Patagonia has always been on our bucket list. Over a dinner 12 months ago, six of us decided that February 2020 was the time to go. We’ve just returned from and wonderful (and very well timed) month in Chile and Argentina.
Santiago, was steamy and hot. Fortunately, February was rather settled politically as most Chileans were on their annual holidays. There certainly was evidence of the recent riots, with banks and many other buildings hoarded or closed and graffiti everywhere.
Bellavista was a fun area to chill out and eat.
Our high rise apartment in Providencia had great views of the local mountains, when the air was clear enough
Valparaiso, on the coast is a colourful place, with brightly painted houses adorning the hills overlooking the harbour.
The excellent Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago was a sobering reminder of Chile’s terrible history during the Pinochet regime.
Our 3 week Adventure Life tour started with a walking tour of the historical centre of Santiago.
LaStarria, close to the city centre is covered in graffiti showing the recent unrest. Very disturbing were the posters of the many young protesters who died.
As our tour guide said, if you want to find out what is going on in Chile, read the walls, not the newspapers.
Casablanca is a wine area about 1.5 hours from Santiago. We had a short bike ride and plenty of time for an interesting tour and wine tasting.
Our Hotel Meridiano Sur had a very pleasant garden for drinks
Dinner at Liguria in nearby Providencia
After an extremely early morning flight, we arrived in the Atacama Desert, 1000miles north of Santiago.
Afternoon walk through the Valle de la Luna
Followed by sunset overlooking the Valley of Death while enjoying local wine and cheese
There are plenty of interesting day excursions from San Pedro.
The main Salar de Atacama (salt flats) were closed but the Altiplanic lagoons were very spectacular
San Pedro town was fun for dinner although we were definitely on the older side – it’s a very popular place for backpackers.
The El Ratio Geysers were spectacular at sunrise.
Our next excursion was to Rainbow Valley & visiting one of the many archeological sites
Our last night in the desert – a great meal at the hotel and more Pisco Sours
From the desert to the lakes. We flew from Atacama to Puerto Montt and then on to Puerto Varas in Chile’s Lakes District
Rafting was a lot more fun than we’d expected. We then flew to Punta Arenas for an overnight stop before our long day of driving to Ecocamp Patagonia.
Ecocamp Patagonia, within the Torres del Paine National Park was a perfect base from which to trek the famous peaks of Chilean Patagonia.
We stayed in the very cosy standard domes, nestled within the vegetation around the ecocamp complex.
The nearby community domes housed the bar and restaurant. There was even a yoga dome, not that we had time to visit.
The domes has wonderful views of the Towers – our first day’s hike
As it is the best known and most accessible, this 8 hour trek to the base of the Towers is extremely popular. February as most Chileans are on holidays is especially busy.
Our guides, Martina and Roberto were are perfect couple to guide us – Martina being Swiss, was very organised and on time. Roberto, a flamboyant Chilean sociologist always had a story to tell.
Unfortunately we couldn’t see all of the towers from the lunch spot.
Camp was a very welcome sight after our 24km trek.
Our second day was a much less demanding walk , but with equally spectacular views
We trekked to Grey Glacier in true Patagonian weather – howling wind, rain, sleet and then some sunshine.
Our last day at Ecocamp was spent on a property searching for wild horses.
which we eventually found.
It was a delightful day spent in a beautiful unspoiled valley. Our guide,Victor, is a vet who is passionate about the wild horses and the environment. We were privileged to have his insights into life in this special part of the world.
While in Patagonia we had seen plenty of vicuna (small llamas)
and llamas,but what we all wanted to see was a puma. There was great excitement in the van as we spotted one on our way back to Ecocamp.
After our last night in the lovely Ecocamp,
we left for our day long transfer across the Chilean border to El Calafate and the glaciers of Argentina.
Our afternoon in El Calafate was spent searching for money. We had not realised how dire the financial situation is in Argentina. ATMs would only give us the equivalent of $200 USD, and each withdrawal cost $30. We needed USD cash, which could be readily exchanged. Fortunately most places did take credit cards.
The spectacular Perito Moreno Glacier is about 1.5 hours drive from El Calafate.
Another few hours transfer took us to El Chalten, the hiking capital of Patagonian Argentina.
Our very comfortable hotel – Hosteria SenderosWe were so fortunate with the weather, apparently our few days were the best so far this season.
We chose to do the most difficult hike – Mt FitzRoy on our first day.
The hike was beautiful and not so demanding apart from the 1 hour of 1000m vertical in the middle the day. The views from lunch spot at the top were well worth the climb.If we thought our hike was tough, it was nothing like trekking on the glacier…
The end of a tough but wonderful day!
The hike to Laguna Torre was another full day of beautiful views.
We guessed this guy was a Swede – and were correct!
The hike was not demanding enough for Dave who needed to have a run following lunch
After seven days of pretty demanding trekking, both the boots and legs were feeling a little worse for wear. The old hiking boots only just made it to the end of the trip. Thank goodness for duct tape.
From El Chalten, back to El Calafate then on to civilisation in Buenos Aires.
Our AirBnB was in the fabulous, rather chic area of Palermo Soho,
amidst the trendy bars and restaurants.
Unfortunately David and Jenny headed home to Aus.
The four of us had a relaxing week enjoying this very vibrant city.
– shopping at the San Telmo markets
waiting for the shopping to end..
watching tango on the streets
wandering around the city
enjoying too many cocktails, and eating the best Argentinian steak.
Back in Santiago for our last night before flying home we negotiated the subway
to return to our favourite Pisco bar in LaStarria
Then back to Sydney, totally unaware that within a few weeks the borders to Australia, Argentina and Chile would be completely closed. We were so fortunate to have experienced this time in Patagonia and to be now home safely with our families. We feel for the many wonderful locals we met during our travels.