Torres del Paine

Puerto Natales is a peaceful town in the south of Chile and the gateway to trekking in the famous Torres del Payne. As we arrived via the ferry into town, Marius already had a place to stay selected for us and we walked up the hill to the town square or Plaza de Armas.

The 10-minute walk takes you past the beautiful waterfront and past the Natales Microbrewery. After we checked in we went to explore the town.  I just loved Puerto Natales as it is extremely well maintained and everywhere you go they have the most perfect sidewalks.

– Plaza de Armas

– Cerveza Natales

– Sunset over the bay

A few lovely restaurants line the streets and we visited an artisan mall. Just as the sun was about to set we headed down to the waterfront for a few pictures and then up to the Baguales Brewery & Restaurant. They have a fantastic beer with great food. Something of a “sports bar” atmosphere and brew a few award-winning beers on the premise.

– Trip and Marius at Baguales Brewery & Restaurant

After a few pints, we headed home in the chilly weather, as we got close to our Hotel we met up with a few more friends and decided to head over to the Natales brewery, to our dismay they only sold their beer on the premises and there was no place to sit and drink.

Well back to Baguales and a few pints more.

The next morning Marius and I decided to explore the town and did a walk along the waterfront, we ended up at a great coffee spot right on the promenade overlooking the bay.

From there we planned our trip to Parque National Torres del Paine. As the weather was already turning quite cold we decided that rather than doing the loop or the W as everybody calls it to just do an adventurous tour through the park.

Early the next morning we got picked up by the tour minibus and soon headed out with some more tourists – now friends – to the national park. Outside Puerto Natales is a huge sculpture of what I referred to the previous day as a horse bear thingy. What it actually was is a Mylodon.

Well according to Wikipedia a “Mylodon is an extinct genus of giant ground sloth that lived in the Patagonia area of South America until roughly 10,000 years ago.”

As our first adventure of the day, we headed to the Cueva del Milodón Natural Monument which is a giant cave located in the Chilean Patagonia, 24 km (15 mi) northwest of Puerto Natales. With absolutely no idea what to expect we were amazed at the sheer scale of the cave.

– Cueva del Milodón Natural Monument

– Marius high five the Mylodon

It comprises several caves and a rock formation called Silla del Diablo (Devil’s Chair). The monument includes a cave which is notable for the discovery in 1895 of skin, bones and other parts of the Mylodon (Mylodon darwini). The largest cave in the monument is the 200 m long Milodon Cave.

After a short hike through the cave and taking a few photos of the countryside we were ushered back into our minibus and we then headed to the National park.

Created in 1959 the park stretches across an area of 227,298 hectares. The main attraction of the park is the Paine Massif, which includes the granite spires of the Torres del Paine, as well as the Cuernos del Paine. The towers are composed of contrasting igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks unique in the world and the tallest peak in the park at 3050 meters, Cerro Paine Grande.

Wildlife includes the largest subspecies of Puma, but unfortunately, we did not see any and then the camelid Guanaco, there are a few other animal species including a fox and the huemul, which is an endangered deer.

– Camelid Guanaco

– Darwin’s Rhea, also known as the Lesser Rhea, is a large flightless bird found mainly in Patagonia

Heading into the park, and stopping just outside we had a cloudy view over the Cuernos del Paine and our guide hoped that it would clear up later and on our return. The drive into the park is a lot of fun and as the thunder clouds started building and the wind increased we saw a few daring mountaineers along the mountainsides.

A year ago the wind in the Park was so strong that it blew over large tour buses full of tourists. r drive took us along the road past the Monte Almirante Nieto, the Cuernos del Paine and finally to the foot of Cerro Paine Grande and the glazier Grey over Lago Gray.

– Marius relaxing at Hotel Lago Gray

We stopped for lunch at Hotel Lago Gray and Marius, Melissa (our great friend from Seattle) and I relaxed on the lounge chairs, warming up and having a drink as we watched the Cerro Paine Grande and the clouds skimming over Lago Grey.

We got a chance to walk closer to the glazier and talked, laughed and enveloped ourselves in the beauty around us. I hope to one day return to Torres del Paine and trek up into the mountains and experience them from close.

– A piece of the Gray glazier that has broken of

On our way back we had one final look over Cuernos del Paine and I pulled James in for a photo with me.

– Trip & James

Onwards to the South!

– Map of Torres del Paine (Open in new window for full view)