Saturday, 7 December 2013

28/11/2013- 04/12/20 Puerto Natales and Torres del Paine National Park

Sadly our tent wasn't on a platform like this red one. Ours was in the 3" deep pool in the middle of the night!
28/11/2013- 04/12/2013 
Not our picture. Camera got drowned!
Puerto Natales and Torres del Paine National Park 28/11/20
National Park Torres del Paine. The Eighth Wonder of the world.
We had long been looking forward to visiting this famous National Park and we were not disappointed. It was absolutely amazing from beginning to end. I hired a big backpack in Puerto Natales because as well as all the camping gear we had to carry most of the food for four days as food in the park is scarce and very very expensive. Getting to the start of the 'W' walk (the route we planned to follow) involved a bus journey and a boat trip. Luckily we could pitch the tent and leave most of our gear in it before we set of on the 7 hour return trip to Glacier Grey. It was a beautiful walk along the lake with views of the glacier and it stayed dry for the duration of the trip.
We got back to camp after 8 o'clock and were soon ready for bed having started the day at 6 am. It was the first time this trip that we had pitched the tent on grass which was a luxury. The second day we weren't so lucky with our pitch! It was a ten hour day with stunning views of the Torres from the French Valley. Luckily the majority of the walk was in the woods which offered protection from the wind. We heard far too many stories of people who got hurt because the were blown of their feet by the wind and smashed into rocks etc, and met someone in the evening who had been blown over injuring her legs and was unable to walk. She was waiting to be rescued which meant radioing and waiting a day or two for a horse to arrive and carry her out. The winds are too strong for helicopters, there are no roads and the boats can only land at certain points which makes rescue access difficult.

The final part of the second days walk was along another lake. All the lakes is the park are a different colour and this one was a beautiful turquoise. The wind was incredibly gusty, creating massive walls of water which you could see coming from afar. When a gust came you had to hold onto something or shelter behind a tree or similar. We arrived late at the Cuernos camp site and all the platforms on stilts were taken by other campers so we had to settle for rather a damp patch but at least it was quite sheltered from the wind. Even so at times it sounded as if an express train was coming through and you were shaking on the mattress. However that wasn't our biggest problem that night. Luckily Malcolm woke up just after 12o'clock and realised we were camped in a pond. The water was very nearly coming into the tent and our shoes were floating away. We had to get out of the tent with great care because an unguarded move would bring the water flooding in over the 6”bath tub seal of the tent. We moved a massive picnic table that was on drier ground in order to find a new space to camp. Sadly I left the camera in the pocket of the rucksack in the porch and of course it was submerged under water. Alas the camera and the memory card got ruined so no pictures of the stunning views we had the first few days. From here on in Malcolm's phone will have to double up as a camera. The following day we woke up to a blue sky and we enjoyed every minute of the walk that day. Loads of condors were flying overhead and it was bliss to eat our lunch in the warmth of the sun just wearing a sleeveless top. It was a different story the following day when we woke up to snow and a biting wind which comes straight of the icefields. I wore four layers and was only just warm enough. We climbed to try and catch the most famous view of the Torres ( as in the Patagonia clothing label) but had to settle for a rather cloudy shot. Never mind we had seen the Torres in their full glory from the French Valley even though all the photo's are ruined. It was an easy day walking today (only 8 hours) although the downhill was hard on Malcolm's ankle and we made it back to the bus stop with plenty of time to spare. Unfortunately another hour and half was added onto that because the buses had to wait for the catamaran which was delayed because of the wind. We arrived back at the hostel at 11.30 but luckily the land lady was still up and we were given the same room. Four nights in total in the same bed ( and yes Julie with the same man)hasn't happened for a long while. Tomorrow we will set off for the final 700 or so kilometers to Ushuaia. A little bit apprehensive because of the winds. Luckily we have enough time left before our return flight to sit it out for a few days if it is too wild or there is always the bus! 
Not our picture. Ours was much better ofcourse.

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