ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Day 61 to 70

DAY 70 (2 OF 4) – CHIKO RESTAURANT, USHUAIA, TIERRA DEL FUEGO, ARGENTINA

The service was a little slow, but the seafood was fabulous at Chiko Restaurant, especially the king crab stew!
ImageImage

* * *

Read more on Ushuaia in 2013 South America
Day 69.1 – Magellan Straight
Day 69.2 – Arrival, Ushuaia
Day 69.3 – Fuegian Grill, Ushuaia
Day 70.1 – Museo Maritimo, Ushuaia
Day 70.2 – Chiko Restaurant, Ushuaia
Day 70.3 – Beagle Channel & Isla H
Day 70.4 – Kalma Resto, Ushuaia
Day 71.1 – Pier, Ushuaia
Day 71.2 – Fuegian Trees, near Estancia Harberton
Day 71.3 – Penguins, Martillo Island
Day 71.4 – Estancia Harberton
Day 71.5 – Kaupe Restaurant, Ushuaia
Day 72.1 – Post Office, Isla Redonda, Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego
Day 72.2 – Senda Costera & Bahia Lapataia, Parque Nacional Tierra Del Fuego
Day 73 – Stranded in Ushuaia Airport

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 70 (1 OF 4) – MUSEO MARITIMO, USHUAIA, TIERRA DEL FUEGO, ARGENTINA

Perhaps nowhere else is more suitable to build a prison than at the “end of the world”. Before its closure in 1947, the Ushuaia prison housed many reoffenders and political prisoners from all over the nation. Housed in the asterisk shaped building with an activity court as the pivotal point, the former prison was converted into a museum complex in the 1990s. The museum complex Museo Maritimo includes the Maritime Museum, Prison Museum, Antarctic Museum, and Art Gallery. Exhibitions are located mainly in the former prison cells. We spent the morning at the complex, and were particularly interested in the Prison Museum and Antarctic Museum. In one building wing, stories of some well-known inhabitants of the former prison were told with text and photos, one story in each prison cell. Another wing of the old prison was preserved without renovation to show the former condition of the building. Although small, the Antarctic Museum was an interesting showcase of exploration stories on the ice continent by various expedition teams.
ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

* * *

Read more on Ushuaia in 2013 South America
Day 69.1 – Magellan Straight
Day 69.2 – Arrival, Ushuaia
Day 69.3 – Fuegian Grill, Ushuaia
Day 70.1 – Museo Maritimo, Ushuaia
Day 70.2 – Chiko Restaurant, Ushuaia
Day 70.3 – Beagle Channel & Isla H
Day 70.4 – Kalma Resto, Ushuaia
Day 71.1 – Pier, Ushuaia
Day 71.2 – Fuegian Trees, near Estancia Harberton
Day 71.3 – Penguins, Martillo Island
Day 71.4 – Estancia Harberton
Day 71.5 – Kaupe Restaurant, Ushuaia
Day 72.1 – Post Office, Isla Redonda, Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego
Day 72.2 – Senda Costera & Bahia Lapataia, Parque Nacional Tierra Del Fuego
Day 73 – Stranded in Ushuaia Airport

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 69 (3 OF 3) – FUEGIAN GRILL, USHUAIA, TIERRA DEL FUEGO, ARGENTINA

We ended up finishing our night at a grill house.  We had a tasty meal of lamb, steak and beer.  In Argentina, grill meat can never go wrong.

ImageImageImageImageImageImage* * *

Read more on Ushuaia in 2013 South America
Day 69.1 – Magellan Straight
Day 69.2 – Arrival, Ushuaia
Day 69.3 – Fuegian Grill, Ushuaia
Day 70.1 – Museo Maritimo, Ushuaia
Day 70.2 – Chiko Restaurant, Ushuaia
Day 70.3 – Beagle Channel & Isla H
Day 70.4 – Kalma Resto, Ushuaia
Day 71.1 – Pier, Ushuaia
Day 71.2 – Fuegian Trees, near Estancia Harberton
Day 71.3 – Penguins, Martillo Island
Day 71.4 – Estancia Harberton
Day 71.5 – Kaupe Restaurant, Ushuaia
Day 72.1 – Post Office, Isla Redonda, Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego
Day 72.2 – Senda Costera & Bahia Lapataia, Parque Nacional Tierra Del Fuego
Day 73 – Stranded in Ushuaia Airport

