Lena | February 2023
Patagonia on your own
For several years now, I have been unable to get the images of glacier-covered landscapes and the endless expanse of Patagonia, as I had seen them in various travel reports, out of my head. South America - and Argentina in particular - had been a dream of mine for a long time, but due to the fact that my knowledge of Spanish is largely limited to "tengo la camisa nera" and Patagonia's vastness looks like paradise, but also offers one or the other logistical challenge in the planning, I had a lot of respect for setting off alone to the other end of the world.
Via video conferencing from Germany to Argentina, Marina and Christian supported me in planning my trip, which was to last a whole four weeks. I started in Buenos Aires, a big city that was not at all what I had imagined under Latin American flair, but nevertheless absolutely convinced me. For five days I explored the city center and the neighborhoods of San Telmo, Recoleta and Palermo on my own. Sometimes on foot, sometimes by Uber, sometimes by bike. I ate what was probably the best steak of my life at a restaurant recommended by Marina and Christian and drank a mojito above the rooftops of the city at a bar they recommended.
After five days of city hustle and bustle, I took the plane to Bariloche, where I was able to benefit from the local expertise of the two of them for a good week and "warm up" on various day trips. With a rental car organized by Marina and Christian, I then set off for three days on the Routa de los siete Lagos, a more than 400 km long panoramic road along which numerous small hikes and magnificent waterfalls are waiting to be explored.
After a week and a half of bright sunshine and summer temperatures, it was time to say goodbye to Bariloche and the short clothes in my luggage and I continued by plane to El Calafate. Here, Marina and Christian took care of organizing a day trip to the famous Perrito Moreno glacier in addition to recommending one of the nicest hostels I've ever been to. Basically, I try to avoid heavily frequented tourist destinations wherever possible and rather look for "insider tips", because my experience had shown that heavily frequented does not always mean good or worthwhile. With this attitude, my expectations for the glacier trip were rather limited. What was I wrong with that! The fact that I had to share the view of the glacier with other tourists did not make it a bit less impressive! Full of awe, we all stood speechless at the visitor fences waiting for pieces of the glacier to break. Definitely one of my highlights of the trip!
From El Calafate we continued to El Chalten, a small mountain village in southern Patagonia and the declared paradise for hikers. El Chalten was for me as an outdoor enthusiast and sports fan the closest thing to a perfect vacation spot. Due to its geographic proximity to Antarctica and its location in southern Patagonia, the weather in El Chalten can only be described with the word loco. Patagonian winds, bright sunshine, snow flurries where you can't see your hand in front of your eyes and heavy rain I encountered more than once within a few hours. In my good week there I have not seen one person in jeans, the dress code in the place is functional and sportswear. The place is very small and really only offers the most necessary infrastructure, but for me as a solo traveler it was the perfect place to get in touch with other travelers. During the day, everyone was on the road according to their own preferences and made the tours that they had planned, but in the evening they always met in one of the just three bars that the place has to offer, exchanged information about their tours, enjoyed the craft beer and played cards. These days and evenings in El Chalten were pure relaxation for me, despite the physical exertion of the mostly 15-25 km long tours every day. In the evenings, the heavy rain pattered on the corrugated iron roof of my "home bar", right next to the hostel recommended by Marina and Christian, which captivated by its proximity to starting points for various hikes.
Due to the unstable weather, one must always remain flexible in terms of planning the tours. In our preparatory discussions Marina, Christian and I had made a rough planning, which tours would be most worthwhile and when which tour makes sense (for example, the longest tour relatively at the beginning to make the otherwise already sore legs not to strain even more 😉) but ultimately I had to reschedule due to the weather but now and then. Here I could contact Marina and Christian at any time via Whatsapp and get advice from them. Thanks to this advice, I managed to save the well-known tour to Laguna de los Tres for the day with the most beautiful weather. And what can I say? It was definitely worth it!!! Marina's insider tip, not only to walk to the lagoons but to walk a little detour have given me off the quite well visited route probably one of the most beautiful sights of my life - and my new cell phone wallpaper.
Thank you both for the great preparation and support on the way!!!
Lena from Germany