"This is Chile's prized jewel, a national park so magnificent that few in the world can claim a rank in its class....the park is not something you visit; it is something you experience."
Lovely isn’t it!! I think this being on our doorstep also had something of a calming effect on Melissa.
Our tour picked us up around 8am on the morning of Thursday 15th November - early mornings were definitely the theme of this trip, it seemed like we always had to be somewhere by 8am; it was great to sleep in over the Thanksgiving weekend - for a full day tour of the national park. It was a small group tour by minivan with just seven of us including our bi-lingual guide, Rafael, the driver, Juan, a Chilean couple who were so sweetly smitten with each other we think they must have been on their honeymoon, and a single Chilean guy who the honeymooners took under their wing. We were a cosy bunch!!
It took about an hour to drive up to Torres Del Paine, but along the way you’re treated to even more stunning scenery and it’s easy to understand how the region inspired the poet, Gabriela Mistral.
Last stop before the park was the ‘service town’ – that’s how our guide referred to it – Villa Cerro Castillo.
I really liked the setting with Mount Castillo overlooking the small town. We stopped here for 20minutes or so, our last opportunity for a few hours to buy water and nip to the loo, before driving up to the entrance to the park and paying our entry fee, 15,000 Chilean pesos for foreigners (about $30); 8,000 pesos for the Chileans.
I’ll only post a few pictures of the, literally, 100s taken, since they’re all much of a muchness to be honest and it would get too repetitive to post more than just a select few. Our tour took us on a circular route through the south end of the park – a 10hour drive with frequent stops for photo opportunities and of course lunch - stopping at scenic lakes, lagoons and waterfalls; however the drive is around the same mountain range, just seen from many different angles with different lakes.
This is one of my favourite photos. After that it was off to Laguna Armaga and then around to Lago Nordenskjold, shown below.
After that we drove Salto Grande and walked down to admire a waterfall flowing into Lake Pehoe. We stayed there about half an hour, just drinking in the scenery, before driving down to Lake Pehoe where the Hosteleria Pehoe, built in 1971 - as old as me - is nestled in the middle of the lake....Gorgeous right? Imagine waking up to that view of a morning!! I inadvertently captured one of our tour companions in my photo - there he is on the right - the single Chilean guy who the honeymooning couple took under their wing
Hosteleria Pehoe was the first accomodation in the park and I believe you can stay there for around $120 per night per room, although I read it's not very comfortable and all the rooms supposedly face into an interior courtyard, but who cares, you don't have to walk far for the view. This was my second favourite sight from the trip. It was breathtaking, although the photo just doesn't capture the full beauty of it.
After lunch at Parilla Pehoe - my friends will be shocked to hear I had steak, given my pseudo veggie past - we drove on, over the Rio Paine visit the shores of Lago Grey. This required a short walk through a wood and down to a bay. Up until this point it was actually pretty warm in the park and we didn't really need to bother with all the hats, gloves, coats we'd brought with us, so I'm not sure why I grabbed all my paraphenalia for the walk down to Lago Grey, but I'm glad I did. Windiest beach EVER!!! Invigorating though. This was my favourite part of Torres Del Paine.
That's us on the lower left, freezing our arses off on the beach, that's me in the blue coat, looking like the Michelin man in my triple layers. Do you see those blue blobs in the water? Ice floes from Glacier Grey. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!! I loved it though!!
After that it was back in the minivan and onto our final stop, Lago Toro, the largest lake in the park. When Melissa perked up at the mention of the Toro, "What was that? Did he say Concha y Toro, as in the vineyard? I'd love a glass of their cabernet right now."
She's wine mad that one!!