Patagonia in One Week – El Calafate, El Chalten and Torres del Paine

written by Sabrina
published on January 28, 2011

As I’m currently on a bustrip for about 30 hours (from El Calafate to Bariloche), I have plenty of time to write this blogpost :-). After my first days in Patagonia, I had booked a flight from Ushuaia to El Calafate, my next destination. This was the start of a very tight but awesome schedule in which I discovered a beautiful part of Patagonia in one week.

El Calafate

To be honest, I didn’t see much of El Calafate itself. I was just running around like a mad-man seeing everything around this town. But the one thing that gives me good memories about this place is the America del Sur Hostel . This is the hostel where I stayed (or at least paid to sleep a couple of hours) for 4 nights. I arrived at the hostel and I said: I want to see the Perito Moreno Glacier, El Chalten and Torrels de Paine National Park and I have 5 days. So basically: how do I see Patagonia in one week? The girl at the travel desk was simply amazing!! She helped me book all bustickets, tours and accommodation and I was set to go!

I would go back to this place anytime, just because of the great service I got 🙂 After making all the plans, it was time to head of straight away for the first attraction!

Perito Moreno Glacier

22nd of January – The main attraction here is the Perito Moreno Glaciar (gletsjer), that I visited on my first afternoon in El Calafate. An expensive trick, but this one was so worth it. That’s one serious big ice-cube!!! It’s amazing, and we were so lucky to see some of the ice falling down which was accompanied by an immense, impressive sound that seems to originate far in the glaciar. In one word – WOW. It does get really cold in Patagonia, and especially at this day when the weather was cold I was freezing! So make sure to do some research on packing lists for Patagonia to make sure you don’t freeze 😀

Patagonia in one week - Perito Moreno Glaciar

The Perito Moreno Glaciar is HUGE!

El Chalten

23rd & 24th of January – Next day, I took the 8am bus from El Calafate to El Chalten, Argentina’s trekking capital. People go here to hike, enjoy the nature or to climb the famous Fitz Roy. El Chalten is firmly positioned in my Top 10 South-America . A village where everyone walks on hiking boots, full of adventurers and such beautiful scenery around!

Patagonia in one week - El Chalten

Welcome to El Chalten!

I arrived at 11h30 at my hostel and at 12h00 I was on my way the to the trail that would lead to Laguna Torre. It was the first time I started a trek on my own so that was quite exiting. But it was amazing! I met a couple from Buenos Aires on the trek with whom I completed the trail to the laguna.

Laguna Torre Patagonia in one week - El Chalten

On the way to Laguna Torre in the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares

The whole trek was a 22km round trip, but not very demanding. Even though not super demanding, it was very impressive! Laguna Torre is a grey laguna originating from the glaciar. The lake is surrounded by snow-capped mountains which gives it a mystical look. Unfortunately I did not have great weather but it was still easy to see the glacier.

Laguna Torre Patagonia in one week - El Chalten

Laguna Torre – El Chalten

After a nice dinner with a new Chilean friend, it was an early night to get up early again to make another trek with a lady from France that I met in the hostel.

We completed a trail that was about the same length as the previous one, but this one went up about 1000 meters in 3 hours! I was completely exhausted when we reached the mirador (viewpoint), but it was worth it.

Trek to FitzRoy - Patagonia in one week

Yay! Fitz Roy is visible 🙂

Fitz Roy had been completely visible for the beginning of the trip, which is really special as normally it has some clouds hanging around. So that was amazing! 2 days in the nature with great weather – perfect!

After lunch, I took the bus back to El Calafate, where I spent another  short night in the hostel where I had left my backpack as well.

Torres Del Paine

25th of January  – Again, an extremely short night. I had booked a daytrip to Torres del Paine national park in Chile. Initial plans were to go hiking the famous Torres del Paine W-trek for about 5 days. But with all the mess in Chile, inappropriate equipment and not so much confidence in my body yet that I could complete 5 days of hiking with a big backpack, I decided just to visit the highlights on a one day tour. With a nice group, we were extremely lucky again!!

