Torres del Paine – Chile
After reading dozens of blogs comparing backcountry excursions in El Chalten to Torres del Paine, each stunning and full of adventure, we knew we HAD to experience both. Due to the weather in Chalten being less than ideal, we cut the trip short and headed back to Calafate and straight into a day trip to Torres del Paine, Chile, through Patagonia Extrema South Road Excursions. The thing I find so incredible about the Patagonia region is it’s sheer size; creating a natural barrier dividing Argentina and Chile, both countries able to pride themselves on this beautiful landscape.
This marked our third day excursion to another country since beginning this trip just over a month ago: 1). Foz de Iguazu, Argentina; 2). Colonia, Uruguay; 3). Torres del Paine, Chile.
The day began with a 7am pick-up in a 4×4 off-road vehicle from El Calafate, which we bumped around in for 2.5 hours to the Chilean border. From their we made several stops overlooking the mountains and popular lakes in the region, complete with wild Guanacos (aka llamas) and a rainbow while crossing the border into Chile!
We stopped for lunch to take in the view of waterfalls, and a hidden glimpse of The Towers. The Weather Gods decided to smile on us for a moment and opened up enough of the sky to show us a quick glimpse of their massive size. Truly Incredible.
After lunch, we had another gorgeous stop overlooking a crystal blue lake with direct access to Cuernos del Paine from the Sarmiento de Gamboa Lake. The hotel on the island is the only five star hotel in Patagonia; duly noted — Next time!!
For me, the most memorable experience was at the superior viewpoint which overlooked a crystal blue lake, with Cuernos del Paine towering in the background. Our guide warned us of the winds — On average they reach 100-170 mph — And this specific area of the National Park is known for it’s hurricane-force winds. As soon as I stepped off the bus, I was literally blown sideways. It was like a comedy show watching everyone attempt to take pictures or even walk. But again, what a fun/funny experience!
The explanation for these winds is due to the weather pattern from the Atlantic and Pacific colliding and creating wind and weather conditions like nowhere else in the world. “Extreme” is an understatement — See below: I wish I were acting.
Unfortunately, because of these winds, the Forest Rangers closed the hiking trails, so instead of our 1.5 hour scheduled hike, our only physical excursion option was to walk a few meters to the Salto Grande viewpoint to see the waterfall. Still breathtaking in it’s color, but we’re learning to roll with the punches when it comes to weather here in the southern region. Best of all, we were able to catch a breathtaking view of Cuernos del Paine by just continuing a few meters from the waterfall.
And lastly, Torres del Paine!
Overall, I’m extremely glad we were able to see all of the sights we did. Despite, the weather conditions, we made the most of our time and I can’t wait to explore more of this incredibly breathtaking scenery again someday.
Bucket List Complete:
- Saw Torres del Paine (highest peak in Chilean Patagonia)
- Drank Patagonia beer in Patagonia (wearing Patagonia!)
- Hike the W trail
- Stunning views of the most iconic mountains in Patagonia
- Easy day trip access from El Calafate
- RAINBOWS EVERYWHERE!
- Wild Guanaco (llama)
- Weather is EXTREMELY fickle – Leave yourself extra time to explore this area in case the weather gods rain on your parade.