I was extremely lucky and fortunate to have two of my favorite friends from high school visit me in Chile these last two weeks. The first week we spent in Santiago and had an amazing time. We went to the market, ate Peruvian food, went to Subterraneo, basically just had a ball.
Then, last Sunday we headed off to Punta Arenas for an end of the world adventure. To be honest, none of us had really done a lot of research so we had to sort of go with the flow.
We arrived in Punta Arenas around 3pm, but had to kill about 3 hours till the next bus to Puerto Natales (we took Bus Fernandez). So….of course….we got pizza and drank beer. What could be better.
We arrived tired and cold into Puerto Natales and went right to our hostel, the Erratic Rock. This place was so great! Very warm and cozy, with a helpful staff and awesome breakfast. They even have a place next door where they give daily information meetings about the park at 3pm, and provide equipment for rent like tents, sleeping bags, etc and all at a good price. We spent Monday figuring out what we wanted to actually do in the park, getting groceries, eating dinner, and exploring.
We had a delicious dinner at a place called El Maritimo which specialized in seafood. My paila marina was a little weird, but Elizabeth´s sea bass stew was awesome.
We finally decided we wanted to do two nights and three days in the park. Doing three days is a little complicated. The most common route is to do the 5 day 4 night W trail, but we just didn’t have the time and honestly were not really prepared for that. So, we decided to do the first day up to the Torres, then spend the night in a refugio. The next day, we would take the 9am bus to Lago Grey and stay a night at that regufio, then come home the third day. BUT. That´s not really how it went down. To be honest, the whole thing is really difficult because buses only run once a day at specific times, and you can´t just camp anywhere…so this is what happened.
Day One: We woke up early for the only bus into the park at 7:30. We arrive at the park, pay the fee, then head over to Torres Refugio and begin our journey at around 11am. This was a rough climb, but the weather was gorgeous. It took us 3 and a half hours of straight up hill climbing to finally get to the Torres, and our bags were heavy. But, the views were breath taking and we were in good spirits. But by the time we reached the Torres, Claire´s previously broken foot (a month ago) was killing her and my back was really in pain from climbing. Plus, it was already 5pm! It would be a challenge to do the 3 or more hour trek back to base camp before dark. We made the executive decision, after much ado, to finally just camp at the campamiento las torres (refugio Chileno was CLOSED…not helpful) and from then on the plan sorta fell apart…but in a good way.
We woke up around 8am, and it had rained and was still sprinkling. Cold and sore from sleeping on roots and rocks, we packed up our things and headed for the bottom of the mountain. This was not a fun hike. It was mostly downhill, in pouring rain. Claire´s foot was hurting, my back was spasming….just wasn’t working. We barely made it to the refugio, limping and cold and wet. That…was the end of it. We decided to stay in the refugio that night, which was actually delightful. We had a delicious chicken and mashed sweet potato dinner and hung out by the fire. Plus, the views were stunning! Overall, we were happy.
Day Three: We headed back to Erratic Rock and went out for a spectacular burger and wings dinner at Baguales. Delicious. As you can see, hardcore camping went out the window….but we had a great time and to be honest, it might have been a bit ambitious in the winter season to try what we did without much experience….ah well.
We also really wanted to see penguins, but first, it costs like 100 dollars each, and also, apparently penguin season just ended! Sigh.
But, besides a few obstacles, the trip was amazing, the views gorgeous, and all of us had a great time together. Worth every minute!