阿根廷南部的埃爾卡拉法特（El Calafate），地理位置比紐西蘭更南，雖是 12 月南半球的夏天，這裡只得幾度，我們從三十多度的伊瓜蘇瀑布飛來，生理心理都需要時間去調整。
來埃爾卡拉法特有兩個目的：第一是到 El Chaltén 登山，近看 Patagonia 最多人認識的 Mount Fitz Roy；第二是到訪佩里托莫雷諾冰川（Glaciar Perito Moreno）。
Patagonia 高聳入雲的山脈保持著太平洋帶來的濕度，令冰川在海拔 1,500 米便形成，較世界其他地方冰川的形成高度低了近 1,000 米。不同於其他冰川，佩里托莫雷諾沒有因地球暖化而融化縮小，每年都保持正增長。
給我們這種感覺的不只是價錢，還有這巿沒有笑容的餐廳服務態度，大家不約而同一副過主臉。但這裡的羊吃一種只有 Patagonia 獨有的半乾灌木，烤後有一種獨特味道，讓我們吃上癮，即使服務質素差，我們還是羊漢堡包、羊薄餅、羊排、羊肉煲，一次又一次的進餐廳。
我們沒有參加冰川團，只買了來回巴士票，自備午餐到訪。佩里托莫雷諾冰川長 5 公里，分隔了兩個湖泊，坐船出湖近距離只看到一半，另一半則要走棧道看。看得見的冰川有 80 米高，藏於水中的有 160 米深。每隔幾分鐘便聽到震耳欲聾的冰川破裂聲，冰塊繼而掉到水裡，看似小小的冰塊，漂近輪船才發現比它大幾倍。
A Hike to Mount Fitz Roy／Kimberlogic
El Chaltén is a very tiny town tucked between mountains and lakes in Southern Patagonia, Argentina. The closest airport is three hours away in El Calafate, so the only way to get here is by car or bus. El Chaltén is known as Argentina’s trekking capital because that is the only reason people go there. It is also only fully operational during the summer months and is practically deserted in winter due to the harsh weather.
We took the three hour bus ride from El Calafate to El Chaltén on a cold rainy day. Just before crossing the bridge into the town, our bus stopped at the National Park office. Anyone arriving by bus to El Chaltén must stop at the National Park office to get information about the area and the trails. It was a 10 minute briefing about how to keep the area clean, the weather, dogs and wildlife in and around the town and the most popular hikes and how to access the trails.
One of the coolest things about Southern Patagonia in summer is that the sun doesn’t set until after 20:00 and it doesn’t start to get dark until after 22:00. This is another reason El Chaltén is a hiker’s paradise. The hikes here are long, but you don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn to start or have fear of finishing before the sun goes down.
There really isn’t anything to do in El Chaltén besides hiking, so even though it was a little rainy we still did the one kilometer hike at the entrance to the town. We hiked up to a lookout point to see the town and surrounding mountains. We spotted a few condors flying around and we could see the town, but we had no idea that there were giant snow capped peaks hiding behind the rain clouds.
The next day we did absolutely nothing. It was raining so hard that when we looked out of the window it looked like a ghost town. We still had one more full day in El Chaltén, but we met a few unfortunate people who only planned two days here and weren’t able to hike at all because of the weather. Patagonia’s climate is very unpredictable and the weather in El Chaltén can change drastically in seconds.
Mother Nature smiled upon us the following day. We had a beautiful sunny sky and the wind was mild. We hiked up to Mount Fitz Roy, one of the most iconic mountains in Patagonia (it is the logo on the clothing company, Patagonia). It was 20 kilometers roundtrip (~12.5 miles) and took us around eight hours to complete.
The hike was visually stunning and it even began lightly snowing. The last kilometer is straight up 400 meters (~1,300 feet) and took us almost an hour to climb through the wet, slippery snow. When we reached the summit we were met with the striking view of a turquoise glacial lake surrounded by a blanket of snow and the jagged tips of Mount Fitz Roy poking out of the clouds.
This was one of the longest hikes we have done, but also the most rewarding. Being able to access amazing hiking trails right from the town and having so many hours of sunlight in a day makes El Chaltén Argentina’s trekking capital and I would say one of my favorite places that we have visited on this Home to Home journey.