Belles on Location

Argentina's Los Glaciares National Park

A Travel Belle learns to rough it in the untamed wilderness of Argentina

I poked my head out of the small opening of the tent, my sleeping bag still cocooned around me as I peered at the Fitz Roy Mountain. I had hoped the clouds disguising its peak would have subsided. It was my third day in Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park with my boyfriend, Michael, and his cousin, Evan. The towering mountain was partially hidden behind a thick veil of cloud and it appeared stubbornly comfortable.

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As I sat hunched over my porridge, shovelling it into my mouth, I thought of the day ahead. Previous to this trip to Argentina, my hiking experience could have been summed up to a bi-annual walk up a hill in my locality that soars just above 950 feet. That day, though, our planned route was a circuit in which we would cover about 12 miles. Our stomachs achingly full with porridge and our small bags packed for the day, we ventured off to enjoy more of the spectacular, undisturbed beauty that permeates this national park.

That day we encountered the varied terrains of Los Glaciares, which we had grown to adore. Between scrambling over boulders, steering around glaciers and trekking through forests scattered with wild horses, we found ourselves struggling against the wind and attempting to avoid the whipping rain. As we trudged toward our campsite unable to discern whether we were dripping with rain or sweat, our minds were focused on the fact that that evening we would return to the luxury of an already pitched tent. Unfortunately, the Patagonian weather intervened and quickly quenched that warming thought as we arrived to a tent wrestled to the ground and bearing battle scars of rips and tears.

With an hour of daylight remaining, the ever-practical Michael rustled through his backpack and produced a small sewing kit. Our fingers worked furiously as we operated on the open wounds of the canvas, looping the thread anxiously, our eyes straining as dusk was falling heavily upon us.

Satisfied with our hurried work we pitched our tent at a more sheltered and crowded site just above where we had been. While the outer layer of the tent was temporarily repaired, our bag of tricks did not contain any remedies for a broken tent pole. With no other option, we pitched the tent – lame pole and all – and settled in for an uneasy night, listening to the tormenting and threatening wind willing our invalid shelter to last the night.

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We awoke the following morning, tent still intact and our shaken nerves calmed. As I emerged I looked ahead to a clearing in the trees. After that unfortunate night I had a glimmer of hope that today we would see Fitz Roy in its entirety. As I gazed ahead, I could see … clouds.

While Los Glaciares claimed our tent and denied us our perfect view, I left with a proverbial spring in my step, having learned that I can rough it and Michael can sew.

This article has 9 comments

  1. Amanda

    what a lovely narrative. this place sounds magical – for a brief moment i almost thought i was looking at an image of a unicorn in the photo of the horses.

  2. Margo

    Susan, this is a fantastic story – the kind that takes me right along for the ride. thanks for sharing it! And I agree w/ Amanda about the horses looking like unicorns!

  3. Krista

    I’m grinning and sympathetically shivering as I picture you out there in that blustery weather furiously sewing and making a hodge-podge shelter. So glad you made it through that long night!! Love that picture of the horses in the trees. Magical and beautiful!

  4. Ayelet - All Colores

    This park is my favorite part of the world thus far, though I know it from the Calafate side. I missed El Chalten and owe it a visit 🙂 Whenever I read stories about tents in the Patagonian winds, I wonder how I would have handled it and what would have happened had the tent collapsed mid-night. I was left in suspense during your post and was very happy the tent made it through the night! You’re very courageous, and how fun to discover that your boyfriend can sew!

  5. Susan Mc Ateer

    Thanks for all the nice comments! The horses were quite unicorn like, it came over very Lord of the Ringsy at times there! Ayelet, Calafate is lovely isn’t it! I’m assuming that you got in Perito Moreano and what not?

  6. Solo Female Nomad

    Im becoming constantly aware of how much Argentina has to offer! It is now another country that I hope to visit – I imagine though that I would need a couple of months to see all the places that I would to experience as it looks amazing!

  7. Bobbi Lerman

    Your story had a lovely lyrical quality to it.
    I loved reading it. I felt like I was there with you.
    I agree, the photo of the horses does have a Lord Of the Rings Feel to it.
    Another place to add to my always growing list.

  8. Ayngelina

    And a fantastic story to share!

  9. Kate Turner

    Sounds like a real adventure! I’m not sure it’s convinced me to try camping (I’m a tent-phobe!), but the scenery looks stunning and makes me think I should see more countryside when I travel rather than taking city or beach breaks.

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