Perito Moreno National Park, not to be confused with the famous Perito Moreno glacier in Los Glaciers National Park, is tucked away in a remote area of Argentina near the Chilean border. It is one of Argentina’s oldest parks having been established in the 1930s and it is also one of the least visited because of its remoteness.
When we arrived at the park the ranger told us that there were only six other people in the entire park, with us the number went up to ten. The park has free entrance and free camping and some spectacular scenery. The only problem with this park is that there are often high winds and the mountains, especially the imposing cerro San Lorenzo, is often covered in a thick cloud layer. The day we arrived the sky was clear, and there was no wind. The ranger told us that we might be super lucky and have arrived at one of the rare few days of the year when the sky is totally clear, there is no wind and the weather is warm. The Patagonia weather trifecta.
We woke up to a perfect Patagonia trifecta day: warm weather, no wind, sunny skies, and decided to hike up to the top of Cerro Leon (lion hill) that reaches 1,380 meters. The hike was a bit challenging mostly because it was straight up. I usually complain about switch backs but this trail made me yearn for them, hiking straight up a very steep incline is actually much harder. As we climbed up the hill our views got better and better of Lago Belgrano and the stunning snow capped mountains and glacier lakes that create the border with Chile. When we got to the top we were all literally dumbstruck. The scenery was so stunning that it looked fake, like a giant green screen. It was difficult to take it all in, it was really that beautiful, hard to wrap our mind around what we were seeing. It was one of the few places that left us all a bit lost for words and we just tried to sit and absorb the beauty together in silence for as long as we could before the frigid winds that were only at the peak drove us back down the mountain.
The day after the hike the weather was getting warmer and there was zero wind so we attempted to do another hike, this time around the lake. As we began our hike we all realized that it was not just warm, it was HOT. Like in the 90s hot. It is rare that “too hot” comes up in any sentence about southern Patagonia weather, so I feel reluctant to sound like I am complaining, but when the wind stops and the heat rises so do the bugs.
We had been bug free for sometime and as we attempted to hike the loop trail in the park we were literally swarmed by bugs. It was funny at first, and then it kind of started turing into a bit of a nightmare. There were biting horse flies (sometimes 10 at a time aggressively swarming each of us) mosquitos and gnats, lots of them. And to top it all off the trail disappeared and we were basically bushwhacking our way around the lake in dense foliage which did not help with the bug situation.
About a mile in we all started throwing out the idea that maybe we did not need to finish this seven hour hike and all quickly agreed that the bug-a-palooza was not fun and we almost ran back to our rigs. I don’t like to give up on things, but horse flies can break even the most avid outdoors woman, they are super annoying in large numbers.