Miss Anna J On Tour 2006 - 2007 travel blog

Not a bad view from the dining table - the infamous Towers!

Pisco Sour on the rocks at Glacier Grey

The amazingly blue for its name, Glacier Grey

The lunchtime view over Laguna Verde

Eventually those pesky Towers come out to play

We spent the night in Punta Arenas, although this did allow time for a visit to a particularly good seafood restaurant and a bar recommended by Lonely Planet which it said was where all the Antarctic explorers headed to discuss their expeditions. It was conspiciously lacking in Antarctic explorers, or indeed customers when we popped in, so obviously there are going to be no major discoveries in Antarctica in the near future, or at least not those from expeditions that have been planned on the back of a fag packet in the bar in Punta Arenas.

The next morning it was back onto the bus and up to Puerto Natales which is an interesting and amazingly situated little town and the gateway for those wishing to trek in the spectacular Torres Del Paine national park. We stopped there for long enough to have some lunch (at a cafe owned by a Brit where there had been Lonely Planet started rumours of baked bean sandwiches. There was no such thing but there was some very nice carrot and corriander soup which almost made up for the baked bean drought) and to buy some packed lunch type provisions for the couple of days of trekking which lay ahead. From then it was onto the park, stopping only briefly at this massive cave where allegedly they had found the remains of this, as far as I could see, made up animal. Throughout the journey the scenery was just spectacular and the kind of thing that can just never be captured on camera, not that I didn't have a very good attempt of course! As we entered the park we saw more of the guanacos and rheas that we had seen over on the Valdes Peninsula and kept our fingers crossed that the weather would be good enough for us to see the "Towers" after which the park is named. It is very possible to come to Patagonia and never see some of the phenomena that you have travelled so far to see due to the weather. I was really hoping that we were going to be lucky!

We arrived at the first viewing point for the Towers to discover that on that occasion at least we were not going to be lucky. Where there should have been granite towers all there was was cloud, but in some ways it didn't seem to matter so much as the scenery had been so amazing all day that seeing the Towers would just have been the icing on the cake. Plus we still had a couple of days in the park and I wasn`t going to give up that easily!

We eventually arrived at our accommodation which were fantastic little cabins on the edge of a lake, over which, if the weather was right you could see the Towers (I am not becoming Towers obsessed by the way, just in case you were wondering). By the time we arrived that evening, the clouds had lifted somewhat and we had our first dinner in Torres Del Paine enjoying the spectacular view of the Towers as they swirled in and out of view.

The next day we had a boat trip booked to go out to Glacier Grey. It soon became clear that we were going to need all the warm weather clothing that we had packed as the sleet and snow started. We looked like we were going to mount a small antarctic expedition as we made our way out onto the boat, but our precautions were for the best as the combination of the wind chill caused by the movement of the boat and the occasional sleet showers made for a pretty chilly experience! Glacier Grey is a slow moving glacier and so it is possible for the boat to get pretty close without fear of bits falling off the front of the glacier. When we arrived at the glacier face the crew made us Pisco Sours, served on glacier ice of course! The face of the glacier is split by a large island of rock and as we sailed by the boat took us in closer to spot a condor which was perched on the rock. This was to be the first of many of these amazing birds that we were to see whilst in the area.

The glacier was pretty fantastic and an amazing blue colour. It belongs to the Patagonian ice field which is the third largest expanse of ice in the world after the Arctic and Antarctic. The sedement from the glacier also makes the lake an amazing colour and also almost devoid of life as there are no fish that can survive in the high sedement content water. After the boat ride we pic -niced in the lounge of a kindly hotel which let us eat our lunch out of the blizzard and in a truly British way we then embarked on our afternoon walk. In fairness as the weather changes so quickly in Patagonia when we set off there was even a bit of sunshine, but we were soon back to the near blizzard conditions! The scenery was still amazing, it just wasn't quite as easy to appreciate as it might have been due to the weather. The Towers also were staying determinedly hidden!

The next day was due to be the big walk up to the Towers' viewpoint which not all the group were due to do as zimmer frames were not allowed (only joking)! It is apparently a reasonably difficult walk as it is steep towards the end, but it is supposed to give amazing views of the Towers if the weather is good. Sadly the guide would not let us go as the snow line was too low so instead the intrepid few that had hoped to do the viewpoint walk embarked on a less challenging but nonetheless amazing leg stretch to Laguna Verde, a walk of about 6 hours. Again the weather was really changeable and although it wasn't really wet, it was incredibly windy. Again the mountains swirled in and out of view meaning that you had to take hundreds of photos as each view was potentially better than the last and also the last view that you might get! Much excitement was caused when our Tour Leader, Steph, spotted what could only be a Puma paw print. We proceded with much caution after that! We had lunch in a wood overlooking Laguna Verde and then retraced our steps to join up with the rest of the group. The sun was just beginning to come out and the views were opening up. It looked like we might get the odd good photo before we left!

The next day it was time to leave the park and as is the way with these things, it was probably the best weather that we had had since we had been there. So we drove back out of the park surrounded by the amazing views, stopping for photo opportunities frequently as we left this fantastic park to cross the border back into Argentina to head north to the remote little town of El Calafate.

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