Friday, 18 January 2008

Torres Del Paine, Chile - Arrival


Laguna Azul
It took about 3 hours to reach Puerto Natales (150kms south of the park) and the car had been veering off the road due to a gale force cross wind. The plan was to have dinner and then continue to the park to camp at Rio Serrano about another 2 hours away. I had picked up a cheap two man tent in a supermarket in Ushuaia and other than sleeping bags and mats, we had little in the way of 'real' camping gear. When we got out of the car, the wind was not only gale force but freezing so being the hardened Celtic warriors that we were...NOT!, we quickly abandoned the idea of camping and booked into a hostal in Puerto Natales . At breakfast the following morning, a father and son duo told us they had been in the park the previous day and it was raining hail and snowing. Apparently this park can get four seasons in one day and we were going to need a bit of luck.


Map #1 of Torres Del Paine - Click image above to expand

We set off at about 11am for Torres Del Paine National Park which covers 2400 square kilometers. There are numerous hiking trails that can span a day or even several weeks. Our plan was to cover most of the 'W' circuit which as the name indicates, looks like a 'W' and takes about 4 to 5 days. We were going to travel west to east and since night #1 had been outside the park we were now behind schedule and needed to make up some time.

I had made reservations in the refugios (hostals) for night #2 in Refugio Paine Grande/Pehoé in the west and night #4 and #5 in Refugio Torres Norte in the east. Night #3 was going to be a bit of a gamble with the plan to camp up a mountain in Camp Británico in the Valle Frances which was supposedly great at sunset and sunrise. We needed to dump the car at Refugio Torres Norte in the east, so that when we got there on day #4 we could resupply our backpacks with food etc. There are limited transport connections within the park but after some rally style driving on the dirt road we packed up our backpacks with food and water and we just about made the last connection to Laguna Amarga, where there was a connection to Pudeto where there was yet another connection by boat across Lake Pehoé. The boat left us at Refugio Paine Grande at about 7pm which would be our base for the night, so on day #2 there wasn't too much energy expended.
I'd read a lot of reports of how the refugios were very basic and not overly comfortable but it was actually almost hotel style comfort with a restaurant and bar. It was also half empty which was surprising since this is peak season. Dinner, beers and heavy rain capped off day #2.


Map #2 - detailed - Torres Del Paine - Click image above to expand


Lago Pehoé

Lago Pehoé


Refugio Paine Grande

2 comments:

Shaunj February 18, 2008 5:46 pm  

Hey nice pics, those mountains look like something out of a comic book, yet I'm strangely drawn to them..

Quickroute February 19, 2008 9:12 am  

Shaunj,

they look a bit surreal alright. Not too many places like this around. You better get there before the icebergs melt!

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