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My First Trips to Patagonia: The Best Area of Latin America

Waking up early at around 7 AM in late November, 2015…

The sunlight was shining through the window onto my face in my apartment in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

I initially traveled to Buenos Aires for reasons you can find out more about here.

Well, I got my backpack, passport, phone, money, etc…

And left my apartment to get into a taxi.

Headed on over to the airport in Buenos Aires.

Where my flight would take me to a city in Argentina called El Calafate.

A city in the Patagonian region of Argentina.

I always heard this area of Latin America was stunning and so I wanted to get a taste of what it to offer.

Well, from the flight, here’s a picture of some river I saw…

To arriving to El Calafate where I took this picture here by the airport of this city.

Now the city has a cool little Artisanal market as you can check out here.

And from my memory, there’s a sketchy part of the city I stumbled upon but then another part of the city is that quite nice looking.

With some good restaurants as well.

Well, for my trip, I basically only had time to check out the Perito Moreno Ice Glaciers.

So below are a variety of photos I took of it, including photos of my time walking around on the ice glaciers.

Which, if my memory serves right, wasn’t more than around 100 to 200 bucks to do.

So fairly cheap!

Before ultimately leaving El Calafate a few days later as my time was limited for this trip.

As I had to fly into Chicago soon from Buenos Aires.

So here’s a photo of another river I saw from the plane heading back to Buenos Aires for my trip back to the US.

Returning to Patagonia

Obviously, my initial trip to Patagonia was bit short – maybe 5 days at most more or less.

So now I’m sitting in my apartment in Barranquilla, Colombia some few odd months later.

And we were about to celebrate a holiday week called Semana Santa.

Around late March or April ish.

About some time before that if I remember right…

In March, I decided to take two weeks (or maybe more) to travel around Patagonia this time – in both Chile and Argentina.

But which city should I fly into?

I figured I would travel around the southern part of Patagonia for this trip.

And looking at the options for that..

To fly into El Calafate, it was like 1300 bucks more or less from Barranquilla.

However, to fly into a Chilean city in the general area called Punta Arenas, it would cost about 900 bucks more or less.

And bus tickets between another Chilean city called Puerto Natales and El Calafate were maybe a hundred bucks round trip more or less if I remember right.

So it was a no brainer – fly into Puntas Arenas, Chile as that area has plenty of nice places to visit also.

Including the fact I was going to Puerto Natales anyway.

So that was the plan basically.

Fly into Punta Arenas.

Check out some scenery there.

Go to Puerto Natales to see some stuff there.

Then take a bus to El Calafate, Argentina and visit a nearby town called El Chalten in Argentina.

Before flying into Ushuaia, Argentina.

Then taking a bus from Ushuaia, Argentina to Punta Arenas, Chile.

In two to three weeks more or less.

So…

Arrival to Punta Arenas

From memory, the trip from Barranquilla, Colombia to Punta Arenas, Chile was a little bit tiring.

Flying into Bogota, Colombia…

Then Santiago…

Then Punta Arenas finally.

One benefit to this flight was the free wine my airline gave us – and plenty of it!

Anyway, I get to Punta Arenas and generally found the city to look quite nicer than a lot of South American cities I had seen up to this point.

Not saying it was amazing or anything – but the city didn’t look anywhere near as trashy, undeveloped or sketchy in general.

Soon enough, by next day or two, I get on the bus to Puerto Natales.

And Puerto Natales was about as nice as Punta Arenas – though I think I liked Punta Arenas a little bit more in terms of how the city looked.

You know, if I was to raise a family down here, Punta Arenas didn’t seem like a bad place. Seemed quite safe and calm.

Can’t say that for a lot of places in Latin America to be honest.

So I get to Puerto Natales next and begin my journey hiking into the Torres del Paine National Park to do the W Trek.

From memory, there is the W Trek you can do and also another trek that is more lengthy.

The W Trek anyway, if I remember right, was maybe like a 1,000 dollars to do.

Or something in that neighborhood – maybe less – but to cover mostly the cost of sleeping at different cabins and other expenses and the right to hike around basically.

The W Trek of Torres del Paine

This is where this article is really going to become more of a photo album than an article.

So here’s some photos of the journey.

At the start, it was a pretty easy walk.

And here is the first place I stayed at on this journey.

As there were different places along the way that I would sleep at.

I remember at each place, they would give me a Pisco – a type of Peruvian alcoholic drink.

At this journey, I made friends with some guy from Austria who was a tall guy in his early 30s or so.

We often took some time discussing the hike as we went along the trail except for at times where we would prefer to walk alone to better take in the scenery in silence.

Either way, from the first place to the second, the walk got a tiny bit tougher.

Especially as there was at some point a pretty steep walk upwards.

And here’s some more photos below also, including of the second place I stayed at.

Plenty of cool wildlife around here also, such as what you can see in these photos here.

And some more photos of the hike after waking up in the morning at the third place of stay along this trek.

Which, if I remember right, there were very intense winds along this part of the trek as I was approaching the third hostel to sleep at.

