Chile Tour Patagonia is amazing at planning and they took care of everything. They had thought of all the details. We didn’t have anything planned until 10 am since we went on a LONG, strenuous hike yesterday. They knew we’d probably want to sleep in a little. Surprisingly, we woke up feeling fine but I’m glad I didn’t have to wake up too early. We weren’t sore after hiking for 10 hours in the snow to base of the towers.
We woke up at 8 am and it was still snowing a lot. At least we didn’t have a long hike scheduled for today. We had breakfast at Hotel Lago Grey which was unimpressive but the view outside the window is spectacular. Hotel Lago Grey is one of the few places inside Torres Del Paine (TDP) park that’s open in winter.
At 10 am we checked in with the hotel staff for the Grey Glacier Boat tour. We took a short shuttle from the hotel, then hiked a little over 2 miles to the boat. The weather was cloudy with light snow. The hike goes though a small and narrow bridge with maximum capacity of 6 people at a time. We hiked through a forest and then on to a frozen lake.
The hike reminded me of Game of Thrones. It felt like we were exploring Winterfell. The hike was easy and fun. Here are more pictures of the hike. The staff gave us a pisco sour once we were on the boat. About 5 minutes into the boat ride, the captain announced it’s safe to go on deck as long as we have a life jacket on.
The weather was still a little overcast and cloudy so we stayed inside for a few more minutes. Soon, the weather was less cloudy. The sun was still not fully out but it was definitely starting to clear up. From the deck, we saw snow covered mountains on all sides and soon small pieces of glacier were visible. This is called Glacier Grave because these pieces melt as they move down stream.
Finally, the weather was starting to clear up. Clouds were going away and the sun was coming out. The staff on the boat is extremely helpful. If they saw you taking selfies they offered to help, answered questions, and were just walking around making sure everyone was enjoying the tour. Soon, we noticed the weather had changed completely. It was sunny with very few clouds in the sky. The weather changes are sudden in Patagonia.
Before we got to the Grey Glacier, the boat made a quick stop to let off 6 people who were going on a 5 day long W trek in winter. Now that’s hard core hiking. They were going to sleep outside at night and hike during the daytime. As we approached the glaciers, the weather got sunnier which is great. Glaciers look amazing in sunshine. The blue looks bright and we can see more details.
Grey Glaier is part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field and it’s 6 km wide. In November 2017, a huge iceberg broke off. It was 1,000 feet long by 1,000 feet wide. The staff told us the more blue the glacier looks, the older it is. I’m not sure if that’s true but it did make the conversation fun. Luckily, Gaurav had his bird watching binoculars. It’s amazing to see the details of the glacier through binoculars! We saw a few small rocks stuck inside the glacier and wondered how old they were.
We chatted with a few other tourists on the boat. We met a Canadian couple who had done the base tower hike the day before. They showed us a picture at the base of the tower and it showed a very faint outline of the towers. Another couple we talked to was from North Carolina and their daughter was one of the people who got off the boat to go on a 5 day W trek.
They also did the base of the towers hike the day before. They were in a group of 12 and their guide suggested turning around. The group took a vote and decided to not listen to the guide’s advice. They continued hiking in bad weather. The guide agreed to take them but everyone had to hurry. They made it to the top but couldn’t see anything.
On the return hike, the weather was so bad the guide told them to hurry but be careful. If they fall, he can’t help them. To me that translated to: you fall, you die. After hearing these stories, I was more convinced that turning around was the right decision. I was also happy I signed up for private guide so I wasn’t forced to continue on a hike if I didn’t feel safe.
Anyways, back to the glaciers. We started to see bigger and bigger pieces of broken off glacier floating in the water. By the time we reached the glacier, weather was perfect. We also saw the highest peak in Torres Del Paine Park which is 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) high. The boat gets really close to some of these pieces. We could see all the air bubbles trapped inside the pieces.
The weather gods were making up for yesterday’s storm. The sun made the glaciers look even more blue and vibrant. Pictures don’t do it justice. Patagonia is one of the most beautiful places on earth. The boat stays at the glacier for a while and we stared at it in awe. But eventually, the boat did turn around and we headed back. We hiked back the 2.2 miles to the shuttle which took us back to Hotel Lago Grey.
As soon as we walked in the hotel we saw Rodrigo, our driver, waiting for us patiently. We had a wonderful lunch with a great view especially now that the weather was clearing up. The view from the dining room of the Hotel Lago Grey was fantastic. Whenever we saw calafate on the menu, we had to order it. The calafate creme brulee and the chocolate lava cake with calafate berries were both delicious.
After lunch Rodrigo drove us to Hosteria Pehoe. This is one of the most magical hotels we’ve stayed at and I was so happy Chile Tour Patagonia had us staying here for the rest of our time in TDP. The hotel is on a small island connected by a narrow, 200 feet long walking bridge with a maximum capacity of 6 people at a time. After checking in, we could have gone on a short 40 minute hike where we can see condors.
The view from the lobby of Hosteria Pehoe was so magnificent that we just wanted to enjoy the view while drinking a few calafate sours. Also, we were a little tired from the long Base of the Towers hike the day before. There is a look out point on top of a small hill on the island so we watched sunset there. We talked to a few other guests in the lobby and had a relaxing evening.
We met a photographer who grew up in India and specializes in cold weather photography. He was sent to Patagonia by Nikon to take pictures of Puma. He shared some amazing stories of his travels. We met another family who hiked to the Condor lookout point and only saw one condor. However, she did see an avalanche take place in the distance from the lookout point.
Since the region is so remote, WiFi is only available in the hotel lobby. Enjoying a few calafate sous while chatting with other guests was just what we needed. It’s also has the best view in the park so we had no problems just relaxing in the lobby for the rest of the evening. I mean, how can we walk away from this view! This is by far one of the best sunsets I’ve ever experienced.
We had dinner at Hosteria Pehoe and called it a night. We had a few short hikes planned for the next day. Once again, Chile Tour Patagonia did an excellent job planning our day. For more pictures of Grey Glacier, click here.
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