The name of the city of El Calafate is taken from a little bush with dark blue berries and yellow blossoms. The calafate is very common in Patagonia but unfortunately, it wasn’t blooming while we were there. A legend says that if you eat from the calafate fruits, you will return to Patagonia for sure. Although we didn’t get to taste the fruit, we will certainly come back as soon as we can.
In Patagonia, sometimes you are on the road for hours driving towards the next mountain range. You don’t know if you’ll be able to fill up with petrol or what will happen when you have a flat tire. But facing those challenges is part of the journey.
Torres del Paine
After a short drive south, we made it to Torres del Paine – the distinctive three granite peaks of the Paine mountain range. They extend up to 2,500 metres above sea level. In the language of the local Indians, Paine means azure blue so Torres del Paine pretty much means “the towers of the azure sky”. A perfect name for these iconic summits.
The weather there is crazy. The wind sweeps in from the west and gains speed as it comes down over the ice. The area basically creates its own weather pattern. We were on a helicopter ride towards a huge icefield but were unable to even reach the glacier because of the amount of wind. I guess Mother Nature always wins. She just didn’t want us to go over the icefield that day.
In Torres del Paine National Park, we stayed in the region’s first fully sustainable accommodation. After a long hike we fell asleep watching the star-filled sky through the ceiling window of our little cabin. Meeting the wildlife was amazing as well. Especially all the guanacos; there were like a thousand of them. It was such a cool experience to see them running around so happily. We actually thought of taking one back to Australia with us.
Puerto Natales serves as a gateway to trekking in Torres del Paine National Park. The city is built along the very beautiful Señoret Channel, which connects Almirante Montt Gulf to the south with Última Esperanza Sound to the north. Luckily, we were prepared for the harsh weather conditions, because in Puerto Natales you can have the four seasons in the course of a day.
We drove into El Chaltén on a late afternoon while the low-hanging clouds created a moody atmosphere. The road through the wide and open desert perfectly lines up to look up to the mountains. Seeing the iconic peaks of Mount Fitz Roy for the first time with your own eyes is empowering. It’s this pure excitement about seeing something new and something you always dreamed of seeing.
In Patagonia, there is the second largest body of freshwater barring the polar ice caps. So this region dictates a big part of the local and even the planet’s climate. The weather put an even more dramatic touch to the massive peaks. We never knew how the atmosphere was going to be because it was changing from rain and hail to sunshine and back to snow in only hours. The combination of landscape, weather and wildlife was really thrilling.
by @helloemilie & @jasoncharleshill