Foodstuffs and Provisions in Peninsula Mitre

(These recommendations are based on my personal trekking experience over years and then more specifically as it related to me trekking solo around the Peninsula Mitre during my trek from Ushuaia to Estancia Maria Luisa in January to March 2019)

When going on a major trek like the full traverse of Peninsula Mitre in Tierra del Fuego (Argentina), the question immediately arises of what food will you take, how much and for how many days and then even more importantly; how will you carry it all. 

I carried food for a period of 10-15 days in the sense that I could have a decent meal for at least 10 days with then additional lightweight rations like soups and instant “meals” for another 5 days. This is important especially in Peninsula Mitre where you are going into a 5-day section for example; on Day 2 the weather pins you down for two days and then on Day 4 again, forcing you to stay three nights. That's 4-5 days extra already! Stops like this may happen for various reasons like needing a rest after an injury or having to make a huge detour. 
This does of course mean a heavy backpack but I think the backpack will be heavy no matter what. 

Additional supply options
Along the route: you will encounter refugios/ranchos where you can restock food supplies and/or eat with a gaucho or puestero (many times an asado - traditional barbeque). The following sites were good in this regard:
  • Rancho Ibarra and Rancho Julian (Bahía Sloggett) with Luis “Paisa” Andrade.

  • Puerto Español (Bahía Aguirre) where I met Sergio Anselmino, an expert on expeditions in Peninsula Mitre and passionate about nature and his photography. 
  • Bahía Valentin might have some supplies but don't count on it.

  • Buen Suceso with the Argentinian Navy detachment. 
  • Bahia Thetis on the northeast coast.
  •  Estancia Policarpo that’s 1-2 days trek from Thetis. 

From here another resupply would not be necessary although you would stop at La Chaira post as well. 
Before the trek:
    • Send a container with supplies to Bahia Sloggett and/or Puerto Español with Luis “Paisa” Andrade from the Naval Prefectura in Moat. 
    • Send supplies with a yacht from the Ushuaia Yacht Club to Puerto Español. This depends completely on whether someone is sailing to Puerto Español plus whether they will take something extra with them. 
    • With the Argentinian Navy that sails every 45 days to Buen Suceso to change the relief at the Naval post.

Below I’ve detailed my thoughts and experiences on specific food items and mixes. The list is obviously subject also to the tastes and requirements of each trekker as well as whether they are trekking alone or with other people. 

Remember!! There is no reason to not be eating at least one delicious meal everyday. Not only is it for energy, but also does a lot for the morale when enjoying a tasty meal!

**NB: ziplock type bags super important in various sizes. Can also be used for clothing items.

Chocolate cereal mix
(Sergio Anselmino) - Nesquik/drinking choc, pats, raisins, sesame seeds, cornflakes = or like muesli/cereal mix. Just add water hot or cold. Can also be eaten as is.

Any small sweets or caramelos as they're called, to suck on during the day at stops or when in the tent.

Energy gel packets
These are the gel packets with concentrated energy "drink" with caffeine etc. Helps on long days - not only for energy but to keep the mind alert.

"Instant" oats
To add to food that makes it nice and creamy - any dish. (Oats used is some 'whole' type of instant oats, might work with 'normal' oats)

Soups & arroz listo
The Knorr soups are phenomenal although Maggi is not bad either. The former is the brand generally available in Argentina.
Two kinds; the normal variety of soups and then the range of creamy soups.
The “arroz listo” (ready with meat pieces/vegetables and condiments) of Knorr is also very good and a very decent quantity - I mean it's a lot! 

Herbs & spices
Herbs de Provence, pesto mix (albahaca, ajo and dehydrated parmesan) used as condiment, black pepper, salt, comino (cumin), chilli/ají, pimenton (paprika), curry, and some more herbs like rosemary, laurel leaves etc.
Packets of pre-mixed herbs and spices are also good; obviously one could make up your own mixes before. 

Coffee & Tea
Obviously!! Sugar and then instant coffee. Also coffee in bags (like tea) with each can make twice.
*take ‘cloth’ coffee filter with anyway as sometimes find ground coffee in a puesto. Can also be used as a water filter. #waterfilter. The reason I’m not specifically recommending taking ground coffee is that I found after a hard day, an instant or bag coffee was quicker which means you can get that relaxing moment much quicker. It's a case of personal preference in this case. 

Only took spaghetti this time as it packs easier. I break it in half and then in smaller ziplock bags (that size works perfect in the small pot too).
For shorter trips can use other pastas too although they're bulky.
*take queso rallado if available!

Into packets of about a cup each. Sometimes use less as added to a soup or something.
Polenta (maize meal) & mash
Basic but a good source of carbs/energy and only hot water needed. Obviously can add herbs and spices as needed.
Instant mash is even easier to make and quicker - arguably more tasty too.

Dehydrated vegetables
Got from ex-guest in El Calafate. Absolutely brilliant to add to any dish and covers that necessity to have veggies.
Used to be able to buy in supermarkets but not sure at the moment.

Fresh produce
Always a tricky one this and literally a weighty issue. It doesn't always last either and should be evaluated case by case. The other thing is squashing them so something like tomato generally won't work (rather get packets of tomato paste then).
This time I got a whole garlic from Sergio which is excellent and lightweight.

Cubes (flavour/soups)
And now in packets with powder which is less bulky to pack. Something almost a must as even on its own can be like a cup of 'soup'. I always have them and always use them.

Cooking oil
Small plastic bottle. Unless going to fry a lot, don't really use much at all. Might help start a fire.

As a solo trekker, I had a small pot and pan set that fit into one another. Inside the pot I kept all my herbs and spices so they were all available immediately for whatever I was cooking. 
Example: start cooking or frying something in the pot and then adding more water for the pasta or rice. This way there's no need to drain off water and you have a full little pot of creamier/smoother food. 

Water bottles
In Mitre only have the 600ml bottle as there's a lot of water along the route.
But, also have an empty 2lt plastic with which I fill when I put up camp so I have water to cook with as well. This can also be filled in advance if I know that I'm likely going to be camping at a site without water.

As above, cooking oil might help. Plastic wrappers from the rubbish taken along also help to start a fire. Cotton wool works a treat and then some candle wax won't go amiss.
Then there's the option of having something like dried teabags that have been soaked in an oil or fuel of sorts before (obvious risk of contaminating other things in the backpack if not wrapped and packed well.)
Matches and gas lighters: always have extras in sealed (ziplock type bags) in addition to the ones you're using daily. If you have time, and patience, you can make one packet of matches waterproof by dipping the heads in candle wax. 

Camping Stove & Gas
I have a little camping stove that uses gas but with a hose connecting to the gas cylinder. This is a huge advantage over the stoves that screw in directly on top of the cylinders. Reason being that the latter is much more at risk of falling over plus with the flame higher, blocking the wind gets more complicated. In the case of my stove, getting the three legs level on the ground is much easier and I have a lightweight foldup sheet that I can setup around it to block the wind (about 15cm maximum high).


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