Month #14 has taken us on a long journey, bussing and hiking our way through the impressive Andes Mountains of Patagonia. So hop aboard and come along for the ride as we roam around amazing Patagonia!
Month #14 At A Glance
- Countries visited: 2
- Chile & Argentina
- Number of beds slept in: 18*
- *Note: we counted each campsite as a different bed even though we used the same sleeping bags
- Miles traveled: 2,418
- Place-to-place transport segments: 27
- Hiking segments: 10
- Boat segments: 2*
- *1 vehicle ferry was used as part of bus travel and 1 boat used during hiking
- Busses: 15 (72 hours total!)
- Taxi: 1
- UNESCO World Heritage Sites Visited: 1
- Los Glaciers National Park (Argentina)
- Breweries Visited: 15
- Bariloche: Lowther, Bachman, Manush, Blest, Berlina, Antares, NYC’s; El Bolson: Otto Tip, Casona de Odlie; El Chalten: Don Guerra, La Cerveceria; Puerto Natales: Cerveza Baguales; Punta Arenas: Hernando de Magallanes; Ushuaia: Dublin
- Different Types of Beers Drank: *73
- *Includes samples
Month #14 Travel Recap
Our Month #13 update left off with us doing some serious canyoning outside the German-influenced town of Puerto Varas, Chile. From there we embarked on what would be the first of many overnight treks throughout this month of our travels. This first trek take us to what seems like an emerging hiking and climbing destination in Chile’s Cochamo Valley.
Trekking in the Yosemite of South America
We set out with a good five-hour hike into the Cochamo Valley, which is known as the Yosemite of South America due its granite towers that surround the lush and peaceful valley. It really did live up to its nickname. Once deep into the valley we stayed for a few nights in a remote refugio. The highlight in Camacho was the harrowing hike we did which turned about to be our longest day hike to date, which took us grasping to ropes and across icy snowfields to take in the incredible views that surrounded. (Keep an eye out for the full blog post about this coming soon!)
A Chilean Beer Fest!
Upon hiking out of the valley and bussing our way back to civilization, we discovered there was actually a beer fest in a nearby town! So despite our exhausted aching muscles caused by Arco Iris, we managed make our way to the annual Puerto Montt Fiesta de la Cerveza (Beer Festival), where we got to indulge in dozens local Chilean craft brews. It was completely a locals affair, so it was a blast for me to practice my Spanish talking to passionate brewers over a shared affection for cerveza. What a fantastic sendoff after spending more than a full month roaming around Chile!
Welcome to Argentina! Mountains, Steak, & Beer in Bariloche
But we finally crossed over the Andes Mountains and into Argentina. This marked our 39th country visited! Our first stop in the country was in the mountain village of Bariloche, which was a delightful introduction to Argentina.
The town lies not only amongst the mighty Andes but also in the midst of several beautiful blue lakes. There are some great day hikes in the region that we took advantage of in order to absorb all the fantastic views. Yet what also shined about Bariloche were the food and the beer.
We ate at our first parrilla (Argentine steakhouse), which was absolutely amazing. Best steak we’ve ever had. Really. It was that good. We came back the very next night we liked it so much. And to top it all off, there are at least a dozen or so little craft breweries interspersed throughout town! Great mountain hikes, incredible food, and more beer than we had time to try… this is definitely our kind of place.
A Mountain Hideaway in El Bolson
We eventually left Bariloche and bussed it a few hours south, down the famed Route 40, to a smaller mountain town called El Bolson. This interesting town is set smack dab in the middle of Argentina’s hops growing region and had a laidback hippy vibe to it. We quickly discovered that it was a very lovely place with lots of fantastic hikes and recreation (in addition to a few more brewpubs), so we were kicking ourselves a bit for only booking a couple nights here. But we made the most of our full day and took an awesome kayaking trip across Lake Epuyen, just down the road. The excursion took us jumping off waterfalls and even snorkeling in the lakes!
El Bolson was one of those unexpected delights that we could have easily stayed in for at least a week or more, but our journey south needed to continue. So we hopped on a bus to continue down route 40 as far as the bus would take us, which was a town called Los Antiguos.
Our Strangest Yet Best Bus Ride Ever
— John & Heather (@RoamingDaWorld) January 26, 2015
It was an interesting bus ride that would last for 12 hours. When the bus came to pick us up, we were literally the only people on it other than the bus driver, his back-up driver, and the ticket guy / luggage handler. This seemed a bit strange at first, particularly since it is high season here. But then we realized that we had the entire bus to ourselves, riding through the beautiful desert landscape of Patagonia with the Andes Mountains to our right. This was a traveler’s dream-come-true. We reclined our seats, we stretched out, and walked up and down the aisle, all just because. The bus driver would ask us when we would want to stop, which we did in tiny one-street villages for lunch, bathroom breaks, gas, to grab a beer, or just to stretch our legs. We had our own private transport through Patagonia. Normally we dread long uncomfortable bus rides, but this one was utterly relaxing.
