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South America » Chile » Magallanes » Puerto Natales
March 26th 2012
Published: June 19th 2012
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I’m not sure what we expected from our first stop in Chile, however it probably wasn’t this. Puerto Natales is pretty much the main jumping off point for the Torres Del Paine treks which we had heard so much about, and so we had subsequently come here to do exactly that. The town itself is hard to put into words really, and that is generally due to the fact that it’s just so non-descript. I think Donna and I both imagined a bustling town with hikers everywhere, more Gore-Tex shops than you could shake a stick at and at the very least, some atmosphere! However on arrival mid-afternoon, we were simply greeted with an eerily quiet suburban type town where the streets hosted more stray dogs than people. To be fair, we had got there slightly out of season, however we knew that plenty of people still did the treks at this time of year, and therefore just expected a little more….well, life I suppose.

Still, we wasn’t here for anything but the trekking, and so we started walking towards our hostel that we had booked online. On arrival at the Singing Lamb, we were greeted by the friendliest hostel manager we could have asked for. Susan was a lovely lady from NZ who ran the hostel in PN half the year, and went back to her homeland for the remainder. No sooner had we walked into the place, we were given a map and an explanation of every decent restaurant, bar and trek gear places in the area, as well as information on the treks available and where we could hire gear from. She also told us about the talk that happened in the bar ‘Base camp’ in the next half hour or so that would explain all we needed to know in detail, about the various options in regards to trekking Torres Del Paine.

Taking Susan up on this offer, we attended the 45 minute talk in Base Camp from a crazy sounding Dutchman whilst drinking their free coffee and taking notes on the particular trek that we had decided to do…. The ‘W’ trek. The Dutch guys recommendations fit perfectly into the plan that we had, and therefore we opted to trek the ‘W’ over 5 days and 4 nights from West to East.

Neither Donna nor myself had ever really done anything like this before. This trek we were about to embark on was around 75km long, we would have to carry our own bags containing food, cooking utensils, sleeping bags etc. and we would have to navigate the entire trip ourselves with a crappy map. It’s no trip to Everest, however being our first real trek, we were both a little anxious, although I think the emotion at the forefront was excitement!

We spent the next day preparing for the trip by going to the supermarket, hiring our stuff and getting everything packed. Our bags were quite large, and although we rationed our clothes, I think the huge sleeping bags and the food was really bulking it out. Still, it didn’t feel too heavy overall, and so we were ready for our challenge.

We awoke early the next morning in order to squeeze in one last proper breakfast from Susan as we knew the next one was a good few days away. The breakfast that Susan painstakingly and loving prepared was the same each morning, however no one we met in the hostal minded the repetition. Each day, we were treated to filter coffee, freshly roasted oats with porridge (Susan would roast the oats especially each afternoon in preparation for the morning), homemade bread that was freshly baked overnight and eggs with more butter than is healthy, but were simply awesome. After our feast, the bus to take us to the park had arrived and so we said farewell to the Singing Lamb and its awesome breakfasts, and Hello to Torres Del Paine, our home for the next 5 days!

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