Breathtaking El Chalten

A three hour bus ride from El Calafate had us enjoying some of Patagonia’s best scenery. The cloudless sky created the perfect backdrop for the rugged steppe and rolling mountains of Parque National Los Glaciares. Making our way from the south to the north end of the 4459 square kilometer park, we were witnesses to galloping horses, soaring eagles and aquamarine lakes. Before even setting foot in El Chalten, we knew we were in for a treat.

Our view of Mt. Fitz Roy as we entered El Chatlen

The hodge-podge town sits at the base of legendary Mt. Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre with trails running up into the mountains from every part of town. Even before entering the town we were instructed by a park ranger on preserving the animals, the natural environment and the potable water that originates from the glacier and feeds the town.

El Chatlen, population 600

Mt. Fitz Roy surrounded by soaring eagles. Slightly creepy.

The campsite we chose, El Refugio, seemed to be the only place in town where we would be able to escape the incessant wind that rips through the valley. The view by our tent was intoxicating – mountains, rivers, rock faces – all protected by a white picket fence that acted as our wind-break. We stood in awe as we watched the sun set and were greeted by, without a doubt, some of the most spectacular stars we have ever seen. The Milky Way, the Southern Cross, and Orian’s Belt were so clear and bright they probably would have shown up in a photograph. We definitely had a moment.

Our adorable and very private hostel for the next couple of days

In the morning we awoke to the sound of whinnying horses. The neighs seemed closer than the distant sound of a herd of galloping wild horses. And upon investigation, we were met by a stout, brown gelding crunching on clovers next to our white picket fence. Our new tent protectorate would be dubbed, Whinny, for his persistent whinnying and lip-smacking.

Gillian giving Whinny some of his favourite, clovers

What has become our pre-trekking breakfast. Bread and jam wasn't doing us any favours.

El Chalten has proved to be a mind-explosion of beauty. It’s almost impossible to take it all in, but we’re certainly trying our best.

Leah working her horse whispering magic to woo Whinny