Dani on Tour
Here I am, in Punta Arenas. The flight was long: London-Madrid-Santiago in Chile-Puerto Montt-Punta Arenas. We arrived save and I was a little bit shocked about the village or actual town itself. I imagined something different, can't really describe it but I thought it would be much more welcoming for a village on the very south end of Latin America and the World. Anyway, the hostel we stayed in was quite nice. They promised us homemade jam which definitely was not homemade. To be honest I did not care because I was so excited to be there! I had a very good night sleep that first night even though the bed was absolut rubbish...must have been the long flight. After a few difficulties to get some money out of this bloody cash machine (because everything in spanish of course), we were on the road, talking to the locals and trying to figure out our next stop. We soon discovered that the food is really good...The next morning we had a fantastic walk along the seaside - I have never seen the sea like this, could not even be reminded on New Zealand! The colours of the sea, sky, mountains were just amazing!! As there is not much else to do in Punta Arenas we also walked up to the viewpoint of the town and had a good look around. It was sunny but really cold. After relaxing a second day in Punta Arenas we took the bus up north to Puerto Natales. The bus ride was better than I imagined but the road itself was really empty and the landscape quite boring, just desert. After about 1.5h drive there started to appear some houses. You must excuse my english as I feel like I do lose it because I speak german to my travel friend Lisi and try some spanish too....Anyway, as we arrived in Puerto Natales we looked out for a hostel run by a swiss guy and luckily found it. He was there as well and could give us great advise about the Torres del Paine Nationalpark which we wanted to explore. It is really easy at this time of the year to travel around because the high season starts in about 1 month which means that we do not need to book hostels in advance and we do not need to queue for tours etc. Given all this information about the Nationalpark we started off with a bus tour in the Park itself. It was just a little bus with two elderly spanish ladies as well as one American guy. We had fun and saw a lot of different animals, like the ones which look like lamas and the ones which look like ostriches (sorry forgot the names)...and fantasitc scenery as well as landscape and our mountains which Lisi and I miss anyway! The bus dropped us off at a lake called Lago Grey from where we took a tiny boat to the hostel (Refugio) from where our 4day hike started. Again that boat trip was beautiful and not rough like the one experience I had in New Zealand...probably because it was a lake and not the sea...at the end of this lake is one of the glaciers of the park and because of all the global warming quite a lot of iceberg's were floating in the lake. Again, it was freezing cold but really worth it. After 1.5h the boat dropped us off at a little place in the park. Between a few trees there was a cosy refugio made of wood which some young chilenian guys were just doing up. Apparently the openend the place 3 days before we arrived and now the had to clean it etc. We were there first visitors for the season. The American guy decided to come with us and after a walk closer to the glacier and breathing some fresh cold air we prepared our own dinner and after me trying to understand and speak some spanish with these guys, soon went to bed. Julian's sleeping bag came in very handy...Next morning we started to hike about 3h towards the glacier and then towards the next refugio which was about 3.5h away. We had a stunning day, sunny and warm. The views we had along the way were overwhelming. I really enjoyed it and it is so nice forget about hectic london or big cities in general. Luckily we made it to the next hostel before the sun came down and even got some food prepared for the locals (which is an exception because of the low season). When I woke up the next morning, I thought I am still dreaming: snow was everywhere and it was still snowing. Nevertheless we had to make our way to the next refugio which was 4h away. You can not imagine what we went through this 4h: strong winds, snow and it was freezing cold. But we made it and after a good lunch we decided to walk even further, another 4h to the next one. The weather was better in the afternoon but still very strong winds and by the time we arrived at the next refugio we were really exhausted. A great dinner and a bottle of nice chileanean wine gave us our smiles back... The next day and last day of our hiking tour through the park, we woke up and had to decide that we can not go anywhere because the wind was blowing 100km/h and it would have been to dangerous to hike further up the mountains. On top of that, Lisi and I were very sore and still exhausted from the day before. I think we overdid it and thought that we are fit but we are not....so we had a very lazy day and waited for the (only) bus back to our hostel in Puerto Natales (the swiss one). The hot shower there was amazing as we only had handwarm water in the refugios and it was freezing there too! No, I am not complaining.....That evening we ate some really nice fish in a local restaurant and went to bed early again, probably still tired from the "monster"trip. The next day we made our way to El Calafate.