Christmas in Patagonia

I’m not sure how Santa fared this Christmas in Patagonia. Judging by the howling wind all night, it must have required monumental effort for him to fly around and drop down all those chimneys. The wind wailed all night long, keeping us both up for much of the night. In the morning, we had grand plans of a super early morning, hoping to seize the day, but after a rough night’s sleep, we gifted each other with sleeping in a bit :)

Once we packed up we finally made it to the trailhead. Our hike to an alpine lake with views of a glacier sandwiched between jagged peaks was stunning.

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Despite a slightly overcast day, it felt awesome to be hiking in Patagonia on Christmas morning – a few setbacks getting here, but we were stoked!

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After a few hours of hiking, we called it quits and made our way out of El Chalten. Next stop on our tour was El Calafate. The contrast of the trip was stunning – the road ran through arid, almost desert-like nothingness, stopping at a turquoise glacial lake, and beyond that mountains with jagged, snow-capped peaks. What a crazy place. El Calafate didn’t seem to offer much at first, but we found a campsite and decided not to push for another long day. We set up camp and enjoyed using the Wifi to call our parents and wish our families a Merry Christmas. It was lovely to catch up with family and we were happy to relax and enjoy leftovers for dinner together.

Perhaps the best part was that all the overlanders passing through the area seemed to have chosen the same campground, including a Swiss couple driving a Volkswagen through the Americas. We were jealous of their completely customized Syncro, complete with 4WD and redesigned interior. We compared notes and they gave us a few tips about Tierra del Fuego, which they had just come from. A German family with a customer Land Rover pulled in later, and Wolf had a good time chatting about cars with everyone. The Volkswagen owners even reassured us that they had also removed their oxygen sensor and that it was perfectly safe and a smart move. We were happy to be in good company to celebrate Christmas.

The next morning our destination was the Perito Moreno Glacier. The road into the park was another gorgeous drive along a glacial lake, but we still couldn’t quite believe it when we came around the corner and saw the massive glacier.

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Perito Moreno is famous primarily because it is considered stable – while most of the world’s glaciers are receding, the Perito Moreno glacier is actually advancing, up to 2 meters per day, which results in some awesome calving action. Inside the park we took a shuttle to a series of catwalks, perched on the edge of a hill overlooking the glacier.

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With the glacier extending into the mountains further than we could see, and seemingly edging towards us over the water, the whole scene was awe-inspiring. We wandered the long series of catwalks, admiring the massive wall of ice from every angle, watching the ice change from white to blue as the sunlight came and went behind clouds.

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Occasionally a huge slab of ice would calve off and fall into the ocean, creating huge waves and amazing Hollywood-esque crashing sounds.

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The scene was other-worldly, and I kept thinking about what it would be like to discover this glacier, to try to make sense of the arid desert, turning into a turquoise lake, which yielded a massive wall of ice stretching farther than the eye could see.

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What an awesome place.

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Eventually we gave in and grabbed lunch at the cafeteria before heading back towards El Calafate. Feeling the Christmas spirit, we picked up another set of hitchhikers. These were a pair of Polish sisters, one of whom lived in Argentina. They were super fun and friendly and bubbly and certainly raised our spirits. It helped that they loved our van and we had fun chatting with them until dropping them at their destination. We made a quick detour to check out the wild flamingos hanging out in the lagoon below town. They were so fun to see, if even from a bit of a distance.


From there, we started our journey towards Tierra del Fuego. We made it as far as we could before finding a lonely little campsite and restaurant in the middle of nowhere where we parked next to the river and cooked dinner while watching the rabbits and ducks hanging out by the water.


One thought on “Christmas in Patagonia”

  1. I am so impressed with your storytelling, Caroline! Your photos are beautiful. The glaciers are similar, but different at the same time, to the ones your dad and I saw in Alaska…at the opposite pole. Look forward to the next chapter.


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