Patagonia photography adventure
As I sit writing this blog, it’s been over a week since I returned from an amazing trip to Patagonia. I travelled around Argentina and Chile with Iceland Photo Tours, and thinking back the trip turned out better than I could have ever expected. Patagonia’s weather can be very changeable and unpredictable, but we were lucky for the whole time and experienced some crazy light conditions morning after morning.
I had wanted to go to Patagonia for a long time. I was inspired after seeing some amazing shots of the mountains there, especially The Fitzroy Mountain Range, which in the right condition turn a bright orange at sunrise. So when I found out that Iurie Belegurschi and Daniel Kordan were organizing a trip I signed up immediately. I chose to do two trips back to back. One was hotel based and the second was more camping orientated, allowing the group to reach more of remote areas than if we were just staying in the town. I had to wait ten months for the trip to come around, which gave me plenty of time to gather all the equipment I would need!
Eventually April came around and it was time to fly and meet up with the rest of the group in El Calafate. There we had an introductory meal and a briefing on the itinerary for the coming days.
For the first few days we would be travelling around Argentina. There we visited the amazing Perito Moreno Glacier, a glacier standing 200ft tall and 5km wide, made up of turquoise blue ice. If you are lucky, you might even see large pieces of ice calving from the glacier.
We then headed south and crossed the border into Chile en route to the Torres del Paine National Park. After spending one night in a hotel just outside the park and experiencing an amazing sunrise looking into a mist-filled valley with the Cuernos del Paine mountain range as the backdrop, we headed into the park itself. We would be staying at the Lake Pehoe Hotel, which must have one of the best views of any hotel in the world.
It’s a hotel built on a island in a large lake. Looking out of the restaurant window was like looking at a classic landscape painting. As you can tell the location was amazing, and we spent four nights visiting nearby locations, including Nordenskjöld Lake, the burnt forest and Lago Grey. We also had plenty of time to explore the island the hotel was built on.
After four amazing days at Lake Pehoe, it was time to cross the border again back into Argentina and head to a small town at the base of the Fitzroy mountain range called El Chaltén. The view from the road as we entered the town was spectacular to say the least, and we were lucky enough to see a crazy bright red sunset with lenticular clouds everywhere on our first evening there.
The following morning we headed back out to the road leading into El Chaltén, where there is a large river canyon looking back to the mountains. Our aim was to shoot the Fitzroy mountains as they turned bright orange with the sunrise. Fortunately, the conditions that morning were perfect and we were treated to a magnificent light display as the whole of the mountain range shimmered with a bright orange.
The final two days of the tour were spent photographing lakes,waterfalls and colourful autumnal forests. We also spent the evenings eating some amazing food in local restaurants!I ended up having an extra night in El Chaltén, because I was continuing after the tour to do the hiking tour.
After bidding the rest of the group goodbye, it was time to start getting all of my gear ready for hiking. I would need to pack light and only bring the essentials with me. The porters were there to carry 5kg of your kit and we would each have to carry the rest. Eventually I was happy with my kit selection and had it packed ready for departure the following morning.
Camera-wise I was taking two camera bodies with a 16-35mm f4,24-70mm f4 and a 18mm f2.8 for astro shots, along with a Fuji XT20 and 18-135mm lens that would be my walk around snap-shot camera.
The plan for the hiking on day one was to hike around 9km to the first camp at Cerro Torre, where we would stay for one night. Here we photographed Cerro Torre at sunset and sunrise, and were lucky enough to have a night clear enough to allow us to shoot the stars and enjoy some night photography.
After breakfast in camp it was time to start hiking to the second camp, close to the base of Fitzroy itself. This would be home for the next three nights, and it turned out to be one of my favourite locations of the whole trip. It offered so many different photographic opportunities.
Time flies when you’re having fun, and the next four days flew by as we photographed some of Patagonia’s finest views. Among them were the sight of Fitzroy reflecting into small pools, forests in full autumn colours, astrophotography, streams, rivers and waterfalls. This location was magical. I’ll never forget it.
After walking for more than 40km and exploring this incredible area to the max, it was eventually time to pack up all the kit and head back. The last leg of the trip was a 9km hike back to town. Thankfully it was all downhill!
In town we enjoyed our last goodbye meal of the trip. That night everyone ate well; the local lamb was firm favourite. That special evening brought a close to a once in a lifetime trip with new friends made and memories that will last for ever.
Photos and text by Shaun Young.