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Sarah's Travels

Torres del Paine - strangely enough not the Towers of Pain!!!

CHILE | Sunday, 13 January 2013 | Views [382]

Again apologies for the delay in publishing this update, Torres del Paine is unsuprising devoid of decent Wifi! So to start - El Calafate was a lovely little town near the Los Glaciars National Park, whose main attraction was the Perito Moreno glacier, so naturally it was full of tourists. It was also one of the best places to eat Patagonian Lamb, so we duly booked a table at the highly recommended La Tablita. The Perito Moreno glacier was one of the coldest places so far, and it was raining when we got there, so wrapped up in many layers and enough alpaca wool to cover a whole alpaca, we set off along the walkways running along the peninsula opposite. The whole face of the glacier was covered with cracks and fissures that creaked and groaned from which small pieces of ice calved into the lake. The glacier was mainly white/pale blue with flashes of startlingly deep blue. There were also lots of small icebergs floating around the lake, one in particular that was a very deep sky blue. That evening we had enjoyed a mixed grill of Argentinian beef and Patagonian lamb, a very tasty Cabernet Sauvignon and good company for a fellow passenger's birthday followed by a small but delicious ice cream - the Argentinians and Chileans really do have ice cream down to a T, especially with the flavour combinations! After El Calafate, we set off for the Torres del Paine national park to get back to nature for a few days. The Rio Serrano campsite has to be one of the best (better even than Pucon), with cooking shelters, hot showers (subject to time of day and number of users) and a restaurant. It was right next to the Rio Serrano, which was beautiful, but also meant the mozzies were out in force!! The first day we relaxed in the morning, then headed out to the Grey Lake and Glacier for a walk. There were lots of blue icebergs in the pale grey-blue waters of the lake. It was raining slightly and the rain was fierce- as in Bruce Chatwin's book In Patagonia, the wind strips a man to the raw. The second day we went to the Torres de  Paine walk- Torres del Paine means the Blue/Purple Towers. The sun was shining, the sky was a vivid blue with a few fluffy white clouds, the mountains surrounding were visible due to the clear sky and the grass meadows stretched over the horizon. The wind was of course bloomin' strong again, but the sun was hot and lying on the grass sunbathing it was welcome to take away some of the heat. The third day had more varied inclement weather, so our morning walk was wet/windy/cloudy, with occasional bursts of sunshine. After lunch I went horseriding with anoher passenger and our local guide at an estancia (ranch) just upriver from the campsite. My noble steed was Lucero, a dark bay gelding who was good tempered and up for a gallop when asked. We rode up along the river, then through a forest of twisted trees covered in Old Man's Beard moss, through a shallow part of the river, back into the forest on the other side and finally uphill to a view point overlooking the whole valley. Once back in the flat the horses eagerly set off back to the estancia at full gallop through the fields. Back at the estancia we dismounted and after saying adios to the horses, went in for refreshments and homemade bread with butter. Today we are travelling to Punta Arenas via the Mylodon Cave and the Seno Ottway Penguin Colony.

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