Argentina 2004

Against all odds

Our Vacation in Argentina (and Chile)

In 2003 we went on vacation in Chile. We liked the Andes so much that we decided to return in 2004.

Our plan was to start at Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in Chile, where we had ended in 2003, and work our way up the east side of the Andes visiting scenic destinations and doing some hiking and trekking wherever possible. The summer of 2003-2004 was an extraordinary one in southern Patagonia, with mostly sunny days, no wind, and record high temperatures. Because of this we had amazing views of mountains that are normally shrouded in cloud for weeks on end, and we have an inordinately large number of sunrise and sunset photographs.

Return to Torres del Paine

In 2003 we had a marathon 33-hour trip returning home; this year we started by doing that in reverse, flying from Vancouver to Punta Arenas and taking the bus to Puerto Natales. We spent four days in Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, hiking trails that were not directly below the high mountains. After that we took the bus to Argentina, where we spent most of our vacation.

Pictures from Torres del Paine

Parque Nacional Los Glaciares

First stop in Argentina was Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, one of Argentina’s oldest and largest national parks. In the south is the resort town of El Calafate, whose primary reason for existence is Glaciar Perito Moreno, a glacier that is both accessible and spectacular. And in the north is the resort village of El Chaltén, which is the base for trekking to the amazing spires of the FitzRoy range.

Pictures from El Calafate

Pictures from El Chaltén

The Esquel area

We flew north to Bariloche, but the weather was iffy. So we headed back south to the town of Esquel. Here we rode the tourist train “La Trochita”, which was once the “Old Patagonian Express” which Paul Theroux made famous in his 1979 book of the same name. And we spent some time in the mountains, in Parque Nacional Los Alerces.

Pictures from La Trochita

Pictures from Parque Nacional Los Alerces

The Bariloche area

The hot sunny weather was back, so we returned to Bariloche, which is perhaps Argentina’s premier resort destination (excluding beaches). It is rather like Banff, in that it is full of tourists, so we were prepared to dislike it. But after we had been there for a couple of days we found ourselves starting to appreciate the place more. We did the last of our treks, to the Refugio Otto Meiling and the Paso de los Nubes, and this turned out to be the best of our treks.

Pictures from Bariloche

Pictures from Refugio Otto Meiling

Pictures from Paso de los Nubes

Return to Chile

The last part of our vacation was a visit to the Araucanía, the land of the pehuén or “monkey puzzle” tree. Most of this area is on the Chilean side of the Andes, and roads in Argentina’s part of it are scarce, so we continued back over the pass to Chile. We stayed in Villarrica, with a view of the volcano of the same name, and made a day trip from there to Parque Nacional Huerquehue with its high-altitude Araucaria forest. Finally we returned home via Puerto Montt.

Pictures from The Araucanía and Villarrica

Pictures from Parque Nacional Huerquehue

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