Patagonia has always been in my list of places to visit, and I got it checked off in April of 2014. Our trip began in El Chaltén which is about a 3 hour drive from the city of El Calafate. El Chaltén is located within the Los Glaciares National Park – a beautiful village at the base of Cerro Torre and Cerro Fitz Roy mountains. We checked into Posada Lunajuim in El Chaltén, and spent the next 4 days exploring the area.
It was not very cold in April with temperature hopping around -2oC to 10oC. However, the place was extremely windy most of the time. Wind-proof and preferably water-proof jacket and pants are necessities for visiting Patagonia. We had 2 days of pouring rain and 1 cloudless day in our trip, but most of time it was overcast. While in El Chaltén, we were blessed with some awesome sunrise and sunsets on a few occasions.
Sunrise over the village of El Chaltén with Mount Fitz Roy in the background.
Mount Fitz Roy sunset. The image was taken from a meadow near El Chaltén
Blowing in the wind
We drove back to El Calafate on the fifth day and visited Perito Moreno – an active glacier. Unfortunately, it was pouring rain on that day. The next day, we departed early for Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. It was a pleasant 3-4 hour drive from El Calafate with view of sheep ranches, grasslands, forests and mountain terrain along the way. We stayed at Pehoe Lodge where photographing sunrise and sunset could be done within the hotel property. Since it was fall in Patagonia, the area was covered with gorgeous autumn colors.
Cuernos del paine at sunset from lake pehoe.
Fall color in April
For the next 3 days, we hang around Lake Pehoe searching for beautiful landscape and wildlife. We saw a lot of guanacos, birds such as the rheas, black-buzzed eagles, caracara, condors and white foxes. The wildlife tolerated human presence pretty well and could be captured with a 300mm lens on a full frame camera. The only exception was the condors, which resided in high cliffs.
Herd of guanacos grazing inside Torres del Paine National Park
Cascade del Rio Paine
From Lake Pehoe, we moved to Lake Grey and stayed at the lodge there. Another gorgeous location that you can admire the peaks and see icebergs floating in the lake out of the hotel windows. For closer look of the glacier, you can take a boat tour. Boat tours are available in most of the glaciers and I highly recommend taking at least one of them so you can photograph the texture.
Floating iceberg on Lake Grey
Grey Glacier captured from a boat trip.
A four-minute exposure of the magnificent towers (Torre Sur, Torre Central and Torre Norte) at sunset.
After spending a few nights at Lago Grey, we drove back to El Calafate early in the morning to catch the flight to Buenos Aires. We stayed overnight in the city and took a flight out of the international airport the next evening. All in all, it was such a wonderful trip that I will definitely go back again if opportunity arises.
Agnes Chan with camera and tripod in Death Valley
Camera and Lenses: I bought with me a Canon 5D-MarkIII and the following lenses: Zeiss Distagon T 18mm f3.5, Canon TS-E-24mm f3.5L II, Canon EF 40mm f2.8 STM and Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5/6L IS USM. I hardly used the 18mm and 40mm. The 70-300mm was used in almost 80% of the images for capturing the mountain peaks. If I am going to the same locations again, I will take a 24-70mm and the 70-300mm. A super-telephoto lens is not really needed unless you want to get close enough to the condors.
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Credits: The Canadian Nature Photographer