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 69 (2 OF 3) – ARRIVAL, USHUAIA, TIERRA DEL FUEGO, ARGENTINA

The 10-hour bus ride was quite exhausting, but it definitely worth the effort to come to Ushuaia, where many tourists begin their Antarctica journey.  Ushuaia is a peaceful port city overlooking the Beagle Channel and the snow-capped mountains beyond.  It was 8pm when we arrived at the bus terminal right by the port.  At the port, there were several tourist boats, an Antarctic ship, a cargo ship, two military ships, and a passenger cruise ship.  The air was cool and the sea was calm, such a welcoming evening to this “end of the world” city!  We strolled along the main street and found several touristy restaurants with live king crabs displayed at their shop front.
ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

* * *

Read more on Ushuaia in 2013 South America
Day 69.1 – Magellan Straight
Day 69.2 – Arrival, Ushuaia
Day 69.3 – Fuegian Grill, Ushuaia
Day 70.1 – Museo Maritimo, Ushuaia
Day 70.2 – Chiko Restaurant, Ushuaia
Day 70.3 – Beagle Channel & Isla H
Day 70.4 – Kalma Resto, Ushuaia
Day 71.1 – Pier, Ushuaia
Day 71.2 – Fuegian Trees, near Estancia Harberton
Day 71.3 – Penguins, Martillo Island
Day 71.4 – Estancia Harberton
Day 71.5 – Kaupe Restaurant, Ushuaia
Day 72.1 – Post Office, Isla Redonda, Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego
Day 72.2 – Senda Costera & Bahia Lapataia, Parque Nacional Tierra Del Fuego
Day 73 – Stranded in Ushuaia Airport

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 69 (1 OF 3) – MAGELLAN STRAIGHT

Today, we left Patagonia (would return in a few days) and headed south to the Island of Tierra del Fuego.  In the next few days we would be staying in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world after Puerto Williams of Chile (a smaller town at the opposite site of Beagle Channel).  It was a unique experience crossing the Magellan Strait, the famous channel that separates Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego.  During the 20-minute crossing, we had to get out of the bus and stayed in the passenger lounge of the ferry.  Our eyes were glued to the windows in the passenger lounge in hope of spotting  marine wildlife.  Happily, we saw a group of dolphins jumping out of the waves three times.

ImageImageImage
DSC_5343OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADSC_5338OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADSC_5347OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADSC_5354

* * *

Previous Destination – Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, reading from post Day 62.1

Read more on Ushuaia in 2013 South America
Day 69.1 – Magellan Straight
Day 69.2 – Arrival, Ushuaia
Day 69.3 – Fuegian Grill, Ushuaia
Day 70.1 – Museo Maritimo, Ushuaia
Day 70.2 – Chiko Restaurant, Ushuaia
Day 70.3 – Beagle Channel & Isla H
Day 70.4 – Kalma Resto, Ushuaia
Day 71.1 – Pier, Ushuaia
Day 71.2 – Fuegian Trees, near Estancia Harberton
Day 71.3 – Penguins, Martillo Island
Day 71.4 – Estancia Harberton
Day 71.5 – Kaupe Restaurant, Ushuaia
Day 72.1 – Post Office, Isla Redonda, Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego
Day 72.2 – Senda Costera & Bahia Lapataia, Parque Nacional Tierra Del Fuego
Day 73 – Stranded in Ushuaia Airport

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 68 (2 OF 2) – LA MARMITA, PUNTA ARENAS, CHILE

At La Marmita, we had our first trial of king crab in Patagonia.

