Pretty Patagonia

Just after our Paraguayan Christmas, Isaiah and I escaped the heat by flying down to the Patagonia region of southern Argentina. We spent nine nights in our tent in different spots inside Glacier National Park and then ended the trip with a visit to the impressive Perito Moreno Glacier.

El Chaltén is a small town at the base of the national park and its main (only?) economy is tourism. Cute shops, cozy restaurants, and gear rental places abound.

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Our vision for this trip was pure wilderness, so we spent our time away from town, out on the trails, drinking in the amazingly diverse landscape all around us. When we passed through town on our way to the start of a new hiking trail we purchased additional food staples, used the marvelous invention of a flush toilet, and picked up deliciously flaky pastries at the Qué Rika bakery, but then were on our way again.

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We’d pitch our tent in one of their campsites and usually stay put for 2 to 3 nights before moving on. On our non-moving days we traveled light and free: Isaiah with a day pack of food and necessities, and me with the camera.

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I really had it made in the shade, though, since Isaiah usually had the heavy camera around his neck, leaving me with nothing but an empty camera bag to haul around.

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I believe our longest hiking day in this fashion was 21 miles before returning to our campsite to devour a pasta meal and let pure exhaustion tuck us into bed our sleeping bags.

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This was my first real experience with the hiking/camping combo and I surprised myself by actually enjoying it. The scenery was outstanding (especially on the clear days), the exercise was satisfying, and being “away from it all” with Isaiah was good for the soul.

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In our effort to travel light (we were carrying everything we needed for a 13-day trip on our backs every couple of days, after all), we had no books or games or computers or work. We didn’t even have a pen to jot down a few notes (and regretted this on multiple occasions).

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So we chatted or didn’t. Asked each other silly questions. Soaked in the sun and battled with the wind.

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Yes, the wind. It is a mighty force. In this region it can knock you to your knees and comes suddenly from nowhere. It can sour an otherwise enjoyable day, but it can be quite entertaining too. Isaiah, ever the optimist, enjoyed leaping into the air to let a strong gust of wind carry him forward. I even tried it a time or two.

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While we’re talking about the weather, I must mention the glorious snow.

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With child-like excitement, we watched as real, fluffy, white flakes of beautiful snow fell on us on two occasions. It finally felt a little more like Christmas.

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Other highlights of the national park were the clear streams in which we filled our water bottles (no purification necessary!) and the diversity of fauna. There was green forest, super rocky regions, swampy areas, dry almost desert-like parts, and the name-sake glaciers.

After 10 days of hiking and camping and not ever showering (the campsites were all without services), we bused back to El Calafate, the town that we had flown into.

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We each took our luxurious time soaping and shampooing up again and again, watching the hard-earned sweat escape down the drain, but smiling with satisfaction at our time in the wilderness.

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We ended our vacation with a tour of the Perito Moreno Glacier, which is a short bus ride out of town. I wasn’t sure if it’d be worth the trip since we’d been admiring glaciers for more than the last week in the national park.

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Boy was I wrong. Perito Moreno was impressive. Huge and proud, the part we could view spanned three miles wide and 19 miles long. The blue icy peaks stand, on average, 240 feet above the surface of the water.

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Disappointingly, we visited on a rather drizzly day. That didn’t stop us (and many, many others) from looking out from the catwalks, waiting with anticipation for the thunderous crash of a piece falling into the water. So addicting (“let’s stay for one more crash”) and satisfying.

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Our time in Patagonia was all I thought it’d be and more. Nature is neat. Very neat.

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For anyone thinking of visiting the region in the future, Isaiah’s writing up a post with more details of our time: where we hiked, what we packed, what we recommend – coming up soon!

Have you been to Patagonia before? Are you a camping pro with tips to share? Anyone else who has struggled to believe it’s Christmas without a little cold and snow? We’d love to hear from you!

Planning a trip to Patagonia? Check out our travel / hiking / cost / packing details in this post!

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20 thoughts on “Pretty Patagonia

  1. Love this post!! I honestly haven’t been ‘real’ camping as an adult and this made me want to do it soon!! Gorgeous pics and so glad you guys got a little snow:) It’s in the 80s in LA and we went to Florida for Christmas, so I never got a snow fix! I guess I should be thankful that I’m not in the negative temperatures, like the midwest is. Looking forward to Isaiah’s detailed post!

    • You definitely should, Nic! I bet there are lots of cool places for something like that near you guys. Or maybe you’ll want to travel to get to some cooler weather!

    • You betcha! Next time we all really can travel together because that has proven to be super fun. I hear babies really like camping, right? Or maybe we can try something different. Hehe.

  2. Amazing photography guys! God’s architect is pretty awesome. Uh, Allison, have you ever thought about writing a book? Love your narration!

    • Yes, it is! We just kept saying, “Wow, nature!” And thank you, Mary. To be honest, I’d love to write a book! Or do some sort of writing. Not sure of the topic or exactly how that could look…but I’ll let the idea keep marinating in the back of my mind. I appreciate the suggestion.

  3. I so enjoy your blogs, but this one is expecially delightful. It is wonderful that you two are taking this opportunity to serve and to see the world. We await your return!

  4. Pingback: Beat The Heat | Gold Stars & Double Rainbows

  5. Pingback: Reflections: 23 Months | Gold Stars & Double Rainbows

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