Tuesday 1st December 2015
From the bus station, I walked to the hostel called Aylen Aike that Marcus had recommended me. Here was one of the street of El Chalten on which I walked. Wide streets with not much traffic yet. This place looked small, still not too touristy and very pretty. A secret gem! I was so glad to see it now and not in 10 years!
I arrived at the hostel and met Sebe, the owner, a friend of Marcus, the Australian guy with who I had been rafting in Futaleufu with Fredrik and Maya and who had been living in El Chalten the past 7 years. In Tehuelches’ mothertongue, the word “Aylen” means “ember” and “Aike” means “place” and Sebe had given this name to the hostel to make it a “warm place”. There I got a bed in a 8-beds dorm, dropped my bag and went to buy some food at the nearby supermarket and made some quick lunch in the kitchen. Then I asked Sebe about the hiking options. We looked at this map on the wall and he told me about 4-day hikes possibilities and how I could do that. At that stage, I was not comfortable yet in doing a multi-day hike alone and thought I would rather go for multiple one-day hikes maybe unless I found some people motivated to go too.
In the afternoon, I walked to the information centre located right next to the bus station and asked about short walks.
The woman gave me a map and showed me 2 walks that could be done nearby to go to the Mirador de los Aguilas and Mirador de los Condores. That’s the ones on this map located just south of the El Chalten name written in bold capital letters.
On my way to the walks, I passed a cool statue of a hiker made of iron and copper.
Arriving at the bridge on which we passed with the bus in the morning. At that moment, the bus station was on my left.
View of the river from the bridge
I started walking towards the miradors and saw this sign on which were written all the names of the nearby peaks.
Walking on the path.
A map about the Mirador de Los Condores walk.
Walking a bit up. At that moment, I ran into Alex and Francesca. I asked them which hikes they were planning to do the next days and they told me they had decided to go for 4 days. We talked about it as I wanted to do that too and at some point Alex told me: “We have to warn you though. We are very slow!” I replied “That’s perfect, I am slow too!” We discussed a bit about the food to buy for the trek and I took note of what I could get at the supermarket. As internet was really bad in town, we decided to meet at my hostel in the evening at 8.30pm. It was around 5.30pm so that gave me plenty of time to go to the miradors.
Looking back, view of the Fitzroy and the other mountains.
Then I turned around and here there was, this condor flying around! And then he disappeared, and another one came flying around. And disappeared. And then no condors for the rest of the day! Such a majestic bird!
There were a lot of signs explaining a bit about the condors that I saw during the entire walk. Here they are.
At this junction, I hesitated. Should I go to the mirador de los condores first or the mirador de los aguilas? I opted for the left path going towards the mirador de los condores. I was hoping to see more condors!
Here is a view of the surroundings from there.
The view of the entire El Chalten
I walked back to the junction and then took the path to the right.
I arrived at this viewpoint where a few people were sitting or contemplating.
I had arrived at Mirador de Los Aguilas. I couldn’t see any eagles though. The view was pretty.
Here was the view to the right of Lago Viedma.
Then I took a path to do a loop instead of coming back on the same path and went a bit up.
I passed these flowers.
I got to a viewpoint from which we could see the Fitzroy and other mountains as well as the plane below and El Chalten in the distance to the right.
Then I walked down, got a little bit lost as usual, still managed to find the way back and went back to the bridge. At the end of the path I saw this bird.
There was this other bird nearby, probably the female or maybe a juvenile.
Then I walked back towards the hostel, bought some more food in the little supermarket, some for dinner and some for the hike for the next days. In the supermarket, a girl asked me: “Hey, would you like to buy with me this pasta? I want to use it to go hiking but I don’t need the full pack.” I said “No, thank you. We have already split the food for three but otherwise could have worked out!” Then I went back to the hostel. I dropped some stuff in the dorm where I met two Swedish friends who had just arrived fresh from Sweden. They were for the first time in Patagonia and very excited and had come to celebrate the 50th birthday of one of them. He showed me the birthday card his wife had given him that he was not allowed to open until the D-day. They were both super excited about going hiking the next days! Sharing the dorm was also a couple, Nadine and Marcel who had done the Circuit at Torres del Paine in 7 days about 3 weeks before. We cooked together and I asked them a lot of questions as I was very interested in that trek! Then the girl I had seen at the supermarket arrived too. Her name was Agnieszka, she was from Poland but living in San Diego and travelling alone for a few weeks. She was quite busy so she shared moments of the evening quite sporadically with us! After dinner, Alex and Francesca arrived and we talked further about the food for the 4 days. Then they left around 10.30pm. Night was falling. The further South we were going and the closest to the 21st December we were getting, the longer the day was getting too, which was awesome! All of us in the dorms finished packing the bags for the hikes and went to bed around midnight, super excited! We were in El Chalten!!! Whhoooohoooo!!!
The next day, off to the mountains for a 4-day hike!!!