Torres del Paine   Leave a comment

Sunday 2nd November 2014

We are a bit sad that we have to leave the wonderful Hotel Lago del Desierto but at some point we have to continue our journey south if we want to make it to Ushuaia on this trip. Johannes expects the big double-decker bus we travelled in from Bariloche to Esquel, as it was from the same company and continued to El Calafate, but when we arrive at the terminal we see only one vehicle waiting:

Mind you, for the grand total of four passengers this morning, the company could have hired a taxi…

Hasta la próxima vez, El Chaltén!

Last view of the Fitz Roy Massif, Cerro Torre and Lago Viedma

Ruta 40

Lago Argentino on the horizon

After three hours we arrive in El Calafate and go straight to the another bus company’s counter to pay for the (by email) pre-booked tickets to Puerto Natales the next day. As the bus leaves before our usual breakfast time, we find another Hostería which is much closer to the terminal. Then we explore more and different parts of the town.

Definitely not on the Gringo Trail…

Für Jõrgel

The exercise is completed with a visit to the Heladeria

The best ice cream in Argentina according to the locals

Monday 3rd November 2014

We travel from El Calafate in Argentina to Puerto Natales in Chile, from where we want to visit the country’s most famous national park, the Torres del Paine. The bus is pretty full, we don’t have the best views but the journey is still pleasant and unspectacular – apart from the usual border formalities including x-raying of luggage and signing documents confirming that we don’t carry any products made from fruit, vegetables, cereals, wood, animals etc. Chile is free from food parasites and they would like to maintain this state.

First glimpse of the Cordillera del Paine

When we arrive in Puerto Natales, we follow the recommendation of the helpful señora from the coach agency in El Calafate and buy a tour package for the national park from the bus company next door. They will pick us up from the place we stay in the following morning; so we have to inform them where we are after we’ve found accommodation in town.

Only when I ask the landlord of our hostel if he could call the bus company on our behalf and tell them where we are, do we learn that it is illegal to sell tours at the terminal; the central bus station is solely for getting from A to B and tour operators are not allowed to offer their services there. I am worried if the tour we’ve already paid for will actually materialise, especially as we haven’t received a detailed description of what is included in the price…

We make a few more enquiries in town, get similar descriptions and quotes from other agencies and decide to hope for the best. In the meantime we’d rather spend our time exploring more of Puerto Natales.

Seno de Última Esperanza – Sound of the Last Hope

Big sky

We discover the local ship cemetery

We also find out how the Puerto Nataleans are keeping warm

 

Tuesday 4th November 2014

We are ready for breakfast at 7 o’clock and wait anxiously for a minibus picking us up for our tour to the Torres del Paine national park at around 7.25 hrs. Our landlady informs us that the driver will report to reception and we’ll be called by name. Mmmh, my little note says only ‘Manuela y Papá’…

I shouldn’t have worried so much; a minibus pulls up, the driver knows our full names and we get in together with all the other tourists who have purchased their tour packages the legal way. We have a fantastic day with a professional tour guide, are lucky with the weather again and drive 250 kilometres in a total of 12 hours through breathtaking countryside.

Here is just a small selection; all photos of the national park can be found in this gallery, from #74.

First stop: Cueva del Milodón – the cave of the Giant Ground Sloth (click on the photo to see the panorama in full)

The Cuernos (horns) del Paine

On the way to the Glaciar Grey

First glimpse of Lago Grey

We are the only ones who make it to the Mirador in the limited time you have on a tour

Glaciar Grey

Lago Pehoe and the Cuernos del Paine

Salto Grande del Río Paine

Cordillera del Paine (click on the photo for full size)

Torres del Paine

Guanaco

More guanacos

Lago Nordenskjöld and Torres del Paine

With Toni from Madrid, who has saved all her annual leave for a month-long exploration of Chile

Lago Sarmiento

I still dream of living here breeding sheep…

There are several means to get to the end of the world

Back in Puerto Natales

Tired but very happy we have dinner in an excellent little fish restaurant where we are suddenly the last guests…

Posted 6 November 2014 by Pumpy in Chile, The 2014 Rucksack Trip

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