A 10-day trek of madness we completed with Benoit’s sister and her boyfriend. On the menu? We’ve had some pretty crazy weather conditions, camping food for 10 days, aches and pains but most of all: breathtaking landscapes!
In this article we look back on our last 10 days and in the next article we will give you all the tips to visit Torres del Paine as well as possible!
Torres del Paine : 10 days of trekking….
To fully discover Torres del Paine we decided to opt for the O trek, also called the great circuit; an 8-10 day loop that goes all around the park including the famous W trek.
We chose this option because we wanted to have time to enjoy the area but also because we wanted to see the less touristic sides of the park. We won’t hide it from you, on the W trek there are people, and by people I mean like really many people !!!!
We arrived in Puerto Natales on the evening of the 15th and after a little drink of reunion with Sabine and Yannick we spent the day of the 16th organizing the trek (buying bus tickets, planning camping menus and buying provisions).
The O trek in Torres del Paine, oh well maybe not… Day 1 to 3
We had been warned, in Patagonia it is useless to look at the weather forecast because it changes all the time anyway. So certainly we had taken good note, but let’s be honest at no time did we think it would be that bad!
It is 7:30 am when we get on the bus in Puerto Natales, the sky is slightly overcast but we leave confident. Arriving at 9:30 am at the entrance to the park, we pay the
18,000 pesos entrance fee per person and start the walk under cloudy skies but with a good mood. Update: Price is now 25’000 for foreigners.
But here it comes… Barely 10 minutes later, the rain starts to fall… And not just a little! Yannick will take out his superb poncho bought the day before and which will end in shreds some 15 minutes later because of the wind. haha the first fail of the trek!
First night at the Seron campsite
16km later we arrive soaked in water in Seron, where we will spend our first night at the campsite and also the first night where we will test the resistance to the wind of our tents… Well… This did not exactly go as planned, since during this first night already, the tent started to show us its weak spots. The wet tent cloth was wipping our faces the entire night, while we kept wondering if there was a chance we fly away at some point…
To the Dickson Hut
We wake up the next morning, in the rain, of course…. We continue our journey towards the Dickson refuge, alternating between more or less cloudy passages and light showers. We also faced for the first time gusts of wind, which will have forced us to sit on the ground so as not to fall.
Personally when I arrived in Dickson I was already seriously wondering if these 10 days of trekking were really a good idea.
Fortunately the end of the day offered us some nice lights and we were able to take some nice pictures of the area.
Physically speaking the trek was easy; never more than 20km per day, relatively little difference in altitude, so nothing to do with what we had done at Machu Picchu… But the weather conditions made this walk really tiring for morale!
Second night in Torres del Paine: it’s getting cold!
The second night we were better protected from the wind, but the night was freezing cold! I could feel Benoit huddling closer and closer at night to avoid touching the frozen walls of the tent.
And for good reason, when we got out of our sleeping bags in the morning we had the “pretty” surprise to see that everything had been covered with a white coat. Fortunately, it’s summer in Patagonia! 🙂 Ohhhh Boy!
Change of plan due to weather conditions
Our destination on the 3rd day was to be the campsite “Los Perros” before leaving to attack the pass on the 4th day. But here we are, Dickson’s rangers told us at breakfast that the pass was closed for at least another 2 days, and that during the night it had snowed more than 40cm at the top!
The forecasts for the coming days were not very encouraging (more snow to come), and also because we didn’t have any waterproof shoes and even less waterproof pants we preferred to turn back and give up the O trek. We were going to do the W… and try to reach the pass from the other side at the end of the trek.
In other words, back to the Seron campground for our third night of trekking before leaving to attack the W!
Day 4 and 5: Torres and sun in sight!
The programme for the 4th day was expected to be full, so it was early in the morning that we left the camp and set off for Hotel las Torres. Arrived there before noon, we had time to start the ascent to the Chileno refuge where we had planned to spend the night.
In the end, the climb turned out to be faster than expected and Camping Chileno and it’s 15’000 pesos was pretty ugly. Thus, it did not take us long to decide that we would continue our climb up to the free campsite located at the base of the famous “torres del Paine”.
We pitch the tent… finally!
After 8 hours of walking we were finally able to pitch our tent! The sky was still playing funny jokes on us… because as soon as we pitched the tent it stopped raining! Cool? Well… it acutally started snowing instead! yeahhhh
Once the tent was up, it was still snowing but the sky seemed to clear up a bit. Without any second-thought, we decided to quickly eat a chocolate bar and leave (without the bags this time) to take a look at the summit about 45 minutes from the camp.
First contact with the torres
What a joy it was for us to have been welcomed at the top by an open sky and especially the famous torres!
Because it should be known that these naughty girls tend to like hiding behind the clouds, and many tourists climb without being able to see them… We were tus very lucky! And it has to be said, that snow makes them look even more spectacular!
The next morning it’s at 4:00 in the morning that the alarm clock rings! We wanted to see the sunrise on the torres. So, after climbing in the scree with our headlamps and wrapping up in our sleeping bags, we waited for the sun to rise. The rascal never came….
Once back at the camp the sky cleared and the day looked bright. We have to admit, the bad weather of the first few days had worn us down. So we decided to take a short day’s walk and enjoy the sun by taking a well-deserved nap in front of our tents! On this 5th day we will simply go down from the base camp to the hotel and set up camp before enjoying an afternoon of card games…
Day 6, 7 and 8: Long live the Wind!
The next 3 days we started the W trek itself. The first section that led us from the hotel to Camping los Cuernos was undoubtedly the winner of our trek in the category “psychopathic wind that throws you to the ground”.
We lost our hats, we fell, we grabbed our sticks and the arms of our dear and tender heavier gentlemen… In other words, Sabine and I will have almost flown away (the first one who says we’re not light as feathers, gets a slap…) 😉
When the wind gets in the way
The landscapes on this stretch are magnificent and the wind is certainly a big hurdle (especially when it comes from the front) but it also creates some pretty beautiful effects on the lake. The water is swept to the surface and mini-tornades can be observed forming.
These are then blown on the shores and offer hikers in need of rain a small “free shower” option. Well… to be fair, we had already seen enough water in the last days… We did not quite need this little additional gift! 😉
Fortunately, we were lucky again when we started our climb in the “Valle Francès”. The wind that almost carried my cap also took all the clouds with it. And it was under an almost clear sky that we were able to enjoy the view of the mountainous massif of torres del Paine.
Merry Christmas and Grey Glacier
On the morning of December 24th we leave the Italian campsite to head towards our last stop on this trek: the Grey glacier!
19km on the program, but that day nobody was reluctant to face the wind…. Oh, no, no, no, no! And for good reason, we had booked 4 tickets to the Christmas buffet at the Grey Hut!
Well, we did not book any beds though, otherwise our budget would never have survived New Year’s Eve, but the prospect of having a good glass of red wine, eating from a buffet and especially spending an evening in the warmth highly motivated us to move forward that day!
Quite an expensive Christmas evening
The evening will have cost us 100€ per couple (ouch…) but believe us, it was worth every penny! We had a great time, we had a good drink and a good laugh too.
But well, like Cinderella and her carriage we had to find our pumpkin, uh camping tent at midnight when the shelter was closing its doors…
Panorama on the Grey Glacier
On the morning of the 25th, there were no presents in our hiking shoes (Santa Claus couldn’t manage his sleigh in the Patagonian wind), but on the other hand, the weather was much milder! So, we set off again towards the pass (yes yes, the one we had to give up on day 3… this time we attacked it from the other side) in order to have a better view of the glacier! We were not disappointed!
Well at 2pm the rain was starting to get threatening and we preferred to turn back to our camp and spend our last night in the tent!
On the last day, after a last glance at the Grey glacier, we reached the Paine Grande refuge from where we took the catamaran to join our bus back to Puerto Natales.
10 days of trekking, it was beautiful, it was intense. We would almost ask for more… But not right away…. Let’s get some rest first, huh?
The weather in Patagonia, don’t get fooled by pictures
Come on, it’s time to be a little honest… we’re bloggers, we like to take pictures, and if you take a look at our article and pictures you’ll probably think something like “Oh lucky you, they had great weather conditions for their trek… »
Hmm… so how can I say…
In Patagonia the weather is changing faster than it takes time to say!
So clear skies are obviously part of the picture. But we don’t hide it from you, they weren’t that numerous. We walked for many days in the rain, we even climbed to the torres in the snow!
We only spent about twenty minutes in a T-shirt over the 10 days, and I think my hat almost merged with my hair because I had it on my ears all the time!)
And if the weather changes so quickly it is mainly due to (or sometimes because of) our worst enemy of this trek: the wind!
We’ve had some wind continuously, with gusts that can exceed 100km/h, believe me, it’s blowing your hair off and it’s grounding you!
But when it’s on your back, you almost think you’re Usain Bolt because you’re moving so fast…
Video of our Torres del Paine trek
But we still prepared a quick video compilation for you, enjoy!
And if you like our little videos, don’t hesitate to follow our YouTube channel 😉
During our stay in Puerto Natales we slept in 3 different hostels… In high season spots are scarce and we had to change accommodation several times 😉 To find accommodation in a dormitory or simply something not too expensive, we recommend that you take a look at Hostelworld.
We are not going to recommend a particular hostel to you because quite frankly the level of those we have seen is really correct in the area and they all look basically the same… Our methodology for finding accommodation on Hostelworld is generally the same:
- We enter the dates and city
- We sort the results by price with the cheapest first
- We generally take those who have a score above 8.5 in the reviews (ideally the more reviews the more reliable)
- We check the location, we look at 2-3 photos and if it’s okay we book.
There, you know a little more about our last 10 days! And if you want to do the same, Benoit is preparing a very practical article where you will know absolutely everything you need to know to succeed in his trek to Torres del Paine. Budget, Material, food, itinerary everything will be there… See you soon!
Oh and of course, Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all of you!
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