The expedition

Torres Del Paine Travel Blog

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stuck in the canyon

Woke up to a much better back the next day. The ferns had obviously really helped.

 

We discussed with German or more precisely he suggested we should try to cross the ultima espiranza to lago azure. From there the maps indicated a rio that ran from lago Balmaceda.  According to German no one had explored it before. Lago Balmaceda was supposed to have icebergs and we’d have our opportunity to kayak there.

 

We decamped and set off down the last segment of rio Serrano. It was a beautiful morning. Still and quiet apart from the rhythmic splashing of our paddles and the sound of patios( ducks) and other birdlife along the banks of the river.

german our guide

Soon we reached the end of the rive and the start of the fjord. The water was now salty and the waves started to get bigger.

We paddled closer to the shore line and passes a multitude of waterfalls cascading off the cliffs. The water for this falls originating from the glaciers overhead. Along the way we also passed by glacier balmacedo which had retreated 60 meters up the slope. In the 1950s it reached the waters edge. So here we were seeing first hand the effects of global warming.

 

Soon we’d kayaked about 4 hrs and it was time to leave the shoreline and kayak in open water to get to lago azure and our lunch site. The waves were much larger breaking over the bows of our boats and tossing us around abit.

morning
Fortunately we got to our destination with no major incidents.

 

A little about our guides.

German is a rather quiet guy who definitely more of a action kinda guy.( this was to be proven time and again during our trip) Thus we coined the term Pantagonian action man. He’s actually from Santa Cruz a place near Santiago working as a landscapist. All his life he’s dreamed of kayaking in pantagonia. So 5 yrs ago he packed his stuff into an expedition kayak and set down the coast ( and this is a really long coast) to Puerto Natales.

leaving the river for the fjord
And just to make things even more interesting he went from Puerto natales to the tip of south America solo. Back at Puerto Natales he’d married a nice girl and now has a little baby. Truly quite the action man, living out his dreams in the

‘wilds’ of pantagonia. The strong silent type and actually rather good looking too. Damn we both we wished we were action man!!

Amelie on the other hand is from Quebec. She’s worked as an assistant guide in a number of places in Canada and decided to spend some  time down here in pantagonia. She’s also our translator. Her dream is to join the mountain rescue but feels she’s not strong enough. Personally I think she’s plenty strong. Maybe lacking a little selfconfidence which maybe accounted by the fact that she comes from a family of overachievers.

glaciers
Both sisters being doctors.

After lunch we would begin exploring the river leading from Lago Balmacedo to Lago azure. It started off innocently enough, mild currents but within 5 mins it became to shallow to kayak and we were out of our kayaks and dragging them along. When the water got deeper enough we would then get back in and kayak again. This went on innumerable times and left us rather exhausted.Funnyly enough both our guides would carry on ahead and left us at the back. It soon became a standing joke between shawn and I about whether our guides were ok up front while we struggled at the back.Maybe they thought we wanted to experience pantagonia without their presence. Of course I'm sure they knew we were there at the back. But sometimes you had to wonder :)

Anyways we finally reached a canyon and we were paddling along a narrow passage. It really felt like we were explorers in a river that had never been explored before. Really exciting.

waterfalls along the fjord
Unfortunately we were to be blocked by rocks. ( Got some shots of German in action man poses scouting ahead). So we backed out of the canyon and decided the explore above the canyon to see if we could portage.We climbed up the sides but the rocks seemed to go on forever. So regretably we decided to turn back. Getting back into the kayaks was a challenge that left us all swimming in icy glacial waters. Fortunately the drysuits actually worked quite well.

Once again we went through the process of kayaking then getting out to drag the kayaks to get back to lago azure.

The weather also started to turn and before we knew it, it had started to rain. We kayaked another 1 to 2 hours to the end of lago azure and made camp. This time it wasn't so pleasant a camp site. kinda rocky and everything was went due to the rain. Still it was an amazing place with glaciers around us and the night interrupted with the sounds of miniavalanches.

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stuck in the canyon
stuck in the canyon
german our guide
german our guide
morning
morning
leaving the river for the fjord
leaving the river for the fjord
glaciers
glaciers
waterfalls along the fjord
waterfalls along the fjord
glacier balmacedo
glacier balmacedo
dragging the kayaks
dragging the kayaks
the canyon
the canyon
Torres Del Paine
photo by: Vlindeke