Torres del Paine National Park in Chile
Visit Patagonia’s Top Adventure Travel Destination
Hike in Torres del Paine National Park – Chile’s Patagonia – to experience four seasons in one day. A holiday in Patagonia is a once in a lifetime adventure.
In Punta Arenas, the gateway to Torres del Paine National Park, there are certificates declaring that the purchaser has undeniably and certifiably reached the most southern city in the world. Some say Ushuaia in Argentina is really the southernmost city but others say Ushuaia isn’t exactly a city. Whether the discrepancy is due to rivalry that exists in that part of the world, between Chile and Argentina, or whether Ushuaia doesn’t qualify as a city, who knows. Patagonia is likely the closest that most people will get to the bottom of the world.
Puerto Natales is the Gateway to Torres del Paine National Park
It is advisable to rent a sturdy car, or a small pick-up truck, or a four by four with a covered cab. Make sure to also have room not only for luggage but also for extra petrol and spare tires. When leaving the airport at Punta Arenas go either right or left, either to the city of Punta Arenas or to Puerto Natales, the gateway to Torres del Paine.
The Towers of Paine
The Torres themselves, three granite skyscraper-like mountains, or towers, are majestic, like cut stone they rise skyward piercing the clouds. When the sun sets, the towers become like candles of fiery red. The wind is notorious down at the bottom of the world, with speeds reaching 100 kilometres. Guanacos (a nspecies of Llama) gather and graze on grassy slopes in groups, while one lone guanaco can often be seen standing as a sentry on a hilltop, watching for the hungry, but rarely seen, puma.
Guanacos, Nandus and Condors – Wildlife in Patagonia
Beside the guanacos, there are nandus — South American ostriches, and black-necked swans and condors. Giant condors sit on wooden farm fences in Patagonia. Miles of large-stoned, gravelled roads with dust flying under-wheel thread through the National Park, like a large interweaving spider’s web. Road signs are few and far between; Hardly a car or truck passes; What one sees is the plume of dust rising from the stones: A bleak yet startling beauty.
Hosteria Lago Grey and the Explora Hotel Patagonia
Hosteria Lago Grey lies at the base of the Grey Lake and the Grey Glacier. A modest three-star hotel; it is unique because of its setting: a white wooden single storey ranch with views of the great glacier. Be prepared to eat little however, as fresh produce doesn’t arrive regularly. Refugios, hostel-like accommodation, are sparely stocked but do sell food to campers, however they are tens of miles apart and not exactly signposted. The Hosteria Grey is similar in its layout to a summer camp, with cabin-like rooms built above ground. The building shakes and echoes with the thud of hiking boots as guests walk from their rooms to the main building. Rooms are clean and dry, although sparsely decorated. The views from the window of the melt-water of the Grey Glacier is more than enough.
For a five-star experience, visit the famous Explora Hotel Patagonia, which sits on the edge of Lago Pehoé and commands perhaps the greatest views in Torres del Paine.
Hike in Torres del Paine National Park
Nearly half a million acres make up the park; ideal for hikers in fine weather, but inhospitable when it turns wet and windy. The park has several treks; the most popular being El Circuito, which is a five to six day hike following a trail around the Torres and Cuernos del Paine. Also, hiking on the ice or ice climbing is possible with a guide.
Floating Icebergs of Cobalt Blue and the Glacier in Torres del Paine
Floating islands of blue ice shapes are perched on the water, silhouetted against the rising mountains of granite and green forest. The Grey Glacier is at the tip of the Southern Patagonian ice cap, the Campo de Hielo Patagonico Sur, which together with the Northern Patagonian ice field constitutes the third largest ice cap in the world after Antarctica and Greenland.
The Blue Ice of the Glacier
Condensed oxygen gives the glacier its unique blue colour. The floating icebergs are like giant, cut-crystal slabs. The wind-carved sculptures hold a hundred shades of blue, which appear deep into the fissures and crevices and ravines of the glacier; creating a palette of awesome beauty that, once seen, is never forgotten.
Torres del Paine National Park, a Unesco World Biosphere Reserve is a place of wilderness and solitude. Remote and without many tourist amenities, Patagonia is where travellers can expect an awesome but lonesome kind of landscape. A place so unique, so imbued with a resonance of age and endurance, and of timeless beauty. Patagonia is one the world’s beautiful natural landscapes.2015-09-25