Saturday, November 27, 2010

Torres del Paine - Wild Patagonia

As I sit on the plane flying back from El Calafate I reflect back on our days in Torres del Paine.  We arrived there a bit on the nervous side, due to the lack of signage, gravel roads and horrendous weather.  After checking into the high dollar hotel everything smoothed out.

The next day (Tuesday 22nd) the weather was much better, but still very windy.  We spent the day driving through the park, and exploring the 62 kilometers of roads.  Torres del Paine is a very big Chilean National park.  It is very different than American National parks.  There are no services like gas stations or food stores and all the roads are gravel.  There are three or four hotels, campsites and a few hostels which are basic buildings for shelter, with no heat.  All electricity has to be generated, and all food and drinks brought in from the nearest town, about 100 miles away.  This is why it is called 'Wild Patagonia!'  The park is beautiful, with turquoise colored lanes and rugged mountains. 

There are a good number of llama looking animals called guanaco roaming wild in the park.  They have a face that reminded me of Jar Jar Binks from Star Wars.  There are also a number of interesting birds, and puma roam the park.  The puma is mostly nocturnal, and unfortunately we didn't see any.

The next morning Sara decided she would investigate a horse back ride.  So off we went to see the Cabarullos.  She had a delightful ride in the mountains with Alvaro her guide, who was full of information about the park and wildlife.

The rest of the day we spent exploring the park taking pictures and moving on Hosteria Pehoe, our last night  and hotel.  The hotel is the oldest hotel in the park and is actually on a small island on Pehoe lake, which is a beautiful turquoise color.  We walked across the 100 meter footbridge to get to the hotel, which has fantastic views of the spires of Torres del Paine.  We had a lovely meal that evening, and then off to bed since I had to get up at 5:15am for sunrise!

The next morning I got up and went to the spot I had picked shot my morning photos.  The sky to the east was red, which I was hoping would turn the light over Torres del Pain a pink color.  Unfortunately there were only small bits of pink, not the dramatic colors I had hoped for.

Patagonia - Torres del Paine

We spent the rest of the day crossing back into Argentina and driving back to El Calafate.  A long tiring drive of about 400 km, over 100 km on gravel.  Patagonia is very large and unpopulated, and we didn't  pass through any towns, and only saw the occasional house.  Luckily we had managed to buy a few gallons of gas at our first hotel, otherwise we would have been stranded in the middle of now where! 

To celebrate Thanksgiving we had a meal at a Parrilla in El Calafate, a traditional Patagonia grill.  We had massive amounts of lamb and beef, and left totally stuffed in normal Thanksgiving tradition.

Friday we flew to Buenos Aires, and now have just one more day to relax and explore before we fly home.









 

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