Of all the amazing places I read about, when I decided I would travel to Patagonia, Torres Del Paine was where I was most looking forward to. I had never done any multi-day treks before, so I was really excited to spend 4 nights and 5 days out in nature within the National Park. The town that most people depart from to get to Torres Del Paine is called Puerto Natales and this is where we arrived after crossing into Chile, from Argentina.
The hostel we stayed at is called Erratic Rock. This hostel became so popular that they stopped taking online reservations unless you’ve stayed there before, or you know someone that’s stayed there in the past. We were fortunate enough to get a reservation through our friend Jon, who had stayed there several times already. Like the Penthouse hostel in Bariloche, Erratic Rock is a hostel that I was really impressed with. It was really chill, with great facilities, a great breakfast and amazing staff. This is the only hostel I’ve stayed at that provides omelets with the complimentary breakfast. In my opinion, the thing that really differentiates the best hostels from the rest is the people that they employ. When the staff really care, it makes all the difference.
Once we arrived, we dropped our bags and walked next door to Base Camp Bar. Erratic Rock hosts a talk at Base Camp every day at 3:00pm where they go over everything you need to know about trekking Torres Del Paine National Park. The biggest challenge in the park is the extreme weather. We were told of stories where the wind gets so strong that it lifts full-grown men, wearing 20kg backpacks right off the ground. Last year the winds got so strong that trekkers would have to drop to the ground and just lie there, waiting for up to an hour for the winds to die down before they could continue on.
It wasn’t until around 11:00pm that night that we were finally packed and prepared to enter the park the next morning. We rented all our camping gear, water proofed our packs and bought all the food that we would be living off of for the next 5 days. We packed instant soups for breakfast, trail mix for lunch and instant rice meals for dinner. We were going to be in for some real first class dining.
There are two typical routes that people do at Torres Del Paine. There is the full “O” circuit that takes 8-9 days and then there’s the “W” route that takes 4-5 days. Since Shaun was flying home in one week it was an easy decision. We were doing the “W,” which includes most of the best attractions of the National Park anyways.
When we set out on our first day of trekking in Torres Del Paine, I felt like I was walking through Middle Earth in a scene from Lord of the Rings. The scenery was absolutely stunning. It was like nothing I had ever seen before, except for on TV. The first day was tough, since I wasn’t used to trekking with a heavy backpack. We had done some trekking in Patagonia already, but always with light day packs. With my bigger bag, my shoulders started to get a bit sore, but it was easy to forget about the pain because I was so mesmerized by the beautiful nature that was everywhere.
After a casual four hours of trekking, we arrived at the first campsite we would be staying. Due to bus delays the previous day, we showed up late for the Base Camp briefing, so we must have missed the part about having to pay for two of the campsites. I didn’t bring much cash with me, thinking that all of the camping was free, so when we arrived at Camp Grey, I was a bit annoyed. To make myself feel better I pulled out my credit card and bought myself a cold beer that cost about the same as the camping.
The main attraction at Camp Grey is Glacier Grey. It’s not quite as extraordinary as the Puerto Merino Glacier, but was an impressive sight, none the less. We walked up to the viewpoint, which is a giant rock sticking out over the water. There was an amazing view of the glacier, which was just across from us, on the other side of the lake. This was the perfect place to sit, reflect and take it all in.
I started thinking about how crazy it is that I live in Vancouver and barely take advantage of the world-class hiking that’s so close to home. Patagonia has some of the best nature and hiking in the world, but so does British Columbia. It’s just interesting how I never think about trekking in BC, but in Patagonia, far away from home, I get so excited to get out into nature every day and do as much trekking as possible. It’s another one of the cruel tricks that our mind plays on us, making it so hard to appreciate the things that we’ve always had and that have been easily available to us all our life.
One of the benefits that long term travel has given me is the chance to temporarily view home from an outside perspective. The more I travel and explore the world, the more I come to appreciate Vancouver and the people that have always been there for me. There are so many benefits that I have gained while abroad, but I think that this alone, more than covers all the costs of travel.
The story continues in Part 2.
If you like what you read, please go ahead and follow my blog. Click “follow” at the top right corner of the page.