DSC_5321DSC_5323OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

* * *

Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

Next Destination – Ushuaia
Continuing on our journey from post Day 69.1

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 68 (1 OF 2) – SQUARE, MUSEUM & CEMETERY, PUNTA ARENAS, CHILE

After experiencing the windstorms and unpredictable weather of Torres del Paine, we became interested to know how the first pioneers settled and then flourished in Southern Patagonia. In fact, Patagonia has become one of the most prosperous regions in Chile, thanks to fisheries, petroleum development and commerce. A 3-hour bus ride from Puerto Natales took us to Punta Arenas, the capital of the Magallanes Region.
Old mansions from late 19th century dotted along the main streets in Downtown Punta Arenas. While some seemed well maintained and had been transformed into modern use, many more looked as if they had been vacant for years. At Plaza Munoz Gamero, a statue commemorating the voyage of Magellan stood at the very heart of the city’s main square. Just steps away from the plaza, we arrived at Museo Regional Braun-Menendez, the former mansion of the Braun-Menendez family, one of the most powerful pioneer sheep farmers from over a century ago. After introduction of 300 sheep from Falkland Islands in late 19th century, sheep farming had become the most crucial industry in Southern Patagonia. The Museo Regional Braun-Menendez is divided into three parts: a section of the former residence of the Braun-Menendez family, an exhibitition on the history of exploration and Punta Arenas, and a temporary exhibition of artwork on loan from somewhere else.
Before dinner, we walked to the Cementerio Municipal, where grand mausoleums of wealthy pioneers and graves of the common citizens mingled. It was interesting to see the various cultural origins of the first inhabitants of Punta Arenas, including English, Irish, Croatians, French, German, Spanish, etc.
ImageImageImageImageDSC_5298OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

* * *

Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 67 (3 OF 3) – ASADO DE CORDERO, PUERTO NATALAS, CHILE

After 2 hours of bus ride, we arrived at the bus terminal of Puento Natalas. We checked in at the same hostel and shared our W-trek experience with our hosts. That evening, we went to a local restaurant for a feast of Patagonian roasted lamb with refreshing beers to celebrate our completion of the W-trek.

ImageImageImageImage

* * *

Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 67 (2 OF 3) – DESCEND, TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE

This was definitely the worse day of our visit in the park. The furious wind and heavy rain didn’t show a sign of stopping anytime soon. We left Refugio Chileno at 10:30am. We were cold and exhausted, and were glad that this would be our final descend back to the park entrance. On the cliff side trail near Chileno, the wind was so strong that most hikers, including us, had to stop advancing and keep ourselves from falling off the cliff by holding tightly on any fixed objects we could find, big rocks or strong branches and waited for the wind to pass. God knows how long we had waited but at some point when one hiker started moving again, we all stood up one by one, balanced ourselves and continued walking again. The wind got weaker after several turns down the hill, but we had no intention to take any break until reaching our final destination, Hosteria las Torres, where shuttle buses would take hikers for the final 7.5km to Laguna Amarga, the main park entrance where all buses to Puerto Natales would depart. Our clothes were soaked by our own sweat when we arrived at Hosteria las Torres. Good that our GORTEX gears worked well to keep us dry from the rain. There was almost 3 hours of waiting before the shuttle bus departed at 2pm. We decided to sit down at the hotel bar restaurant and treated ourselves with a delicious and meaty Patagonian pizza and soft drinks. At the hotel, we saw hikers, including some familiar faces, arriving one by one. Some unfortunately came down with bruises, cuts, and broken ankle, requiring assistance from their travel-mate when walking. Although we didn’t see the orange sunrise at la Torres, we were both happy for our trekking experiences, and glad that we survived the mighty Patagonian wind. The beauty of Torres del Paine is not only about mountain glaciers and turquoise lakes, but also the power of survival of all living things under all kinds of hostile circumstances of mother nature, from the tiny orchids that withstand the giant winds, to all the trekkers that brave the unpredictable weather for a dose of the pristine Patagonian experience.

