Torres Del Paine National Park – Puerto Natales, Patagonia

IMG_2250The next part of our journey involved a relatively short (in South American terms) drive to Puerto Natales, the gateway town to the Torres Del Paine National Park, about 250km to the north. The wind here was no better, pushing the car around at about 100km/h. We had to stop off at a small café where the owner plied us with coffee and home-made apple & dulce de leche cake until the wind and rain abated outside.


Arriving at Puerto Natales our first impression was that of a small Alaskan outpost with views over a huge lake and beautiful snow capped mountains. Absolutely stunning! The bungalow we had booked ended up being a little way out of town in what Cameron described as a “favela” (it really wasn’t that bad, but it was cheap – my favourite kind of accommodation!) To compound matters, we got lost and it took over an hour to find the place during which time tempers (mainly mine) began to fray. Thankfully, the bungalow itself was quite comfortable, the owner was charming and the views over the town were amazing. And eventually Adele & I started speaking again!

IMG_2262 The downside of being on a hill is the wind is even worse, we were woken up with our bungalow literally shaking and creaking ominously – the owner informed us the next day that winds of 150km/h had been recorded, no wonder Adele was scared that we were going to be blown into the sea!

The drive to Torres Del Paine can only be described as breath taking, with ice-blue lakes, snow capped mountains, and quite literally a photo opportunity around every corner, the boys moaned very time I pulled over! The entrance to the Park itself is around 100km from Puerto Natales, but after about 80km the road again turns to gravel.   A combination of the pot- holes (in Spanish, “baches”), bumps and dust created by passing vehicles makes driving in a normal car pretty challenging.




The ‘torres’ or towers the park is named after.

Another highlight of this drive was seeing a “Rotel” for the first time – this is essentially a big red bus towing a trailer containing about thirty 6 ft x3 ft x 3 ft sleeping pods – rather akin to a Tokyo hotel room!. We later found out on Google that these are all over the world and owned by a German company established in the late 1950’s – a great way to do adventure travelling!!


Rotel Hotel

IMG_2032To be fair much of our accommodation is nice, and here we treated ourselves to a night at Hotel Lago Grey, as we had a early start to see the Grey Glacier the next morning, and to drive from Puerto Natales would have meant a 4am start! The hotel has gorgeous views of the glacier. Ever budget conscious, however, dinner consisted of cold chicken and salad that we ate at a picnic table in a campsite to save money!! We did treat ourselves to a drink at the bar though, Adele’s new favourite tipple is Pisco Sour, and watched the sun go down over the glacier.

IMG_2099 Unfortunately our trip to the glacier started with driving rain and wind and after a short drive and a very wet 20 minute walk we were transferred by a tender to Grey II, our boat for the 3 hour trip to the face of the Grey Glacier.  Despite the rain and bitter cold out on deck, it was an incredible experience seeing our first glacier descending from the mountain into the lake 25 metres above our heads.   As ever, we were lucky enough to meet some lovely people, mainly from an American tour group that we ended up bumping into several times over the next few days.


Thankfully the weather improved during the day and we were blessed with clear blue skies and sunshine that enabled us to do a trek past the Salto Grande waterfalls and up into the hills. Again each turn brought us to another incredible vista, even the boys were really impressed! I hope the photos here do it some justice. It is also fantastic to be in a place of such natural beauty, yet have so few people around so you can just sit and enjoy it in complete silence – well except for the boys complaining they were hungry again – they now eat a lot!!

Next stop is El Calafate to see the Perito Moreno Glacier.



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