My first time in South America.❤️
February 17-18 – Due to COVID-19 there were some extra hoops to getting into Chile so my very first recommendation is to absolutely do this trip, but wait until the borders are a little more open. Chile requires everyone to get tested upon arrival and then you MUST quarantine until you are cleared via a specific-to-you QR code, which could be 8 hours or could be 24 hours who’s to say. So upon arrival in Santiago my friend, who had already been cleared, handed me a mushroom empanada (10/10) and I went to bed. When I got up I was cleared! I did have to wait for the rest of our group to arrive and also be cleared so wandered around Santiago for a bit, got more empanadas, and we could finally head off to Puerto Natales.
February 19 – To say that Patagonia is far from the U.S. would be a whole understatement. It is quite the travel experience and is basically as far south as you can get without touching Antartica. So we arrived in Puerto Natales with just enough time to eat, meet some street doggos, and go to bed before waking up for day one of The W.
February 20 – Bus > Ferry > Legs. Up early to hop a bus (where we caught a glimpse of Guanacos) to arrive early enough to get on a ferry taking you to our start of The W; we went West to East. Upon arrival at Paine Grande we hiked the first section of The W which takes you from Paine Grande to Glacier Grey. Patagonia has a series of Refugios along the route where you are allowed to camp but these must be booked far in advance and they are the only places you can stay in the park. It’s mainly tent camping with bathrooms and eating areas so you do not have to carry all your food if you choose to eat at the refugios.
When we arrived at Glacier Grey some of us chose to do a bonus hike (always do the bonus hike) to this suspension bridge overlooking the glacier.
February 21 – We hopped on a little boat for a very cold ride to Glacier Grey. After a quick safety tutorial and gear change we were off to walk around a glacier for a while. We filled our water bottles with fresh glacier water and looked into deep and beautiful crevasses. And here’s the thing about hiking The W, it’s actually a W shape so we hike up the first section of the W and then you have to hike right back down, so at the end of the day we landed back a Paine Grande for the night.
February 22 – Day 3 and the LOOOONG day. So if you can imagine we begin at the bottom of the first line of a W and today we hike up the second line, back down, and then about half way up the last line of a W. If you’re looking at a map, it would be from Paine Grande, up Valle del Frances, back down and over to our final refugio, Refugio Chileno. It was absolutely beautiful, and pretty rough on the legs.
February 23 – Mirador las Torres the main event! To see the sunrise over las Torres you have to get up around 3am to start the hike, and there is a really good chance you’ll see nothing at all for your efforts. We got lucky, there was not a single cloud in the sky for our entire trek and thankfully this day was no different. The sun lit up these granite towers and what a wonder. We then hiked back down, had a quick brunch and headed out of the park ending our Torres del Paine adventure.
February 24 – After a lovely night in a cozy bed we did a bit of horseback riding and enjoyed some final views of southern Chile. Best, until next time Patagonia, maybe the Argentine side? 😏