After our first 12hour trip on a bus (it wasn’t as bad as it sounds – had to get to the bus station at 4:30 but could sleep on the bus), travelling from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas in Chile, we were looking for a hostel, which was recommended to me by a french girl from our school in Buenos Aires. Finally we found the right place called „hostal independencia“ but there was no owner around. While waiting for him we talked to two germans who were talking about the torres del paine national park and what hikes to do. Both of us, Suzy and I, felt a bit out of place because both of them were travelling with a tent and only using campgrounds to spend the night. As Eduardo, the owner, arrived and we asked him how we could do the „W“ circuit in the national park without having to carry a tent, cooking gear and all other stuff, he was kind of laughing at us and telling us, that if we didn’t go camping we wouldn’t have any stories to tell. Well, I hate that. Even if he is more in to camping, he should respect our wishes and respect our ways of travel. We then decided to spend only one night in this hostel and in the small Chilean City Punta Arenas, where there was nothing going on and we moved on to Puerto Natales, much closer to the park and with a nice and friendly staffed hostel, that respected our wishes more. What a pity, that they failed to tell us, that we had to make reservations for the „refugios“ 48hours in advance through a company that closes on Saturday afternoon (and of course we arrived on a Saturday. In the end we found out, that they would have been open until 7 o’clock in the evening…) – but okay, no reservations ment no way of spending a night in the park without having to stay in a very expensive 5 Star Hotel. In these couple of days luck was not on our side. I was getting sick with the flu above all other things.
We decided to do a one day hike up to the „Mirador de las Torres“ – 9km one way. Although the bus left at 7:30 in the morning, we had to change buses in the park and went on a little detour, meaning we started our hike at 11:00, arrived to the Torres at 15:00 and were back at the starting point at 18:30, with 3 breaks in between. With the flu, I felt awful and every step was a small fight against fever, but I don’t regret walking up there. The view was fantastic! The colors of the lake were a splendous turqois, the three famous towers of this national park were rising high right behind the lake, the sun was shining and we were relieved having made it and beeing up there. Our photos can’t even show you all of the beauty we experienced on the way and up there. Before taking back the bus to Puerto Natales, we indulged in having a beer at the 5 Star Hotel, it was worth every penny (about 10 CHF for a pint – Swiss prices I would say).
Who knows maybe I will be back someday to do the „O“ – that’s how they call the whole hike through the park, which will take you about 9 days with camping in between, but I am not sure if I am really the camping type of girl…I kind of like the luxury of having my own bed and not having to carry around all my food plus the tent and the clothes I will need for the hole trip. It would definitely be a step out of my comfort zone and that’s why I am here for, no? Experience new stuff, stuff I didn’t do before…
Hostal Punta Arenas: Hostal Independencia, good for experienced hikers and campers, rents stuff for less than you have to pay in Puerto Natales but you have to get back to Punta Arenas.
Hostal Puerto Natales: Singing Lamb, sells you bus tickets and helps with all your questions (sometimes you have to research things on the internet and tell them what you exactly want, but apart from all that they are really nice).
Entry fee to the park: 18’000 Chilenean Pesos (about 25 CHF), Bus to the park and back: 15’000 Chilenean Pesos (20 CHF), Bus from the entrance to the begining of the trail: 2800 Chilenean Pesos (one way).
P.S. it takes ages to upload pictures from here…therefore there are more pics on my account on facebook.