|Hiking in the Torres del Paine National Park, in Chilean Patagonia|
|Looking out towards the Torres del Paine park from Puerto Natales|
While we were in Puerto Natales, we caught a local summer festival. We tried some of the food, which was tasty but incredibly fried and heavy - we had three different kinds of fried bread, one of which was stuffed with meat, and we got a big chunk of lamb, all for about $10. The music was nice and there were some Cueca dancers. Cueca is the traditional form of dancing in Chile and can be seen at most national festivals throughout the country.
|A tasty, fried heart-attack in a paper bag.|
|Cueca dancers at a local festival in Puerto Natales|
Our trip to El Calafate happened to be at the same time as a free local music festival, which was fun, but unfortunately it also meant that all the hostels and campgrounds in town were sold out. We teamed up with a fellow traveler from New Zealand and were lucky enough to find a place that would rent us a room without a reservation. The next day the three of us went to see the Perito Moreno Glacier. You can find bus tours to the park at the main terminal in Calafate. The prices are about $40 USD - a lot more than my 2012 copy of Lonely Planet claimed they would be, thanks to the inflation in Argentina these days. Check prices online before you go! There's also an option to take a boat tour once you arrive, but in my opinion it isn't necessary thanks to the amazing system of boardwalks that take you right up next to the glacier. The views were amazing!
We left Calafate the next day and caught a bus to El Chalten, a very small town located at the base of the Fitz Roy mountain range. If you're a fan of hiking or rock climbing, you've probably heard of these mountains, and their reputation is well deserved. The hiking was spectacular, easily some of the most beautiful trails I've ever been on and just as nice as the Torres del Paine in Chile. I'll write more about the specific trails in a following post.
|Arriving in El Chalten, with the Fitz Roy range in the background|
|The fun, hippie campground we stayed at in El Chalten|
Punta Arenas is a nice, quiet city with some good food, friendly people and some interesting local history. I recommend checking out the local cemetery, which has the graves of some historical figures and is very pretty. There are also some nice arts and crafts markets and you can walk along the beach and do a little bird watching. It was a good place to relax for a couple of days after all the hiking, and I really enjoyed all the cool weather- it was no fun returning to the Santiago heat!
|So sad to say goodbye to Patagonia!|