Today is the 12th day of my journey in South America.
El Chalten is the next destination where most hikers will visit in Argentina just as Torres del Paine in Chile.
We drag the luggage toward the bus terminal.
Though the main street is still silent, the ternimal is already crowed with people.
Because we don't find any bus of Bus Pacheco, Shan thinks that the bus should be served by another company.
We search for the information in the jam and make sure of the bus until Shan asks the bus driver directly.
In fact, the ticket sold by Bus Pacheco is served by Cal-Tur.
Even the bus runs frequently from El Calafate to El Chalten, missing the bus is not a good thing.
I really think that the company who sells another company's tickets should tells the customers the detailed information they should know, especially English is not very useful in South America.
It reminds me of the travel in Melbourne, Australia. I missed my bus because of the unclear information.
Anyway, we get on the bus safely.
P.S: You could ask the information center inside the station a day before you departure as the station is not so crowded.
It takes about three hours to El Chalten.
El Chalten is a small town inside the national park where the scenery is quite different from other towns as Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales or El Calafate.
When we arrive, the tourists have to listen to the brief introduction about the national park and the hiking routes.
The admission is free and so is guided map.
A few years ago, this town doesn't have the bank, the ATM, and the internet service.
Nowadays, there are restaurants, souvenir shops, and many accommodations. New hotels are under constrction.
Though the internet is slow, it's available in the hostel. Some accomodations and shops accept the credit card and the ATM is also abailable in the tourist center.
The official website of El Chalten prvides very detailed information about the hiking routes.
Two main recommended routes are Laguna De los Tres and Laguna Torre.
In the first route to Laguna De los Tres, you will see Mt. Fitz Roy along the way via Laguna Capri, Mirador Fitz Roy and Poincenot campsite. It takes about 4 hours for a single trip.
Another route to Laguna Torre via De Agostini campsite and Mirador Maestri is also a 4-hour hiking.
Before the Laguna Torre, you could see the glacier and Mt. Torre.
Among all the suggestions about the hiking, we also find a special route.
You could take the shuttle along the road No.23 to Hostel El Pilar.
Then, you hike toward the Mirador Piedras Blancas.
This route will head to Poincenet campsite where you could go for Laguna De los Tres.
If you hike in this way, you don't have to follow the same route when you return. Besides, you save the time and your energy.
Therefore, it seems to be a perfect solution for us.
After the tiring hiking at Torres del Paine, I really don't want to hike for more than 8 hours.
We stay at Pioneros del Valle Hostel in El Chalten. The price is cheap and close to the start point for hiking.
The most important is that the Car-Tur bus will stop here as the last stop.
Though the way from the ternimal is not far, dropping off directly at the hostel should be better.
In other hand, it also means that the bus will depart from the hostel first and the pick up the guests at the terminal. The time for getting on the bus at the hostel is about 45 minutes before the real departure time.
Checking in the hostel, the room is fine but the kitchen is also poor as the hostel in El Calafate.
Maybe it's common in every hostel of Argentina.
Thus, I could only cook the instant noodle as mu lunch.
By the way, the ingredients sold in the supermarket are not so rich as other places and the price is also higher.
A photo provided by Shan shows the looking of the supermarket where is at the left side along the way from the terminal to our hostel.
There is also another small market with a big sign "Super Mercado" which is actually the souvenir shop.
Since we decide to take the shuttle tomorrow, we go to the tourist center (also the bus terminal) for the information, and Shan also wants to buy her ticket to San Carlos del Bariloche.
About the shuttle to Hostel El Pilar, two companies provide the service.
One of the companies, Transporte Las Lengas, is just in the tourist center.
The price is 60 pesos and they departs at 8:00, 12:00 and 15:00.
As for Shan, she bought the ticket of Chalten Travel to Perito Moreno while we're in El Calafate.
The bus company could also book the cave tour and the accommodation for you.
