“W” Hike – Torres del Paine – Day 1

Hotel Las Torres – Refugio el Chileno – Mirador Base Las Torres – Refugio el Chileno – 13.5 km

The logistics to get to Los Torres del Paine is complex. First we had to take a 7 am bus for 2.5 hrs to get to the national park entry about 112 km away from Puerto Natales and after a short introduction by the national park staff, we changed to a shuttle bus heading for the trailhead.

The heavy clouds made me concerned, but I was nevertheless excited to start this hike. Immediately after the bus left the town, the expansive Patagonian steppe continued miles after miles, zigzagging the hills and passing hundreds of wild guanacos (llama-like animals) gazing on the hills.

Finally, the bus dropped a full load of hikers with their heavy backpacks at the trailhead.

After 15 min. of walk, the luxurious Hotel des Torres appeared and Philippe wanted to make a short stop for what he thought to be the last acceptable espresso for a week (which proved to be true).

Now fuelled by espresso and hot chocolate, we shouldered our heavy backpacks and started our hike.

Our first destination was the Refugio Chileno where we would stay for a night. There we dropped our backpack and headed for the Torres del Paine viewpoint.

There were a lot of hikers on the trail, including a group of teenagers for a school outing. The trail was uphill and narrow, traversing the gravel, sometimes slippery, mountain slope.

After arriving at the refugio earlier than expected, we made a short lunch stop at the terrace before heading for the mirador (viewpoint), with a light day bag only. It was quite steep up for one hour. In the meantime, the sky opened up, and the weather turned out to be fantastic.

The last climb through gravels and rocks suddenly gives way to the white-green glacier lake and soaring granite pillars of Paine (2’850 m)! Stunning!

Even though we had to share this view with hundreds of people and some men who proved their heroic maleness by jumping into the glacier lake, we admired the view…

%d bloggers like this: