Out and About to Check Out the Torres del Paine!

The Torres del Paine National Park, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, is the main “attraction” in the Chilean Patagonia.  Certainly, there is a lot more to explore in the region (Perito Moreno in Argentina, Puerto Natales, penguin colonies, etc.) but nothing seems as well known as this National Park and its centerpiece the mountains that carry the name “Paine”.  The picture below will not do them justice but it may ring a bell for some readers (read on… better pictures below!).

Seeing these mountains was the top goal for my trip down south.  (For more info about the park, check out http://www.torresdelpaine.com/ingles/index.asp).   I wish I had had the time and “knee-health” to do the hike (the famous “W” hike) everyone else does but that was not to be.  So I signed up for a driven tour of the park which ended up being a really good way to see more in a limited time window.  (I used a Chilean travel agency named Comapa (http://www.comapa.com/en/) – there were about 14 of us in a mid-sized bus – it was very well-organized.)  While generally I prefer more “on my own” traveling, one good thing about this type of travel is meeting other folks and this particular day was not exception as I met friendly folks from Brazil and Chile.  Sometimes it is not only the sights but the people one meets along the way that make a trip worthwhile!

In any case, the day started by visiting the Cueva del Milodón, a cave carved by a glacier thousands and thousands of years ago and where the remains of a prehistoric type of beast that resembles a bear with a long tail were found.  Here is my picture of a milodón (or, I should say, a statue of one).Cueva del Milodón near Torres del Paine in Chile's Patagonia

Cueva del Milodón near Torres del Paine in Chile's Patagonia, north of Puerto Natales

The entrance to la Cueva del Milodón

The visit to the cave involved a nice short hike through one of the most beautiful vistas I have ever seen.  Ever.

Vista of Patagonia's majesty from la Cueva del Milodón

Wow. Just wow. No digital enhancement of colors. Wow again.

We proceeded to enter the main part of the park and visiting lake after lake, each beautiful in its own way and most with a view of the Torres themselves.  As the day started, there was a cloud-cover on the Torres but over the morning the cover mostly dissipated providing us visitors an almost clear view of the Torres.  Since it can be hit or miss, I was worried I may get to  see the Torres on the day when they would actually not be visible rending this a rather long distance to go and not see them…  But luck was on my side and I was glad for the almost perfect view of the Torres.

Map of the National Park

In any case, we visited Lake Sarmiento, Lake Nordenskjol (beautiful colored water), Lake Pehoé (where we had lunch at a local place sitting on the shore of the lake AND looking straight at the Torres!), Lake Grey and the glacier with the same name (which was way too far from the lake’s edge where we were to enjoy it much; but the short hike to get there was nice), and Lago del Toro.  The views were majestic and offered way too many photo opportunities.  But the Torres remained wrapped in fog.  I kept getting dis-heartened as there is no guarantee that on a given day, the fog clears…

Foggy view of the Torres del Paine in Chile's Patagonia with lake in front

Foggy view of the Torres del Paine

Foggy view of the Torres del Paine in Chile's Patagonia

Close up but a little foggy still…

Finally, the fog lifted enough for incredible views as we went further away from the Torres.  Incredible land!!!

Amazing photo of Torres del Paine on a beautiful day with Canon EOS Rebel

Glorious!

The visit to the park absolutely met my expectations of the landscape.  I only wish I had been able to stay right there at a place with a view of the Torres so I could see them at sunset and sunrise (assuming a clear view) – I can imagine how spectacular the setting must become at those times and with that type of light…  Maybe another visit?  But I still had more to discover about Patagonia in the next couple of days, including crossing the border to Argentina…

Torres del Paine in Chile's Patagonia with Canon EOS Rebel

Happy traveler!

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  1. […] Natales is an outpost town in Chile that is entry point to the Torres del Paine National Park.  It is about 150 miles northwest of Punta Arenas and serves also as an entry point to the […]

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