Our main objective for visiting Patagonia was to hike the “W” trail at Parque Torres del Paine outside of Puerto Natales, Chile. We had incredible luck because it was sunny and dry almost our entire four-day hike. Many hikers are inundated with water through the trek and camping. I spoke to a girl who visited over Christmas, and the area was rainy and enshrouded with clouds the entire hike. She didn’t see anything.
The lakes, glacier, and towers of the park are astounding. The area is a UNESCO site. The mountains and land remind me of the south island of New Zealand.
This is Glacier Grey. You can see icebergs in bottom of the lake. We started the “W” at the left hand side, so we saw the glacier on our first day. It was raining the first two hours into the hike but wasn’t too uncomfortable.
If you decide to hike this trail, it’s recommended that you take two sets of clothes–one dry and one wet. You may have to put on the wet clothes to walk during the day, but you’ll always have the dry clothes to warm yourself up at night. Staying dry will be a theme in this hike.
I loved the layers in this mountain.
This bird had bright red eyes.
A strange aspect of this trail is that you can camp or stay in fancy refugios (cabins) where you can find all the amenities of a hostel. There are also stands at each campsite where you can buy food, cooked meals, gas, and other camping necessities. While we brought everything we needed in our backpacks, we knew that there were back up options should we run out of something. We also camped in a tent. The refugios are very expensive; however, if you are looking for a little more of a pampered vacation, it would be nice to hike in the harsh weather for the day and come in from the elements at night.
Other than the mountain views, perhaps the coolest thing about the hike is that you don’t have to bring in water. It’s possible to dip your bottle in any mountain stream and access water the entire time. That was excellent because it saved us from carrying weight in the packs and it tasted pure.
This lake is called Lago Azul–blue lake. In person, the color is so blue it looks unnatural. The photos reminded me of a Maxfield Parrish painting.
You can see our tent. We spent the second day at Los Cuernos camp site. The wind was so strong in the morning that I thought our tent would be ripped from the spikes. I’ve never felt such strong gales. It blew dirt into anything we tried to eat. As we started hiking, the wind was so strong that it literally pushed me up a couple hills. That was great. But it also tried to push me down some embankments.
We had never been on a trek which provided so much natural resistance. A lot of times we walked on loose stones which took some concentration and extra effort. The section of the trail on private land (on which the towers are located) is not well marked.
That’s me at the bottom–completely wind swept. It was an exhilarating day. The sun and wind dry everything out quickly. If you have the opportunity, I encourage you to visit this park, even for a day trip.