Along the route of the famous W-Trek
The dream came true and our group of four set out on an adventurous journey to wild Patagonia on the other side of the world in February 2017. We had trips to the three areas that interested us the most – in Argentina it was Los Glaciares National Park with the giant Fitz Roy and the Perito Moreno Glacier. To the south, the wild and untamed Land of Tire and the Sierra Valdivieso Mountains. In Chile, we had the opportunity to do a so-called „W trek“ around the sharp towers of Torres del Paine. And now we go there
Road to Torres del Paine
Before the trip itself – sometime in November – we learned that the rules in Torres del Paine National Park had completely changed. Due to the high number of visitors, it was necessary to introduce a measure, which consists in the fact that every person interested in entering the park must now register in advance and reserve places in individual campsites. We had already bought tickets, everything was ready, but we received only negative answers from the camps due to capacity, or none came. We didn't want to give up so easily. After landing in Punta Arenas, Chile, we found that we had some luggage left. So we involuntarily spent a couple of extra hours at the airport, so we caught the last bus to the north – to the town of Puerto Natales, which was our starting point to the national park. The bus spat us out in the middle of the city sometime after midnight. We were sleepy, slightly disoriented, and all we wanted was camping and sleep. Due to the advanced night time, we were glad that the nice native advised us where we could stay. We wandered around the city for a while, here and there we were caught by one of the locals to go to sleep with him. In the end, we found what we were looking for – a candidate camp for reasonable money, where they still had a place and where they let us in at night. Probably due to a drastic change in time zone, we took a bus for non-Christian money to Torres del Paine. It was angry. Our tickets failed. In addition, another bus did not run that day and the vision of another day and night in the city did not add to our mood. There were old peeling taxis at the station, so it didn't work out. We agreed among ourselves that we would go for a hundred thousand Chilean money, not more. In the end, we slapped the taxi driver and for 80,000 (about 1,500 CZK per person) we took our butts on a 200-kilometer-long strike to the national park. But it was no comfort, in a small suitcase, where there was also a gas bomb, we could fit only two backpacks.
Reservations to campsite Gray
Who would have thought that we had won, I will disappoint. The biggest fight was yet to come. At the entrance to the reservation, it was necessary to pay the entrance fee and then also to prove the paid or reserved place in the camps. Of course we didn't have that. We tried to explain it to the rangers in every possible way. I was upset, but the guards were adamant and did not want to let us into the park for more than a day without the necessary documents. Then no! We didn't fly halfway around the world to face back now! We paid the entrance fee and will return today. We arrived at the next check-in with a nightlife. I don't even know what we expected, but they told us straight away that they had no place and that there was nothing they could do for us. However, we had to look really desperate and unhappy, because in the end a young lady drew a glimmer of hope in the form of a reservation for the Gray campsite, which someone had canceled. She was in the camp on the other side of the trek, we would have walked for about five days. But she was booking in two days. So it meant spending one night in a campsite in front of the park gates, getting on a bus in the morning, then approaching a catamaran, and finally walking. We evaluated it as a real variant. We agreed, took the booking confirmation and thanked Miss. Camp Gray was the starting point of the W trek for us.
Night at the campsite in front of the national park
So the first night we pitched tents in the camp, which was the only one outside the national park and from where the bus left in the morning. The view of the rock massifs was more than enough of a patch for today's day of failure. We talked, pitched tents and started looking forward. We cooked dinner, drank and for the first time I noticed that there is a sky in the southern hemisphere that I do not know from the Czech Republic. The alien constellation flickered over the Torres del Paine towers, and I realized that I was really far from home.
Sailing across Lake Nordenskjöld
Our task was to get up in time and catch the bus that took us on a catamaran. After the confusion and the late departure, we caught up with the ship. Although the cruise was not originally included in our plans, in the end it was a great experience. The sun was shining, the wind was ruffling our hair, and we were enjoying the unique views of the rock massifs.
After arriving on the mainland, we had lunch, received a promise of another night from a nice young receptionist and finally went into the wilderness. In front of us opened the scenery with Lake Gray on the left and the peaks of the mountains on the right.
Gray glacier view
View from the path to the Gray Glacier
The next day after breakfast we went to the glacier again. It was gloomy, but it wasn't raining, and the ice sheets changed colors from steel gray to turquoise. We spent more than an hour there unexpectedly.
