Sunday, April 16, 2017
Patagonia, March 2017
Rick's Flickr for the trip. https://www.flickr.com/photos/itinerantrick/sets/72157681937724215
Timelapse of all our lunch stops in the mountains: https://youtu.be/n7Ab87K-BIk
We arrived in Buenos Aires and headed to our hotel in the Palermo neighborhood, called the Miravida Soho. Rooms were nice and traditional, but small. We spent the afternoon walking around and enjoying lunch on the sidewalk. In the evening, we took the hotel wine tasting. We had a torontes/Sauvignon Blanca blend, a Malbec from Mendoza, a Malbec from Salta and a Malbec/Cab Franc/Metlot from Patagonia. And, some rare beef, some cheese, some prosciutto and empanadas, which means we have no room for dinner...
Another mostly travel day today. Flew from Buenos Aires to El Calafate in Patagonia. We did get a couple hours in the afternoon to wander around town. The best views today were coming in for a landing along Lago Argentina. We stayed at Hotel Michelangelo, which was the least exciting of the trip, but clean, family-friendly and serviceable. We dined in the hotel restaurant on traditional local stew - the restaurant was called Isabel. We had 'El Vigilante' dessert. It was cow cheese with a sweet potato 'pudding', which was very much like quince paste. Talk about Spain meets South America!
We went to the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares for a day trip. We had about two hours of hiking along walkways along the Perito Moreno glacier in addition to a boat ride up to the glacier itself. Most of the big calving happened while we weren't watching, but we saw a few pieces fall off. We dined in the evening at Mi Ranchito restaurant.
We took a "day trip" to Torres del Paine in Chile. It was a stunning and clear day. Our guide said it's only 1 in 20 days when the entire massif is clear of clouds. We got in quite a few vistas and a 1 hour hike to stretch our legs. We saw condors, flamingos, guanacos, rias and a grey fox. We arrived back in town around 10pm, and were happy for local late-night dining. We dined at Buenos Cruces, which was delicious and a charming restaurant.
We arrived in El Chalten after a 3+ hour bus ride from El Calafate. We checked into the Don Los Cerros hotel and walked around town-another beautiful day! We scoped out restaurants to try and grocery stores and had a quick lunch at a forgettable pizza place. The ice cream place - Domo Blanco was worth a re-visit. Dinner was at Don Los Cerros.
Epic mountain day today. 21km hiking to Lagune del Torre just below Cerro Torre. Clouds finally lifted off the peaks around 2:30 pm. Warm weather, light winds and epics views. Life is good! Dinner was at La Tapera - universally the highest rated in town.
Another epic day in the mountains. Rick officially declared this one of Sarah's Death Marches. A bit over 25km and about 1,000 meets of gain - 500 meters in the last "1 kilometer" (really 1.68, but who's counting!) to Laguna de Los Tres at the foot of Fitz Roy. For those not familiar, this is the "North Face" made famous by the clothing brand. Dinner was again at Don Los Cerros.
Took a recovery day today with cloudy skies and feet that felt like hamburger. Hiked up to Mirador de Los Condores. It's only about 3km round trip, but after we crossed town on foot. Did lots of roving about town - stopping at park headquarters to tell them about our huemule sighting, shopping for groceries, etc. and still ended with about 15km for the day. Oh, and a nap, which is required at least once on all vacations, and a massage. Life is good! Dinner was at Fuegia. We had paella, which was good.
Super-spectaculoso Fall color today. We did the Madre y Hija route connecting the Sendero Cerro Torre and Laguna de Los Tres routes. It might be the most under-appreciated route in the park. The trail has no kilometer markings or colored markings like the rest, but is very clear to follow. Something like 23k today with stunning views after the early rain cleared. We got clouded in for sunrise, but the weather made up for it when Roy G Biv made an appearance across the Cerro Torre watershed. In the evening, we thought it was time to try out a traditional parrilla - Asador - Parrilla El Viejo Nando. I had the biggest plate of lamb I've ever seen. Ok, that is off the list.
The sunrise did its magic this morning, and then we got in our last 20km+ hike to Lomo del Pliegue Y Tombado, a 1000 meter high outcropping where you can see all the major peaks of the area - if they aren't shrouded in clouds (which they were). We bundled up and ate our lunch before making our descent. We decided another visit of Doom Blanco and Fuegia were in order.
We bussed back to El Calafate and enjoyed a walk around the lake in the early evening. We even found some flamingos! This visit we stayed at Hotel Kosten Aike, which was a very nice place and only 10 dollars more than the Michelangelo. We returned to Buenos Cruces for dinner, which was again fantastic.
March 23 & 24
We flew back to Buenos Aires and stayed in the wonderful Hotel Fiero - definitely recommended for service and quality. We did the wine tasting and dined in their restaurant, which was highly rated and very good. A great meal to close out our time in Buenos Aires.
The next morning, we walked all the way across town to the Recoleta neighborhood and visited the famous Recoleta Cemetery and an artists' market before walking back. It was about 10km each way. The Hotel Fiero was nice enough to offer us showers in the pool area before heading to the airport to return home in the late evening.