The owners of the five-bedroom lodge on the lake are just as lovely as the colorful flora and fauna that reside close by. Pato and Ivor are welcoming hosts who’ve been running this well-oiled machine for 15 years. The couple’s conservation efforts in the middle of nowhere are beyond impressive – hot water is only available in the mornings until 10am and again from 7-10pm. This is the only time you can charge your electronics, too. ‘No service, no wifi, no problems’ is what they say.
Okay, not really. I said that…but they might as well put a cursive placard above the door for guests to read upon entry. I had no idea that when I arrived, I’d have zero communication with the outside world (i.e. social media) until after my departure. Going off the grid every once in a while is a damn good thing. I need to remind myself of that often.
At Aguas Arriba Lodge, guests can hike, fly fish, or do nothing at all in complete privacy – and everything except alcohol (lodging, food, guided treks, fishing, boating) is included in the rates. I went with the hiking and the doing nothing at all, and I’d highly recommend these two activities if you get the chance to make a visit. Located on Lago del Desierto, the retreat is only 23 miles from El Chalten, the national capital of trekking.
One of my favorite hikes to date (besides Laguna de los Tres below) was to Huemul Glacier where the glacier-fed lake waters appear to be dyed the color of my childhood bedroom, robin egg blue, i.e. really, really blue, i.e. not natural.
Can we talk about the color of this lake for a second? I’ve never seen anything quite like its shade in a body of water before. I sat on that rock for a long time drinking my hot tea and loving life. To get here, we hiked for about an hour through magical forests and postcard worthy views, seeing three other viewpoints along the way. They kept getting better and better, with the Huemul Lake being the grand finale. What a beauty!
I can’t write an article about Aguas Arriba and not talk about the food. Nom nom nom nom nom. Fresh, local and natural is the name of the game here, and Aguas Arriba is winning big time. My favorite dish is their seriously good apple crumble, and the best part? The extremely generous Pato shares her recipes! Find below and replicate to the best of your abilities!
Many thanks to the exceptional owners and staff who welcomed us into the lodge and made the visit special including Leo, Debbie, Pat and Ivor. I hope to reunite one day soon!
What To Do In El Chaltén
What to do? I’ll tell you what to do. Admire Fitz Roy from afar on the road (there’s only one, you can’t miss it) from El Calafate to El Chalten. The photos are unlike anything else you’ll have in your collection. They will continue to speak to me for as long as I continue to write for The Road Les Traveled. There is not a more perfect picture for TRLT than this beauty.
After spending an hour photographing a road, head into the town of El Chalten, the gateway to explore the highest peak in a compact range of granite peaks in Parque Nacional Los Glaciares of Argentine Patagonia. The Laguna de los Tres hike is 20km in total, and it’s all fun and games until km #9 where flat plains turn into an uphill battle of about 1500ft to reach the laguna where hikers can experience one of the best views of Fitz Roy. Yay for tough workouts! This is one of my favorite hikes to date, and you can do it with Aguas Arriba Lodge.
How To Get Here
This is my third time to Argentine Patagonia, and I’ve always flown from Buenos Aires to El Calafate with LAN Airlines. The drive from El Calafate to El Chalten is three hours via Jeep with Quasar Expeditions, and the extra 23 miles to Lago del Desierto is where Aguas Arriba staff will greet you and transport you and your belongings via short boat ride to the lodge.
I’ve worked with Quasar Expeditions a few times before I was able to experience their nine day Overland Jeep Safari from Argentine Patagonia to Chilean Patagonia. I sailed on Grace Kelly’s honeymoon yacht in the Galapagos, and I got behind the wheel for an adventurous afternoon in Torres del Paine. Quasar is one of my favorite tour operators I’ve ever worked with because there’s nothing like being able to explore a vast region on your own time, in your own Jeep. This was only the beginning – more to come on road tripping through the southernmost tip of the world!
See more breathtaking images from my stay at Aguas Arriba below.