“The secret story is the one we’ll never know, although we’re living it from day to day, thinking we’re alive, thinking we’ve got it all under control and the stuff we overlook doesn’t matter. But every single damn thing matters! Only we don’t realize.” – Roberto Bolaño (Chilean novelist)
There are so many places one need to see when in Chile, from north to south it offers almost all kinds of adventure and fantastic sceneries one can ask for. And since I only have a limited time to explore this country, I just need to choose one and just come back some other time on a separate trip. I wanted to include Easter Island, but apart from the expensive flight that will affect the cost of my entire South America trip, I didn’t have enough time.
Some of the Travbuddies I went with in Antarctica were going to do one of the world’s great hikes, the “W Trek” in Torres del Paine in Patagonia, it was very tempting for me to join but apart from I don’t have enough time to do it, I am not physically fit because I heard it was really demanding and PAINE-ful, I need to train more and do more hikings again before I can go back and do this trek.
But since I really want to see Patagonia, I planned for a day hike only going to Torres del Paine National Park and a day trip to Perito Moreno, sadly the latter didn’t happen as I arranged to meet one of my friends in Santiago, Josefina, a girl I met in Rome in 2010 when we were both solo travelling. Next time then, besides I’ve seen enough glaciers in Antarctica for this trip already :P
From Ushuaia Argentina, along with my Travbuddies friends who will do the W-Trek, we took a 12-hour bus ride that will take us to Puerto Natales (PN) – the gateway to Patagonia. There is an airport close to PN, at Punta Arenas, however even if Ushuaia is just close to Punta Arenas, the flights are just ridiculously overpriced because apart from this is already considered “international” flight, this is in the south of both Chile and Argentina, and this part of these 2 countries are quite expensive compared to other parts of both countries.
The 12-hour bus ride wasn’t so painful as it sounds. The bus was very comfortable (although the “wifi” doesn’t really work) and the sceneries along the way were so beautiful! We also have lots of food, toilet, and cross-border stopovers, so you don’t really feel it is that long. The best part for me is crossing the Magellan Strait, it’s just 4km long ferry ride, but I am just amused to see this strait finally in which I’ve only read in our text books in school. Crossing this strait led by Ferdinand Magellan and his expedition crew to discover Philippines just a year after that, that is why it is so popular for us Filipinos.
We left Ushuaia Argentina at 8am and we reached Puerto Natales around 10pm already (we had a long stopover at Punta Arenas to change bus). Upon reaching our beautiful hostel, The Singing Lamb, I immediately booked my day-hike at Torres del Paine for the following day. Although the receptionist at that shift doesn’t speak English, I am glad I have a Travbuddy friend with me (Keila) who can speak Spanish so they managed to squeezed me in for the last slot for the next day!
That morning, one of my roommates (not one of my Travbuddies, they were all in other room except me lol!) said he just finished the W Trek and told me that when they went to Torres del Paine base itself, it was raining and too foggy to see the torres, he showed me a photo and didn’t see anything but his face only amidst a very white background! It was raining the night before, so I was really praying that day will not rain anymore. And it was all answered prayers! Phew! :P
The day-hike inside Torres del Paine National Park were just glimpses of the views you can see when you do the W Trek, it is more of the express option because you will just go to some of the main attractions inside the park. The hiking’s were very easy and short for about like 15-30minutes only for some viewpoints (those that cannot be accessed by the mini-van already). This day-hike is more like a trailer of one star-studded movie, I can’t get enough of it that I want to see more I am already jealous of my friends who will be doing the W Trek >.<
Actually, it is that beautiful that I have taken more photos here more than my average day in Antarctica! Every viewpoint is different from another, even the weather, and what they say is true that in Patagonia, weather can be very fickle! Sometimes it was warm and sunny, sometimes it drizzles or rains, most of the time it’s very windy and cold, and sometimes it snows! I’m glad the latter didn’t happen! Although, I was prepared for it just in case it snows ;)
There are a lot of day-hikes inside the park offered by tour/hike agencies, so better ask for an itinerary and ask for exact places that the trip will visit so you can check it yourself if this is the trip you want to experience. As for m me, I don’t have much of a choice anymore as my only option to get is the tour agency of our hostel to cut all the hassles and to save me time in planning. So if you are staying at The Singing Lamb, chances are the itinerary you will have will be the same as mine below.
Here are the places we visited during the day:
On our way here, we saw lots of guanacos and the first glimpse of the torres from afar! I’m really happy the sun came out even if rained non-stop the night before. I’m one of the lucky ones I guess! Although, it was still a bit cloudy and the water is not still, the torres still showed up to us!
This is the emerald green lake, river and waterfalls! Have I not seen Iguazu Falls few days back before this, my jaw would probably dropped upon seeing this! The water’s colour is not just what makes it wonderful but the fact that this water is drinkable makes it more beautiful and pristine.
This is by far my favorite spot to view the torres! This is how I imagine Patagonia will look like – exotic and dramatic mountain ranges or as they call it here – massifs. The hike along the snow-capped mountain was so delightful and even more when you reach the viewpoint and seeing the torres from there.
This time, this lake’s water is turquoise blue! We stopped here for lunch and I just didn’t want to leave anymore. We see campers here perhaps doing the W Trek, and we see other tourists like us too who were just there for a day and we didn’t have choice but to leave soon after and hour and a half :(
Among the many colours of the bodies of water here in Patagonia, this one is, well obviously from its name – grey! Its colour is primarily because it comes from the sediments from the Patagonia Ice Field and from the detachments of glaciers from Glacier Grey, in which we are lucky to see one huge pile of glacier even it is summertime. There is a ferry boat here that goes closer to the Glacier Grey, and of course I don’t have time for that anymore.
Our last stop is this Natural Monument inside Patagonia. It’s a cave discovered in 1895 and found remnants of humans, extinct animals and a giant sloth called “Milodon”. The cave itself is huge and impressive, you can imagine the humans and animals that find shelter here 10,000yrs ago.
In as much as I want to see the torres up-close by going to the base, that’s quite far from Puerto Natales and would be needing another day-trip for that. Needless to say, I am quite happy already to what Patagonia showed me during my one day stay exploring its beauty. I’ll leave that on my next trip plans to Patagonia ;)
It’s difficult to describe the sense of awe and wonder I felt that day, all I know is that there was a magical feeling from being one with nature. It’s not the first time I see mountains or lakes or waterfalls, but Patagonia made me realise that how tiny we are in this big big world and that every little creation that we overlook around us matters, including us, to make this world we live in a wonderful place.