Patagonia: El Fin del Mundo
Posted by Gila Hoffman on March 09, 2017
Earlier this month a group of 4 friends and I crossed off an item high on our bucket list: Patagonia! Our plan was to see and do as much as we could during our 10 days in Argentina.
We started our trip with two quick days in Buenos Aires where we bounced around the city touring the Recoleta Cemetery and Teatro Colon, tasting a variety of local Malbec wines, and of course sampling nearly every flavor of gelato (my favorite is still banana split at Freddo). We were warned (over and over again) to be wary of pickpockets in Buenos Aires. I carried all my valuables in the Deluxe Waist Stash and made it through the entire trip with no unfortunate incidents.
The real purpose of our trip was to escape city life and hike and camp in Patagonia so we hopped on a quick 2-hour flight to Bariloche, which sits on the shores Nahuel Huapi Lake. We rented a very questionable stick-shift car and drove from hike to hike. We chose Cerro Otto and Cerro Llao Llao to hike and both did not disappoint. The scenery in Bariloche is truly remarkable and mystical.
Bariloche is both a winter and summer destination so many of the hikes have cable cars to the top (for skiing in the winter) but after a few days of gelato we were ready for the hikes. Speaking of gelato, the best gelato of the trip was definitely at Helados Jauja in Bariloche. It was completely packed even at midnight on a weeknight.
For day hikes I wanted a pack that was practical and small but with enough room to bring the essentials. I carried the Electrolight Day Pack and my friend used the Electrolight Backpack. Both were perfect for carrying anything from extra layers to spare socks, and definitely plenty of snacks!
Our biggest splurge of the trip was the boat trip to visit Los Arrayanes National Park (the inspiration for the trees in Disney’s Bambi) and Isla Victoria, located in the middle of the Nahuel Huapi Lake. We spent hours just strolling through beautiful, uninhabited land.
From Bariloche we flew even further south to El Calafate where we took a 3-hour bus ride to El Chalten, the trekking mecca of South America. We rented gear from the teeny-tiny town that sits by the entrance of the trailhead and set out on a 40km, 3-day hike.
We heard that the weather is extremely unpredictable in Patagonia so we were prepared for hail, snow, rain, and everything in-between. For the most part we completely lucked out on the weather but there were a few rainy hikes where I kept my phone safe in the Magnetic Waterproof Phone Pouch. We struggled through the hike to the base of Mt. Fitz Roy twice, once in the afternoon and again the next day at sunrise when we were able to see the mountains completely visible without clouds.
At the beginning of the hike there is a sign that reads, “Good physical condition is required, unstable terrain, use proper shoes.” This was definitely the most challenging hike of my life but the views are certainly worth it. After 3 days of Cliff bars, peanut butter, and pasta we made it back to town and binged at La Cerveceria Brew Pub and Resto. They have a beautiful outdoor seating area and the menu is filled with delicious vegetarian items. They even brew their own beer!
Toward the end of the trip we headed back to El Calafate, the home of the Perito Moreno Glacier, one of the only glaciers in the world that is not melting! Just as stunning as the glacier itself was the electric blue water that stood in front of it.
Whether I was sleeping in tent, a hostel, or on an overnight flight I used the Comfort Eye Mask whenever I had an opportunity to sleep during this trip. I’ve tried a lot of eye masks in my day and this one is hands-down the most comfortable one ever! It is cushioned to perfection and the adjustable strap makes it so that anyone can use it.
There’s absolutely nothing bad to say about Patagonia. Whether you go for the views, the gelato, the chocolate, or to meet other hikers from all over the world, Patagonia is truly a fantastic summer destination.