Torres del Paine, Chile 21 - 23 Feb 2006

Climax at the end of a month in Chile

 

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Due to the difficulty in getting accommodation in the park in the high season (i.e. now), many sightseers make a quick dash there and back from Puerto Natales in one day. We were glad we had had the foresight to book so far in advance. By leaving Puerto Natales a little later than most of the tours, we avoided getting much dust in our hired 4WD from other vehicles on the dirt track. We enjoyed views of the Patagonian wilderness on the way and after about an hour and a half, we entered the park. There are two routes passing north of Lago Sarmiento de Gamboa and we took the one nearest the lake. Almost immediately we saw some ˝and˙ (ostrichlike rhea). We thought they would be more common than the cameloid guanaco but we saw herds of those and no more ˝and˙. Having seen the llama, alpaca and wild vicu˝a in Peru, we had now seen all four species of South American cameloid.
Our accommodation was in the centre of the park at Rio Serrano, near the park headquarters. At USD 95 per night, our narrow bunk-bedded room with shared bathroom was not exactly good value for money, but it beat camping out.
The days are long in the summer at around 52 degrees south of the equator, so even after a late lunch at the Posada, we still had time for a few hours’ walk. There are many trails to choose from and we picked the one leading to Lago Grey with its glacier. On the way through the woods to the lake, Angela heard some parrot-like squawks and looked up to see some cute loro choroy (parakeet) chicks poking out of their nest in the hollow of a tree. Mum was looking on protectively from a nearby branch and, thinking that her babies were being threatened, flew back over to them squawking furiously at us.
Torres del Paine National Park is named after the spectacular tower-like peaks that soar almost vertically about 2800m above the Patagonian steppe. The only snag is that the peaks are, more often than not, obscured by clouds. But we were in luck! We didn’t get a clear view the first day, but the second one, they revealed themselves in all their glory. Just as well, as it was a strenuous hike up the mountainside for four hours to reach them, and the last hour was particularly tedious, struggling over boulders and loose rocks. Even worse, Flemming somehow managed to smash the bottle of wine he had been carrying “just by gently putting his rucksack down on one of the boulders”. (Angela, lagging behind, was not there to see it happen. She only had to help clear up the mess). Fortunately, Flemming was also carrying the remains of a second bottle which didn’t break, so we did have something to toast the Torres with.


A ˝and˙ near the entrance to the park

The guanaco, the fourth cameloid we'd seen in South America

Guanacos

The mountain tops were obscured by cloud on the day of our arrival

By Rio Grey, Flemming is wearing one of the caps given to us by Puerto Montt flying club

Lago Grey

Glaciar Grey is hiding behind the magnificent iceberg

Lago Grey with Glaciar Grey behind

We hiked around the small peninsula in Lago Grey

Torres del Paine seen from Lago Grey

On the way back from Lago Grey to Posada Rio Serrano

View of Lago Pehoe from the Hosteria where we ate dinner

JAlbum 6.2 Copyright: Angela & Flemming PEDERSEN