The Americas travel blog

Up at 6am and a quick breakfast and a taxi picks us up at 7.00 to go back to the bus station as the public bus to Torres del Paine leaves at 7.30. There are only about 10 of us on the bus and we raised the average age considerably! We leave Puerto Natales and travel around the bay and start heading towards the mountains. There are 3 stops on this run and we will get off on the last stop. There are many more snow caped mountains the further on we travel. After about 2 hours travelling we round a bend and there is a van pulled over to the side and a man is signalling us to stop. The bus stops and there just to our left on the lower slopes of a hill is a puma, quite a big one. I must admit it is quite a surprise and very exciting! We have never seen one before. The colour of the puma blends in to the surrounding scrub but it is not far away at all. Our first stop is the National Park entrance where we get off the bus to pay the entrance and use the toilets (none on the bus again). When we get out of the bus it is snowing. This is the first time in our lives that we have seen snow falling. We have been places where there is snow on the ground but we have never seen it falling. So, two firsts today, snow and a puma! We pay the park entrance, CLP11,000 ea or A$22.00ea and then the rest of the bus divide into two other buses as they are all going trekking. Some are camping, I can think of nothing worse in these conditions, and some are trekking but are staying in lodges. The two oldies (us) are going to a nice, comfortable, heated hotel! At our second stop, we pick up one passenger and then at 11.00 we are dropped at the Administration Centre of the Park. Our hotel is collecting us from there at 1.00, the time was their suggestion. We ring them to ask to pick us up sooner as the Hotel is only 18 kms away. They oblige but this transfer has been an ongoing issue with the Hotel. To book the transfer they wanted me to complete a form with all my credit card details and then provide a copy of my passport to match my signature to the form. They wanted this even though we had a booking for three nights. I refused as I did not have scanning ability and I finally had to send an email asking how I was going to get there if they did not pick us up!! Why they suggested 1 pm is beyond me when they knew the bus arrived at 11 am. Would you believe the transfer fee for the 18 km trip is A56.00 for the two of us, one way! We knew this Hotel would be expensive as it is in the National Park but really!!!

Once we check in we take a walk for a couple of hours along the Grey Lake which is the namesake of our hotel. This lake is a greyish colour, hence the name, and it has the most amazing vivid blue icebergs floating in it, which have broken off the Grey glacier. The walk is lovely but cold, beanie, scarf, coat, gloves and it is all needed. It even starts to snow a little on the way back. Our room overlooks that lake and later that day it really starts to snow heavily and there is a good coverage of white on the ground. It is still a bit of a novelty to us and we sit and watch the snowflakes falling for quite a while. We venture to the bar area for a coffee which was lovely but at A$9.00 ea we won't be having too many!

Dinner is in the Hotel. Roast lamb – yum! We have seen plenty of sheep along the way so we thought the lamb would be good.

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