After being in the most southern city of the world and hiking four days in Torres del Paine National Park, we head north crossing the border between Argentina and Chile many many times visiting some awesome places in both countries.
I have so many stamps from both Argentina and Chile in my passport now.
El Calafate - Los Glaciares NP - Perito Moreno Glacier - Argentina
The main reason why people visit the town called El Calafate is the Perito Moreno Glacier. The glacier is part of Los Glaciares National Park. There are several ways to view this glacier and the way we did it was by walking on it!
Despite that most of the innumerable glaciers worldwide are retreating as a result of global warming and climate change, one of the few unusual glaciers that maintains a state of equilibrium is the Perito Moreno glacier because it continues to accumulate mass at a rate similar to that of its loss. The reason remains debated by glaciologists.
The ice mass moves 1 to 2 meters further per day. This can be observed by the cracking of the ice chunks that are sliding over one another, on the other hand large ice chunks break off the glacier at regular intervals, which then fall into Lake Argentino with a lot of noise.
The glacier is 170 meters thick and covers 250 square kilometers.
Armed with clamp-ons for grip on the ice we make an awesome glacier expedition by walking on the ice exploring the different features of the glacier. The key is to take small steps so you don’t trip or slip. We check out some cool gaps, pools and even fill our waterbottles with pure glacier water. At the end of the tour a nice glass of whiskey on the (glacier ice) rocks, awaits us.
Why is glacier ice blue? Because the red (long wavelengths) part of white light is absorbed by ice and the blue (short wavelengths) light is transmitted and scattered. The longer the path light travels in ice, the more blue it appears.
The Perito Moreno Glacier was named after the explorer Francisco Moreno, a pioneer who studied the region in the 19th century and played a major role in defending the territory of Argentina in the conflict surrounding the international border dispute with Chile.
El Chaltén - Mount Fitz Roy - Argentina
From El Calafate we travel to El Chaltén. This town is famous as a starting point to hike to Mount Fitz Roy, also called Cerro Chaltén. We choose to hike to Laguna de Los Tres. The laguna is located at the base of Mount Fitz Roy.
The scenery is pretty dramatic with the colors of autumn in combination with the clouds and the mountains.
El Chalten means smoking mountain. referring to the clouds that normally form around the peaks in the region.
The hike is absolutely stunning. The combination of snow and the colors of autumn is a photographers dream. The only thing that’s missing is the actual view of Mount Fitz Roy... clouds cover this usually impressive and prominent mountain the entire day. Even when we get to the top it’s as if there is no Mount Fitz Roy, but hey; that’s also the beauty of nature; no day is the same. The hike gets harder the more we get to the top. The last kilometer even has an 40% incline on rocky terrain. The entire trail is covered in snow which makes the hike a lot harder.
In 1877, the expedition led by Perito Moreno baptized it Fitz Roy, in memory of the sailor that explored the channels in Tierra del Fuego and the Santa Cruz river during the Charles Darwin expedition.
And of course we stop to take some drone shots.
Good thing we brought some layers because as we almost reach the top the temperature drops quite a bit.
We enjoy our lunch at the top but we don’t stay too long because the strong wind makes it pretty cold. The way down is even harder than the way up. I almost slip a couple of times and one time I even slide down on my ass a couple meters. Luckily nobody gets injured and we all arrive back in town safe.
The majestic mountain complex has three peaks: Cerro Fitzroy (3,405m), Cerro Torre (3,128m), and Poincenot (2,558m). Hence the name of the lagoon at its foot.
After a good night sleep we leave early. It’s a beautiful clear day and while we drive away from El Chaltén we stop at a viewpoint for a perfect clear view of Mount Fitz Roy. Pretty soon we cross the border back into Chile.
The view of the mountains on a clear day is amazing.
If we had one more day in El Chaltén I would definitely hike to the Laguna again!
