Roughing It In Patagonia.
Not quite the city girl I thought I was!
When I started this trip I would wear makeup everyday. Now most days I don't even brush my hair.
I'm not sure when this happened, but it certainly gives me one or two less things to worry about as I'm trying not to freeze my arse off in the mountains of Patagonia. Not that the campsite where I’m staying even has a mirror should I be so inclined to attempt any personal grooming. I’m thankful that it has running water, albeit, lukewarm.
As I try and shaking off the Christmas holiday blues, and having been being stung with paying extortionate hostel rates in peak season Uruguay, I have decided to invest in a tent and a sleeping bag, and after one very VERY cold night in Puerto Madryn, a ground mat.
Home Sweet Home.
The campsites in South America are pretty basic, at least the ones I have stayed in so far, but they are also dirt cheap, and they always manage to find a space for you.
I know I could be painting a picture that is coming out a little bleak, but not for one second do I regret the decision to buy a tent and to rough it for a little while in Patagonia.
I made a flying visit to the Welsh settlement as I made my way south and spent the day on the peninsula with some fellow hippies that I met en route. Five of us hired a car and spent the day on the peninsula national park attempting to whale watch. Unfortunately we were between the two seasons and so didn't manage to spot a single one. We did however see hundreds of penguins and sea lions (or sea wolves as it translates from the Spanish). It was such a lovely day, even though our hire car almost fell apart as soon as we hit 60km/ph.
Patagonian Penguins on the Peninsula.
I think it is fair to say that I am under prepared for a hiking mini break in deepest darkest Patagonia. No camping stove, or pots or pans. No multi tool (or as we call it in the UK, a Swiss Army Knife). Only a knife and fork that I liberated from my last hostel, and that is pretty much it by way of a survival kit.
Breakfast has consisted of a tin of fruit cocktail mixed with granola, and lunch, apples and/or oranges, and tinned tuna straight from the can, with or without bread. Depending on if there has been a delivery at the local shop. Luckily some Americans who were camped close by took pity on me and gave me some coffee. I could have married them right there and then. Both of them!
The Sleepy Little Town of El Chaltén.
Next stop was El Chaltén, and this really was the main attraction. It's a sleeping little town with not much going on by way of night life or a social scene. There is, of course, the obligatory sing-song around the camp fire of an evening, but the bars close soon after happy hour, and the little mini market has ran out of beer more than once in the short time I stayed. Still I wouldn't have traded this leg of my journey for anything.
It's all about the scenery and the beautiful hikes to the mountains, glaciers and lakes during the day. Fortunately Mother Nature was on my side when I arrived, as although the nights were pretty grim the days were perfect for hiking. Apparently the few days before I arrived made the hikes completely impassable due to the changeable weather.
I hiked to Leguna Torres, Leguna de los Tres, and Fitzroy whilst I was there, 40km in two days, there or there abouts. Although I might like to think of myself as a bit of a city girl, there is something magical about the beauty of this place that made me wonder that perhaps I'm not quite the city lover that I once thought I was.
Beautiful Trail Through the Woods.
The Glaciers at Leguna Torres
Fitzroy and Laguna de Los Tres.
Again, I was wholly unprepared for the hikes. When we stopped for lunch my fellow hikers pulled out their pre-made pastas and dehydrated survival food, whilst I tucked into a tube of Pringles and a few tomatoes I'd managed to salvage from the shop in town. Carbohydrates and vitamins, what else could a hiker need?
This is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in my entire life. And, while the photographs do not even start to do it justice, I would wholeheartedly recommend coming and seeing for yourself. The trails I took were marked on the map as 'medium difficulty' however the last km towards Fitzroy is down is 'hard' and it is an absolute BITCH! 400m practically straight up over 1km.
The difference between medium and hard is astonishing, and while there were times in that one hour climb that I actually thought I was going to die, it is worth the struggle, as you are rewarded with a view that is out of this world.
Feeling on Top of the World!
Descending the slope, I notice a rainbow in the distance! “How beautiful!” I thought, as I tried to capture the colours in the valley. “Oh shit!” I thought, as I realised it was raining below me and I still had 10km to walk back to camp!
The rain held off until I reached the 9km mark, and then chased me all the way back to the town as I indulged in a spot of cross country running towards the campsite. I think it is fair to assume this is how I twisted my knee. I just about managed to make it back to town before the heavens opened. And was able to catch the last bit of happy hour and wifi in the only bar in town that isn't still playing Christmas songs. (Yes John Lennon, the war is over!)
The past week of camping has been pretty grim. I hardly slept as it has been so fucking cold. Every price of clothing that I own has accompanied me in my sleeping bag... both pairs of trousers, two t-shirts, two jumpers and last night I also wore my hiking jacket to bed, but the ice cold still made it through to my bones.
I should probably return to the campsite now and find myself a place by the fire. It must me close to freezing outside, and I really need to wash my hair first thing! I'm dreading it! The shower that is, not my hair.
See you soon Patagonia!