Experiencing Patagonia’s Beauty

Renee Russo in Patagonia
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My Patagonia trip began in cosmopolitan Buenos Aires, Argentina and ended in the bustling city of Santiago, Chile. Along the way we were surrounded by incredible nature as we visited Ushuaia, El Calafate, Torres del Paine, Punta Arenas, and Puerto Natales. The 10-day trip was filled with adventure and activities; mountain trekking, horseback riding, hiking to waterfalls, exploring fjords, glaciers and going underground to caves where long ago the Milodon (basically a giant bear) and sabre-tooth tigers used to roam.

Our first morning in Buenos Aires was spent walking around the cute neighborhood of La Boca, that is bursting with color and culture.

When In Ushuaia, we hiked a few hours in the golden fields, by beautiful water streams and when we arrived at the summit of our hike, local dogs came running and barking, excited to greet and welcome us before hurrying back to laying in the sun, while we enjoyed a wonderful lakeside lunch.

After lunch we took a boat to Beagle Channel to walk among the Magellanic Penguins. Hundreds of penguins call this island home and are so used to humans they don’t mind visitors stopping to snap pictures with any of them.

In El Calafate we visited the magnificent Perito Moreno Glacier. We hiked along the walkways viewing miles and miles of the icy wonder, awed by the vastness of the glacier and the crackling sounds of the pieces breaking off into the water.

My favorite day was day 6 in Puerto Natales, when I reached the top of the mountain to where the Andean condors nest. At the beginning of the trek I was handed hiking poles, I looked at them bewildered and asked “do I really need these?”, not because I am an advanced hiker, but because I didn’t realize what I had signed up for. I assumed it would be a leisurely hike up a mountain, but boy was I mistaken. The guide pointed to a tree at the top of the mountain that was so small and hard to see in the distance, said we’re going up there and quickly took off leading our group onward and upward to our journey.

By the time we had gone about a quarter of the way, and two people from our group of eight were quitting and going to turn back, I realized, out of breath, that this was going to be a challenge. When we got half way and another person from the group decided to stop there and wait for us to go to the top and come back down, I really debated stopping with him and surrendering to getting half way and seeing the view from that point, but decided to push through.

I took up the caboose of the now smaller group of five and kept on going. Upon getting to the top and seeing the condors soar, I was so happy I didn’t stop. Not only was it a challenge to myself but my step counter was on and I had really earned those steps that day, which made dessert that night after our fabulous dinner, that much sweeter.

This isn’t supposed to be cliché post about challenging yourself and climbing a mountain, but more about being out of your element and traveling somewhere you wouldn’t normally go to find incredible destinations that fill your days and heart with adventure.

Renee Russo