Patagonia, Chile: Torres del Paine

Our travel adventures after Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina brought us next to Chile, where we visited the mighty Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia.  With stunning natural beauty, this huge national park is also a popular destination for hikers. Hiking the famous “W” route within the park can take close to 5 days, while hiking around the entire park will on average take 8 or more days. Yup, once again I had to wonder to myself why in the world I would ever make the trip down here. This is so out of my element!

By this point in our journey it was once again just me and my travel buddy Wil, and we once again found ourselves to be totally unprepared for the harsh weather that awaited us. Our first day was absolutely miserable to say the least. We were hit with heavy rains and winds once again, and a bus tour that was supposed to make our sightseeing easier was a complete waste of money as we couldn’t see anything beyond the thick fog that engulfed the entire park. Worst of all, after a wasted day riding around rough unpaved roads in the park, we found ourselves stranded in the middle of the park at day’s end without any accommodations! Below are a few shots that I did manage to take while the heavy rains subsided a bit during our tour.

Well, at least the bus did stop in the middle of the road for us so we could snap some shots of guanacos

If you can believe it, we actually made the HUGE mistake of coming here without booking any accommodations! In our defense, Wil did try calling a bunch of hostels located within the park but none of them had any openings. But instead of rearranging our travel schedule, we thought that we would just wing it and that for sure we would be able to score a place to stay somehow. Well, we were wrong and at the end of our first day this was the horrific spot where we were left to fend for ourselves by our tour bus.

So what were we going to do? Well, after standing in the freezing cold and rain for an hour, with whatever available daylight diminishing, we finally saw a hotel van driving by and we knew we couldn’t let it leave without taking us. The driver told us that they’re not allowed to take any passengers back to the hotel, and that there weren’t any vacancies anyway. But thanks to Wil’s worldly negotiating skills, we somehow convinced the driver to drive us to the hotel (we basically told him that we would pay whatever price it would take, haha). Well, the good news was that at the end of the day the hotel did have a room available. The bad news was that it was going to be $300 USD for one night. But hey, that’s why we carry credit cards right??? At the least the hotel was pretty nice…

After our bad experiences with the weather in Patagonia, we decided that we were just going to relax and enjoy our stay at the hotel. We opted not to do anything that was too strenuous and just chilled out indoors. The most we did the next day was a 3 hour leisurely hike around the vicinity of the hotel, but that was about as much hiking we were going to do (despite it being a very nice sunny day) before eventually returning back to Argentina. Below are the photos that were taken…

Overall, it was great to have the sun out the next day during our trip through Torres del Paine. While we didn’t trek anywhere far enough to see the actual highlights of the park, we still got to see some beautiful surrounding scenery. Maybe one day I’ll return here again to do the famous “W” route. With a hotel reservation booked a full month ahead, of course.

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