Patagonia has been on my bucket list for years. Images of majestic mountains, blue lakes and an untamed wilderness made frequent visits in my dreams. But dreaming of this far away place wasn’t enough to satisfy my longing to experience it in person. Like so many of my other adventures, I began to browse through online tours, googled images of the places I wanted to see and then made a call to G Adventures.
We decided on the Patagonia Hiking tour which would begin and end in Buenos Aires and take us to the southern Argentina towns of El Chalten and El Calafate. The tour was the perfect balance of active adventure and down time, giving us plenty of opportunity to explore on our own, off the beaten path.
Landing in Buenos Aires, known as the Paris of South America we began to explore this vibrant city. One of the highlights was drinking boozy chocolate coffee on sidewalk cafe’s and visiting the 100 year old El Ateneo theatre converted into a bookstore. And yet as beautiful as Buenos Aires was we couldn’t wait to leave the hustle and bustle of the city to head south into Patagonia.
Arriving in El Calafate and then hopping aboard a bus for the 3 hour drive north into El Chalten was breathtaking. Mountains, lakes and rivers filled the landscape along Route 40 and my imagination began to run free. This was the land I had visited so many times in my sleep. The Patagonia weather made its appearance right away and over the next 8 days we experienced all of it. From hiking in blizzards, rafting wild rivers, walking through winds than anywhere else in the world would send you for shelter to sipping wine and beer in tank tops. When they say be prepared for all four seasons in a single day, they mean it.
Leaving Patagonia to head back to Buenos Aires was hard and when we arrived, the city felt a little less beautiful, the air a bit harder to breathe in. We missed the raw natural beauty that is Patagonia and needs to be experienced in person to truly understand.
One of my favourite quotes is: I’d rather have a Passport Full of Stamps than a House Full of Stuff. My passport and the freedom it gives me to see this world is my most treasured possession. And the latest stamp in it, to a part of the world that exceeded my every expectation is one I will always remember.