Day 131 - Pack-horses

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South America » Chile » Magallanes » Puerto Natales
November 10th 2006
Published: November 16th 2006
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Up early today to catch our 7.30 bus into Torres del Paine national park. We didn't take long to polish off the hostel's complimentary breakfast of 3 pieces of toast and a mug of coffee. The bus left on time but turned around 5 or 10 minutes outside Puerto Natales - 3 girls had caught the wrong bus. The drive to the park takes a couple of hours along a dirt road and through a barren landscape. At the park we have to pay £15 each entry fee, which seems pretty good value; plenty of people think it's a bit steep though.

In the park there are loads of amazing things but a couple of highlights - the 3 Torres del Paine themselves, huge and very famous pillars of granite, and Glacier Grey. There are 3 broad choices for a visit here. You can spend a day or 2 to take in 1 or both of the highlights, you can do the flagship 'Paine Circuit' trek which lasts 7-10 days, or you can do the 'W' which is a 4/5 day trek taking in the highlights and which forms the southern edge of the full circuit. There are plenty of refugios en route with accommodation and good hearty food, but we'd decided to camp and take all our food with us - this made for 2 very heavy backpacks.

We began with a trip by catamaran across Lago Pehoe, and from there walked fully-laden for 3 and a half hours to Campamiento Grey, our campsite for the night and the top left end of the 'W' shape. The walk was hard going and steep in places but with some fantastic views looking down onto the glacier. The location of the campsite is hard to do justice with a description - on the edge of the lake and a short distance from the glacier itself. Really, really nice. We just read our books until it got dark, drank cups of black tea and ate the first of our several pasta and tomato sauce meals.


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