- Lonely Planet Information
- CIA World Factbook
- Torres del Paine National Park
- According to legend, Torres del Paine's signature peaks, an ominous pair of granite horns, originated from an evil serpent named Cai Cai who caused a flood and killed the warrior tribe inhabiting the region. The snake then turned the tribe's bodies into stone, creating the lurching, 6,300-foot Cuernos del Paine. Beyond these recalcitrant pillars, an intricate series of trails weave past glistening lakes, sprawling glaciers, gushing waterfalls, and a rapidly growing wildlife population. Since Torres del Paine gained recognition as a World Biosphere Reserve in 1978 (not to mention becoming the public profile for all of Patagonia), hikers and horsemen haven't been the only beneficiaries; the number of pumas has risen from endangered numbers, and while there were only 600 guanacos 20 years ago, today there are over 3,000.
- Gateway City: Puerto Natales
Size/Acreage: Over 59,000 acres
When to Go: October through March
Prime Activities: Trekking, climbing, camping, wildlife viewing, horseback riding
Inside Scoop: Make the long hike up the granite massif of El Paine, and trek down to the Refugio del Torres for the park's most magnificent sunset spot, with the burnished Torres as your backdrop.
More on Torres del Paine:
1.15.05 - Had originally planned to get up for the sunrise, but didn't hear the alarm. Woke up and hurridly prepared a breakfast and packed a lunch for the road. Left on bus at 8am for Punto Arenas. Crossed into Chile with no problems, took ferry across the Magellan Strait, enjoyed the beautiful barren landscape. Arrived in Punto Arenas in evening, quickly found a hostel and a supermarket, and cooked up a meal of bloody beef and potatos. Crashed soon afterwards.
1.16.05 - Got up late, ate breakfast, and talked about plans for the next few days. Julie and Duncan went out to explore town, and we met them at supermarket to do some shopping. Worked on Internet stuff and caught up on writing. In the afternoon, Eric went with Duncan and Julie to the Seno Otway pinguinera, just north of Punto Arenas. Spent several hours taking pictures and observing a few of the 10000 penguins that make their home there. Returned back to hostel and had a pizza dinner. Hung out with several other fellow travelers before turning in for the night.
1.17.05 - Got up early and caught a morning bus for Puerto Natales. Arrived around noon, found a hostel, and Dave, Julie, and Duncan explored the town and did some shopping. Eric finished up some web work and checked on bus options back to Buenos Aires. Returned to hostel, cooked up a pasta dinner, and packed up gear for our 5-day backpacking trip into Torres del Paine. Went to bed to the sound of rain falling outside.
1.18.05 - Woke up later than expected, and ate a hurried breakfast before getting on bus to Torres del Paine. Arrived mid-morning, and waited for Tavi (who we met at our hostel) to arrive. Began hiking to drizzly, overcast skies. Walked along road to Hosteria Las Torres, where we continued on trail up river trail to Campamento Torres. Rain held off and we had a good hike in. Arrived at camp mid-afternoon. Dave, Duncan, Julia and Tavi hiked up to the towers and hung out for awhile. Eric continued up trail to Valle del Silencio. All returned back to camp, cooked up dinner, and hung out for a bit before going to bed.
1.19.05 - Got up at 4am, climbed up to Torres for the sunrise. Enjoyed the beautiful view for awhile before breaking camp and heading back down the valley. Had beautiful weather for most of the day. Hiked along base of the peaks to Campamento Italiano, at the base of Glaciar del Frances. All did a bit of exploring, took some naps, and returned to camp for a meal by the river. Went to bed soon after.
1.20.05 - Awoke and packed up camp. Headed along lake to Refugio Paine Grande, enjoying beautiful views. Took a short break there before continuing up valley towards Glaciar Grey. Encountered strong headwinds coming off the glaciar, which slowed us down a bit. Arrived mid-afternoon at Campamento Grey, where we went out to a rocky viewpoint with great views of the bright blue glaciar. Continued for another hour up the trail to the secluded Campamento Los Guardas, where we cooked up a feast and went to bed early.
1.21.05 - Got up around 530am in anticipation of our longest day on the trail. Backtracked along the lake to Refugio Paine Grande, where we took a break and hung out with some friendly Israelis, who gave us some extra food. From there, continued south across the flat plains towards Administracion, our ending point. Stopped for a break at Campamento Las Carretas, where we laid in the grass and enjoyed the sunshine. Arrived at Administracion, where we waited for a bus up to Guarderia Pehoe. Stayed in a free little shack on the edge of a parking lot for the night. Hung out for awhile, cooked up the rest of our dinners, and finally crashed on the hard wooden beds.
1.22.05 - Slept in late. Got up, made breakfast, and hiked up to some nearby waterfalls. The winds were very strong and the sky overcast, so we soon returned back to our shack and did some reading/writing. Cooked lunch and caught our bus back to Puerto Natales. Spent the rest of the afternoon in town, buying bus tickets and burning each other's photos on CD's. Took much-needed showers, and went out to a nice restaurant for a seafood dinner. Julia and Duncan generously treated both of us. Had a wonderful time sharing memories and hanging out for one last evening. Returned back to hostel tired and ready for a soft bed.
1.23.05 - Got up at 6am and said goodbye to Julia and Duncan, who took a bus to El Calafate. Packed up our stuff, ate breakfast, and hung out with the guys from the hostel before heading to bus station. Took a bus east to Rio Gallegos, arriving late afternoon. Were very fortunate to find a good deal on bus tickets (Andesmar) to Buenos Aires, leaving in one hour with all meals included. Bought tickets, boarded, and spent rest of the night on the bus.