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The Calafate berrys works! For those who don’t know what this means: If you eat one of the berrys it means you come again to El Calfate. So I did, exactly 2 yeary after I was there. Well, the reason was not the berry to be honest. The reason was that I wanted to see and hike in the National Park „Torres del Paine“ which is one of the highlights in Patagonia. This park was closed 2 years ago due to the massive fire at the time I was there.

To not get „bored“ I chose a trip that was a great addition to the last tour I did. Instead of staying in Hotels in town I wanted to do some camping without bringing sleeping bag and a tent. Due to the Antarctica trip I had no space for that! Camino Abierto offers group tours where they provide all the equipment – in both Trekking areas (Fitz Roy / Torres del Paine) – and the route and itineray was just a perfect fit for me.

But lets start at the beginning. This trip is the follow up to the Antarctica cruise. From Ushuaia I flew to El Calfate (I got lucky the flight went, because there was a strike going on) and from the plane I could already see Torres del Paine in Chile. But before heading there the tour went up North to the little town called El Chalten close to the famous Mt. Fitzroy. Here we hiked up to stay for 2 nights at the Laguna Capri Campground. Everything was taken care of. Tents were build up, Sleeping Bags already in the tent. There was a a huge tent where we got our meals in. What a service! Especially the cooks were great! My aim here was to capture the sunrise – with the Mt.Fitzroy getting the red morning color. It happened the second day – a beautiful sunrise (my Christmas present!). Also a highlight was the trip up to the Laguna de Los Tres. It was cold windy and it did even snow! Brrr. Christmas eve we spend back down in the town of El Chalten. Sadly the weather turned and it did basically rain for 2 days (with strong winds!). After El Chalten we drove back to El Calfate to visit the Perito Moreno Glacier. The weather was sunny – unlike the days before – again luck with the weather! This time I had the chance to see a tunnel that was in the glacier and connects both parts of the lake (you can see what I mean on the pictures). The tunnel was about to collapse, but sadly we did not stay for that :(.
El Clafate is not far away from Torres del Paine BUT there is no direct road. It takes 6-7 hrs + a border crossing to Chile to reach the National Park. First thing we did was a short 2hrs hike just at the Northern Entry. The Torres where fully in the clouds but it did no rain and the sun did even come out above us for some time. There was a lot of wildlife out to hunt – especially Condors that came VERY close. Impressive if a condor is just 3m above you! Huge bird.
Torres del Paine is famous for the hike called W. Usually it takes 5 days to do the complete hike, we did parts of it. Our first part was the hike to the Base of Torres. The forecast was wrong – instead of rain the weather was just cloudy. The hike to the base is quite demanding, altogether more than 1000m of up and down, but the view of the lake just in front of the Torres is amazing. The hike took 7-8 hrs (including the breaks). In the evening we got AMAZING salmon prepared in a little tent!!! The second hike is the French Valley. To reach that we took the ferry crossing Lago Pehoe and left our stuff at the refugio on the other side. The trail to the entry of French Valley is 7,5 km long (one way). Here you can see lots of dead trees. All due the big fire 2 years ago. But nature is coming back. Lots of green between the black trees. From the entry of the valley you hike uphill to a nice viewpoint of the glacier. The way back the sun came out and especially Lago Pehoe looked fantastic blue. Unlike the to nights before we did eat inside the refuigo, but slept outide in the tents. The last part of the hike is Glacier Grey. But due to the heavy rain we took the ferry back to the street and the bus to Puerto Natales where we spend New Years eve. My first New Years eve without a fireworks! Very dissapointing.
From Peruto Natales we drove one day (with only one photo stop to some ship wrecks at the Magellan Strait) crossing the Magellan Strait to the Tierra del Fuego, entering back into Argentina and finally reaching an Estancia (Estancia de Los Hijas). We had a fantastic BBQ there and luck with the sunny weather. The following day we drove back to Ushuaia – for me the 3rd time arriving in Ushuaia on this trip. First time by plane – second by cruise ship after the Antarctica and now by bus… In Ushuaia we went to see the National Park (Tierra del Fuego) and did a nice little cruise on the Beagle Channel including a little hike on H-Island. Also we took a little chairlift up to a viewpoint at Glacier Martial.
Flying out Ushuaia was nice, and I had a great view down on the Beagle Channel before flying to Buenos Aires. Here I only spend on night and a VERY warm morning (almost 40 deg) before heading to the Airport and back to Germany (where it was warmer than Ushuaia…) – crazy weather. It was the coldest and rainiest summer ever in Patagonia! Next time I come back will be in the fall time (April/May) to see the fall colors at Torres del Paine. But next time will be not in the next 2 years ;). I avoided the Clafate berrys this time 😉

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