How my Argentina adventure refocused my love of photography

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I’m a UX designer by trade, but photography is a hobby that I’m slowly trying to do something more with. It’s an interest that began with a family holiday a few years ago to Hong Kong. I got a fancy new camera for the visit, but realised I didn’t know how to use it. 

Once I returned to London, I took some time out to teach myself a few techniques. Soon after, on a trip to Asia, I met a street photographer who gave me more tips on how to frame photos and find the best angles.

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I’ve always wanted to go to Patagonia

In March 2022, I decided to join a Flash Pack adventure to Argentina. I took my fixed-lens camera and it turned out to be a great chance to explore more about both the mechanics and the creative side of photography in a truly incredible country. 

For me, the initial appeal of Flash Pack was that it puts you together with people of a similar age. The Argentina trip also had a good mix of activities for a rounded view of the country. Plus, I’ve always wanted to go to Patagonia. After travel opened up again post-Covid, I was single and had some free time, so I decided the moment had come to put myself out there. 

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Our first few days in Buenos Aires gave me inspiration

With my travel photography, I’m always searching for a different, lesser-known angle – I try to find something that’s different to what everyone else is taking and posting on Instagram. 

Although the Argentina trip was mostly about the great outdoors, our first few days in the capital, Buenos Aires, gave me lots of inspiration – particularly in the vibrant neighbourhood of La Boca. 

La Boca means “the mouth” in Spanish, because the barrio is situated at the mouth of the Riachuelo River. In days gone by, sailors used to leave all their unused paint by the side of the river. Then locals started using it to paint the houses and streets, resulting in a random, beautiful blend of multicoloured buildings – like an open-air art gallery.

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Caving on the shores of Argentino Lake was a highlight

The next day, we travelled to El Calafate, the gateway to Los Glaciares National Park, one of Argentina’s famous trekking regions. There were amazing hillside views and open skies in some landscape shots I captured. There was also a snippet of our cave-dining experience, where we shared a candlelit dinner in an ancient underground cavern covered in prehistoric rock art, on the shores of Argentino Lake. It was the views at night that really blew my mind, though. You could see the whole of the Milky Way: it was surreal how the sky just lit up with stars. 

Next, we set off for an ice-hike up the Perito Moreno Glacier. The photos I took were aimed at reflecting the sheer scale of the 18,000-year-old glacial formation. We approached the route in boats that could passenger 50 people a piece. Yet, they appeared tiny in the shadow of the towering glacier. It’s hard to comprehend how high it is until you see it with your own eyes. It’s actually dangerous for the boats to get too close as bits of the glacier break off and fall, creating the sound of thunder.

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You’re fully immersed in the movie-like landscape

The entire landscape has a cinematic feel. It doesn’t seem real – like something from the set of Interstellar. When you’re trekking across the glacier itself, you’re fully immersed in the movie-like landscape. We were basically penguins, shuffling along on our crampons. The experienced guides moved around us nimbly until, eventually, we all celebrated at the top with a shot of whisky, served with fresh glacial ice. 

The next day, we moved onto the El Chaltén area and a mountain refuge near Mount Fitz Roy. There was a river nearby, and a hot tub, so you could alternate between them, which was fun. I took some photos of us all getting in and out. The meals were great, too: we had a lot of red meat, Malbec wine and cheese, along with a traditional lamb asado (barbecue) supper. 

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Blue skies framed our Laguna de los Tres trek

Next came another highlight, with our nine-hour trek to the Laguna de los Tres viewpoint, one of Patagonia’s most astounding sights. We were really lucky with the weather. It had been overcast on the days leading up to our trek, but cleared with blue skies as we set off. The last few hours before we reached the foot of the mountain were very steep. Suddenly, you round a corner and you’re face-to-face with an almighty view. 

There’s a little lake nearby where we stopped for a packed lunch. It was only a basic sandwich, but it was the best meal I’ve ever had after a very long hike and in the company of the astonishing landscape.

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In Mendoza, we met local makers and toured the vineyards

Our final stop was Mendoza, the capital of Argentina’s wine country. It’s a very elegant city with wide avenues and trees everywhere. I was drawn to the hidden doorways, family-run salt warehouses and the French-inspired architecture. I’m not much of a wine person but it was great to learn more about local varieties, meet local makers and tour the vineyards, too.

Our group was amazing, I made some really good friends. There were 13 of us in total; six Americans and seven UK travellers. We were introduced on WhatsApp and then a few of us were on the same flight from Heathrow.

On an intense, 10-day trekking adventure like this, you naturally gravitate towards one another. Humour was a big way for us to bond: when you’re travelling between places on buses, it becomes a bit like being on a school trip. There’s that childish fun and always a couple of people at the back, making jokes and laughing. 

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It was quite emotional when it was time to say goodbye

Of course, the group made great subjects. I took a photo of Alex with a cool reflection of the Laguna de los Tres in the lens of her sunglasses and Cintia, our guide, appears in some of my group shots, too. 

She was amazing; she’s a mum to two children, was so organised and nice. She was constantly there, making sure everything worked smoothly behind the scenes. She really made the trip and it was quite emotional when it was time to say goodbye. 

Will Sicat is a UX designer from London. He travelled on Flash Pack’s Argentina adventure

Got a story or adventure that could inspire a solo traveller like you? Tag @flashpack on social or email [email protected] to be featured.

Images: ©Will Sicat

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