Image

* * *

Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 67 (1 OF 3) – LAS TORRES, TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE

We woke up at 2:45am, and could hear the sounds of drizzle and strong wind outside. Electricity was cut since midnight and we had to get ourselves prepared in the dark with our headlamp and flashlight discreetly without disturbing other hikers. After a “flash-light” breakfast, we put on our winter hats, gloves and jackets, had our hiking poles in hand, and packed our cameras and tripod in the backpack. Leaving the rest of the luggage at a locker, we left the refugio at 3:30am to embark on the final section of our W-trek up to Mirador (lookout) las Torres. The iconic granite towers of las Torres (Torres del Paine) are the symbol of the park, and hence the national park is named after them.
The past few days of hiking got us familiar with the trail conditions and signage, so even in the dark we could easily spot the right path in the woods, and cross the right streams without hesitation. Walking in the dark with only meters of visibility from our headlamp gave us a unique feeling: we were more focused on the trail while hearing became more sensitive than usual. Our eyes quickly got used to the dark only after minutes of hiking. The sky gradually brightened up at around 4:30am. At 5:00 when we reached the campsite closest to las Torres, we no longer needed our headlamps. The “Mirador” sign pointed towards a boulder path uphill. For the next hour or so, it would be the most difficult session of the W-trek. The sky was dull and our faces were cold. The rising sun beyond moving clouds formed a strip of orange glow along the horizon outside the valley. We both hoped that by the time we reached the top, there would be sunbreak to cast an orange glow on the famous granite towers. The chance was slim, but we didn’t lose our hope. Walking against the strong wind and rain on boulders for about 45 minutes, we could finally see the rock towers of las Torres and the glacier lake. After 4 days on the W-trek, we finally reached Mirador la Torres, our final destination. No magic moment, no orange glow on the peaks, but at least the towers were visible despite the mist. At the lookout, there were about 30 people scattered on the rocks. Some were sitting inside their sleeping bags while some were posting for photos in the wind. We set up our tripod and made a short timelapse.
After about 15 minutes, the weather got worse, rain had turned into snow and we could no longer see the towers. The wind had picked up its speed and we all had trouble keeping balance. One by one we found our way back down the boulder path carefully. On our way down, we encountered a few more people willing to brave the weather for the mirador. We were delighted of reaching Refugio Chileno safely at about 9:30am. We rested a bit, dried ourselves, and had a cup of warm water and a sandwich at the dining hall while watching all other people preparing rain gears and backpacks for their departure. At 10:30am, it was our turn to leave the refugio with all our belongings safely wrapped in rain covers.
ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

* * *

Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 66 (2 OF 2) – REFUGIO CHILENO, TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE

After 3 hours hiking on gentle terrains along Lago Nordenskjold, we finally reached Valle Ascencio where a relatively steeper ascend up to Refugio Chileno was about to begin. The cliff-side trail winding up the valley was narrow and rocky. Rio Ascencio was rumbling down the hill on our right. Angela was quietly hoping for a dry day tomorrow for us to safely descend down to Hosteria las Torres on this very same path. 10 minutes before we arrived at Chileno, we finally saw a small mountain lodge across the river. We crossed Rio Ascencio via a wooden bridge and were glad to arrive at Refugio Chileno in mid afternoon. Located at midpoint between Hosteria las Torres and the Mirador las Torres, Refugio Chileno is a good base to explore the granite towers of las Torres. In front of the refugio, we could see clearly the magnificent rock towers of las Torres at the far left. We were planning to make the final ascend tomorrow before dawn to see the sunrise at las Torres. All we needed was fine weather. Inside Chileno, the small dining hall was packed with hikers. The refugio was fully booked. In each dorm room, 8 bunk beds that at times stacked 3 high were tightly placed against the wall. Outside the window, the ever-present Patagonian wind shook everything in its path, from tree branches to the glass and metal panels of the refugio. After dinner, we arranged a 3am breakfast with the refugio, and quietly went to bed to get some sleep. Of course, it was difficult to fall asleep at this early hour (9pm), but we got to try.

ImageImageImageImageImageImage

* * *

Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 66 (1 OF 2) – CUERNOS TO VALLE ASCENCIO, TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE

There were strong winds and scattered showers throughout the night. By morning, the rain stopped. From the porch of our cabin at Cuernos, we could see a rainbow stretched over the turquoise water of Lago Nordenskjold. After breakfast, we were all set to go for today’s journey to Refugio Chileno. Walking due east until we hit Valle Ascencio and then north up the valley to the refugio, the hike would take about 6 hours. It was a fine day if not the persistently strong wind. We were glad to have our hiking poles to keep our balance at windy spots and during stream crossing at several occasions. After hiking for 3 hours along Lago Nordenskjold, we turned to the shortcut for Chileno that would save us an hour. Another hour and a half took us to the trail at Valle Ascencio, where many dayhikers were rushing up and down Mirador las Torres.

