On the 12th of January we started a 9 day trek around the national park of Torres Del Paine, claiming to be ChileÂ's premier national park. It took 3 hours to get to the park entrance from Puerto Natales, and as expected it was very windy - as Patagonia always is - but unfortunately miserably raining too.
I expected barren mountainous scenery like the start of the Choro Trail in Bolivia, it was anything but. The whole park is surrounded by glaciers fed from the Patagonian southern ice field (3rd largest in the world - 380km long, 68km wide). We decided to go anticlockwise, leaving the most amazing sights until last. Starting at Guarderia Laguna Amarga we trekked North around the central Torres (towers of granite rock formed by moving glaciers). The first two days were really flat walking through huge fields of daisies! not what I expected at all. The only real problem was my feet werenÂ't used to all the flat walking. Until now it had been up and down hill all the time, and as i hadnÂ't trekked for 3 weeks I got blisters! :-( Nevertheless it was good to get trekking again, even with 9 days of supplies! my pack weighed in at 16 kilos :-(
Arriving at Camping Seron (end of day 1) most of us were suffering from severe hay fever... all those damn daisies! so the first aid kits started getting used straight away. One thing that cheered everyone up was the supply of Beanfeast we carried from the UK for the last 13 weeks! itÂ's small, light and makes great trek food.
Day 2 was pretty much the same as day one, but with a really windy section that taught us exactly how windy Patagonia can get... It knocked several of the group over and with a sheer drop over the edge of the cliff caused a few shocks. Arriving at camping Dickson was pretty amazing. The camp is located in a lake "Lago Dickson" with a few floating icebergs supplied from glacier Dickson behind. Although it was pretty cold, the campsite had a "refugio" - refuge, that was warm and served hot drinks, albeit expensive; so we stuck to our trusty gas stoves.
The 3rd day saw us trekking just 4 hours to camping Perros through woodland (hence shelter from the wind) and across a few tricky rivers and marsh sections, and of course the suspension bridge! :-) The only downside today was the number of people coming back the other way with news that the pass over to glacier grey was impassable! we pushed on in the hope that all would be well when we got to Perros. Just before the campsite of Perros we reached the amazing view over Lago Perros full of icebergs from Glacier Perros. Three of us tried in vain to cross some of the bergs to get to the middle of the lake. It was just too cold and difficult, no one in their right mind would take any risks of falling into that water! As the camp was only 10 minutes away we welcomed a hot cup of tea and dinner.