Today, we will go to Puerto Natales, and then the tiring four-day hiking is coming.
Though we ask the hostel to call for a taxi for us to the bus office, the taxi doesn't come in time and we walk directly there with our big luggages.
Sometimes you have to arrange more time to prevent such a event.
The bus to Puerto Natales takes about three hours and the seat is comfortable.
Close to the noon, we arrive at Puerto Natales.
It's really strange that Lonely Planet or Google Map doesn't have a detailed map of this town.
We ask the local for out hostel today that is about seven blocks from the bus office.
By the way, this office also sells the tickets from El Calafate to El Chalten, and I almost get all the tickets I need. Only Shan has to buy her tickets to San Carlos de Bariloche and Puerto Varas as we go to Argentina.
You may wonder why could I buy the tickets of Argentina in Chile. In fact, this company has the cooperation relationship with another company in Argentina, so they could sell tickets of another company to you.
While passing a park along the street, the hostel "Singing Lamb" is near.
I think this is a very excellent hostel in our journey, and this hostel is also recommended by other tourists.
You may also watch the hostel's website. The facilities are nice.
The rooms is not many and we stay in the ten-bed dormitory that is clean and comfortable.
Everyone has a big locker to store the big luggage.
As for the bathroom, it's just good as the bathroom of your home.
The kitchen is also lovely and we prepare the noodle and vegetable soup as the lunch.
Besides, You could buy the shuttle tickets to and from Torres del Paine directly from the staff.
The bus company is Via Paine and the round-trip ticket is 15000 pesos.
Except for the living room, there is a small glass-house beside the yard.
It's a nice place to read book in the sunny afternoon.
In the yard, there is a big tent for a cheaper accommodation.
A lovely stray cat always stays in the yard.
Shan says that the cat will become friendly to human as he got hurt and needs food.
Actually, this stray cat is really very friendly to me.
Before departing to Torres del Paine, the must-do is to rent the equipments.
If you want to save the money, you could bring your backpack, tent, sleepbag and other facilities.
However, you will need a very big luggage and maybe have to pay for the overweight.
I only bring my backpack because this backpack occupys most of the space of my luggage case.
Therefore, I still have to rent a tent and a sleepbag.
The hiking equipments could be bought or rent very easily in Puerto Natales.
We go to the Nancy hostel which is a hostel but running the equipment rental as well.
The prices (this year) are:
Tent (for two people): 4000 pesos per day.
Bleepbag: 2000 pesos per day.
MAt: 1000 pesos (optional choice for camping)
Stick: one stick is 1500 per day, but two sticks is 2000 pesos per day.
The total is about 22000 pesos. If you only camp for one day, it would be much expensive than staying at the refugio.
Returning to the hostel, we pack our luggage. I have to say that it's really heavy.
I worry a little for the four-day hiking because I never hike for such a long time and such a long distance.
Even so, I still believe that the beatiful scenery is worth trying with my strong will.
In the night, I make my favorite spagetti as the dinner. No one knows how the hiking would be, so it's better to eat well before departure.
The next morning, we enjoy the nice breakfast provided by the hostel, and then get on the bus to Torres del Paine.
I think I will miss this hostel and I'm looking forward to coming back to this lovely hostel after the tiring hiking.
It takes about three hours to arrive the national park.
Most of the buses will stop at a small town for a break.
By the way, the Chile border to Argentina is also nearby.
Before starting our hiking, let me express briefly about my plan.
Just as the map shown above, the green lines are the hiking routes and the brown line is for buses and cars.
The bus stops at three locations: Laguna Amarga (G1), Pudeto (G2) and Administracion Conf (G3).
When we arrive at Laguna Amarga, we have to fill the form and pay the admission of 18000 pesos.
The staff will also introduce the park and the notifications.
Most of the tourists will hike the "W" route. I marked the "A, B, C & W" on the map and this green route is the shape of "W".
The three main attractions along this W route are: Mirador las torres (A2), Mirador Frances (B2) and Mirador Grey (C2).
As for A1, B1, M and C1, these are the locations for refugios and campsites.
If you want to go to Regio Torres (A1: Refugio y Cp Torres), you could take another shuttle for 2500 pesos.
Except for two refugios and a campsite, there is also the only 5-star hotel in the park.
After checking in the hostel, we store our big backpack and hike to Mirador las torres with the small backpack.
The scenery around here is actually nice. I think it would be also nice to stay here for a few days without the tiring hiking.
Passing through the only one koisk in front the hostel and the creek, you will find the first information board on the route. It's still easy for the start.
On the board, you will know where you probably are, the distance to the next point and the geography.
No doubt, the way to the Mirador las torres seems to be difficult for most part of the route is the steep ascent. Fortunately, I'm not so stupid to try to hike with the big heavy backpack.
I know that someone may camp at Campamento Torres (free campsite) for watching the sunrise, but it would be the impossible mission for me.
Walking along the track in the valley, the first section is a little tiring but fine for me.
Compared with other place I have visited, this is truely my first hiking.
