When we have each other, we have everything.
What do you get when Dan flies south from Colorado, Garrett and Katie fly south from Washington, and Ben and Julie fly south from Minnesota? A family trip to Chile for Thanksgiving! We traveled to Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales, and Torres Del Paine for 10 days.
Torres Del Paine - We completed the "W" trek in Torres Del Paine over the course of 5 days. The diversity of landscape was phenomenal to see while we were trekking. We were up in snow covered mountains, down in tree covered valleys, cruising on a boat between glacial icebergs, and walking along a beach next to a lake. We stayed in 4 hostels: Refugio Grey, Refugio Paine Grande, Refugio Central, and Refugio Los Cuernos. Refugio Los Cuernos was definitely my favorite. It was tucked into a hillside with little huts separate of the main building. The views were dramatic to say the least with peaks shooting straight up and views of the lakes out front. We definitely set ourselves up for the perfect situation by paying for bedding and food to be provided through the refugios so that all we had to carry in our backpacks were clothing and snacks. The food they provided was impressive considering the remote nature of these huts. We ate breakfast and dinner at the refugios and lunch was to go. Most of the time it was a simple sandwich with a package of nuts and chocolate.
The walk between Refugio Central and Refugio Los Cuernos was my favorite walk from a view standpoint...perfect combination of looking at peaks and water. Mirador Torres was a sight to see and well worth the incredibly hard hike up to it! We were supposed to go on a hike across Glacier Grey, but it got cancelled due to adverse conditions. We experienced pretty decent weather, only rained 2 times for a limited amount of time. Our hardest day was when we had to hike up to Mirador Torres and then hike to Refugio Cuernos for the night. It ended up being a 23 mile day! Safe to say...we were wiped by the time we got there and several members of our group got blisters from that much hiking! We were all troopers and had smiles on our faces by the following morning for the next round of hiking. We treated ourselves to one night at Hotel Lago Grey which was super fun and fancy! Heated bathroom floors! This hotel had the most amazing views of the glacier, icebergs, and mountains of any hotel I have ever stayed in.
We had a great driver Hector that picked us up to take us to and from the park. We had fun attempting to speak Spanish in order to converse with him. Needless to say, there was a lot of use of Google Translate! He was nice enough to take us to Cueva Milodon on our way out of the park which was fun to see as we had heard a lot about it. We stayed in Puerto Natales on both sides of our time in the park. We stayed in Patagonia Adventure Hostel and Hostel Chorillos. Both were fabulous hostels...very clean, great breakfasts, and very quiet.
Punta Arenas - We stayed in Punta Arenas for two nights at a hostel that was run by a fabulous couple. Juan Pablo was our host and a wealth of knowledge about history and all that is going on in Chile. He was gracious enough to drive us to an excursion pick up point and to the airport for us to rent a car when the excursion was cancelled. We were supposed to go on a boat excursion to see penguins, but the seas were too rough. We rented a car instead and drove to the middle of nowhere 3 hours away to see penguins. It was really cool to see penguins in their natural environment. Especially the baby penguins because they hadn't shed their brown fur yet. We saw many native animals to the Patagonia while visiting the area including guanacos, fox, birds, and nandues! We had hoped to see a puma, but no such luck.
Ben, Julie, and Amelia