Another 2 hour flight lands us in Punta Arenas, we go 4 hours in a bus further North to a place called Puerto Natales, the hop off point for the Torres del Paine national park, where spectacular views promise to await us.....
Well,Punta Arenas....the most southerly city in Chile.Puerto Natales is situated on the Last Hope Sound (fjord edged)- Ultima Esperanza. It has a background of spectacular mountains and has lots of pretty brightly painted corrugated tin houses.
This was a quick pit stop before we set off at 7.45am to go camping in the Torres del Paine national park. But...before we could go camping we had to go to the supermarket for a 4 day shop for 16 people!!!
Some of the things on my teams list was 280 rolls, 100+ bananas, 100+oranges, apples, 150 slices of ham. Oh yes you can imagine how embarrassing it was, I think I told every shop assistant the story of us camping!!
So we leave the supermarket, with about a million boxes and not an ounce of self respect, but the knowledge that we are not gonna go hungry!!!!
The following day- Friday, finds us on yet another bus!!! Off to Torres del paine, we get about 20km of tarmac, the other 200km on bumpy dirt track, once we entered the park we saw loads of guanacos running about wild(llama type creatures) the first few we were all dead excited, then realised that they are as common as coos so got a bit blase after a while.
A 40min catamaran ride got us to the campsite- where they are in the process of building a 60 bed refuge for those who cannae do camping!
Quick to assemble tents meant we could relax in the scorching- and very unexpected sun in Patagonia. Relaxing by the lake, under the sun and blue skies, with snow capped mountains all around, no traffic, blue green still water, gently cooling my bottle of Baileys and only us camping at the campsite.... idyllic..... it was just heaven.
Well that was until we got wrapped up in our sleeping bags to go to sleep and it was freezing, -5ish degrees, 1 pair of socks , 2 bottoms, and 2 tops wasnt enuff to keep the cold out so a pretty uncomfortable night had by all... So much so about 5 of the group gave up and decided to stay in the refuge for the otehr 2 nights! Alarm was set for 5.30am so we could watch the sunrise, and boy was it cold..... But got some great pics.. all that matters.
Saturdays trek was to Glacier Gray, a 8 hour there and back trek, 22km. Dont think i mentioned the fact that a week previously I managed to cut my toenails incorrectly :S causing pain and pus in my big toe. One of the girls prescribed a homeopathic cure which I kept hoping would work, until it just kept getting worse and worse, but I thought an 8 hr trek over rocky ground would be just the remedy for it ?!¿?!¿
Well surprise it didnt work! And neither did the following days 8 hr trek, 24km to the camp britanico help either. In fact am sitting with what the doctor on the tour(Alex) calls an ingrown toenail that needs medical treatment!!
By the by, the view of the Glacier was like nothing I´ve ever seen before in my life, it was just totally awesome. We actually saw bits of ice falling off it, we heard a thunder crack then bits of ice fell into the water. Just spectacular! It is 30m above the water level, two thirds more are below the surface. Massive! As quoted by Maria, it sounds like its alive.....
So Saturday night my group of 5 were on dinner duties, the meal was sausage stew, yuk yuk, where do you start type of meal! So the girls who only did half the trek came back in the afternoon and kindly started the meal preperation. Then a lot of bitching ensued (as the tour leader commented if he has this much oestroegen on another tour hes quitting(btw- that amount does not include me n Sarah)..or at least thats whats they tell us) with a few rows ,controversy and tears, girls, whod have them, it was just a riot, we poured chicken soup into the stew(vegetarian, with the sausages to be added later), in fact anything to stop it looking like soup. Surprisingly it was a success, lateron I mentioned the chicken soup only to hear the strict veggie, Minnie(Harrys other half) scream out in horror was there chicken soup in it? Boy, did I have a lot of backtracking to do to get out of that one, got away with it ...just, but thats now state secret, as all you vegetarians out there will understand ;)
After a few more rows over the washing up we all survived and gt back on speaking terms, what a laugh.... Night 2 in the tent , 3 prs socks, 3 prs bottoms, 3 fleece tops and I was cosy as a cosy thing :)
Day 3 woke with the sight of a puma wandering about the back of the camp, wow!
Today took us 24km to a spectacular view of the towers and horns called the Valle del Rio de Frances, where all the pictures you see of Torres del Paine National Park. In the park there is 15 peaks over 2000m. There are a few set routes that walkers take. We met a Canadian girl, Monica who was doing the full 8 day trek round the whole camp alone. Apparently this isnt allowed (they check passports on the entrance into the park- so she and another solo walker hooked up to get thru the safety procedures implemented by the rangers...see mum....Im no that bad!!) The walk took us over marsh lands, rocks, a spot rock climbing, ropey bridges, some not so ropey. It was a pretty tough trek, We walked up to the Campamento Britanico, and then a bit further to get the views that you can see from the photos. We were so incredibly lucky with the weather, it is unheard of to get the stretch of weather that we did, there had been snow n wind the day before we arrived!
Well the last night camping proved to be a bit more frosty again, brrrrrr, but early up as it was our turn for the breakfast. The staple breakfast diet consisted of porridge, eggs, tea, coffee, chocolate. First job was to go and get water from the washing facilities to boil on the old kettle. From there I attempted to make some porridge, and Brynn decided to make scrambled eggs over ham n 4 day old buttered bread. Fortunately Brynns eggs turned out to be a real success , as i kinda struggled wit da poridge, think it couldve been used as an alternative to wallpaper paste, oopppss!!
Tents were packed back up into their bags from which they came and we were back on the catamaran on the road back to civilisation. After a very enjoyable, highly recommended trip to Torres del Paine, so many spectacular things, its hard to describe how amazing it is!
We stopped at the Cueva Milodon- where the giant sloth- big ugly lizard type thing lived loads of years ago. Not worth any more than 10mins stop mind ya! And saw many many more condors, they are everywhere! And watched the weather moving in, clouds all over the horizon, someone must have been prayin, we were so so lucky!