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

* * *

Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 65 (3 OF 3) – ITALIANO TO REFUGIO CUERNOS, TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE

The 2-hour hike from Camping Italiano to Cuernos was not as easy as we thought, as we were already tired from the hike in Valles Frances.  Nonetheless, we took our time and carefully hiked the remaining 2 hours without any slips in the strong wind.  When we finally saw Refugio Cuernos from a distance, we were so relieved that we were about to finish the longest day of our W-trek experience.
At Cuernos, We loved our mountain cabin.  Inside the cabin, we could see Cuernos del Paine from the skylight; and at the front porch, we had a good view of Lago Nordenskjold and the snow-capped mountains beyond.  The only downside was the distance that we had to walk to and from the refugio for meals and showers.  In the evening, the notorious wind started to pick up again.  The cabin was continuously shaken as if in a hurricane or typhoon.  The door of our cabin kept on banged open by the wind.  We had no choice but to place a few fire logs to block the door throughout the entire night.
ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

* * *

Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 65 (2 OF 3) – VALLE FRANCES, TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE

Valle Frances is one of the toughest trails in the W-trek.  Along with las Torres and Glacier Grey, the panoramic view inside the Valle Frances (French Valley) has been considered by many as the highlights of Torres del Paine.  We were hoping to finish the hike and return to Camping Italiano within 5 hours, so that we could make it for dinner at Refugio Cuernos.  The sky was dull and the wind was strong.  After dropping off our backpacks at Camping Italiano, we immediately hiked up the boulder path in the valley to a lookout of Glaciar del Frances. Occasional small avalanches from the glacier would break the silence with a roaring sound.  At midpoint of the hike, we arrived at an opening with the first panoramic view of the surrounding mountains at both sides of the valley.  After 2.5 hours of hiking, we finally reached Mirador Britanico, where we appreciated a closer panoramic view of the mountains.  We didn’t stay long as it had started to rain.  We heard that the weather could be very unpredictable at Valle Frances.  We would not want to descend the steep boulder paths in slippery conditions.  At last, we arrived back at Camping Italiano after slightly less than 2 hours of descend.  We were delighted to find that there was still plenty of time for us to find out way to our destination of the day, Refugio Cuernos, though our feet were already quite exhausted from the steep ups and downs in the hike in Valle Frances.

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

* * *

Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 65 (1 OF 3) – PAINE GRANDE TO ITALIANO, TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE

When we planned our W-trek routing, we knew that today would be our longest and toughest.  The plan for today was to trek from Paine Grande to Camping Italiano at the entrance of the famous Valle Frances (French Valley).  At Italiano, we would leave our big backpacks at the guardhouse and hike up to the lookout near Camping Britanico.  Then we would return to Italiano to pick up our bags and continue the hike eastwards to Refugio Cuernos, our final destination of the day.  If everything went according to plan, the total walking time of today would be roughly 10 hours, with approximately 26 km in distance.
At 7:30am, we had a quick breakfast at Refugio Paine Grande, picked up our lunchboxes, and left the refugio right after.  The hike from Paine Grande to Camping Italiano at the entrance of the French Valley took us about 2.5 hours.  The wind was strong, but not as extreme as yesterday, thus we could still appreciate the morning scenery of the mountains.  By the time we crossed the spring bridge over Rio del Frances, Camping Italiano was already in sight.
ImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

* * *

Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 64 (4 OF 4) – REFUGIO PAINE GRANDE, TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE

Located strategically at the ferry dock, and between Glacier Grey and the French Valley, plus the magnificent view of the most iconic mountains in the park, Refugio Paine Grande is a crucial accommodation hub for all trekkers in Torres del Paine.  Facilitated with 60 beds, a large dining hall, and a decent camp site,  Paine Grande is the most prominent among all the park refugios.
The dinner here was quite decent and filling.  After the meal, we spent quite some time photographing the mountains just in front of the main door of the refugio before darkness fell upon.
ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

