Trekking Argentina – South Patagonia Icefield Expedition – Day 8

Despite low cloud hiding the tops of the mountains, dawn over the Bahía de los Témpanos was a celebration of this beautiful area. 

Dawn over the Bahía de los Témpanos - South Patagonia Icefield Expedition - Argentina

An incredible dawn light over the Bahía de los Témpanos

Unfortunately, we couldn’t linger to watch it fully unfold, as we had to be at our pick-up point by 2:30pm, and we still had a 15km trail in front of us.  So off we set across the steppe that characterizes such a lot of Argentinean Patagonia.

Patagonian steppe - South Patagonia Icefield Expedition - Argentina

Early morning on the Patagonian steppe

We were farewelled by one last rainbow over the Viedma Glacier

Rainbow over the Viedma Glacier - South Patagonia Icefield Expedition - Argentina

Our last rainbow for the trek – looking across Lago Viedma to the Viedma Glacier

And enjoyed moody vistas of the southern end of the Fitz Roy mountain chain.

Mountains obscured by cloud - South Patagonia Icefield Expedition - Argentina

The partially obscured mountains loaned a bit of drama to the otherwise not terribly interesting steppe

It was a fairly easy and uneventful hike through the typical vegetation of the region: Lenga, Coiron, Nenao, Paramela, Calafate, Siete Camisas and Mata Guanaco – most of which are low, dry, and quite spiky plants.  It helps to pay attention before you sit down!

Steppe vegetation and Lago Viedma - South Patagonia Icefield Expedition - Argentina

Vegetation on the Patagonian steppe and Lago Viedma

The most difficult hiking was through the boggy patches, and Reto commented that at times it felt as if we were walking through the Everglades.  “I hope we don’t come across any alligators!” I responded, reveling in the fact that my feet were still blissfully dry.  I LOVE my boots!

Negotiating the swampy bits - South Patagonia Icefield Expedition - Argentina

Negotiating the swampy bits. This “bridge” was a luxury, we were generally just walking through water

To be honest, the scenery was not as interesting as it had been for the rest of our trek, and it felt like a bit of a sprint to the finish-line in the end.  We had one more obstacle to overcome first, however.  Another zipline.  Though fortunately this one was angled downwards and it was easy sliding from one side to the other.

 

We arrived at the dock at the same time as our transport and were rewarded with ice-cold beers and a Fanta for me.  It was a relief to ditch the pack for the last time, but the end of every long-distance trek is bitter-sweet, and I was disappointed that it was all over.

Group Photo - South Patagonia Icefield Expedition - Argentina

We made it! Our South Patagonia Icefield Expedition group from L-R: me, Rafa, Juan, Reto, Anita, Jan. Thanks guys for the amazing trip!

The 40 minute drive back to El Chaltén was uneventful and, after a visit to the police station to get stamped back into Argentina, we had to say our farewells to Juan and Rafa.  Truly awesome guides and fantastic fun.  Love these guys! 

Right.  Now where’s that shower…

Hiking Details

  • Hiking time:  5.5 hours
  • Distance Covered: 15.5km
  • Altitude:  +381m, -357m

Read more about the South Patagonia Icefield Expedition

If this post has piqued your curiosity, read about the rest of my adventure on the the 8-day South Patagonia Icefield Trek with Serac Expeditions and Swoop Patagonia:

  • Prelude – leading up to departure
  • Day 1 – El Chaltén to Laguna de los 14 
  • Day 2 – Marconi Pass to Refugio Garcia Soto
  • Day 3 – Gorra Blanca summit
  • Day 4 – Refugio Garcia Soto to Circo de los Altares
  • Day 5 – Circo de los Altares to Laguna Ferrari
  • Day 6 – Laguna Ferrari to Refugio Paso de Viento
  • Day 7 – Refugio Paso de Viento to Paso Huemul to Bahía Témpanos
  • Day 8 – Bahía Tempanos to El Chaltén
  • Summary

Alternatively, check out my other posts about hiking and trekking in Argentina and around the world.

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