The scenery is beautiful and the weather is cool.
It's said that the water in the creek is drinkable and tasty.
I'm quite looking forward to have a cup of coffe cooked with the water.
It takes about two hours for us to arrive the first campsite Chileno. The time is still in the average as the information told.
We take a short break here and drink a nice coffee.
It's true that the coffee is tasty if you cook it with a nice water. There is nothing better than this.
Besides, we also see some horses around the campsite. It's also another activity in the park.
Since our time is still in the average, it gives me the confidence to walk toward the next campsite.
The average time for the second section is 1.5 hours, but we walk for two hours.
Campamento Torres is a free campsite that is the closest point to the Mirador las Torres.
I'm glad that I didn't hike with my big backpack, or it would be very tiring to come here.
As the board displays, the time for going to Mirador Las Torres is about 45 minutes.
In Chile, Mirador means the place for watchinf nice scene. This word is quite useful if you want to find beautiful attractions.
Even though the expected time is only 45 minutes, the last section to the mirador is the most difficult of all.
Preciselt speaking, I don't think that is a track because there are many rocks with all sizes.
Except for the deep ascent, the rocks make the hiking pretty tiring.
Besides, I'm tired after the four-hour hiking, therefore, this last section is hard for me and I have to rest frequently as I walk for a few steps.
Finally, after another "Two Hours", I reach the mirador. Yes, two hours. It's pretty tiring.
Thus, the total time for going to Mirador las Torres is about six hours.
Thanks that the weather is fine and cool, and the scene in front of the three peaks and a lagoon is pretty nice.
I suddently know why others prefer to watch the sunrise here, though it's impossible for me.
We spend aother four hours returning to the refugio.
I've never walked for such a long time before.
Because we missed the dinner time, I pay for the extra food in the bar.
So, if you're not sure whether you could return for dinner, remember not to order the dinner in advance.
The unknown food I ordered from the bar is big in portion with chips, cheese, hams, eggs, fuits and etc.
It's rich but I prefer the big-size Cola....Except for the breakfast in the hostel, I didn't eat a lot today.
The second day in Paine, we have the breakfast in the restaurant.
My schedule today is walking to Campsite Italiano which is the closest point to Mirador Frances.
Actually, there is a refugio Cuemos before Campsite Italiano, but I don't think it's a good ideal to go back to Cuemos for our big backpack after the tiring hiking from Mirador Frances. Thus, the mirador would be the goal of the third day, and then we will continue walking to Refugio Paine Grande.
You may find a world map in the bar/restaurant, the hikers from manu contries left their message here.
Of course, you could find the messages left by Taiwan tourists.
Besides, the information about the ferry from Paine Grande is important.
They only provide three trips per day and the fare is 12000 pesos.
Becuse most of the backpackers said the route from Refugio Torres to Campsite Itsliano is easy, I didn't evaluated this route carefully and we hike with our big backpack for the camping in the campsite.
Except for a small section that we walked yesterday, the route is different after the first information board.
The route is actually easier and you could find wold birds along the way. If you have a telescopic lens, you may get a nice photo.
The weather is also a sunny day.
However, the sunny day is not always good when you walk in the open field without trees and cloud.
It's pretty hot! The route is easy indeed but the distance is quite long (about 11 km).
Even I don't feel tired, I could not walk very quickly in such a hot day.
Other hikers walk through us and disappear in front of our eyes quickly. I think that is the difference between the beginner and the pro.
According to the information, the time for gong to Cuemos is about four hours, and it takes another 2.5 hours to Italiano.
The problem for us is that we're not good at hiking. The big sun, the heavy backpack and the ascent are all the factors we could not finish the route today as the information expected.
As we pass the bridge over the stream, it's already five hours after departing from Refugio Torres and I don't know when could we arrive at the Cuemos.
Three hours later, we finally reach the campsite Cuemos.
It's almost six o'clock in the evening and we spent eight hours to finish this hiking.
We see an information at the reception: the campsite Italiaso is closed.
It should be a bad news but becomes a good news for us (we don't need to hike to the next campsite).
In fact, I could not walk any more and we decide to camp here tonight.
Due to the strange reason, my teeth are quite painful.
I only eat the instant noodle and rest after the quick shower.
P.S Shan says that the pain is the result of lacking Vitamin C.
The third day in the morning, my breakfast is still the instant.
Actually, I could not eat any solid food with painful teeth.
After the bad experience yesterday, we decide to change the schedule today.
According to our speed, it's impossible for us to hike to Mirador Frances and go to Refugio Paine Grande.
The 5-hour round trip to Mirador Frances may becomes 8 to 10 hours at least, and the 2.5-hour hiking from Italiano to Paine Grande may becomes 4 hours.
If we insist to do so, the total trip would be more than 12 hours and we will miss our dinner time again.
So, we skip the mirador and choose to walk to the refugio directly. Dinning on time is our only goal today.
Compared with the route yesterday, the route today is much easier than the first two days.
