The do's and don'ts of camping in Patagonia...
according to me.
It has been a few weeks since I last had chance to update this blog, but we've been out of internet range. As you can see from the title of this blog we've beem camping and trekking through Patagonia, and what is also known as the Lake district. Now for those who know me, you know that camping is something that I have avoided. That is unless someone carries my tent, puts it up and brings me water in the morning for my abolutions. Of course, none of this happened.
However, before I get to the camping, let me update you as to where we have been since our little journey to Rio Gallegos and beyond. For those interested we've been travelling on the Ruta 40.
We made our way north to a lakeside town called El Calafate, which is well known for it's glacier, Perito Moreno, and of course its beer (if you're following me on twitter @dontworrymysoul you'll have seen this). Perito Moreno glacier moves 2km every day and if you go in the morning then you will see large parts of the glacier breaking off into the lake below, this is known as 'carving'. The sound is incredible, and there are many viewpoints to see all sides of the glacier. Apologies for 'The Man's' nose :-(, but you can see the glacier.
We then moved onto El Chalten, a town created in 1985 because of a dispute with Chile. The two countries don't get on. I don't think that the town is even a 1km in length, and from one of the viewpoints you can see the entire town as well as the dramatic landscape behind. Mount Fitz Roy (named after the captain of the Beagle, the ship that Darwin travelled on to these waters) towers over the town and is why so many of us travel to hike and climb around it's lower ranges, (and some mad people go a wee bit higher). Not only did we camp in the town but we went on a multi-day trekking (4 days out) there.
That was not the end of the camping as we've been experiencing a very british holiday in the Argentinian version of the Lake District over the last 4 days. It's summer holidays here, so everyone just loads their cars up and drives to a bit of beach or rock that is near water and camps. Barbecue, beer, fishing, boating and lots of partying. In once place they partied until 4am!!! It's a bit like Switzerland, Lake Como, Sweden (according to 'The Man') and Lake Windemere rolled into one very large area. A lot of Chileans come over as the cigars, alcohol and petrol are cheaper and it's not very far. We hired a car, and 'The Man' drove, though lots of people seem to hitch. (no we didn't pick anyone up, our car was too full). The roads are a bit dicey and especially if you go to Villa Traful (beautiful, hot and only 700 people live there with no internet - how do they manage? Very well indeed.).
So, what did I learn from my camping? - we've camped almost 11 nights. [The number is in dispute as it feels like more to me, though last night I slept in a bed. it was amazing].
My dos and don'ts
1. Don't take a camping stove, who needs a hot meal anyway, fruit and nuts work for birds. Also the bread, cheese and ham for the evening meal is more than filing.
2. Don't do any exercise beforehand, I mean not all camping involves trekking. 13km with your backpack shouldn't be difficult, after all you do walk to Harrods from Green Park - with shopping bags.
3. Don't forget your makeup. The dirt, sweat and dust will look great when smeared through your foundation as you drag yourself up another hill. I hear that panto have started casting for the ugly stepsisters.
4. Don't bring wet wipes! Who cares if you smell. Water and soap is still fairly new, the aristocracy used to use perfume.
5. Don't even think of camping near the facilities, if there are any, as who doesn't mind hiking from your tent at 4am to use the toilet. You may as well drink that last bottle of water before bed, so you get that bit of exercise in.
6. Don't listen to 'The Man' when he's saying something about Camping. And definitely don't look surprised when he asks you where your pack is for the three dry hike you agreed to last night.
7. Don't stab 'The Man' with your walking stick when he asks whether you're alright as you reach the top of another hill, and can't breathe. Remember he's being considerate.
8. Your goal is survival, he knows it, you know it. His is to carry everything (tent, what little food there is and you at times).
9. Sometimes hell really is just that.