Today I’m picking up from my last blog, and carrying on with our last few days in the incredible Torres Del Paine National Park in Patagonia.
Patagonia Diaries – Torres Del Paine – Part II
We checked out of our hotel on Lake Pehoe and drove around to the catamaran jetty further down the lake. We’d leave the car here for the next couple of days with most of our baggage inside, take the boat across to Refugio Paine Grande and hike the final section of the W trek to Refugio Grey with just enough stuff for a couple of days.
Anything that involves getting on a boat with Menno makes me nervous, as he gets horrendously travel sick. So starting a full day of hiking with a boat ride across a very choppy lake could have been a recipe for disaster. Thankfully the ride was smooth, and we docked at the other end still smiling. We grabbed our rucksacks and started hiking, following the signs towards Refugio Grey. It wasn’t long before we started to feel the brutal force of the Patagonian wind, which made the hike so much harder than it would have otherwise been. The rain also came and went a number of times, made so much worse by the winds blasting it in our faces. We paused for a few photo stops on the way, but both of us just wanted to reach the refugio and get out of the elements.
It took us around 4 hours to hike to Refugio Grey. There we a number of look-out points along the way, but by now the clouds had really come in and we were cold and wet from the rain, so we just headed straight to the hut. We found our bunks for the night and warmed ourselves up by the fire.
The next morning, the skies were clearer. We were booked to go kayaking on the lake the following morning, but since the weather was looking nice, we went over to ask if it was better to do it today. We chatted with the guides who told us to call back in the evening when it might be possible. They explained that the biggest problem would be the wind, and if it was too strong, it wouldn’t be possible to paddle out.
Making the most of the good weather, we decided to continue hiking further along the trail towards to glacier itself and a viewpoint that had been recommended to us. Even the trail itself was exciting, with two suspension bridges to cross, but the views at the mirador were just incredible.
We returned to camp in time to change and head back down to the shores of the lake to see if we would be able to kayak. The wind had started to pick up, so the guides were unsure about whether they would be able to take us. Since there were 2 guides for 4 people, they decided to give it a go. We got kitted up, had a safety talk, and headed out on to the lake. It wasn’t long before we left the shelter of the shore and we felt the full force of the wind coming down from the glacier. We managed to paddle to a huge iceberg that had broken off from the glacier but after about 30 minutes, the guides decided it was too windy and that we should head back. Of course, we were a bit disappointed not to have been able to paddle to the glacier itself, but it was still a very awesome experience.
That night we returned to the refugio feeling exhausted but so thrilled to have had a gap in the weather that had allowed us to see the incredible Glacier Grey and kayak to one of the icebergs on the lake.
The next morning we got up early, had an early breakfast and headed back to Refugio Paine Grande to catch the catamaran back to our car. We were lucky to have clear skies again, although the wind was still very much blowing. At least this time it was predominantly a tailwind, so it was at least a little easier to hike in.
We made it in plenty of time to catch the boat, which meant we were back at our car by lunchtime. We threw our grotty backpacks in the boot and drove to our final hotel for our last night in Torres Del Paine.
Having been in the cold refugio for 2 nights, we decided to book ourselves into something a little more luxurious for our last night in Chile. Our hotel, the hotel Rio Serrano was just outside the park limits, so we stamped our passes before leaving so we could drive back through the park the next morning.
Despite not being within the limits of the park, we were absolutely blown away by the incredible views from our hotel room – a panoramic view of Paine Grande and the Cuernos mountains. We spent the rest of our evening chilling in the hotel spa and reminiscing about the incredible time we’d had in Torres del Paine.
The next morning we woke up feeling refreshed, to a beautiful sunrise, and horses wandering around the hotel grounds right outside our window. After breakfast, we packed up the car one final time and started our long drive back to El Calafate in Argentina. Not wanting to leave Torres Del Paine a minute sooner than we had to, we decided to drive back through the park. As we left the park limits one final time, we were sent on our way with some final sightings of guanacos, rheas and a Patagonian fox.
That night we returned to El Calafate, where we started our Patagonia adventures. It felt like our incredible trip had come to an end. Except for our flight the next morning wasn’t back home. It was to a new area of Patagonia that we had yet to discover, the east coast, and Peninsula Valdes.
If you’d like to buy prints of some of my pictures from Patagonia, you can find them in my
Missed the first three chapters of our Patagonia adventure? Catch up on them here: