Most people go to Patagonia for one thing: Torres del Paine. The chilean national park, named after its three most famous peaks, is often recognised as one of the most beautiful natural places in the world… And rightly so, too.
It was created as a national park in 1959, but originally only around the area of Lake Grey. It was renamed Torres del Paine National Park two years later, but was then much smaller than its current almost 230,000 sq km – overtime, more and more land was added into the national park to protect it from the damage that livestock farming (what it was used to until then) was doing to its ecosystem.
Nowadays, it’s a very popular destination for hikers from the world over.
The main trekking route in Torres is called the W Walk, for the trail’s shape that hits all the main spots: Lake Grey, the French Valley, Los Cuernos, and the park’s jewels… the three towers.
It’s a five-day trek, but I chose to only walk two of them – we started from the Las Torres campsite, and after having seen the towers on the first day, I couldn’t imagine anything would top them. The hike itself was not too difficult. After the volcano climb and the hike to Fitz Roy, everything felt easy and possible. It’s well indicated, with quite a lot of covered forest areas that allow for rest from the elements (get ready for some rain), and a lot of sources to stock up on drinking water on the way. And it’s frankly never too steep; the main difficulty is getting over some bigger boulders at the end as they’re sneaky on the ankle.
For the rest, it’s all typically Patagonian. Blues, greens and whites; strong winds and gushing water rumbling down mountains. I’ve got to the point with writing about Patagonia where I’m lost for words that feel exact and at the same time new – reading through my previous posts, I’ve said all there is to say about the colours, elements and beauty of Patagonia. But unlike the repetition in my words, the landscapes of Patagonia never seem less than wild and exciting and novel. There is no getting tired of your thighs aching as you struggle up a narrow trail to get to the viewpoint at the top of a hill. There is no getting over the sound of streams through the forest on a muddy national-park walk. There is no stopping that giggly yet worried feeling as you lie in your tent at night, wondering if the deafening wind is going to blow it off. It’s a constantly overwhelming land, in both the best and worst ways.
But mostly the best.
I hope you enjoyed these small accounts of my time in Patagonia as much as I enjoyed discovering the region. In the next post… we’re headed north!