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Just before Christmas, Man vs. Wild’s star, Bear Grylls, left us in suspense as he took us on one of his great adventures through Argentina. He traveled through the desolate lands of Patagonia, crawled out of one of the deep crevasses of the Perito Moreno glacier, rode horse-back along side a gaucho, and climbed 250 feet up a vertical rock face without a rope. So you could say we left you with a major cliff hanger as he prepared for episode 2.
Bear Grylls, the British host, author, and star of Discovery Channel’s Man vs. Wild spends his time traveling the world in search of beautiful locations, new adventures, and extreme experiences in nature that will challenge his renowned survival techniques. For two weeks in a row he took us to Patagonia and gave us a taste of the true ruggedness that is manifested throughout the southern Argentine lands. Both the beauty, and ruggedness is anything but understated in his Patagonian adventures.
Week two was just as exciting as he experienced an all new part of Patagonia, and not just any part, but one of the most highly recommended destinations from us here at Argentina’s Travel Guide. The infamous El ChaltÃ©n makes our list of Argentina’s Top 10 Destinations. Mountain hungry travelers with their eye on adventure head to this destination with intentions of trekking themselves sore. El ChaltÃ©n is the trekking capital of Argentina with the biggest challenge being Cerro Fitz Roy.
El ChaltÃ©n has also been known as the “smoking mountain” because it is typically covered with a large cloud that looms over the peaks up above. The smoking mountain was once considered sacred to the indigenous tribes of Argentina. In Bear’s one hour episode, he doesn’t have quite enough time to take us to the peak, but he does drop in on Patagonia with an impressive entrance. The first sight of the snow packed Andes Mountains we get is from the birds eye view as he flies above in a plane. The Andean Patagonia is best described as cold, glacial, icy, and last but not least, beautiful. Bear has plenty of time to contemplate this freezing climate as he soars down below with nothing but himself and his parachute. Just moments after he shows us the beautiful views he jumps overboard and skydives down below.
Skydiving into this part of Patagonia would surely be exciting, but most travelers get to Los Glaciares National Park by plane or bus. There are a few scattered towns in this area where many head when beginning their trekking adventures. El ChaltÃ©n is not only a mountain but also the name of a small town, a very remote village at the foot of the mountains. High demand for increased accessibility to these trekking adventures has also been met by the addition of an International Airport in El Calafate. Bear doesn’t take us anywhere near civilization in his adventures, but if you don’t have the convenience of traveling with a National Geographic camera crew and full staff, it may be helpful to know more about the other options.
While the accessibility to the mountain may not be as isolated as it once was, the mountain climb itself remains extremely difficult. There are various degrees of hikes that are available to both the day-hikers and the serious mountaineers out there. But a successful summit to the top is more commonly heard of at Mount Everest. El ChaltÃ©n is only half the size of Himalayan giants but it requires a very professional level of climbing due to the recurring stretches of granite faces and the inclement weather. Needless to say it is an amazingly beautiful experience regardless of the degree of difficulty in hike. From November – February, during Argentina’s summer months, the mountain is full of trekkers of all levels and experience.
Bear’s and his crew don’t take us up the mountain, but his Patagonia adventures in episode 2 are a great introduction to this breath-taking part of the country and will undoubtedly inspire you to discover more about the true spirit of Patagonia and plan a trekking adventure of your own.