Wet and cold waiting in a little hut for the catamaran at Lago Pehoe. Thought the hut was about blow over, those chileans sure know how to build things!
We arrived a Puerto Natales, which is essentially a launchig point for trekers to get to the Torres del Paine National Park. After a thrilling bus ride from Punta Arenas we were mobbed by hostel managers trying to get us back to their hostel. We procrastiated for a while, but ended up at the cheapest option of Nickos II. Turns out we have arrived in Puerto Natales at the end of the peak season and everyting is begining to shut down for the winter, which in terms of hostal prices was great as it meanÂ´t chap prices for us. Apart from the cheap prices in April, Natales doesnÂ´t have much more to offer except for freezing temperatures and lots of wind.
A view of some chilean patagonian snow capped mountains from the back of the Catamaran.
However the back drop of mounatins around the town is very beautiful. We spent our time in Natales organising rental gear and food for our trip to Torres del Paine and left the town after two nights here aiming for four nights in the national park.
We commenced our time in Torres del Paine aiming to complete the Â´W-trackÂ´ which takes approximately 5 days, some people can do it in 4 (not us). We chose to attempt the track in the clock wise directon which meant we had to catch the catamaran across Lago Grey to Refugio Pehoe. The cat trip was very interesting indeed, as its quite amazing the size of waves that the patagonia winds can whip up on a small lake, it was fun though. Once at Pehoe we commenced the walk to Refugio Grey which is near Glacier Grey.
Glacier Grey, looking from the top of a hill near Refugio Grey.
To put it simple, the walk was amazing along side lake grey with the massive maountains as the back drop, however the weather was quite the opposite. Heavy winds and rain pounded us head on the whole 4 hours of the walk. However we got there and saw the glacier that night. We whipped up a mean risotto (rice cooked in vegetable stock) and jumped in the tent for the night, turns out we were only one of two groups camping (everyone one else was lobbed up in the refugio). Before we went to bed the owners of the refugio informed us that two nights previous a branch had broken off a tree and collected a camper across the head, he was appaerently wheeled out in an ambulance. Ths didenÂ´t fill us with much confidence during the night as the wind howled in the trees.
Sun rising on the mountains looking across glacier grey. Note the white pieces in the water, these are chunks of ice (glacier). Needless to say, no swimming in the lake.
We woke up in the morning and headed off early to get back to Pehoe by lunch, with the intention of moving off to Campremento Italiano for the night. We meet an aussie and pom (Adrian and Andrew) along the way who strongly advised aganst Italiano. Their tip because more relevat as we walked and the slight rain turned into a torresntial down pour for last hour of the walk to Pehoe. We arrived at Pehoe and the rain got heavier, so we pulled the pin on the trip to Italiano that night and decided to get a box of goon (cheap wine) with Aidan and Andrew (very happy with that move). Turns out that Adrian knows SarahÂ´s brother David, very weird indeed!
Had a very average nights sleep in the tent as it was blowing about 1000knots outside and raining all night.
Packed and ready to go after at night at Refugio Grey. Note the matching pants, what a couple!
In the morning we decided to pull the pin on the Valley de Francis (a leg of the W near camp Italiano) on the advise of other trekkers whoÂ´d just been there and said it was a total white out. So we headed back on the catamaran towards the last leg of the W and the most famous, the Torres de Paine. People have told us you cannot ever predict the weather in the park and that theory was proven right when we got to the start of the Torres walk to sunny blue skys (chile is a place of wonders). We set off us the track to Torres (AC in his hawthorn guernsey - what a ripper!) and had beautiful weather the whole way to the camp at the bottom of the lookout. The walk was amazing as the landscape changed shape continuously along the track. We arrived at Campremento Los Torres just before night fall and set up the tent in Â´camp melbourneÂ´ near another guy named Andrew who lives at 68 George Street in Fitzroy, directly across the road from us! This was a little too weird and we choose not to speak to them for the rest of the night as the coincidences were getting a little much for us.
The peak of one of the mountains along the walk to Refugio Pehoe. Looked like something out of Lord of the Rings.
Pasta for dinner, great stuff but AC spilt his all over the floor, not very happy. Had a good sleep as the camp site was well sheltered, however we were on a slope and kept waking up at the end of the tent.
The alarm went off at 6am and we set off for the Mirrador (lookout in espanol). It was a about a 45minute trek up the hill climbing over boulders. We got there just before sunrise to almost a cloudless sky and managed to shoot off about 100 photos, we were quite your typical asia touists. We took our burner up there and had a warm breakfas and hot chocolate, which was very nice as it was freezing up there. Headed off to pack up the tent and head back to the Swiss Chalet looking hosteria at the bottom of the mountain where we would catch the bus back to Puerto Natales.
We decided at the bottom of the mountain that we are not trekkers; and specifically dont want to become trekkers. Enough walking with back packs for us for a while.
Also chileans don't like paving their roads, very average indeed.