Los Glaciares National Park is made up of two large parts, a north unit and a south unit, located about 100 miles apart by highway. After enjoying a few days in El Calafate and going out to see Perito Moreno, we ride north toward the town of El Chalten to see the north unit of the park.
The road follows the southern shores of Lago Argentina and then turns north across the pampas. Guanacos and rheas are everywhere.
We stop for a break from the wind and cold to warm up with a chocolate caliente at the Hotel La Leona, near the Estancia La Leona. Estancias, large ranches, are all over the southern parts of Chile and Argentina and have incredibly interesting histories. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid stayed at this estancia for a month in the late 1890s while hiding out after robbing a bank in Rio Gallegos. There are pictures of wanted posters and little bits of the history posted on the café walls.
After riding north we reach Lago Viedma and turn west along its northern shore toward the town of El Chalten, which is less than 30 years old and was built just to service the tourism industry in this part of the park. The clouds up ahead are heavy with rain making for some dramatic scenery.
We enter the park a few miles before town.
Our friends Markus and Karin have recommended a place in town that repairs tent zippers and we drop off the tent just after we arrive in hopes we can get at least one of the two doors working well. And on the off chance she can help me, I also bring my sleeping bag. I broke the zipper over a year ago and gave it a temporary fix by hand-sewing in three zippers…yeah, not very pretty but it worked. Daniella was amazing and got both our projects fixed that same day for less than $15.
The next day we walked out to the visitor center to get a trail map and check the weather forecast. Not everyone who comes here gets to see Mount Fitz Roy because it’s so often cloudy. I’m really hoping we get a peek at the peak.
We hike up to two miradors over the city, Dos Condores and Aguila.
The views up here are stunning. Even with the clouds covering the very top of Fitz Roy himself, there’s so much to see.
The next morning we head out on the Fitz Roy mirador trail early in the morning.
We stop for a view of Rio de Las Vueltas. The sun has just risen in the east but isn’t high enough to reach over the first ridge of mountains and into the valley yet.
It’s a 10km hike from town to Fitz Roy itself, and the trail gets really steep at the end and is surrounded by mountain lakes and glaciers. We only hike to the viewpoint about and hour and a half out of town.
It’s such a beautiful day and hike….so glad we got up early to see the mountains and this beautiful place. We even get to enjoy the lovely view from the highway on the way out of town.