Puerto Natales and Torres Del Paine

April 26, 2008 - Puerto Natales, Chile

We headed to Puerto Natales which was a mere 3 hour bus journey away from Punta Arenas - felt like nothing - doing a journey like that at home seems like a bigger deal. When we landed it was lashing rain and cold. The town itself is nothing to right home about it is totally geared towards people going to the torres del paine national park and trying to get money out of tourists - chile is a bit more expensive than argentina and this town wasn't cheap (patagonia is general isn't that cheap)
We landed at a time of year when the tourist season was coming to an end and the hostel we where staying in was completely empty apart from ourselves - although the owners annoyed me a bit - not very welcoming - the weather was attrocious very wet and windy while we where in puerto natales so it was worrying that our 5 day trek might be a complete wash out.

We hired a tent and some outdoor cooking equipment and got the bus early on the monday morning to the Torres del Paine national park - as it was off peak season some of the refugios and campsite facilities where shut and there wasn't huge numbers of people going to the park but there was a few other trekkers around camping so it wasn't so bad.
The park itself is an impressive place in a very remote location about 2 hours from the nearest town - it is granite rock formation that is completely seperate from the andes mountain range

The first day of the trek we landed put up the tent and powered up to the viewpoint of the Towers (torres) peaks at the top of the mountain there was a competitive pace between us all terrain varied from rocks, streams, forest, snow, mud, gravel and tree roots - have to say it is fairly exhilarating bombing it down hill at speed over rocks and streams (have to have complete concentration for every step - great fun) that evening we had hassle cooking as the wind was very strong

The 2nd day we had a long hard trek carrying our rucksacks for 7 hours over winding trail up and down hills - was a bit of a test for the collar bone. When we got to the campsite just in the nic of time to get our tent up before dark - wind was ridicilous again that night and the tent kept bending in half with the wind - was fully sure it was going to be blown away during the night - but somehow it didn't

The next day shane cried off complaining of a sore ankle - he's not hardcore like myself, Niall and Ger (we all know there was nothing wrong with him he's just soft haha)
We went up to the mirador in the valles de frances at a heady pace as we had to get back down that evening pack up tent and make it to the next campsite which was another 3 hour hike around to lago pehoe (i had to carry the tent for this 3 hour hike as it was my turn - an extra 5-10 kgs ontop of my rucksack (about 20 kgs altogether so was an extra tough test for my collarbone
During the nite two of the tent poles cracked/broke vertically as the swirling wind battered the tent over and over - i got about an hour sleep which was even surprising at that - since my side of the tent bore the bront and basically the side of the tent and pole kept collasping on my head so was an interesting nite
The next day was the hike up to the Grey Glacier and campsite at Lago grey this day i must have went through about 200 pain barriers - i was absolutely shattered and with Ger setting the pace i was struggling to keep up (didn't help i was completely knackered from such a bad nites sleep the nite before - but when we got to the Glacier my energy returned - and it was an impressive site - very surreal kinda look - well worth the tough hike up to it - and the way back down it was a breeze (also realised that hiking when you are leading or 2nd is alot easier mentally than if you are trailing at the back - its amazing what the pyschological difference makes and the way back down seemed extremely handy too)
It felt great to complete the 5 days trek and was glad I did it - and to think we where nearly dissuaded by other backpackers saying that the weather was too bad to do it - although we did strike it realtively lucky as it was sunny the most of the time and not much rain
Had my fill of pasta and packet soup for at least a couple of weeks
On return to puerto natales we celebrated in style - nite out to a fancy restaurant and then out on the town along with a few english german and austrian lads we met during the trek in the national park - was a great laugh that nite (the local music is terrible though haha)

Next stop el Calafate and the Parque Nacional Los Glaciers where there is even more impressive glaciers

2 Comments

sean:
May 6, 2008
Brilliant - sounds like an experience and a half! Your collar bone must be fully recovered if you could handle that ok.

How come the ice at Glacier Grey is bright blue in the photos? There must be something lost in the translation there...
sean:
May 6, 2008
Brilliant - sounds like an experience and a half! Your collar bone must be fully recovered if you could handle that ok.

How come the ice at Glacier Grey is bright blue in the photos? There must be something lost in the translation there...
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