El Chaltén in Santa Cruz Province is a sleepy Patagonian village surrounded by the Andes Mountains. Since I arrived we’ve had wind and rain at night, but beautiful crystal clear days. The daytime temperature is in the high 40s and at night it’s in the low 30s.
Magnificent Mt. Fitz Roy is the dominant peak on the skyline. At almost 12,000 feet it’s something! It was first climbed in 1952 by two French mountain climbers and is considered one of the world’s most difficult mountains to climb.
The European influence here is significant – French, Portuguese, Italian, and of course Spanish. Food in El Chaltén is fantastic – the best so far during this trip! On the other hand, the markets are sparse and offer only basic items – except for the wine choices, which are incredible.
My cabana is within a half block of hiking and it’s convenient not having to find transportation to the trailheads. I’m enjoying day hikes in sunshine and clean, fresh air. Three moderate hikes right outside the door are Mirador del Torre, Laguna Torre, and Mirador Maestri. Patagonian sunsets are among the most dramatic I’ve seen anywhere in the world – a vivid pink impossible to capture with my little camera.
Leaving Wednesday for San Carlos de Bariloche in Río Negro Province. The city is on the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi and surrounded by mountains and forests. The population in Bariloche is about 150,000.
The air fare between El Chaltén and Bariloche is ridiculously high, so I’m braving another long bus ride. Bus fares in Argentina are not cheap compared to Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador. Argentinian buses are more comfy, serve meals, and have reclining or “cama” seats. The bus ride to Bariloche is about 24 hours (I know…) and passes by some magnificent scenery. Buses remain the primary means of long haul transportation in South America and for my type of travel they work. Generally they are about a fourth or less of air fare costs.
There are a few trains in Patagonia but mostly running south. I imagine the trains are even slower than the buses. The fascinating “Train to the End of the World” is a small tourist train that leaves from Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego and tours the National Park. I decided not to travel to Tierra del Fuego because getting there and back is expensive and at this time of the year it’s too cold for the clothes I packed.
If I like Bariloche am considering renting a small apartment and staying for a few weeks. Moving constantly is tiring but at this point I’ve almost grown accustomed to it. Bariloche is the first place I’ve found small short-term rentals available. It would be nice to be in a city and have a kitchen for a few days. Also, attending a live theater, music, or dance performance would be fabulous!