwin – ‘What am I doing here’

One thought on “El Chaltén & the Fitz Roy Mountains, Patagonia, Argentina – Part One

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