It’s a must when you’re in Chilean Patagonia: Torres del Paine National Park. The famous torres, three vertical rock pillars, each over 2800 meters high, can actually be seen when driving to the park but climbing up to the lookout point and being as close as (I guess) possible to those towers is something else.
I must admit it took me quite some time to get to like the park (OK, it’s true, I’m not very fond of hiking, that could be a reason). The closest town, Puerto Natales, is packed with tourists (especially the supermarket, where they (we did, too) stock up on food for the days in the park) and the main entrance of the park… I don’t want to say it resembles Disneyworld or something the like but it doesn’t seem like the entrance to a national park either: bus loads of people come and are directed to the office where papers have to be filled out, fees paid, and, after you get your map, you have to watch a short video on what you can and cannot do in the park.
On the trail between Las Torres Hotel and the Mirador las Torres, from where you can see the famous Torres del Paine, you’re never on your own, so many people hike that route. We only did this trail, and I wonder how the other trails of the famous W route are like;
most people we met did the W.
Since we don’t like camping, we stayed in Refugios: bunk beds, dorms, shared bathroom, cold at night. The food is very expensive (the beds as well…!) but we’ve read and were told that it was possible to cook your own food so we brought pasta but apparently we should’ve brought our own kitchen too. So no pasta; just tuna, bread, and cookies. Yay. Luckily, a so-called grocery store sold can openers, because we forgot to bring one as well. Yes, we definitely need to prepare more carefully when going on hikes.
The day we arrived at the park the weather was bad and we didn’t feel much like walking too far from the refugio. The next day however, we headed for the Mirador las Torres. The weather was gorgeous: clear blue sky and not a cloud in sight. It was still cold, the wind is strong and chilly. The ascent to the lookout is exhausting (at least we thought so) but it’s worth it, especially on a day like that: the torres are a really impressive sight.