I almost lost my hat even as it flew off my head but fell onto a branch of a tree.

And here's some photos hiking from that area along the path...

And finally, the main attraction of this trek in photos below here…

And then after that, I kept walking around.

Including some of some ice glaciers down here below also.

And that was the basics of my trip around Torres del Paine National Park!

In hindsight, this has been the most beautiful park I have seen anywhere in Latin America.

The hiking opportunity was just amazing all around.

And the diversity in landscape and the animals as well.

By far, one of the best hiking trails in all of Latin America.

Definitely worth the trip.

And I would recommend you follow the words of the guy I met along the way – enjoy it in silence if you can.

It’s great to meet people along the way – especially as the places where you will be sleeping.

But enjoy the scenery in silence and take it all in.

Heading to El Calafate & El Chalten

Here is a photo below of the border between Argentina and Chile.

Before I got onto the bus, which only was like 50 bucks to get there (and I think 50 bucks for a much later bus trip to Punta Arenas)…

I remember one of the workers who helps put your bags into place on the bottom of the bus before it heads out…

Said something along the lines about “how my luggage might go missing if I don’t tip.”

I didn’t know you were supposed to tip the baggage guy for the bus since I don’t take busses often and nobody I saw ever tips the guy elsewhere in Latin America.

At least from what I have seen.

And when I seemed confused when he asked for a tip, he made that comment about how my backpack could go missing.

In hindsight, I’m not sure why I gave him my backpack since I could bring it to my seat but his comment rubbed me the wrong way and I didn’t tip.

And, well, didn’t have any issue with my backpack going missing.

I remember not seeing anyone else tip the guy, and to be fair, I’m not sure if they tip the baggage guy for busses down in Argentina.

But, because of his missing backpack comment, I’m sure the guy just saw a traveling gringo and dollar signs blew up in his eyes.

Which sometimes happens down here in Latin America – more so in some countries than others.

Either way, I got back to El Calafate and right away took the bus to the small town of El Chalten.

Which has some nice restaurants and the town seemed quite nice and calm.

The nice thing about El Chalten is that it is free to explore the hiking trails in the area.

They are short and easy and offer plenty of good views.

I’ll just drop some photos of the scenery below here.

And, of course, who could forget this little guy....

Next, I took my bus back to El Calafate.

But before I got to El Calafate, I got into a fist fight with someone as you can read here.

And instead of hiking on the ice glaciers like in my first trip, our tour group was set to go kayaking around the lake where the ice glaciers are.

And here’s some photos of the time.

And that was my time in El Calafate and El Chalten again.

If you want a funny story about my time there where I happened to get into a fist fight with another American while waiting for a bus in El Chalten..

Then check out this story here.

But that was my time there and I moved onto Ushuaia, Argentina by flight.

Flying into Ushuaia

Here’s a photo of what I saw flying into Ushuaia.

Now Ushuaia, as a city, wasn’t as nice I thought compared to the other cities mentioned in this article.

But it wasn’t bad either.

It is though the southernmost city in the world apparently.

Here’s some photos of Ushuaia below.

Some protest the locals were having in some street when I showed up

The main attraction I saw here was the trip you could take to Antarctica but I remember those trips were like 5,000 to 10,000 in price tag.

So they had to wait – someday I plan on taking that trip in the future.

But other trips you can take here include, from what I did, a walk through the Tierra del Fuego National Park and also going through the Beagle Canal.

First, here is the Tierra del Fuego National Park.

Now here’s some photos of the Beagle Canal down below.

My favorite part was seeing all the penguins.

Anyway….

My last memory of Ushuaia was seeing some public protest being held in the city.

If I remember right, it had something to do with education issues but I forgot after all these years.

Either way, here’s a photo of it from before.

Heading Back to Punta Arenas

 On the bus journey from Ushuaia, Argentina to Punta Arenas, Chile…

Basically we took a bus for the start of the journey.

And then that bus had to get transported across a body of water to the other side.

Before the bus journey can continue on.

Here’s some photos of getting to the other side.

I also saw a bunch of sheep being taken around once we crossed the body of water as you can see here.

And finally, I got back to Punta Arenas before taking my fight back to Barraquilla, Colombia.

Reflecting on My Time in Patagonia

In short, the scenery in Patagonia is amazing.

As you can see by the photos, it has plenty to offer.

And is my favorite place in Latin America for hiking and enjoying natural scenery.

Now, it is clear that there is much more to this region than what I visited.

And so, for the future, I definitely have plans on revisiting and checking out other areas of this part of Latin America.

One other thing I liked about this area, from what I saw, was how nice, peaceful and developed plenty of the cities were.

It felt a lot safer and less sketchy than other areas of Latin America.

Plus, plenty of nice food in this region also.

The only complaint I think you could make about this region is that it could be seen as a bit boring for some compared to places like Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Bogota, etc.

I would say this region is better fit for those looking to have a quieter life, perhaps raising a family even.

Either way, those were just some of my impressions.

If you have any experiences down here or any questions, drop them below in the comment section.

And thanks!

Follow my Twitter here.

Best regards,

Matt

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