I suudently think of a good plan for acomplishing the purpose of watching three miradors in an easy way.
You could see my plan at the last.
Maybe the wind is strong, we see rainbow over the lake many times.
Some parts of the route are in the forest. With the wind, I walk very comfortably.
Just as we expected, we spend four hours to arrvie at Campsite Italiano.
This campsite is closed for the construction.
We find some tents around here. Maybe camping here is still possible but you could not use the facilities.
Most of the hikers will leave their backpacks here and go for Mirador Frances.
As for us, unless we have one more day in Torres del Paine, it's imposible to go there.
The route from Italiano to Paine Grande is still easy.
After the first big lake "Lago Nordenskjol", you will find another dark-blue lake "Lago Skottberg".
The trees around here were burned last year.
Walking along the lake, even there are some ascents, it's easy for us. The windy weather is also the factor.
Besides, when I run out of my water, I always could find a creek for the fresh water.
I really thank this giving from the nature. Nothing is more treasurable than drinking water.
As we see the third lake "Lago Pehue" and pass the strong-windy area, the refugio is shown at the far side of the lake.
Finally, we arrive the refugio at about 4 p.m and the total time is eight hours. It's not a good record.
Refugio Paine Grande was originally named "Refugio y Camp Pehoe" on the map.
Except for the dormitory, there is also a big camp ground.
We feel great as we rest in the room and drink our own cola.
The scene outside the window is the beautiful lake.
Due to the strong wind, I see a rainbow over the lake. It only appears for a very short moment.
The dinner is quite nice, especially the spicy vegetable that helps me finishing the whole dinner.
I also look around the campsite. The facilities is nice with a kitchen where you could get free gas cans and use the free stoves.
However, the wind is too strong with sand. It seems to be terrible to camp here for a night.
Even you stay in the dormitory, remember not to open the window, or the sand and grass would be blew into the room.
Our last in Torres del Paine, we want to take the ferry at ten o'clock after the breakfast.
Maybe we could go back the lovely hostel for a nice rest.
However, the people for the ferry is so much that there is a long line as we go to the dock at 9:30.
It means that you have to stay in a line very early.
Thus, we could not get on the first ferry but take the expected ferry at the noon.
The ferry will go to the other side of the lake called Pudeto. There is a cafeteria where you could leave your backpack if you want to look around here.
The attractions here is a mirador and a waterfull. This route is pretty easy and only takes about two hours for the round trips.
About walking for 30 minutes, you will find the waterfull "Salto Grande" which means "Big Waterfull".
Amazingly, I see the rainbow over the waterfull. I've seen rainbow many times during these four days.
Continue walking, the forest is also burned last year.
The end of the route is the mirador where you see the lake and two mountains.
Though the scene is nice, it's not a perfect location for photographing.
I think that the location after the waterfull would be better if you want to catch two mountains in the scene.
After the easy walking, I still want to find the wild Guanaco.
However, the staff tell us that there is few Guanaco around here.
The information on the guide map is only a reference.
Therefore, we rest in the cafeteria waiting for the return shuttle.
On the way returning to Puerto Natales, I look for Guanacos through the window.
In fact, the hill near the entrance is the best place for watching Guanacos, but the window could not be opened so the photos are not very nice (on my flickr).
About ten o'clock, we arrive at Puerto Natales.
After returning the equipments, we come back to the lovely hostel in the late night.
I re-arrange my luggages and cook the curry-falvored noodle soup as my dinner.
I just realized that why some tourists will fall in a deep sleep as we came here at the first day.
If you hiked for many days in Torres del Paine, you will feel that the bed of the hostel is your heaven.
At last, I orgnize the stuffs you may need while hiking in Torres del Paine:
1. A big backpack with the raincoat.
2. Sleepbag, tent, MAT, gas stove, gas can and other dining facilities (unless you decide to stay at the refugios)
3. hiking stick (one at least)
4. A wind-proof and rain-proof coat and pants.
5. Clothes and underwears.
6. Mountain shoes (water-proof)
7. Sunglasses, sun cream and a hat.
8. A kettle or a bottle
9. Food and vitamin C.
10. Toiletry, watch, camera and lens, and other things you need.
As for the easy way to visit three miradors, my plan is:
Day 1: Departing from Puerto Natales to Refugio Torres, and then hike to Mirador las Torres with the small backpack. You could also stay here one day more and hike to the mirador in the next morning.
Day 2: Take the shuttle to Pudeto and take the ferry to Refugio Paine Grande.
Day 3: Hike to Mirador Grey with the small backpack, and stay at Refugio (or Refugio Grey for an extra day).
Day 4: Hike to campsite Italiano with the big backpack. Camp here.
Day 5: Hike to Mirador Frances with the small backpack, and then camp at campsite Italiano.
Day 6: Return to Refugio Paine Grande. If you depart early, you may catch the ferry to Pudeto, and then take the bus back to Puerto Natales. If you also want to look around Pudeto, you could stay at Paine Grande and take the ferry in the next day just as we did.