Though I promised no more pictures of hiking adventures, I'm afraid I lied. In compensation, I will condense my three days in El Chatlen into one post too ease the boredom. That said a condensed post in no way reflects the pleasure of the three days I spent here. I heard about la Hosteria El Pilar from two guests at Explora and decided I had to go. They described it as a cute, hidden little house nestled in the mountains about 15 km from the tiny frontier town of El Chalten, and more importantly as their favorite spot in Patagonia. Lucky for me they had space for two nights (which turned into three it was so lovely). Didn't hurt that I discovered on my first morning that they had an adorable house cat called Coca.
El Chalten itself is a rather interesting place. It is Argentina's youngest town, created in 1985 to settle a bit of a border dispute with Chile. The town is in a national park which is a bit strange and was created so that the state could claim to have citizens living in an area that Chile was claiming as its own. Seems that Argentina won this particular border dispute, though I honestly don't know the whole story. I can tell you however that when you drive too and from Chile to go to Torres del Paine you have to drive through a sort of 8km bumper zone between the two countries. As to who actually manages this area I have no idea, but you could see that there were working farms in the 8 km area. Clearly, the two countries haven't finished this dialogue over who owns what yet.
The places to see in El Chalten are many but the stars of the show are the Cerro Fitzroy and the Cerro Torre. I got lucky on the first day and I got to the base of Cerro Fitzroy about an hour before the crowds from Chalten arrived and had the place to myself. The next day, another very long hike to reach the Cerro Torre but it was as they say here 'tapado', or hidden in clouds. Still a beautiful hike. Ended with dinner in the town at La Cerveceria and a late night pick up from the staff at the Hosteria.
Off today to Buenos Aires via El Calafate. Patagonia was everything I thought it would be and more.