After a couple of mega blustery days being bounced around the boulders along the shores of Laguna Electrico, we were happy to wake to an almost perfectly cloudless sky and promise of a dry day ahead. Whatever it was, that we managed to do right in a previous life, I am truly grateful for!! Camp routine down pat; bed tea, pack up sleeping bags etc, porridge, pack up tent and head out, we almost skipped out of camp in the early sunlight, buoyed by the prospect of actually being able to catch more than a glimpse of the majestic Fitz Roy massif.
No surprises, the previously bleak, dark and eerie ancient nirre beech forest took on a whole new different feel as we approached second time around; dappled light played on the bright green leaves and sparkled on the lichen, parakeets and woodpeckers could be seen and heard – our pace was faster than the walk in and we made good time as we headed back down the valley, on the true left bank (the way the water flowed). This route took in the ‘exclusive’ Hostelria Pillar. A pretty sexy looking privately owned hotel on the farther shores of the Rio Blanco; picket fence surrounded the manicured lawns that housed cute red brick roofed lodges with pale apricot washed walls and trellised porches. Quite surreal to stumble upon something so stylised in a landscape of gnarled nirre and lenga forests, wide open scrubby river flats, boggy grassland intimidating rocky moraine and dirt roads. We followed the white stoned edged path towards the bank of the river and back into the National Park. Easy to see why this side of the valley was a dream for day walkers parking up at the designated car park behind Pillar; a well trodden trail wove its way through the forested terrace, tracing the path of the river with exposed tree roots worn smooth by passing feet plus lookout points along the way. Jaw-dropping ones at that – on a cloudless day that is!!
As the path weaved it’s way nearer towards Laguna Capri, our final campsite, we were treated to a series of different views of the rugged shark-tooth like mountain range that formed the centrepiece of the massif. Seraks, crusty pinnacles of ice stood spiky, tall and proud on the glaciar below the jagged rock face, as whispy clouds came and went, softening the tips of the peaks. Just as we thought it couldn’t get any better a lone Andean condor came into view, circling high above the ridge. The first we had spotted, we literally held our breath as we watched, mesmerised, as it slowly glided in the thermals above us, almost moving in slo-mo across the sky and out of sight. We were made up to say the least.
The sunshine had also brought out a team of park rangers. Busy working on the pathways and general maintenance of the park, we bumped into a team raking the gravel on the open riverbed around Poincenot, making repairs to bridges and realigning paths to reduce soil erosion and marking areas that were now deemed fragile. Hard to believe no park fees are collected for such a well maintained national park.
With the sun on our backs we returned to the dustier lower slopes and heathland, dipping in and out of the forest towards the tip of the lake and it’s little pebble beaches. Campamento Laguna Capri was upon us in no time; a perfect and relatively secluded pitch for our last camp night in the park with the double whammy of views of both Cerro Leon and Monte Fitz Roy plus friends.
The penguins, a lovely Dutch chap, plus a couple of fellow Brits shared the sunset with us; perched on driftwood along a sandy stretch above the shoreline and campsite, the tranquility and views were more than you could hope for. With dusk falling we all reluctantly went off to rustle up a bite to eat; an ‘instant’ veggie risotto finished off with grated Parmesan and the last of our salami hit the spot.
We awoke to yet another perfect dawn and a truly chocolate box sunrise over the lake – the fleeting orange glow of the rocks perfectly captured in the millpond calm of the lake below. Blessed for sure! So what if we had missed the “must see’s” of Cerro Torres and the Fitz Roy mirador…
We had had such a fun camping trek with spectacular views, magic moments and now had an excuse to return!!