Day 14

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South America » Chile » Magallanes » Torres del Paine
January 31st 2011
Published: February 24th 2011
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At the park there are a number of overnight hikes, the main ones that hikers do last between 5 and 7 days. Neither Anna nor I felt like undertaking these types of hikes, especially carrying as much useless stuff as we were carrying. Nor did our holiday itinerary allow for such an extended stay at the park.

Before we had left for this holiday I was determined to pack light. After all if you’re going for 1 month, you might as well be going for 3. Unfortunately for me in the mad panic to finish packing up our apartment before we left London I had not prepared for our trip. Instead what I didn’t pack to go to NZ I put into my backpack. So I ended up with too much. Loath to throw stuff out I had carried many old and useless t-shirts for a number of days, however the ache in my shoulders and back meant that one buy one I was leaving them behind.

Anyway, the suggested day hike in the Torres del Paine national park is to Las Torres (The Towers). Three mountains that stand extremely close to one another. The distance of the hike from the beginning of the path is 9 km, and the suggested time given to get there is 4 hours.

We had thought we’d get up early and make a nice day of it, however the day before we had discovered that the start was approximately 10km from where we were staying, and that there was a transfer van from the entrance of the park to the start of the hike.

As it turns out the van driver lives 100m from the ranch we were staying at so we asked him if he’d pick us up at the ranch on his was to the park. He said he would, for an extra 500 CLP per person, that is approximately £0.70. The transfer from the entrance is 2000 CLP. Now this man who runs the transfer doesn’t appear to be a rich man. He lives in a abandoned van that he has turned into a temporary home while he is working during the summer months. So I don’t begrudge him wanting to charge extra for picking us up, even though he drove right past the ranch. However I thought there was a principle at stake here. He could not, in any why shape or form, get to the entrance without passing by the ranch, so I told him we’d just get the transfer from the park entrance.

The transfers from the park start at around 10am which is when the first buses for the day turn up. So we got to the entrance and jumped into the transfer van and waited until it was full. This took around 45 minutes so by the time we reached the start of the hike it was already 11am. This caused us a bit of a concern as the last transfer back to the entrance was at 7pm. So we decided to hike hard until we got to the end of the trek and worry about taking photos on the way back. This we did, and it was a hard trek, especially taking into account our general lack of fitness. After much sweating, a couple of energy bars (ones I was loath to throw out in London and so had brought just in case we needed them) and three and a half hours, we reached the view point at the end of the hike. It was spectacular, so we decided to relax and benefit from the hard work and had our lunch.

The trek back was easier as it was mostly downhill, and we stopped many times so that Anna could get all of the photos she desired.

It then came time to catch the transfer van back to the entrance of the park. At the beginning of the day we had both been determined to walk from the entrance back to the ranch, approximately a 30 minute walk. However our feet were sore and we were tired, so throwing the principle out of the window we got the driver to drop us off at the ranch and happily paid the extra 500 CLP per person.


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