Temperatures begin to drop in March and April in Patagonia. No doubt about it. But this time of year can actually be a bit more stable as far as those daily (or should I say hourly) shifts from sunshine to rain to snow to rainbows to wind and back again…
Because most folks have December and January in mind for their visit to Patagonia, March and April can also mean less fellow travelers, more availability at accommodations, and fewer hikers on those popular trails. (Fewer… but still don’t expect to have the place to yourself.)
Our trip spanned the last week of March and the first week of April, and while we did get snowed on, I found the timing to be absolutely perfect. We found ourselves hiking in these mountains at the exact moment the three main species of trees in Patagonia – all part of the Nothofagus genus – were just plain showing off. The lenga and the nire, both decidiuous, were turning bright yellow, orange and deep red while the third species, the coihue, remains evergreen. The combinations of bright new snow, colorful trees and dramatic backdrops were stunning. I ended up with as many shots of colorful trees as I did of those stunning mountains!
By the time we were leaving El Chalten around April 10th, the town was definitely beginning to close up for the winter. One less restaurant seemed to be open each night, and the service staff were already talking of their winter plans to travel north and explore places like Glacier, Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks. (Apparently these folks just can’t get enough of dramatic mountain ranges!)