* * *

Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 64 (3 OF 4) – PALETTE OF SPRING, TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE

Spring is a great time to visit Torres del Paine because of the colourful blossoms of wild flowers, orchids and Calafate berries. Most flowers are tiny here because of the strong wind and cold nights. We met some experienced trekkers who told us that there are 9 types of wild orchids in the park. We saw a few of them during our hike between Refugio Grey and Paine Grande.
ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

* * *

Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 64 (2 OF 4) – MIRADOR PEHOE, TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE

At Refugio Paine Grande, we were delighted to find a private room again; this time, it was a bunk bed in a tiny room.  After a quick shower and a brief rest, we were ready to go out again.  The super strong wind kept on banging on the window of our room, reminding us the brutal side of Patagonia despite its extreme beauty.  We decided to split again.  Angela would stay near Paine Grande to take pictures of Cuernos del Paine and return to the valley to photograph wild flowers, and Calvin would explore the trail along Lago Pehoe towards Administracion Conaf.
When we gathered back at Paine Grande again a few hours later, we both recounted our experience of the strong Patagonian wind.  Angela remembered how difficult it was to stabilize herself and the camera tripod.  The most impressive thing for her was the surreal-looking and ever-changing cloud formations.  Calvin remembered how unbelievably hard it was to balance himself at certain high points on the trail along Lago Pehoe.  Standing on the cliff above the lake, the scenery of Lago Pehoe and Cuernos del Paine was dangerously beautiful.  The notorious wind was so strong that lake water often got blown up the cliff and fell onto the trail like sudden rain showers.
ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

* * *

Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 64 (1 OF 4) – GREY TO PAINE GRANDE, TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE

Some people came to Glacier Grey as a long day hike (8 hours return) from Refugio Paine Grande, but we preferred to stay a night at Refugio Grey so that we could have more time at the lookouts at the glacier.  After some good rest and a simple breakfast, it was time for us to return to Refugio Paine Grande.  Glacier Grey was in shade in the morning, but the deep blue colour of the ice was still a beautiful sight.  As we approached Laguna los Pasos, we noticed the wind was significantly stronger than yesterday.  When we entered the valley near Refugio Paine Grande, the wind had really picked up and at certain spots it was so strong that we could hardly walk up straight.  From a distance, we could see high waves and water splashes on the surface of Lago Pehoe.  We were glad to arrive at the door of Refugio Paine Grande at about 1pm.
ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

* * *

Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 63 (3 OF 3) – GLACIER GREY, TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE

After dinner at about 8:30pm, there was still plenty of light outside.  We went out to the nearby lookout (15 minute walk from the refugio) for a closer look of Glacier Grey.  As part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, Glacier Grey is regarded as one of the biggest highlight of Torres del Paine.  No one was around at the lookout.  We were glad to be alone for at least a moment to be embraced by the Patagonian wilderness.  We stopped at a beach where carved icebergs gathered.  Angela spent the time observing the moving clouds, distant mountains and wild flowers, while Calvin climbed up onto the ridge of a rock peninsula to get an unobstructed view of the glacier.  The wind was very strong and cold, but the majestic beauty of Glacier Grey was just irresistible. From the other side of the peninsula, we were excited to discover an ice arch just off from the main glacier.  On our way back, we made a detour down to another beach by Lago Grey to have a last look of the glacier and the ice arch from another angle.  What a fruitful evening!
ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

* * *

Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 63 (2 OF 3) – PAINE GRANDE TO GLACIER GREY, TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE

The catamaran docked near Refugio Paine Grande at 1pm.  From this point on, we had finally set foot on the W-trek.  We had four more hours of trekking ahead of us before reaching Refugio Grey, our accommodation of the night.  The 11-kilometer hike began with a pleasant walk through a valley.  At this time of the year, wild flowers including several orchids could be found everywhere.  Roughly an hour into the hike, we reached a lookout at a small glacier lagoon called Laguna los Pasos.  Half an hour later, we finally had the first glimpse of the blue floating ice on Lago Grey’s milky water.  Soon after, we were exhilarated to see the beautiful Glacier Grey from a distance.  From this point on, the glacier just got closer and closer from one lookout to another.  There was a fair bit of ascends and descends on the trail.  By the time we finally arrived at Refugio Grey, we were both tired and hungry.  Situated close to the front of Glacier Grey, Refugio Grey is a clean and simple mountain lodge with 60 beds in total.  The refugio wasn’t full, and we were delighted to find that we could have the room all by ourselves.
ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

