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Patagonia, Chile: Torres del Paine

Trekking the W in Chile

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Featured in most guide books of South America, the trekking in the Patagonian national park of Torres del Paine is known to be one of the most spectacular hikes in the world. With the option of doing a full 8 day circuit, or a 4 day hike in a "W" shape around the front of the mountain range, there were hikers and trekkers of all sorts enjoying the scenery. We chose just to do the W, taking 3 nights and 4 days from west to east, and were blessed with 4 days of perfect weather for the trip.

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Having heard it was a challenging hike, we prepared ourselves mentally for the worst, but after having completed the gruelling Frey to Jakob trek in Bariloche, it was surprisingly easy. There was amazing scenery throughout all the walks, and of course a few standout lookout points. The first was the panoramic view of the Glacier Grey, just a short uphill walk from the catamaran drop-off point.

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Of course the most breathtaking sight of all was reaching the Torres on the last morning to watch the sunrise. After a steep climb in the dark for an hour, we finally saw the peaks, just in time to catch the orange and pink skies on one side, and the luminescent glow of the Torres on the other. That combined with a cup of hot tea and chocolate biscuits we had been saving the whole trip, made it a damn near perfect morning.

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As every trip has its ups and downs, this one was no different. For us the minuses included seeing parts of the park that had recently been burned down by a careless hiker who stupidly tried to burn his toilet paper, leading to numerous signs around the trail advising trekkers to NOT burn toilet paper. Ridiculous when you think about it. This, along with an unwelcome mouse in our tent at one of the campsites, and the temperature drop at night, just about sums up our negative points for the trip. Oh, and we also missed our bus on the last day, leading to a 3 hour additional wait at the park entrance, although we did manage to see a herd of guanacos and a hungry looking fox during the wait, so it was not a total loss.

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If you're planning your trip here, here are a couple of tips:
- Bringing a stove for a cup of tea for the sunrise is a grand idea
- A walking stick or trekking pole is a godsend
- Don't burn the toilet paper
- And after 4-8 days on the trail, do NOT sit downwind from hikers that take their shoes off.

Posted by jessho 18:31 Archived in Chile

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