4.4 miles/52.7 miles (total W Trek)
January 27, 2016
Torres del Paine National Park(Chile)
We left Los Angeles on a Monday to begin our international trek to the other end of the planet. The first leg of our flight was to Lima, Peru where we fortunately did not have to exit and deal with luggage and customs. The second leg arrived in Santiago, Chile where we had a layover for a few hours. We didn't really need it though because we were off the plane, through customs, and had our bags in hand in under an hour. They wouldn't even let us into the domestic terminal because we were too early! We caught the last leg of our trip to Punta Arenas, Chile where we successfully collected our luggage. We were flying LAN and had great luck with them for our entire trip.
From the airport in Punta Arenas we hopped on a 3-hour bus to Puerto Natales where we stayed in a hotel for the night. We checked out a local bar for a beer and then headed off to sleep. The travel down went surprisingly well although it took about 24 hours!
In the morning we had a quick breakfast at the hotel and caught the 7:30AM bus to Torres del Paine. The bus made a stop at the Laguna Amarga ranger station where we filled out paperwork and watched an informational video about the park. We attempted to book some of the free walk-in campgrounds (Italiano or Torres) but they were already full. Backpackers starting on the eastern end at Las Torres Hotel got on a separate shuttle, but we continued on our bus to the Pudeto Ferry landing. The ferry was absolutely crammed with people! It was about a 30 minute ride across Pehoe Lake to reach our first refugio, Paine Grande.
I booked campsites online ahead of time, and as of the 2016/2017 season this is required. The campsite probably had 100 tents by the time we went to bed. It also had flush toilets, hot showers, and a cooking shelter for campers which I’m not used to! The refugio itself has rooms, a cafeteria, a store, and a bar/lounge.
Since we had some time in the afternoon we took a day hike to the Pehoe Lookout which is along the “Q” section of the trail. I was already in shock at the beauty of the park, and it definitely met all of my expectations from photos. On one side you have glacier covered mountains (Paine Grande and Los Cuernos), on the other an aqua colored lake (Pehoe). I definitely recommend doing this side trip if you have time.
After the hike we visited the refugio bar which is on the second floor with panoramic view of Paine Grande. We opted to try dinner at the refugio – salad, asparagus soup, bread, steak, potates, and juice.
The weather was already kind to us – only a few minutes of rain when we were on the ferry and the wind wasn’t bad. It was a little interesting getting used to the sun setting so late (around 10PM) but it was really nice to have so many hours of daylight to enjoy the park.
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