chal 5
chal 5

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.

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chal 7

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.

penguine 1
penguin1
peng 2

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!

sleepy
sleepy

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.

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chal 3

Beautiful Trail Through the Woods.

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chal 5

The Glaciers at Leguna Torres

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chla 10

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.

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chal 13
chal 11

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!

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chal 12

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.

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chal 6

See you soon Patagonia!

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43 Comments on “

  1. This looks awesome! However, I am not one for sluming it. I love hiking, but at the end of the day I want a bed haha. I would like to visit Patagonia at some point in my life.

    1. Haha a bed would have been preferable at the end of a long day. I was luck to have my tent though as all the hostels in town were full when i arrive!

    1. I picked up the tent and sleeping bag in Buenos Aries – the guys told me that it was suitable down to freezing… I think he might have just wanted a quick sale with a naive gringa! haha Thanks for reading Sibeal!

  2. I’ve gone back and forth with my “slumming it” and “luxury travel.” There are times where I want to rough it, camp for weeks, forget about make up and just enjoy the outdoors. But there are also times where I want to be pampered, have a nice hotel bed, and a bottle (or two) of champagne. HOWEVER, ever since my friend went to Patagonia during a semester abroad I’ve wanted to trek/camp there. 🙂

    1. If you are thinking about it – you should definitely do it. There are bars close by where you can get wine (maybe not a market for champagne), and if you are more organized than I was, you can probably book a hostel bed in advance! Thanks for reading!

    1. It is absolutely gorgeous, and worth the long cold nights. I think next time though, I’d make sure I booked somewhere warm in advance. Thanks for reading.

  3. Hi there,
    Oh, your description of your unpreparedness regarding food and the hike just made me smile so much! Would properly be me if I hadn’t read your post! Enjoy Patagonia! I will be following in your foot steps and until then following along here 😉

  4. You had me at penguins haha. We love embracing mother nature but I don’t think I can handle this hike. I need a bed at the end of a long day! Although I wouldn’t mind eating chips and fruits all day, I’d probably cry if I can’t have a hot shower, especially if it’s freezing out! Mad props for you for roughing it like a champ!

    1. Haha Thanks Cliodhna! It really was worth all the discomforts to visit such a beautiful place… will make sure I’m a little more prepared next time.

  5. Ah, hiking and camping in Patagonia! The scenery, from the mountains to glaciers, is perfect. Like you, we would take hiking in Patagonia’s trails anytime than stroll around the mall in a big city.The penguins are really cute, by the way. Hehehe!

  6. I don’t think you painted a bleak picture of camping at all….on the contrary, it sounds absolutely wonderful! Ok well maybe some extra layers would be nice but otherwise, your experience looks amazing!

    1. Thanks Maggie! Glad you think it sounded wonderful, it really really was amazing! (the cold notwithstanding)

  7. I’ve never been on you blog before, this was the first article I read and I love the way you wrote it. You have a very enjoyable, unassuming style and some of those photos are incredible. I’m really happy you’ve been finding your feet outdoors. I’m totally hooked! p.s. Forgive me, but you have a small typo “Every price of clothing”. I like it when people let me know, but sorry if you don’t!

    1. Thanks Katie for you lovely comment. It’s safe to say I am hooked on the outdoor life, especially the long hikes through the mountains! I’m doing the Inca Trail next week! (I’ll be better prepared this time for sure!)… And thank you for pointing out the typo! It’s a huge help!

  8. What an amazing experience. I can’t wait to get to Patagonia and experience it for myself. o far I have loved every documentary on the place and no one I know who has been there has anything but the greatest praise for it. The closest I have come has only been exploring the Andes Mountains from a base in Santiago, Chile. This post comprising wonderful descriptions and photos just adds to my desire to go there.

    1. Thanks Nicole, there’s a documentary/film called 180 degrees South – you should check it out if you haven’t already. It was the deciding factor for me visiting Patagonia.

  9. Some times you just have to go for it. It’s amazing how a little adversity can help form the most amazing memories. Some of the best dreams I have ever had have been in the frosty early morning semi-sleep of camping. They are so lucid and real and the thought seeding of natural experience lead to the most amazing stories. One time, I was camping in the Chiquibul cave system in Belize. I was afraid of taking too much gear in with me so I dropped the rain fly. Or so I thought. I actually left the tent behind and there were assassin bugs living in the cave, so I needed some protection. I McGyvered a tent together out of the footprint, rain fly, extra mosquito netting and a roll of duct tape. It was cold. So cold. but I can remember the song of the birds in the cave entrance at dawn that I would have never heard if I was in a warm and comfortable bed.

    1. Wow Ed – That’s amazing! Sounds like a brilliant experience. You’re far more Bear Grills than I will ever be! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Although you were not well-prepared for the hike and had a hard time during the trek because of the weather but I guess you don’t regret for have done the trek, right? 😀 The views along the trails look so beautiful with and without the snow. Now I am feeling want to go for trekking and camping. Haha..

    1. It’s really amazing! I really want to do more treks when I get to the UK. There are loads of gorgeous places in the Yorkshire Dale, the Peak District, Wales and the Highlands… you’ll definitely be seeing more from me.

  11. What a fun experience!! I unfortunately can’t see the photos bc they aren’t displaying properly on iPhone but I think I get the gist 🙂 I love hiking as long as I have a bed for the night, I don’t do well with the tent thing. Love that you stopped caring around makeup or brushing your hair though, I get the same way when traveling. Funny how it makes you realize what does/doesn’t matter

    1. Oh no! I’ve had a look and installed a plug in that should have helped (but maybe only landsacpe!) Let me know if this looks better now. Thanks for the heads up.

  12. Kudos to you for braving it! I love to hike and seeing gorgeous views like the ones you’ve showcased here. But like what Leah said above, I prefer day hikes because I like a comfy bed too. Maybe glamping is more my cup of tea, haha.

    1. Glamping would be the dream.. although not in my budget this time unfortunately. One day though…

  13. Penguins and glaciers – what a great combination! I wouldn’t have called myself much of a camper but I can make exceptions if it means waking up to those views. I’m not a fan of the cold though so I’d have to have a really thick sleeping bag!

    1. I have since invested in a REALLY think sleeping bag and it has changed my life. thanks for your comments

  14. How cute are those little penguins!!!!! love love love! I haven’t heard much of Patagonia but it looks so peaceful and perfect! Hope your journey gets a bit more comfortable! 🙂

  15. What an awesome experience! Hiking (but also just traveling in general) has taught me to minimize my makeup routine too. I’m traveling through Southeast Asia for a month right now and only brought one stick of mascara with me for makeup, but I haven’t even used that once yet, and it’s been two weeks! Life is so much easier when you don’t have to spend an hour in front of the mirror every morning. I’d love to visit Patagonia one day and also take the cruise down to Antarctica!

    1. I would have L-O-V-E-D to have visited Antarctica… it so far and so expensive though. It’s still there on the long list!

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