Greatest Travel Experience #6: Immersing myself in Patagonian nature
Whales, penguins, seals.
Glaciers that grow.
Snowcapped mountains to hike amongst.
Where else could this fantastic destination be?
None other than the Chilean and Argentine wonder of Patagonia.
On my long backpacking stint a year-ish ago I made a point to base my route around visiting Patagonia in the summer/spring for prime hiking weather.
Leading up to my trip that kicked off in Africa in October 2014, I had decided that my knee injury (from rugby) meant I would have to skip the incredible W trek that I’d been planning. However, that didn’t dampen my spirits, there was still plenty more to visit, hike and experience.
Peninsula Valdes, Argentina
This was my first taste of Patagonia, on the East coast of Argentina. Think white sand beaches and an Argentine style sleepy coastal town and that about sums up Puerto Madyrn, the nearest town to Peninsula Valdes.
Protected by UNESCO and home to the Southern Right Whales, Peninsula Valdes was an incredible day trip to say the least. Just minutes from the shore at Puerto Piramides and I saw whales flapping about, jumping and creating a real show to enjoy. It was like they wanted us to stand in awe of how incredible they were.
A wee while later and I find myself amongst penguins, sea lions and elephant seals, even an armadillo joined in. Yup, just another incredible wildlife experience to savour.
El Calafate and Pertio Moreno Glacier, Argentina
El Calafate was a lovely little town with possible the nicest hostel and home cooking ever. However, the main sight to see from here is Pertio Moreno Glacier.
Seeing this glacier up close is difficult to put into words. Its sheer size is one thing, the ice that cracks and crashes is another thing, then the stunning beauty of whites and crystal blues is another. That and the fact that it’s one of three glaciers in Patagonia that is growing is just incredible. At around 30 km long it is really hard to comprehend just how amazing this sight really is.
Torres del Paine, Chile
Day trip to Chile! Horrid weather to share and cloud covered incredible mountains to wish I could see!
Since I couldn’t hike the W Trek (and given the weather I’m kinda glad I didn’t) I opted to do a day trip into the National Park to try see the incredible peaks that Torres del Paine is known for.
Less be said, it’s definitely a destination I’d like to try return to and hope for better weather.
El Chalten, Argentina
This is the spot to enjoy hiking in Patagonia if you can’t get to Torres del Pine to do the W trek. I was incredibly lucky to get a few good days of weather for hiking and only one day of rain and wind. By rain and wind, I mean severe cyclone-like weather conditions — just for a day.
Hiking around El Chalten was challenging, but stunning. Snow capped mountains, glaciers and beautiful bush and lakes were a daily pleasure.
This post was part of my 30 Greatest Travel Experiences Before I’m 30. Patagonia is a nature lovers paradise and a true gem to enjoy. Argentina and Chile are home to one of the most beautiful regions on earth.