* * *

Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 63 (1 OF 3) – PUDETO, TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE

After breakfast at the Grill House of Camping Pehoe, we retraced our footsteps of yesterday heading back onto the main road to Pudeto.  The hike was quite pleasant with Cuernos del Paine always ahead of us.  At Pudeto, we sat by the dock, finished the sandwich prepared by Camping Pehoe, and waited for the 12pm catamaran to cross Lago Pehoe.   We were the first to arrive at the dock.  When the buses arrived from Puerto Natales at 11:15am, the dock was suddenly filled with incoming trekkers.  Luckily the catamaran was able to take everyone on board.  The half-hour boat ride across Lago Pehoe offered some iconic views of Torres del Paine.  In the middle of the trip, we saw a boat fully loaded with what seemed to be bags of garbage going in the opposite direction.  It served perfectly as a reminder for us to minimize the impact to the park’s pristine environment, and also revealed how popular Torres del Paine has become in recent years, especially after labelled as one of the most beautiful places on Earth by various travel magazines like the National Geographic.
ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

* * *

Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 62 (3 OF 3) – CAMPING PEHOE, TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE

From Pudeto, it was a 2-hour walk on the main road to Camping Pehoe.  With our backpacks, we walked slowly along the east shore of Lago Pehoe, passed by several lookouts, including the bridge of Hosteria Pehoe.  By the time we arrived at the campsite, it was already 5pm.  We checked in at our “dome”, rested a bit, and walked to the nearby hillside trying to find our way to Mirador Condor.  Unfortunately the trail was badly damaged by fire, and we could no longer see the path.  Clusters of newly planted trees filled up a large area of the hill.  Back at the camp, we walked down to the nearby beach for some magnificent views of Cuernos del Paine and Lago Pehoe.  The lake was really calm with almost no wind, perhaps many would consider a rarity in Patagonia.  We had dinner at the grill house in Camping Pehoe.  With the fantastic backdrop of Cuernos del Paine, the simple grill house was the perfect place to finish the day after a long day of trekking.  Besides, their grill meat was truly excellent.  After dinner, we went to the beach again while there was still plenty of light.  At this time of the year, the Patagonian sky wouldn’t turn dark until at least 10:30pm.  It was almost at dusk when we retreated to our dome.  Except occasional waves and distant laughter of campers, Lake Pehoe was in absolute serenity.  On our first day of Torres del Paine, we had experienced the utmost tranquil Patagonia.

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

* * *

Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 62 (2 OF 3) – MIRADOR CUERNOS, TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE

It seemed that every single tourist in Puerto Natales had arrived at the bus station to take the 7:30am bus for Torres del Paine.  About 5 to 6 buses departed at the same time, and in about two hours we arrived at Lago Amarga, the main gateway of the park.  There we bought our admission tickets and watched a video of the park rules.  We hopped back onto the bus for the next stop at Pudeto, while a number of hikers transferred to a smaller shuttle to Hosteria Las Torres to begin their W-trek from east to west.  While the bus winded through the gravel road into the centre of the park, we saw many guanacos along the way.  It wasn’t the clearest day.  Clouds and fog covered the top part of Cuernos del Paine.  Yet we could still see the mountain glaciers.

At Pudeto, most people headed towards the dock to take the catamaran across the lake to start their W-trek.  Instead, we dropped our backpacks in front of Pudeto Café, and began our experience of Torres del Paine with a short hike up to Mirador Cuernos for a closer look of Cuernos del Paine.  Along the way, we passed by Salto Grande (Big Waterfall), a huge forest area destroyed by fires (fires caused by careless campers have always been the biggest issue for Torres del Paine), turquoise lakes, and lastly, Mirador (lookout) Cuernos.  On our way back, we saw a group of guanacos (wild cousins of llamas) in very close distance.

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

* * *

Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought