The four days after leaving El Bolsón were easily the most challenging since arriving in Argentina, with hitchhiking south not being as easy as first expected. After struggling with getting any decent rides for two full days, we eventually resigned ourselves to the fact that buses were the better option. Unfortunately, the few rides that we did get had placed us in a pretty awkward location and three buses were required instead of just one. We did, however, finally make it all the way to El Chaltén.
We set off reasonably late the following morning and luckily, the weather was great – a view of Fitz Roy greeting us about 10 minutes into our hike to Laguna Torre. We were told that the mountain hadn’t made an appearance for three or four days, so perhaps taking a bit longer to get to El Chaltén wasn’t too bad after all…
We were met by some of the strongest winds I have ever experienced at Laguna Torre, but we decided to climb another 2km to the lookout to get a better view of the Torre Glacier at the far end. Despite nearly being blown off the path more than a dozen times, it was definitely worth it – our amusement probably overshadowing how dicey it actually was.
It wasn’t quite 4pm when we got half way back to El Chaltén, so we decided to head to Laguna de los Tres, at the foot of Fitz Roy. A local guide estimated that it would take us 6.5 hours of solid walking, but daylight until 10pm and the rate in which we covered the trails around El Bolsón left us pretty confident of getting it done before dark.
The contrast in weather was unbelievable, with extremely calm conditions along Laguna Hija and Laguna Madre being balanced out by more fierce winds at Laguna de los Tres. Nevertheless, we spent around half an hour at our destination before heading back to El Chaltén, arriving at 9:30pm. It was just 5 hours and 45 minutes since chatting to the guide – another successful (and fairly rapid) hike…
After four testing days and 10.5 hours hiking, I insisted on steaks and a couple of beers that evening. We ended up at La Vineria after dinner and tried the Negra Porter from Gülmen (a brewery in Río Negro) and Mendoza-based Uelts’ Scotch. Both were great drops.
The next day we walked to Mirador de los Condores (Condor Lookout) where I decided to have a chilled out day. I spent a couple of hours up there after Dominik set off on another long hike (what a sicko) and managed to see three of the huge birds, which can have a wing span of up to 3.5 metres. It was difficult to say how big these ones were as they were quite high up, but it was still a dream come true after watching The Mysterious Cities of Gold in my yout.
Over breakfast I had calculated that we had covered more than 40km the previous day, on trails that many people do over 2-3 days, so I felt that further compensation was in order. I had spotted a brewpub, La Cerveceria, on the way home the previous evening, so it was the obvious choice for a beer after lunch. I ordered their pilsner (they also produce a bock) and it went down extremely well sitting out the front in the afternoon sun. I also briefly checked out their microbrewery, which looks like a great little set-up, complete with wooden tanks.
That evening it was back to La Vineria to have another crack at their extensive craft beer range. I started with the Roja from local brewery Supay, however wasn’t too impressed with it, so I moved onto the Bock from El Hoyo-based Sheken. This was far better, but easily the best of the night came from Escobar brewery, BarbaRoja and their Negra Fuerte Stout. I hope I can get hold of some of their other beers in the future – the Double Bock in particular.
It may have been a huge mission to get there, but the day hiking around El Chaltén, combined with a couple of places to get hold of some good craft beer made it all worthwhile in the end. The village definitely warrants a look if you’re ever in this part of Patagonia…