April. My birthday month! Also my last full month in South America, and one of the busiest and most physically demanding months I’ve had…maybe ever in my life. I won’t waste any time and get right into it! Here’s what April looked like through my eyes in Argentina and Chile.
We toured the bodegas of Cafayate.
Steph and I couldn’t get enough of the wine in Salta, so we decided to delve a bit further into northern Argentina’s wine country and headed to Cafayate. We did what we do best in this small town that looks like it came straight out of an old Western: tour the bodegas (wineries)! Cafayate is known for its sweet torrontés wine and wineries. We made a day of it and winery hopped until we shut the wineries down!
Where we stayed: Rusty-K Hostel – While we were some of the only guests, we loved this hostel’s beautiful patio and kind staff gives it such a comfortable feel that we stayed longer than planned!
I toured even more wineries in Mendoza.
I had two priorities in Mendoza: steak and wine. I accomplished both by going on a tour of the wineries and eating an incredible bife de chorizo (steak) with some of the incredible people I met at my hostel. There wasn’t a lot of productivity going on here, but it was a lot of fun.
Where I stayed: Hostel Empedrado – Free wine from 7-9PM? Sold! I really loved this hostel. It is clean and has a relaxing, yet social vibe.
I got my first taste of Patagonia in Bariloche.
…And it tasted like craft beer and chocolate! Bariloche is known for its chocolate and craft beer scene, and both were incredible. I spent a pretty peso at a few of the chocolate shops and enjoyed a pint or two with my new inspiring friend Kaleigh. With four other beautiful ladies we also bicycled the Circuito Chico, a route that shows off the lakes and mountains near Bariloche, ending the day at Cerro Campanario with the best panoramic view in town.
Where I stayed: Hostel Inn Bariloche – I spent five blissful days at this hostel and loved every minute of it. It is super cozy and has a terrace with a view of the lake! It was awesome at sunset and though I never woke up in time, I heard the sunrises were beautiful, too!
I began the first of many Patagonia treks in El Chaltén.
The exciting stuff I did in April really started to to happen when I threw my backpack down in El Chaltén after an almost 24-hour bus ride from Bariloche and started hiking. I met two awesome couples, one French and the other German, and hiked with them to Laguna Torre on a beautiful autumn day. The following day we unfortunately faced blizzard-like conditions when we tried to hike to Mt. Fitz Roy and had to turn around after hiking for hours. It was really disappointing and filled me with doubt about the possible weather conditions when I was going to head further south to Torres del Paine. As our ill-fated luck would have it, the German couple and I left for El Calafate with a clear view of Fitz Roy in our rearview mirror the following day!
Where I stayed: Condor de los Andes – El Chaltén is a tiny town that barely has a working WiFi connection, but I think that’s what made this hostel so much fun. It was kind of nice to be holed up in a warm place without having the outside world immediately at your fingertips.
I trekked on a glacier in El Calafate.
El Calafate was cold! As it should be since there’s a glacier nearby. I went on a “big ice” tour of the Perito Moreno glacier. Because it is one of Patagonia’s few glaciers that is actually growing in size, I didn’t feel so guilty about walking on it with crampons attached to my feet. I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before, but it is a humbling feeling to have something so massive before your eyes. It makes you think about the enormity of the world. Sometimes I think the world feels like a small place, but sometimes it feels like it just goes on forever.
Where I stayed: Schilling Hostel Patagonico – Located very close to the bus station, this place was great to stay at for a few days while touring the glacier. The free breakfast spread was more elaborate than most other hostels in Patagonia, too!
I Turned 28!
Last year, I celebrated my birthday in Gran Canaria, Spain. This year: Puerto Natales, Chile! I was hanging out in Puerto Natales as I figured out my plans to trek in Torres del Paine and celebrated my birthday with some wine and friends at the hostel. “Happy Birthday” songs were sung to me in English, German, and Spanish! In a way this was one of the lonelier birthdays I’ve had, but it was also filled with a lot of outpouring love from my friends all over the world. I sadly don’t even have a picture from this day!
Where I stayed: Erratic Rock Hostel – This hostel is the hub for most people planning on trekking in Torres del Paine. The owner was so nice, remembering everyone by name and helping with anything needed to prepare for the trek. The breakfast is delicious, the staff are so kind, and the beds were so comfortable! I stayed here before and after the trek and just loved it.
I trekked the “W” in Torres del Paine.
I set off on the “W” trek in Torres del Paine National Park for five days and four nights. I was determined to survive this trek after having trouble carrying all of my gear when I hiked Volcán Acatenango in Guatemala. This time I was carrying even more gear than before, including my tent, sleeping bag, cooking supplies, and food. It was really tough, but the most challenging and rewarding trek I have ever done, especially because I did it on my own.
I did a whole lot of nothing in Punta Arenas.
I almost forgot I even went to Punta Arenas, Chile, but it was on the way to Ushuaia. I didn’t take a single photo and basically just ate steak there. It was cold and I was still exhausted from the trek!
Where I stayed: Hospedaje Magallanes – Owned by a German friend of the Erratic Rock owner, I really enjoyed my stay in Punta Arenas even if I didn’t do anything. I know I keep talking about breakfast but this breakfast was awesome, too!
I went to the end of the world!
And finally 8 months later, I made it to Ushuaia. El fin del mundo. The end of the world, as it’s called. Though it was windy, I was lucky there wasn’t any snow as I toured the Beagle Channel by boat and hiked part of Tierra del Fuego that was still open since it’s low season. Arriving in Ushuaia was kind of a big deal to me. It’s the southernmost city in the world and was the real final destination on my trip. I touched down in Cancún with a hope of traveling all the way down to Ushuaia, but I wasn’t sure if I would actually make it. I cried as my plane embarked for Buenos Aires. A lot.
Where I stayed: Cruz del Sur – This hostel was recommended to me by some friends and one of the only hostels I could find online. It has a perfect location in the center of Ushuaia and was a really chilled out place to reflect on my trip.
I’ve spent some fun days in Buenos Aires and some sad days here and in Montevideo, Uruguay. I miss the “real” South American feel of places like Peru or Bolivia. Buenos Aires is great, but it’s not so culturally different from Madrid or New York City. Sometimes I really don’t know what to do with myself here in a big city.
As I write this, it’s already mid-May. In fact my trip is over tomorrow and I’ll be flying back to the US with no foreseeable plans for another big trip. The thought actually terrifies me. Am I going to live in the US? I’m not sure. Am I going to be able to continue to grow this blog and grow as a writer? I really hope so. I do want some stability in my life, but I am not quite sure I’m ready for that “American Dream” type of situation. And I definitely do not want to go back to having a desk job. I have a ton of writing to catch up on and many stories to tell from South America and I can’t wait to actually have the time to sit down and write it all out (which I say every month!) but I really mean it this time. I promise.