Before heading back to Chile we said goodbye to Kurt and Aljona. We were sad seeing them leaving but someone has to work these days 😉 It was great traveling with you guys!
The next destination on the route was Torres del Paine. This meant again a border crossing. We crossed via Route 40 between Cancha Carrera (ARG) and Cerro Castillo (CHL). It was another sweet little border without any issues (ca.15km of unpaved road). We only had to show the car export paper we had received when we left Chile.
We tried to find an accommodation in Cerro Castillo which would give us close access to the park. However, the only open place was a hotel and they asked for $350 for two nights with only one queen bed and no kitchen. We decided to head to Puerto Natales (40min away) and took a nice fully equipped AirBnB for $60/night. Puerto Natales is a sweet fisher town with a small port and a decent shore line with great vistas.
The forecast was pretty good for the next two days (less than 0.5mm of rain forecasted) but in the park one has to be always prepared for sudden weather changes. We used Route Y-300 to get to the southwestern entrance of the park. This turned out to be a bad decision (google does not know everything 😉 ) as the road conditions were terrible with many sections under construction, It took us 3 hours (!) for 130km to reach the trail to Mirador Grey. But at least all of our tires were fine in contrast to two cars we saw in the park.
The trail to view Glacier Grey was quite varying: It started with a small section over a river and through a little forest, then turned into a beach path and finally became a loop around a small peninsula. We could spot the glacier tongue from far and saw icebergs swimming on lake. In fact, the biggest iceberg which ever broke off the glacier was 13200m2 big (happened in 2017). A clear sign that this glacier is unfortunately shrinking.
We tried to do other hiking trails the same day but with the upcoming rain it got harder to keep the kids motivated 🙂 As a consequence, the last walk of the day led us to the „Salto Grande“ waterfall.
To our suprise the dirt road turned into a paved one 10km after Salt Grande.
The next day was time for big hiking! I started early and approached the Sendero de Mirador de Torres del Paine accompanied by a rainbow marking the start of the hiking trail 🙂 This is the most popular trail in the park and as such it was very busy. At the first 30min it was a bit annoying since one had to adjust the pace to other folks. The trail started off rocky and a bit steep and led to a narrow but flat trail along the mountains with great views of the valley behind.
After 3km the first camping occurred which can be used to have a rest and get some snacks & drinks if needed. I just took a quick look at the map and continued to walk. A guy who carried his one year old in a backpack fascinated me – we’re not the only crazy parents bringing our children they don’t want to 😉 Apparently, the baby was crying the entire way and hence was not a big pleasure for Dad. Next time better take one of the horse taxis 😉
The final 1.2km were again quite steep and rocky such that I had to use my hands to climb occasionally. After 3.5 hours and ca. 9km I finally reached the top: What an amazing view of the towers welcomed me 🙂
The mountain lake was not frozen to my surprise. Its green color together with the blue sky allowed me to get some awesome pictures taken. The only challenge were the strong winds.
The way back went pretty smooth (3:10hrs) and upon arrival at the base station I celebrated the successful hike with a yummy Cerveza Austral. I joined two Canadians on a sunny bench and chatted for a while. I learned about their Antarctic plans and that Torres del Paine was actually just a side trip for them, Their main trip consisted of a 10 day glacier trekking tour in Antarctica which apparently is done just by 175 people per year. No wonder: The price tag of their trip is $40,000 (!).
I completed the day by driving to different miradors and taking pictures of the beautiful landscape. What a great day and time in this treasure of a park!