20,000 leagues under the sky, 2004- travel blog

Sunset at Puerto Natales, starting point for the Torres trek.

Same sunset, another shot.

Last sunset shot I promise.

Pieter and Jo argue over who has to share a tent with...

Early morning, clear sky and Torres behind the toilets.

Halfway up the valley.

I'm not walking up that.

The climb nearly killed me but was worth it in the end.

Thats 1km of pure granite behind me.

The Torres under an amazing sky.

And 10 minutes later a pure blue sky.

The view on the way down, big light blue glacial lake and...

Last look back at the Torres.

Day 3, we only have to walk around this lake!

Picnic at hanging rock.

Around the next corner.

Los Cuernos (or something like that, Spanish for "The Horns)

View from the 2nd campsite.

Creepy glade of dead trees.

Highpoint of day 4.

No idea where, just an interesting (to me anyway) photo.

Looking back to the Horns.

No touching-up, it really was that colour.

The good thing about rain - Rainbows.

Last point of the 'W' - Glacier Grey.

Catamaran to the rescue

Having stayed relitively sober because of unforseen circumstances, Pieter and myself managed to get out of Punto An-Arse on New Years Day and got to Puerto Natales just in time to kidnap Maria Joao from the Gap tour.

We hired some camping gear in the town and got the afternoon bus to the Torres del Paine national Park. The scenery, particularly on the first evening and full day was stunning and the walking good. The first days walk is without packs, leaving all of the gear at the camp site which is a good job as the final assent to the Torres themselves nearly killed me. However the view from the top was nearly worth dying for or at least worth nearly dying for.

On the second day we had a scheduled 8.5 hours walking with full packs to try to get Maria Joao to the catamaran station for 6pm to start a long journey back to her group in Punta Arenas and flight out of Ushuaia. Unfortunately we started late and weren't getting anywhere fast. When it became obvious that we couldn't make the last boat, Jo (under protest) went back to the starting point alone where the last bus left later. Pieter and myself carried on to the second campsite arriving there at 5:30pm still 2 hours short of the boat station. Then there were 2 again.

Day 3 was another packless climb up to a so-called view-point but the weather had closed in and there wasn't much of a view. We then had to return, strike camp and carry everything to the final campground, the only easy walk of the trek. We rounded the final corner and caught site of the campground just as the heavens opened and decided to give us an early welcome wash.

The weather really tured overnight and the tents did well to stay on the ground. The final days walk was up the valley to view Gray Glacier but with a howling gale and intermittent rain we walked until the first point the glacier and lake were visible from, took a couple of photographs and turned back. Striking camp was fun, I don't envy the next person who hires my tent as it was stuffed back into the bag wet and tangled. The catamaran ride would have been scenic if I could have seen out of the rain-splattered windows properly. At least we got back to Natales in time for a good meal and a few glasses of wine.

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