Egg and I decided that with the spare time that comes from overreacting to a dog bite in Chiloe, we would undertake our first proper walking adventure. Everyone in south america has heard of the w trek, it is the 5 day walk that takes in the most beautiful areas of Torres del Paine national park.
Hardcore walkers can do the “o” at around ten days but we are so not ready for that.
Torres del Paine has the reputation for being the most beautiful park in all of south america and don’t let my awful photos disenchant you, it is spectacular. We walked west to east, which meant on our first day we saw grey glacier, and we finished with the granite towers that give the park their name ( torres = towers).
This is a photo of an avalanche on Paine Grande. It was incredible. They happen quite frequently but this was a bogie and we were lucky to see it.
We stayed in refugios the whole time, and ate dinner there, so all we carried was our breakfast and lunch for the five days, a change of clothes and extra layers, and some toiletries and sun cream and water. I have no idea how much that weighed but I’d guess around 5-10 kilos each. People who camp can easily carry about 25!
As we brought out own breakfast we started our walk each day and stopped to eat when we found a beautiful spot. So morning one by the glacier
Morning two on the beach
And morning three on the trail
The final morning we were cold and it was wet; we ate in the drying room of the refugio by the fire and I didn’t take any photos of that. It didn’t seem worth it.
The refugios were really quite nice; Grey is the fanciest and the newest and resembles a ski lodge, Chileno the worst but only because so many people stop there to warm up it is really overcrowded.
We walked between 3 and 8 hours a day, and despite our lack of preparedness we handled it just fine, enjoyed everything and consistently beat the recommended timings by some distance. The weather was as it will always be this far south in Patagonia, pretty nippy, pretty windy, and with a little bit of snow. Casual reminder that it is the middle of summer here now.
It was an amazing experience, I think I could have happily wandered around the park for longer, if only they let you of the set trails. Even the parts of the walk that aren’t meant to be that special are really beautiful. Really blue lakes (from melted glacier), lush green woodland, waterfalls, flowers and fallen trees, every minute there was something interesting to look at.
One night we stayed in a cabin (due to booking so late we had to take whatever accommodation we could get. This is the most expensive). It was the best night we have had so far on our trip. Relaxing in the hot tub, yes hot tub!,
admiring the lake, the waterfall, the cuernos, was amazing, and such a treat after three walking days, and it was nice to have our own space (all the other accommodation is shared).
The only downside was that it was rather cloudy the whole time, sometimes beautiful clouds that I kept taking photos of, but sometimes no visibility kind of clouds. This many when we got to the end of the climb up to the towers, the end of or trek and in many ways the supposed highlight, we were effectively in a cloud and could make out only the scantest outline of a tower. And it was showing and we were freezing. It isn’t really a down side though. The park is famous for its changing weather and it was very atmospheric on the day we saw it so we can enjoy that instead!
When we finished we even had enough energy to walk the 7km back to the bus stop (normally a shuttle takes you), thereby getting another view of the park, doing it all alone and saving £5, yes! (It’s petty expensive this far south so any saving counts!)
We returned to the warmth of Tin House hostel in Puerto Natales, which we just loved and then took ourselves of to El Living, where they have a gluten free menu and it is veggie. The food and atmosphere is amazing, if you are nearby just go right now. NOW!