What a difference a week can make in Patagonia…
The main change is I am now travelling with my friend Tony rather than Lee, so we have dropped into “boy mode” with ambitious days starting with a 7am alarm and packing in as much as possible (and sometimes not managing) rather than the more indulgent (and of course more enjoyable) style of travelling with Lee. In this week unusually I am retracing my steps picking up the three key sights of Torres de Paine, Morneo Glacier and Fitzroy for Tony as the alternative route along the coast was described by one of my friends as “the most boring road on earth”, strong words from someone who has travelled most of the earth, so I ducked that one for the first part of the road at least and did a little “Tony loop” up the west..
This plan also gave me a chance to experience the difference a few days can make in Patagonia, when Lee and I travelled to Ushuaia from Torres we were genuinely concerned that the truck would be blown over in the strong winds, the day before on that road trip four campers were actually blown over in the park, one large one onto another car partly crushing its roof and an American motorcyclist was killed on the same road we were on (the ambulance passed us) when a gust blew him off the road.
When Tony and I did the same road just a week later it was sunny and blue sky with no wind at all and we could see the towers of the Torres from miles out on the road
In Torres park, the mountains were mostly clear and there was no wind at all as you can see above, the week before we were lucky to get a narrow weather window and see the mountain but in our case in a gale so strong we had to hunker down to stop being blown off the path and we had occasional snow flurries.
Two pictures of Lee braving the elements, for a person who normally hates wearing either coats or hats you can see she had to wrap up warm to get a brief glimpse of the Torres
Good weather makes the whole experience was much nicer and easier for overlanding (in this case it means camping in the car park of the welcome centre so not very glamorous) as we can sit outside in the sun and enjoy the evening more than being in the car hiding from the wind and the rain.
The next day we did a long drive and we went to the Moreno glacier, late in the afternoon, again warm and wind free which led to the added benefit of lots of “calving” due to the build up of heat through the day so in one hour we saw four or five big calving events and watched in T-shirts.
The week before the sky above the glacier was cloudy and windswept and the cold meant there was little activity, although in any condition the glacier is a majestic site.
Finally the last contrast was at mount Fitzroy, last week we counted ourselves lucky to see the mountain at all, and ducked rain showers to get up and down without getting soaked.
This week we had clear views of the mountain from miles out on the road and a warm hike from the village which was recording temperatures of 24C with no wind.
In the morning the clear sky allowed the dawn sun to light up the peak of Fitzroy, this nice photo taken with my iphone and unedited so it really did look like this.
So the lesson for anyone planning a trip to Patagonia, if you can, go in Februrary rather than early January as the probability of good weather is much better (but not guaranteed) and watch out for the wind !