El Chalten

Patagonia: The Wonderful Mountains

After seeing Ushuaia and the North side of Patagonia is the last part the South side with the most famous National parks (Torres del Paine and National Park Los Glaciers). I wanted to visit the last three cities respectively; “Torres del Paine”, the most touristic and famous of the three, “El Calafate”, known for the wonderful glacier that I wanted to see and last but not least “El Chalten”, I heard a lot of good stories about this city, it is most popular for the mount Fitzroy that you can hike there.

To start I visited Torres Del Paine, a national park that has a lot of rules, one of them was that the entry cost was 40 euros. After doing some research, I heard that if I arrive after the sunset, I can get a chance not to pay it. I wanted to try that and waited until 8.30pm in a city 25km away from the park and I started my engine after it got dark, I drove slow and thank god no one stopped me and I could easily park my car at the parking place for the start of the hikes. Torres Del Paine is famous for the wonderful hikes that you can do there, but you need to book it really early (years before sometimes) to be able to hike for more days. I arrived late and decided to set up my tent at the top of my car, sleep good and prepare myself for a one-day hike the next day.

With the red color of the sun that painted the three towers of the national park, I woke up and started walking around 10 o’clock. My goal was to go as close as possible to the towers and during the hike, after 2km, I felt that the distance between the towers and me was longer rather than closer. I asked some people around me if I was walking correctly and they said, no man this is the 6-days hike. I immediately, I turned and walked 2km back, back to the parking. After asking some people I could finally start the hike on the correct path. I walked constantly close to a couple from New Zealand and became friends with them. The hike was beautiful with a lot of people, on every corner was someone hiking (really touristic), someone tried to pass me close to the top and fell down, but that was just a moment that I was speaking to my gopro so I filmed it (with a random girl in the background). Reaching the top is always a feeling of pride and relief. The top was so good really wonderful, I went down after taking some pictures. There was no shower at the parking place, so I took a towel with me and sneaked to campsite to take a shower, after that I went to bed and scrolled through the wonderful pictures that I took that day.

The day after was a difficult day, because I had a fuel problem, I could only drive around 60km and the closest tankstation was 70km away totally to the south, not on my route. I really needed and drove to it with the last part as slow as possible to save as much as fuel as I could and with my last drop of fuel, I arrived the station. I was so happy that I hugged the man of the tankstation and left it with a full-tank plus an extra full jerry can. In the town I saw some hitchhikers and decided to take a blond girl with me. She is from Germany and when I told that I walked the hike the day before, she said the same and when I told her about the man that fell she said that she also saw a man who fell. After showing her the video on my gopro she said that it was her in the background. Both confused and with some laughs, we arrived after 300km to the city that is famous for the beautiful glacier that they have, called El Calafate.

After one of my best showers ever around 6am, I started driving to the glacier called ‘Perito Moreno’ that literally translates to ‘the little brown dog’. I have no idea why they call it like that because when you arrive you see that the Gletsjer is wonderfully blue and so unbelievably big that little the last thing that is in your mind is a little brown dog. This national park built big platforms over more than 5 km so you can walk from left to right and after doing that, you get a feeling how big and unbelievable it is and if you don’t get that feeling with the big impressive massa then you will get it from the sound when some ice fell off the gletsjer, really impressive and it keeps being impressive every time you hear it. After some hours I walked back to my car and drove with some Spanish courses online in the car to the next city, one of the best cities in Patagonia, called El Chalten (Mnt. Fitzroy), it was the place where I met the best travelers during my trip, so far.

It was 250km that I had to drive, and I felt because I woke up early that I became tired. I saw a little girl on the side of the road and decided to take her with me and help her. I started talking to her in spanish/english and she didn’t have a phone, I also asked if she took some pictures and she did but the screen of her photodevice was broken so she couldn’t see the result of the photos. She was born in Brazil and her parents are from Japan. When I asked her where she was planning to go, she opened a big map that took the whole space of my car and we both started laughing so loud, it was the only tool she had to locate herself and where she is going next. It was really a funny thing to see. In a moment like that, you realize that every traveler is doing it his/her own way. Some ride on a bike, another hitchhike and I am with my own bought car.

The road to El Chalten was amazing, I think the best part of whole Patagonia and the travelers that I met were absolutely right, El Chalten is an amazing and cozy town. So calm and relaxing with the massive wonderful mount Fitzroy in the back. I took a weekend rest and decided to make my hike on Monday. In the weekend I met three nice girls in the camping, two master chefs who loved sharing their food with me and a young girl from Germany. We spend some time together, played card games and had some fun. They recommended me to leave early in the morning, because being at the top of the mountain with sunrise is beautiful and so I did.

I set up my alarm for Monday 2.50am and wrapped all my stuff and drove to the start of the hike, 1km from my sleeping place. I started the hike of 27km (13.5km one way) at 3.30 in the morning. At the start I met a group of four (two guys and two girls from Israel). I walked with them because they had some light and in the dark, I could not see anything, the track was a difficult one. After three hours and 10km of walking in the dark I saw the sun coming up and the group with me was not the fastest at all, so when they needed a smoking break, I asked if I can continue in my own speed and meet them at the top. They said yes and I accelerated and started my race against the sun. The last part was really steep and heavy, but I arrived the top just in time and after 10 minutes, I saw the sun wonderfully shining on the Fitzroy Mountain. At the top, there were some other hikers who enjoyed the view, I saw a man with a professional camera making pictures of the mountain. I went to him and started to talk, his name is Kosper from China and we spent a lot of time together. He took some pictures of me and I of him and he showed me all his equipment. We walked down the mountain together and we became friends, we decided to have dinner together and share the pictures we took. He invited me to his place in Macau (China) and we said goodbye with a good handshake.

With the Mount Fitzroy hike as my third and last hike in Patagonia, I finished my trip in the most south part of South America. It was a wonderful but long travel, that I first wanted to skip but I am really happy that I added it to my route. During these three weeks in Patagonia, I could really see that everyone travels on their own way and I am really happy that I made it possible for myself to travel on the way that I want.

Now I am back in Puerto Montt and drove the last 3 and a half week more then four tousand kilometer, but it was really amazing to do. My next goal is going to Rio de Janeiro were my parents will join me in the beginning of June and my girlfriend in the end of June. Next to that I decided something for myself to keep my health more under control, I signed myself in for the half marathon (21km) of Buenos Aires in end of August. I need to train a lot for that and eat healthy, I hope I can do it with a good friend from Holland and my goal is to finish under the two hours (PR. 2:15:26 Budapest 2018).