Patagonia is one of those regions that other travellers had been very enthusiastic about when I told them where my round the world trip would take me. With good reason! I am now part of that group of enthusiasts! And I’d love to go back and discover its further mysteries!
Here is what I’ve been doing in march this year – highly recommended:
We’ve had it all on the so-called W-Trek: snow, rain, sun, wind! We’ve hiked up and down, crossed rivers and streams and huge mud pools and I was very glad that for the first time in my life I had rented trekking poles! No trekking in the famous Torres del Paine Natinal Park in chilean Patagonia would be complete without experiencing all of this. That said, I wasn’t able to see the Torres up close, as it was first raining and later snowing on that first day in the park. I still went up to Laguna Torres and saw, well, the laguna and… clouds. It happens to the best of us.
However, that day I also met THE TEAM (in reference to the German MANNSCHAFT during the last world cup)! In fact, I had already shared a dorm with 4 of the guys (Emiliano from Argentina, Christóbal from Chile, and Daniel and Átila from Brazil) in Refugio Torres. And now, in the cozy Refugio el Chileno, we sat together, with Tiziano from Italy, and THE TEAM for the next days evolved. We’ve had loads of fun (at some point when the sun came out I started off an “O sole mio” which Tiziano then sang to us in full, making it our anthem for the trek – music really helps marching on) and pushed each other to our limits (special thanks to Emiliano and Tiziano for pushing me up to Mirador Brittanico) and I am very grateful for this time with all of you guys, you rock!! (Question: why do I always end up in a group of guys? Not that I don’t like it, just wondering…)
It was amazing, yet strenous (hell, some parts took a lot of will-power), but I’d do it again any time! Not going to go into more details… check out the photos instead:
Day 1: Refugio Torres – Laguna Torres – Refugio El Chileno:
Day 2: El Chileno – Los Cuernos
Day 3: Los Cuernos – Mirador Brittanico – Paine Grande
Day 4: Paine Grande – somewhere on the way to Glaciar Grey -Paine Grande
And check out Daniels and Átilas professional travel blogger photos and videos, if you like:
For those of you who’d like to do the W: I’d suggest to book refugios incl. full board, if you can afford it. That way you’ll have to carry less and won’t get wet or cold at night! If coming from the east (start from Laguna Amada) get there in the late afternoon and spend the night at Refugio Las Torres. Start walking the next morning up to Laguna Torres (see Las Torres close if you’re lucky) and either spend the night at the small Refugio El Chileno or make your way down again to the larger and more comfortable Refugio Las Torres (I liked El Chileno for its cozy athmosphere and the fact that I did not have to walk all the way down again. Also, you can shortcut the way on the next day into the direction of Los Cuernos). Spend the third night at Refugio Los Cuernos and get an upgrade to a Cabin with beautiful views of the mountains and the lake and relax in the HOT tub! Alternatively spend that night at Campo Frances in a dome. That way you’ll have to do less walking on the next day! It is a long day, so start early! But the view from Brittanico is worth the effort! Spend the fourth night at Refugio Paine Grande. Consider spending a fifth night at Refugio Grey, as otherwise you’d have to walk a strenous 22 km return and hurry to get the 6pm boat from Paine Grande. Refugio Grey is said to be nice and you could even consider to do a tour onto the glacier – I’d certainly do this next time!
Bookings (incl. bus and boat) can either be done directly through fantastico sur or vertice patagonia (who manage the refugios) or even better through an agent. I recommend to contact Carla Alcayaga (www.australglacier.com, she has a small office in Puerto Natales on Baquedano 695) and discuss your options with her! She’ll then book for you whatever you like! You can also book any bus and any tour in Patagonia (even in Argentina ) through her.