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January 4, 2013 / JustinKays Porter

El Chalten: Glaciar Viedma y Chorillo del Salto

After a lazy morning and some exploring around town, we hopped on a bus to Lago Viedma for a boat tour of the Glaciar Viedma. Most visitors in Patagonia make the trek from El Calafate to the Glaciar Perito Moreno, but we decided to take the less traveled route. The catamaran left Bahia Tunel on Lago Viedma with about 12 people onboard (not even half full). Lago Viedma is about 20 minutes outside El Chalten, and is similar in size to Lago Argentino; meaning it too could be mistaken for an ocean.

The Argentine flag and Lago Viedma

It took about 45 minutes to reach the glacier. The teal waters of the lake were dotted with ice bergs and ringed with impressive, picturesque mountains, all blanketed by another cloudless blue sky. We sat on the upper deck of the catamaran on the way to the glacier, taking photos and feeling the air get colder as we got closer. The boat stopped for about 20 minutes in front of the glacier for photo ops and admiration. We were thoroughly impressed with seeing the largest glacier in Argentina from the water. Where Glaciar Viedma meets Lago Viedma, the terminus of the glacier is approximately 150 feet tall. And bright blue. And cold and windy!

Glaciar Viedma

So windy!

With halting Spanglish, a seemingly normal couple asked us to take their photo in front of the glacier. Then, they pulled out massive angry birds hats (I still have no idea where they came from!) and asked for more pictures. THEN, they made Justin and I pose with the hats also! Actually, “made” is a strong word. We jumped at the photo op, and those hats are seriously warm and toasty. And hilarious!

Best hats ever!

After our adventures on Lago Viedma with angry birds, ice bergs, and Glaciar Viedma, we went back to town and decided we still had enough daylight for a short hike. At 7 pm, we left town and headed down a gravel road along the Valle Rio de las Vueltas. The river is the same teal color seen everywhere in Patagonia, and the snow-capped peaks at the end of the valley made for a gorgeous backdrop. Everything in Patagonia is beautiful, and the views from this short hike were no exception.

Valle Rio de las Vueltas

If you look closely, you can see the tops of Cerro Torre and Cerro Fitz Roy in the background!

After leaving the gravel road, the trail wound trough shrubs and trees past meadows dotted with wildflowers and eventually dropped us at the base of the Chorillo del Salto. Here, the waterfall free falls for about 50 feet before tying into the Rio de las Vueltas downstream. One of the best parts about taking a short hike to the waterfall as late as we did: no one else was there! We enjoyed the roar of the water and had happy hour at this beautiful spot all by ourselves.

On the walk back to town, we scampered up the side of the waterfall to check out the view of the Valle from above. And it was spectacular! As the sun began to set, the whole landscape seemed to glow. We would have stayed longer, but we wanted to make it back before it got dark!

After 9 pm and the sun hasn't even started to set yet

In town, we had pizza for dinner. A lesson to all of you who travel here: pizza in Argentina is gooood. I mean really good. Pizza in El Chalten? Not so good. Stick to the lamb and trout unless you want to ingest 10 pounds of cheese!


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