Ice hiking, cave dining and outdoor adventures at the end of the Earth in Argentina
I’ve been working as a guide in Argentina for the past 15 years and what I love most about my job is how it connects to storytelling. I try to be an ambassador for my country and show passion about its natural beauty and the warmth of Argentinian people.
Of course, I like sharing stories with my guests, but I also love listening to theirs, too. Each person you meet has a history and comes from a different background. It makes you richer when you pay attention to these details and understand individuals’ journeys in life.
Up until I led my first Flash Pack adventure to Argentina last March, I’d worked with older travelers on conventional tours. So, I really like that with Flash Pack we get to do something quite different.
Kayaking down the Río de las Vueltas is a highlight
From an unforgettable ice-hike on the Perito Moreno glacier to trekking to the iconic Laguna de los Tres viewpoint, the adventure is varied and exciting – it’s impossible to get bored.
Kayaking down the Río de las Vueltas is a highlight for me (and often for my groups). It provides a window onto the spectacular forest and alpine scenery of Patagonia, including the majestic Mount Fitz Roy. Every time I do it, I feel overwhelmed by the incredible setting.
It’s a great bonding experience, too. The water is milky-blue and freezing because it flows directly from the glaciers. But luckily, we go in tandem with plenty of support and we wear snug neoprene suits, before celebrating with a riverbank picnic lunch at the end.
Our trek to Laguna de los Tres gives me faith in humankind
It’s also beautiful to see how the Flash Pack groups connect and help one another on our nine-hour hike around the foot of Mount Fitz Roy. The whole Argentina trip is generally quite active. Our day-one trek to Laguna de los Tres, in the hiking hub of El Chaltén, is one of the more physically challenging feats.
Not everyone in every group is super fit – we tend to have a range of levels and abilities – but what matters is how the team pulls together. Some people go faster while others fall behind, but at various points, we all wait for one another.
There’s no sense of impatience or pressure. We simply support each other and act as a group. It’s very much a spirit of ‘all for one and one for all’. It’s a dynamic that happens every time and it’s so rewarding: it gives me faith in humankind.
Not everyone is super fit – it’s how the group pulls together
Another reason why people are drawn to Argentina is how its landscapes help you reconnect with nature. Our world is so polluted and noisy these days, but with Flash Pack, we spend two days in an away-from-it-all luxury mountain retreat in Patagonia. It’s a rustic refugio (lodge) in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by snow-capped Andean peaks.
There’s next to no WiFi, so it’s an invitation to unplug and get back to your roots. There’s even an outdoor woodland bath near to the Río de las Vueltas, which is a lovely spot to relax.
Argentina’s food heritage is also a major part of our country’s appeal. On Flash Pack’s first night together, we have a welcome dinner in a restaurant called Argentine Experience in Buenos Aires. This is generally people’s first taste of Argentinian cuisine and we get to create empanadas – deliciously flaky pastries, filled with beef, ham or cheese – which are so fun to make.
We drink a lot of maté – Argentina’s caffeine-based national drink
We also try out world-famous Argentinian steak, sweet dulce de leche dessert with a caramel flavour, and cocktails made from our country’s most world-leading wines; Malbec and Torrontés. Our adventure ends in Mendoza, where we visit two different types of wineries (including one owned by Susana Balbo, Argentina’s first female winemaker). We also have a go at making our own blend of wine to bottle and take home.
We drink a lot of maté, too: Argentina’s caffeine-based national drink, which is drunk through a straw. It’s a key way of socialising in our country. I always carry a mug of it with me on my trips.
In Patagonia, cordero (lamb) is the real star of the menu. It’s really tasty and you’ll find it cooked in so many different ways across the region, including the traditional lamb asado (barbecue) we Flashpackers enjoy after our trek to Mount Fitz Roy.
The finale is a fireside dinner in a cave with a hearty lamb casserole
Foodies love our cave-dining experience by Argentino Lake in Patagonia, too. We set out in 4x4s to admire ancient rock paintings in a maze of off-road caves and canyons once inhabited by the nomadic Tehuelche people. The finale is a fireside dinner in a cave with a hearty lamb casserole. Weather permitting, we catch a beautiful sunset over the lake, too.
When I first learnt about Flash Pack’s concept of bringing together solo travelers in their 30s and 40s – strangers who don’t know each other at all before the trip – I wasn’t sure how it would work.
But once we got started, I was amazed to see how quickly everyone connects. In less than two days, people are having these great, deep conversations. It’s like they’ve been friends forever.
Groups share future adventures long after the trip has ended
Typically, we build this family-like structure where we end up going for meals together, even when it’s not in the schedule. I feel very much part of the gang and each group stays chatting and sharing future adventures long after our time in Argentina has ended.
It’s why our last day together isn’t ever too bad. The bond we’ve created is so strong, it’s not really a farewell: it’s ‘until next time’.
Alejandro Gamas is a Pack Leader for Flash Pack in Argentina.
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Images: Flash Pack