Chile Day 4,5,6: Hiking in Torres Del Paine, Patagonia


One of the most memorable parts of anyone’s trip to Patagonia is hiking in Torres Del Paine. The park is staggering in its beauty and size. From Puerto Natales where we got off the boat, you must take a three hour bus trip to get to Torres del Paine. There are many ways to hike in the park. Some people hike an eight day circuit while most do the “W” which can take three to four days. I was in the park for a more limited time so I was only able to go on two different hikes or one side of the “W.”


I snapped this photo from a catamaran on our way across Lake Pehoe, a beautiful turquoise-colored glacial lake that led to my mountain lodge. Dormitory style accommodations for all, the lodge was humming with hikers of many nationalities and a variety of ages. Most people eat at the lodge restaurant unless they are camping and have brought their own food. Wine selection was limited as you can imagine. Everything must be brought in by boat and most people are thinking about the next day’s hike, not which wine they will be drinking, almost everyone except me, truth to be told.


I tried this Sauvignon Blanc from Santa Emiliana. It was actually quite refreshing with steely acidity and a nice kick to it. Perfect as an aperitivo, I was happy to drink it and toast to these gorgeous mountains. Emiliana Vineyards has been recognized as the first organic winery in Chile, according to their website. I immensely enjoyed all of the Sauvignon Blancs that I tasted in Chile which is strange because it is definitely not my favorite grape variety. I initially thought that perhaps it was the extraordinary surroundings and then wondered if it is just that the Chilean style appeals to me. More tasting was needed in order to ascertain which of these theories was correct.


The next morning we set off for a 22 mile hike to Glacier Grey and back. With 70 kilometer winds blowing, this was no mean feat but unbelievably worth it.


I felt like Maria in The Sound of Music and wanted to break out into song, … of the hills are alive with the sound of music variety….


While the walk itself was not tremendously taxing after the first two hours, the wind was a killer. I could easily imagine someone having been blow down the trail and into one of the lovely but freezing glacial lakes around. Around every corner however, we were rewarded with views like this one of the blue ice which had chipped away from the glacier, just spectacular.


Climbing up and down you finally reach the camp grounds at the foot of glacier grey. The water in this lake is completely grey.


Many people camp overnight and walk on the glacier the next day. No rest for the weary, we trucked back to my lodge.


While in the Park, I saw Guanacos and a few birds but did not see the one Puma that apparently roams the park. Although I am a complete cat lover, I was not sorry to have missed this opportunity.


On arrival at the lodge, I would have had a glass of any kind of wine and settled for whatever was on hand. I couldn’t say that it was delicious or that I would repeat the experience. It was sort of like drinking Blue Nun or Lancers, in the 1970s I imagine. Gato Negro is one of the cheapest Chilean brands. This Cabernet was passable after 22 kilometers but that’s about it.


Torres del Paine is a magical place. Pack your own wine and go at your first chance. It is truly an experience that should not be missed. I will definitely go back to finish the rest of the “W.”


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