The last week or so has taken us from Buenos Aires to El Calefate (south Argentina) to Puerto Natales (in Chile) and finally to our destination… Torres del Paine National Park. We have just emerged from 5 days in the rugged wilderness of Pategonia and I think it is going to take me a lot longer for the absolutely unbelievably experience to sink in.
We headed into the park on a clear, crisp sunny morning, which amazingly for us continued throughout the WHOLE 5 DAYS!! We hardly saw a cloud and for that we feel blessed (and it also made for a much more pleasurable experience!). With our muchillas (backpacks) stuffed with sleeping bags, mats, a tent, 2 changes of clothes (one for the day and one for the night), toilet paper, suncream, fuel, pots and food for 5 days we started our journey via a catamaran ride through Lake Grey.
The essentials (food and sleep)
We brought along leftover camping food from our Australia trip, delicious ready-to-eat Indian curries. Together with rice and dehydrated peas, dinner was indescribably tasty at the end of a long day and we were the envy of many a fellow hiker.
Our tent was generally comfortable (and some nights even had world-class views) but for the absolutely freezing cold nights and mornings. We woke up the first morning with glistening frost clinging to the inside of our tent. Our Australian tent not the best choice for Patagonian summer! With fires not being allowed, due to a recent mishap with an Israeli backpacker who started a massive fire and caused the park to be closed for some time, the only defence against the cold was to put on every available layer of clothing that we had brought.. and then head into the Refugios for some creature comforts… a glass of wine and hot chocolate to warm our bones.
We shared our experience with a group of post-army Israeli trekking enthusiasts who were one the same route and who kept us entertained, shared food, fuel, tea and bots (coffee brought all the way from Israel) and commiserated with our aches, pains and sleep deprivation due to the cold.
On the road
We hiked between 6-9 hours a day though dramatic landscapes of snow-capped mountains, rivers flowing down the sparse slopes into flowing rivers and green forests. Breathtakingly beautiful. We drank water straight from the rivers, the most refreshing, sweet tasting fresh water that I have ever tasted. I was Also very impressed with the park rangers, who constantly reminded everyone not to wash themselves or their pots in the rivers, keeping them in pristine condition.
We followed in the footsteps of many, hiking the “W”, a trek that took us through some of the highlights of the park…
Glacier Grey (Day 1)
French Valley (day 3)
By day 4, not even a freezing cold lake could prevent Boaz from hopping in for a very refreshing (and cleansing) swim!
Torres del Paine (the towers) (day 5).
An amazing adventure and at the end, we were still standing with sunkissed skin, sore feet and knees, windswept hair, chapped lips and massive big broad grins across our faces. Ready to do it all again tomorrow. Well almost, just need a hot shower first!