The wild landscapes and colors of Patagonia created the perfect backdrop for this group’s Argentina Private Journey. Take a look at some of their photos.
My wife, Lori, and I traveled to Patagonia with our friends in January of 2020. Our Private Journey to the Argentina side of Patagonia was organized and executed by Wilderness Travel. We spent three nights at the memorable Eolo Hotel near El Calafate, and then five nights in El Chalten. Everything about the trip exceeded our expectations!
The following images hopefully convey a sense of the unending beauty in Patagonia, and also that the region’s notoriously changeable weather can alter one’s perception of the surrounding landscape in a matter of minutes.
The road to El Chalten offers increasingly impressive views of the Fitz Roy massif, especially on clear days. We were still 15 miles from town when I took this photo. What a thrill it was for us to be approaching this place on this day!
Patagonia’s fickle weather was on full display during our day trip to Estancia Christina. The trip began under glorious skies with a cruise across Lago Argentina. Our boat departed from a nearby port just after I took this photo.
By the time we arrived at the Estancia however, we could see a squall approaching us from the west. Even the horses seemed to know a storm was coming.
Thankfully, the intense wind-driven shower lasted for just a few minutes. It was quickly replaced by a regime of dense, low clouds and gentle breezes. That cloud blanket remained just high enough to afford this remarkable view of the Uppsala glacier, at the far end of the Estancia.
Our best view of this granite spire, the iconic Cerro Torre, came during our first day in El Chalten – on the trail to Mirador Aguilas.
Ironically, we had exactly zero views of Cerro Torre while hiking the Cerro Torre trail itself. Clouds enshrouded the distinctive monolith that whole day. This was nevertheless an epic hike, affording somber, evocative views of secondary peaks such as this one.
While clouds surrounded both Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy on the days we hiked their namesake trails, there was abundant, warm sunshine in the valleys and plateaus leading to and from these peaks. We thus enjoyed endless commanding views like this one. We took plenty of time to relax on the trail and enjoy them.
I’ve never seen a more dazzling array of cloudscapes than what I witnessed in Patagonia. I chose to share my simplest example though, as a reminder that beauty exists everywhere down there. It is not confined to Patagonia’s many deservingly famous mountains, glaciers, and lakes!
During our ascent to the base of the Fitz Roy massif, it became clear that we were hiking straight into a cloud, and fast! Minutes after we were able to just barely discern these ghostly peaks through the cloud cover, we had become completely enshrouded by dense fog.
Thankfully, I did get a clear view of Fitz Roy in all its glory—several times in fact, including at sunrise! On our fourth morning in El Chalten, I woke at 5:15 am and saw that its peak was cloud-free. So I hoofed it up the Mirador Aguilar trail (mentioned above) just in time to experience a profoundly moving sunrise, over the course of about 45 minutes. A few other people were up there with me, but no one said a word. There was nothing to say, really.
At the same time, the sunrise was setting Fitz Roy ablaze, it was also shooting through a valley to bathe El Chalten—a colorful town to begin with—in a surreal golden glow.
We visited the Perito Moreno glacier on a variably cloudy day. The skies did brighten, and the clouds did become a bit more defined though, as we toured near its base.
The Rio de las Vueltas runs northeast of El Chalten, just outside Los Glaciares National Park. Undoubtedly, it appears as an accent in millions of photos taken by visitors to Patagonia. On our last morning in the area, however, the river itself became the star of the show! Its sediment-laden waters seemed unusually vibrant given the scarce sunlight, revealing its meanderings in brilliant turquoise.
Just for reference, I shoot with a Fuji XT-2 and a Fujifilm 18-135mm F/3.5 lens. On sunny days, I use a polarizing filter.
—Text and photos by Glenn Laffel, Argentina Private Journey.