Torres del Paine National Park - Patagonia in one week

Torres del Paine National Park

We left at at 05h30 and the first thing I noticed was us crossing the Argentine and Chilean border. Hooray!! We were actually able to see the famous Torres del Paine. These are the towers of the national park that are, just as Fitz Roy, usually covered in clouds. Good start of the day!!

We visited the highlights of the park. Unfortunately mainly from the car, but it was alright as my legs were still recovering from the 45 kilometers from the past two days.

It was a great tour, and a very long day! But, I got an extra stamp from Chile in my passport 😉

Arriving back at the hostel very late, I ate some pizza with two Ozzie’s from Londen. I didn’t have a room anymore, as I had booked a bus out of El Calafate to Bariloche for 3am in the morning. But I was able to take a shower and get some rest, and then I shared a cab to the bus station with a lady from Buenos Aires.

On the Way to Bariloche

26th of January  – I decided not to take the (in)famous Ruta 40 as about half of it is still unpaved and it has an overnight stop on the way to Bariloche. This Ruta 3 is a bit of a detour, but has good buses, decent roads and no overnight stop. It was pretty comfortable in the bus, no one sitting next to me in a semi-cama seat that almost fully reclines!

I was really looking forward to arriving in Bariloche. The city is situated next to a lake and is surrounded by mountains. I’ll probably do some more treks or some horse riding here.

But arriving in Bariloche didn’t go just as planned. We had a drugs control for 1 hour with dogs and everything, and then the bus broke down 1 hour before Bariloche so we waited for 3/4 hours for a new one. So ready for some rest 😉

Patagonia in one week – do or don’t?

Patagonia was amazing, and if I have the chance to come back I’ll certainly take one or two months to discover everything. If you don’t have another choice, do it this way but if you can, go longer! What I missed in this part of Argentina was the good weather (coming from Buenos Aires) and also everything was so incredibly expensive!! I had to skip some things, because all tours just cost so much.

Plans & Likes/Dislikes about Argentina

Northern-Argentina and especially Bolivia promise to be really cheap, so I’m really looking forward to that. In a couple of days I probably bus into Buenos Aires or Mar del Plata (couple of hours south of Buenos Aires) where I meet up with some people I met earlier on the trip. After Buenos Aires I will go on to Mendoza, Cordoba, Tucuman, Salta and enter Bolivia.

So over the last 2,5 weeks (yeah only that short) I have developed some likes and don’t likes if it comes to Argentina 🙂

  • Likes: Empanadas (carne, jamon y queso, caprese, lamb), Bife de lomo, Choripan (bread with chorizo sausage), Asados (Argentine BBQ’s), Quilmes, Hiking, Vino tinto (red wine)
  • Don’t likes: Fernet, the prices in Patagonia!!
  • Not sures: Maté (herbal tea), Dulche de Leche, Alfajores

Hasta la proxima!

Patagonia in one week

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  1. haha,
    Fernet was ook niet mijn favo. Maar dulche de leche raak je aan gewend, en alfajores zijn super lekker! ( maar alleen in Peru) . Empanadas zijn super goedkoop in Salta ( daar komen ze ook vandaan) Ik was ook echt verslaafd daaraan.
    have fun

  2. Empanadaaa’s! Heb ze hier gister zelf gemaakt haha, best goed te doen ook:)
    Fijn dat het zo goed gaat met je! Enjoy the beach! X

  3. Hey kanjer: in 1 woord WOW!!! Ik ben erg trots op je en net zo blij als jijzelf dat je een nare periode van GB hebt afgesloten. Compliment, je hebt er inderdaad hard voor gevochten.
    Enjoy your trip XX
    Ook veel succes en plezier gewenst van Marjon XXX

  4. Sabje!! Heb eindelijk je verhalen eens gelezen.. super. Echt goed ook dat het wandelen weer goed gaat. Nog veel plezier maar volgens mij komt dat wel helemaal goed 😉 xx Char

  5. Je treed helemaal in onze voetsporen!
    Fijn dat het zo goed met je gaat.
    Nog héél veel plezier toegewenst!

    Dikke knuffel uit Friesland.
    Thom en Margje


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