Los Antiguos: A Land of Cherries and Not Much Else
Yet we eventually arrived in Los Antiguos and had to disembark. There wasn’t a whole lot to do in this town and we were really just using it as a transportation hub to get a good night’s sleep and connect to another bus, heading further south. Los Antiguos is known for its cherry production so after walking around town we strolled by some cherry farms, hiked up to some miradors (view points), and walked out to Lago Buenos Aires.
The Stunning Fitz Roy Range
It was soon time to hop back on another 12-hour bus to continue our southbound journey in Patagonia, now to El Chalten, which lies at the northern boundary of Argentina’s Glacier National Park. We arrived early in the morning to uncharacteristically Patagonian weather of blue skies and immediately set off on a long day hike to look around. The scene of the Fitz Roy range was absolutely breathtaking. The skies were literally shimmering and the view almost looked fake, as if someone had just put up a painting or a huge movie screen.
We eventually traded in our warm and cozy hotel for some rental camping gear and set out into the Patagonian wilderness for a few days of overnight trekking. We hiked over mountains, through valleys and across streams in this remarkable terrain.
The crowning jewels of the park are the granite towers of the Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre, which were indeed spectacular. But perhaps the highlight for us was taking in the Glaciar Rio Blanco, after a really fun hike that took us climbing over enormous boulders to reach it.
Perito Moreno: A Growing Glacier
From El Chalten, our southbound travels next took us to El Calafate, which is the jumping off point for the Perito Moreno Glacier. This was another truly spectacular site to see one of the few large glaciers in the world that is actually growing. We got to witness firsthand, enormous chunks of ice – the size of entire houses – crash right down into the water below! A-maz-ing!
Super Bowl Sunday in El Calafate, Argentina
Our stay back in El Calafate coincided with the Super Bowl and we were determined to watch it. We found out that it was on the local Spanish-language version of ESPN, so we took over the common area of our B&B to enjoy this TV tradition that is engrained in our American culture. We couldn’t find any wine glasses, so we sipped Malbec wine out of jars as we cheered for the team playing against the Patriots. Our hosts at the B&B eventually joined us in watching the close ending to the game, which made it even more fun as I attempted to explain American football to them in broken Spanish after several jars of wine.
The Amazing “W” Trek in Torres del Paine
We then journeyed west and found ourselves back in Chile, now in the town of Puerto Natalas. Our stay here was simply to prepare and get gear for our 5-day trek through the renowned Torres del Paine National Park. So after another few hours worth of bussing and a transfer over a lake via catamaran, we began the famous trek inside the national park. The route we took is known as the “W” due to the shape it makes on a map. And we successfully made it to all three awe-inspiring points on that “W”: Glacier Gray, Valley Frances, and lastly to the lakeside at the base of Paine Grande.
Penguins in Punta Arenas
After Torres del Paine, it was south yet again. This time we ended up in the port town of Punta Arenas. It was near here that we ran into penguins! It was so neat to see these little guys waddling and hopping around out in the wild while visiting the Seno Otway penguin colony.
Going to the End of the World on Friday the 13th
Our last stop on this entire southbound stint of travels was Ushuaia. A final 12-hour bus ride on Friday the 13th would carry us the last stretch of roadway to the end of the world. Our boating trip through the Beagle Channel got scrapped and we instead spent our last we days down south on some day hikes through this distant landscape.
We had a nice Valentine’s Day trekking for miles around Tierra del Fuego National Park and even saw a fox! We ended the day with another Argentine steak dinner overlooking the Beagle Channel, accompanied with, what else but… Beagle Beer!
We’ve seen some remarkable wildlife down throughout Patagonia. From the penguins and foxes already mentioned to countless sitings of guanacos during our long bus rides. But it was seeing some beavers working on their dam really won our hearts. Such a cool sight!
Where We’re Roaming Around Next
From Ushuaia we were debating about just flying to Buenos Aires in time for carnival. But we had enjoyed El Bolson so much a few weeks ago and felt like we didn’t have time to do everything we wanted to while there. So we’ve decided to take a 34-hour bus ride to go back to this place that seemed to just be calling to us.
From El Bolson we’re heading out to another long bus ride to hand out in Buenos Aires for a few days and pop over into neighboring Uruguay. We’re then planning to attend Carnival of a nearby town before yet another painfully long bus ride to Iguaza Falls. One more 36-hour bus journey (ouch!) will take us to Mendoza before a final short stay back in Santiago, Chile where we’ll be making our exodus from Chile.
From there we’re flying to New Zealand! We just can’t wait for all the adventure that awaits for us there!
What’s New on the Blog?
- Did you see our post about us swimming with Sea Lions in Peru?
- We also shared our experience and tips on cruising the Panama Canal.
- Our latest post provides the details or our harrowing trek using ice picks to climb Chile’s Villarrica Volcano.
- Finally, check out our latest adventure: snorkeling and kayaking in the Andes Mountains.
Thanks for Joining Us!
Thank you for coming along with us during this journey through Patagonian Argentina and Chile. See ya next month when we share the final Argentinian travel jaunts that we’ll be posting about once we arrive in New Zealand!