I just came back from my 4-day trek on the “W” circuit of the famous Torres del Paine national park. I have some amazing photos from when I was able to recharge my phone (once). Yay! I didn’t get all the photos I wanted, since the phone died at numerous points and I wasn’t always able to recharge it, but I still had a great time experiencing it. The Towers are perhaps the iconic view (since the park is named after these towers/torres), but clouds covered the middle/tall one unfortunately. I did see the top of it, but I never got to see ALL of it. You can see the picture below. This was actually our last day.
My favorite place was actually Glacier Grey, which coincided with our second day. The first day was just arriving and getting settled in the southernmost part of the park (basically we entered and then settled down with our stuff very close to there). Day 2 traveling to Pehoe Campsite (the bottom of the W corner if you look at the map) and then hiking to Glacier Grey since since it takes all day to get there and back. And yes, I have some pictures for you to see. But first a map.
As a reminder, our first check-in night was spent looking across the water at Pehoe Hotel (south). Our second and third nights were at Refuge Pehoe (for hiking to Refuge Grey day 2 and then the middle part of the W for day 3). Day 4 the guys went from Pehoe Refuge to Las Torres hotel (campgrounds) and I took a ferry /bus to get there…ferry back to Pehoe Hotel and then bus to Las Torres Hotel. We slept at Las Torres Hotel that night (4th night) after they arrived and then hiked to the Torres Glacier where the towers are…for our last day, day 5 and then traveled in the evening back to town. 🙂
The ice was blue at parts, which contributes to its beauty for me, and the lake in front had icebergs in it. It was a fairly long hike, about 25km, but thankfully we left our stuff at the campsite so we only had to carry our lunch there. I also used walking sticks to help with my knees/ankles, but my knees still hurt at the end lol. At least I had no blisters on my feet! (yet) Here is a picture!
OK so I already mentioned the first day (arriving, unpacking, relaxing) and the second day (Glacier Grey, my favorite!). The third day was the middle part of the W trek, to the Britanico lookout. Again, we left our stuff at Campground Pehoe (2 nights there), so we traveled very lightly. This was a long day, about 30km (the most we ever trekked). My knees were sore from the previous day’s hike at 25km, but they definitely were hurting after this day. I did develop some blisters because of this day. The lookout was beautiful, and Niv’s favorite place to visit (the guy on the left). Here are some photos.
The fourth day was basically me taking a break while the guys trekked with their stuff to the next campsite. It’s the bottom of the W, which I had already done half (going to the lookout Britanico, of the middel part of the W). They just went that same way and then more to the end of Torres Central where Torres Hotel is. The guys went from Camp Pehoe (at the bottom corner) to the top right corner before you go up (Torres Central was the name but on the map you see, Hotel Las Torres). This was the fourth day, and second-to-last day. I instead was feeling a little sick and my feet hurt and I didn’t want to stretch my body too much, so I took a ferry and a bus and met them there. I beat them by about 3 hours and took a 5 hour nap. I napped from 4-10 and then woke up and cooked dinner. They arrived at 7 and cooked dinner and stayed up until 10:30 when we caught up with each other and realized, miraculously, that we had camped like right next to each other without knowing it. How funny! I did take some photos while on the ferry and listened to music/podcasts while I was on the bus/ferry since I had some extra battery (60% and I normally used about 30% per day so I figured I had some battery to kill).
The last day, day 5, was hiking the top-right part of the W trail to the Towers (Torres). I wondered how they were made, but thanks to Wikipedia, it was glacial erosion that wore away the softer granite and left behind the harder granite (hence the tall towers of a different color than the granite “mountains” below/surrounding them). After we finished, around 4:30, we came back, had another brief lunch (our original lunch was tuna and a hummus-like garlic and lemon mixture) and then went back to the main city of Puerto Natales. I hitchhiked, and they took a bus back. I saved myself a bus ticket ($12), but I spent $40 for the bus and ferry while they walked back with all their stuff, so I still came out behind on the money. 🙂 But everything else worked out great!
This experience taught me a few things. First, camping equipment is real expensive, but when you have nice stuff, it makes a big difference. Secondly, most people travel with others. I met a few (very few) people who traveled solo, and even fewer women (relative to the men) but camping, like most any human activities, tend to be social in nature. Thirdly, it’s nice to hear the sounds of nature. I would be sitting in my tent and just listening to the birds, to the sound of the wind, the soft fall of the rain, and I would feel very calm, tranquil, and at peace. I took a shower once, which was really nice (to wipe off the grimy dirt and sweat off my body, not to mention any sweat from the sickness that I was fighting the whole time), but normally, showers and hot water are just nice when you have them but certainly not necessary!!
My Spanish is pretty good. Almost all of my conversations, at least with those who are fluent in Spanish, seem slow (when I speak) but at least functional. I understand most everything that’s said, and while I’m not having any serious conversations, at least I’m doing pretty well! Spanish has too many words!
Next up for me is a “return” South to Punta Arenas (close to 3 hours) and then Ushuaia (close to 12 hours). I’m going to try hitchhiking since hitchhiking seems pretty popular in this area of Patagonia and because I want more experience and because it’s cheap and I’d rather go cheap at this point with my budget.
Thanks for reading and hope you like the pictures! It was a beautiful park. Really loved it. Especially the whole camping experience! It wasn’t even super expensive (we paid $10 per night for the park, but the entrance fee $32, the food we brought $23, the buses $34, the ferries $56 stupid dollars, etc. made it quite expensive…I think like $180 for 5 days).
When I got back to the city (today), I tried to make reservations to do the back of it (see the red line going northeast from Las Torres Hotel up and then it ending at the top left of the map near Glacier Grey?…just imagine it continuing along the back) but they only have availability 3 weeks out and I don’t want to spend 10 days in Ushuaia, come back this way and waste a week, then do the trek, and then keep going north. Nor do I want to go past the park (to not waste days here in Puerto Natales), go north to go hiking and such, and then come back DOWN for the park only to then, when I finish, retrace my steps going north. I talked with one of the tour guides and he said it was an amazing trek for the Glacier Grey part of it (because you can see the whole glacier instead of just the bottom end of it like I saw already), but that the rest of the 5-day experience wasn’t really worth it. So I guess I won’t be hiking with all my stuff the whole route! 🙂 I just did the “W” part and ended. Next up: Ushuaia! We shall see how little money I spend there. I still have to buy a dang stove though!! 😦 They’re so much money!! 😦 😦