Patagonia is huge. It covers the southern part of Argentina and Chile. This remote and vast part of South America offers spectacular landscape which makes it one of the most dreamed of travel distination for the outdoor enthusiatist. Until the beginning of the 19th century this part of Southern Chile was one of world's least explored areas. Chile's Parque Nacional Torres del Paine is part of Argentinas Parque Nacional Los Glacier and both were places I wanted to visit on my South-American holiday last year. In Chile it was Puerto Natales which was our base while exploring Torres del Paine. We spent ten days alltogether in Patagonia. Most of these days were in Argentina. Since we couldn't afford to spent too much time of our holiday in Chilean Patagonia, we chose to see as much as possible in one day by driving through part of it and a day of hiking to Mirador Las Torres.
Torres del Paine is probably the most famous destination in Patagonia and one of South Americas finest national parks. The park was created in 1959 and covers as much as almost 24300 hectares. It's a Biosphere Reserve with diverse vegetation and when it comes to animals there are eagles, condors guanacos, puma and foxes. We did see both eagles and condors and plenty of guanacos.
Glacier Grey is visible at the end of the lake
On our day of driving we started at the shores of Lago Grey. The Grey Glacier is located at the northern end of the lake and has a 19 kilometer of extension. Boats cross the lake to acces the glacier where one then can start the W-trek from west to east. We simply walked through the forest to get to the shores of the Lake. From here it was possible to see the glacier in the distance.
Cuernos del Paine
We continued to Lago Pehoe and Lago Nordenskjold. Beautiful scenery that made us stop many times along the way to enjoy the breathtaking view of Cuernos del Paine.
The first view of the Base Torres before the road turns and we head back to Puerto Natales. This is also that area where we saw plenty of guanacos. More than once we had to stop because they were on the road.
Las Torres Base
Las Torres Base can be visited on a one-day hike or as part of the famous W- trek which probably is the most famous hiking route in the park. When you look at a map, you will see why it is called the W - trek. (The route is shaped as a W ) The hike takes 4-5 days, but it can also be done as one-day hikes. The most famous is the hike to Mirador Las Torres and the one we chose to do. The three granite towers – Base Torres are the ones that have given the park its name.
The hike to the viewpoint Mirador Las Torres is not an easy hike. It's long ( apro.20 kilometers) and rises 900 meters from start to finish. It took us 7-8 hours to complete the hike from the carpark and back again. The first short walk was along av gravel path passing Las Torres Hotel. Then a climb that took 1 1/2 hour. We had a short rest at Refugio El Chileno before continuing through an ancient forest of beech and crossing streams until we reached the base of the moraine.
This is the most challening part. It is steep and rocky. It's only an increase of 200 meters in hight, but was for sure the hardest part because of the big boulders. It's nescessary to pay attention to where you put your feet. But after 45 minutes I reached one of the most awe-inspiring views on the whole trip: Mirador Las Torres / Base Torres Viewpoint. The three granite towers: South Tower, Central Tower, North Tower.
To be there in reality to look at the granite towers mirroring in the blue-green lake were undoubtedly a highlight of our Patagonian adventure. When it was time to return we followed the same way back. It's possible to book guided tours, but it's not really necessary. The trails are well maintained and signposted. There are so many people doing the hike that one can just follow the crowd.
That last couple of kilometers to the carpark felt heavy. The fatigue was all over my body and it felt like I was automatically putting one leg in front of the other. Finally arrive at the parking lot and visitor center. I don't think a beer has tasted as good as this one! The label couldn't fit better either.
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