However, if you want to join the cave tour and leave at the same day, you have to buy the ticket from another company, Marga (TAQSA), otherwise, you have to stay at Perito Moreno for two days just for a half-day tour.
Afterwards, we choose a simple hiking route in this leisure afternoon.
The entrance is near the national park office and it only takes about two hours for a round trip.
Walking easily along the track by the hillside, the mirador "Los Condores" is the first point where you could get a view of this town.
Going further for another 30 minutes, you will reach the mirador Las Aguilas.
The wind is big but the scene is quite good which reminds me of landscape in Iceland.
Viewdma lagoon is located in the southwest of the town that looks unclear just as covered by a wall of fog.
You could lie down anywhere enjoying this beautiful scene.
The next morning, because I only stay at El Chalten for a night and the facilities of the hostel is poor, I buy my breakfast at the hostel for 35 pesos.
We get on the shuttle toward El Pilar for hiking to Laguna De los Tres.
Due to the unpaved road, the car doesn't drive very fast. It takes about 40 minutes to arrive the destination.
The weather today is cool, even cold for someone.
With a little rain, it's a nice condition for me to hike.
Normally, I don't like to exercise in the hot weather as I'm in Taiwan. Besides, the air quality is also bad.
I dont't think it's a good thing to exercise for an hour but breath the dirty air as well.
Even in the park or the school, on one could promise you that the air is clean and safe.
In the nation park like El Chalten or Torres del Paine, you're sure that all the condition is natural and pure, included the water.
Breathing the fresh air, drinking the fresh water and the weather is cool.
No place is so ideal for hiking just like this place.
About walking for two hours, the Piedras Blancas is opposite to us.
There is another rocky route that heads to the closest location in front of the lagoon if you watch the guided map but that route is not recommended.
Passing through the shortcut, you will enter the open field with bushes where you could find Mt. Fitz Roy.
The peak is surrounded by the cloud for most of the time.
If you want to take a photo of the clear peak, you have to wait with patient.
After Poincenot campsite, I take some water from the stream.
It's so great to drink the cool water for a long walk.
According to the information, the time for reaching Laguna De los Tres is about 30 minutes.
This route should be the hardest part of the whole but is still easier than the route to Mirador las Torres in Paine.
Along the z-track, the path is rocky but the wind is cold and big so I don't have to rest too much.
However, I still spend an hour to arrive the top around 12:20.
By the way, many Japanese elders go down this route when I hike up.
It would be very shameful if I give up in the half way.
The scenery is excellent with the blue lagoon and the peaks, but the peak of Fitz Roy is hidden behind the cloud as I take photo.
Although I really want to stay here longer, I have to hurry back to the town for my bus in the evening.
Therefore, I go down the hill after a 10-minute break.
As for Shan, she still has another day in El Chalten for the bus to San Carlos del Bariloche.
For this reason, she walk slowly as I go down the hill for one-third of the route.
When I pass Poincenot campsite, I find an exciting scene.
Three unknow eagles are resting on the ground in the area of the campsite.
It makes me very surprised and I take some photos right away.
According to the search of my friends, this eagle should be the Southern Crested Caracara.
I really like this natural wonder. It's so pure.
P.S Shan also meets a Red-headed Woodpecker somewhere in the forest.
Around 3 p.m, I rest for a while at the Mirador Fitz Roy.
The information board here shows the names of the peaks in front of you.
Remember to get clear of the location of Fitz Roy, though it's the highest peak.
In the last section of the route, I'm glad that I choose the correct hiking plan.
Most of the path is the descent, so it means that if you hike from the town, it's the ascent all the way.
Along the hillside, you would be amazed by the beautiful valley with the wandering river.
Finally, I go back to the hostel around four o'clock.
The total time for the hiking today is about 7 hours.
Before getting up the bus to El Calafate, I still have a long leisure time drinking the Cola and watching my photos.
Afterwards, I will travel alone for a week. I and Shan chose different routes for travelling northward.
I prefer to take the ferry from Puerto Natales, and Shan will go to San Carlos del Bariloche.