View of Cerro Paine Grande from the Mirador Valle del Francés
The journey back to the place where the catamaran landed us no longer seemed so difficult. Maybe because the sun didn't bake that much. We had lunch again at Lake Pehoé and headed to the other side – the next stage of the W trek. We were accompanied by mountains, a milky turquoise lake, and the white stumps of charred trees complemented the Patagonian scenery. The giants of Cuernos del Paine emerged here and there from the fog in front of us. Even without prior reservation, they left us in the Italiano camp, which is a poor camp without services, but it's free and we don't need anything anyway. It rained at night bohužel Unfortunately, the rain did not stop even in the morning. We dress in gore-tex equipment. Honza decided not to come with us at all, Kamila gave up the fight a few moments later. Luďek and I climbed to the first mirror – a place where you can best observe the mountains – but it offered us nothing but fog and again only fog. So we decided not to continue and started the descent back to the camp. It was still raining the next morning, so I rolled over and slept on. When I woke up a second time, it didn't rain. I peeked out of the tent and didn't know the surroundings – oh the views! While I was cooking breakfast, the camp manager came to us and tactfully suggested that we should leave. So we washed the dirty tents with water from the river from the clay, packed our backpacks and just went up to the Britanico viewpoint with a snack. The weather improved every hour, and where it had been foggy the day before, the massive mountain peaks suddenly rose. We also enjoyed the fact that we don't have to hurry. We had lunch of a piece of bread, but with a view of Cerro Paine Grande.
View of Cuernos del Paine
The views on the W-trek are truly breathtaking
Incredible views of the Cerro Cabeza del Indio from the Mirador Británico
On the Britanico mirror, we were surrounded by mountains on three sides of the world – rocky massifs of such shapes that the eyes crossed. We returned to the camp almost in the dark, but we could not stay the next night, we had to continue to the Francais camp. We already had to pay here, but it was a picturesque camp, where tents were set up on small wooden platforms among the trees.
The milky turquoise waters of Lake Nordenskjöld
The next morning was lazy and we set off late enough for how many kilometers ahead. We had a long walk around Lake Nordenskjöld. The trip was not difficult, we could enjoy and even stopped on a pebble beach as if we were taking a bath. It's summer, the sun is shining, so it's not. In the end, we could only wet our feet – barely to the knees. Holt Glacial Lake is glacial even in late Patagonian summer. We got to the camp at half past six. The roar of big birds woke us up in the morning. And that our ornithological knowledge is not great, they were nicknamed after their appearance – goose pheasants. Our strategy was clear – to reach the highest campsite Torres, from where we can go early in the morning to the towers of Torres del Paine and catch the sunrise. A benefactor advised us that the later we arrived, the more likely they were to keep us there. So we were not in a hurry in the morning – we washed our clothes, took a shower, bought, ate and drank. We had lunch with popular tuna pasta, packed fiddles and went to the mountains. The road was steep, we took the only break in the camp Chileno. It was cold outside, so we went into a room that served as a reception and a restaurant in one. We had to get married and Luděk took foreign flip-flops in the belief that they were treasury slippers. We drank drinks and went to Camp Torres shortly before six o'clock. Kamila and I tuned the strategy along the way to let us spend the night in the camp. Well, as a blonde, she made candy on the manager and we were already setting up tents. But the boys were good and nice, so we parted with a bit of plum brandy – a wonderful international currency!
Dawn at the granite towers of Torres del Paine
Getting up at five in the morning is not one of my hobbies, but this was worth it. We got dressed properly, took the headlights, put the chocolate in our pockets… When we arrived at Torres del Paine's teeth at about six in the morning, the sky behind us turned pink. The rocks were still immersed in darkness, and the place breathed a mystical atmosphere. In a few moments, the mountains began to turn red — first pink, then red, and finally golden. Upstairs, we ate protein bars and put on everything we had with us. The winter was harsh, the wind was blowing, so we were quite surprised by the boy in the shorts. When we had enough of each other and sighed at the beauty, we went back to the camp – for a good breakfast and hot tea. And also to pack a tent so that we can catch the bus back to Laguna Amarga at 2 pm, from where the bus leaves for 2:30 pm to Puerto Natales. The way down was such a downfall that we arrived an hour earlier.
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