The Carretera Austral & Futaleufu - Chile
The reason why we crossed the border back into Chile is a little town called Futaleufu, which is famous for its white water rafting. We take the Carretera Austral highway which is absolutely stunning. We stop a couple of times to enjoy the view, have lunch and take some cool photos.
Finding a lunch spot with an awesome view isn’t very hard on a highway like this.
The Carretera Austral is the name given to Chile's Route 7. The highway runs south for about 1,240 kilometers through stunning sceneries.
Rowing for our lives!
Bariloche - Argentina
After rafting the river in Futaleufu and drinking some mulled wine we cross the border back into Argentina the next day. Only 350 kilometers away from Futaleufu we visit a city called Bariloche. Because it’s Easter some of the group organize an Easter egg hunt around our hostel which is hilarious. One egg even gets mysteriously lost. We still don’t exactly know what happened to this egg.
What happens when we drink mulled wine :P
Bariloche has a beautiful and calm lake which is perfect for some kayaking and paddle boarding. Most of us also go horse riding. We ride through a beautiful western-like scenery. This is my second time on a horse and I seem to really enjoy it. We even galop a couple of times. When we return to the hostel we get ready to leave Argentina and cross the border back to Chile, again!
The beautiful calm lake.
I'm getting the hang of this horse riding!
I had to change horses after lunch because my horse kept kicking the other horses.
Well, it only took about 10 minutes to get the horses lined up like this for the picture :P
Pucon - Chile
Our next destination is Pucon. I’m excited for this because this is where we can climb the Villarrica Volcano. As soon as we arrive we go to a travel agency to see if we can climb the volcano the next day. Unfortunately the weather is too bad to climb the volcano so the next day we drive to our last stop in Chile; the capital Santiago.
Santiago - Chile
Santiago is our last stop in Chile before cross the border back to Argentina. No more Chile stamps in our passports after this. A big part of our group will leave the tour in Santiago so after some sightseeing we go for a nice meal all together and enjoy Santiago’s nightlife.
Mendoza & Cafayate - Argentina
After a lot of (very nice) wine tasting in Mendoza we drive to Cafayate for some more wine.
We visit several wineries. Every winery has it’s own techniques and little tricks to get their own unique flavor.
Some dusty wine bottles that have been “resting” in this cellar for a while now, almost ready to sell.
The vineyards are located in a beautiful scenery.
Salta - Argentina
The drive from Cafayate to our next destination, Salta, is amazing. We stop many times to enjoy the views and do small walks through some awesome sceneries.
The drive from Cafayate to Salta isn’t that long, but we stop many times because the scenery is stunning.
I love to explore with the drone and find patterns like this in the landscape.
Short video of the mountains of Cafayate.
Just one of the many stops on this driving day.
I would like to return to this area one day and just wander around for hours armed with my camera and drone.
I couldn’t resist taking a selfie with this guy when we found him chilling next to the road.
We stop at El Anfiteatro; a natural ampitheatre, known for its incredible acoustics.
Once we arrive in Salta, some of us decide to hire an AWD car and go for a road trip to the 7 colored mountain in Purmamarca; Cerro de los Siete Colores, and the amazing 14 colored mountain in Humahuaca; Serrania de Hornocal.
Serrania de Hornocal or just Hornocal is one of the most surreal things I’ve ever seen. It’s hard to capture the color diversity. And if you think the colors are the result of good photo-editing, you’re really wrong. The colors are the result of fascinating geological processes but is actually a simple outcropping of rocks from different time periods.
The drive from Salta to Serrania de Hornocal is amazing. We pass this beautiful color palette mountain called; Paletas Del Pintor.
We decided to go to the 14 colored mountain first so when we get to this 7 colored one the sun isn’t on it anymore, which makes it less colorful but still pretty impressive.
It’s hard to capture the bright blue that is one of the 7 color of the mountain.
After being in Argentina and Chile for almost 7 weeks we leave both countries behind and travel to our next destination; Bolivia!