After hiking the W trek we headed to the southernmost destination of our trip to find some penguins. Penguins are my favorite animal and during the worst parts of the hike I actually thought to myself, "Get through this and in a few days we will be surrounded by Penguins!" It was great motivation for me. After arriving into Punta Arenas, we went to the ferry agency to book our tickets for Magdalena Island the next morning and then explored the city. Punta Arenas was a surprisingly large town that is the capital of the southernmost region of Chile. It sits on the Magellan Strait so there is a deep history with exploration of the Antartic region and trading routes. There's a lot of Croatian, Spanish and Italian influence that can be seen on the older buildings, especially the ones surrounding the Plaza De Armas. We walked to the lookout overlooking the colorful city and the strait. On the way we passed a distance sign pole that listed how far we were from different places. We were surprised to see a GA Tech plank!
Puerto Natales, Chile
We went to Puerto Natales to prepare for our nearby trek in Parque National Torres del Paine (TDP). The little city was bigger then we expected, but did not offer much other then shops to assist in your hikes. We went to the Erratic Rock Hostel where a guide gives a free talk every day on what to expect on the trails. It might have made Taylor even more nervous rather than making her feel more prepared. But in retrospect it was extremely helpful. They talked the route, what to eat, and warned of the famous Patagonia weather that would beat you up for the coming days. Afterward, we walked around for 30 minutes searching for a dehydrated food store. I think we passed it three times before we finally saw it. We stocked up on food for our trek and stopped by the bus station to buy tickets to TDP as well as the city transfers we would need for our remaining time in Patagonia. It was a huge relief to have everything booked ahead of time for once.
We took a 24 hour bus from Bariloche to El Chaltén down Route 40 in Argentina. It's like Route 66, a legendary road, but into the Wild South. It wasn't as boring as I thought it would be... time passed pretty quickly. When we took the turn for El Chaltén the desert gave way to amazing mountains covered in glaciers. The Fitz Roy Range makes its impact instantly. El Chaltén is a very tiny town that basically only exists so people can explore the surrounding mountains and a few hiking trails start right in town. Clouds started moving in as we searched for a hostel (cheaper to book when you arrive) and Fitz Roy disappeared from view. We weren't able to find WIFI while in El Chaltén. I enjoyed it, but Chris went into withdrawals.
Chris & Taylor
Read our travel blog as we visit three continents in 2017.