Torres Del Paine National Park
- December 22, 2018
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Important note about my frequent travel: these are my experiences and observations I share eagerly and enthusiastically. I receive no compensation in cash/kind/discounts, etc. of any kind from any business/locations I’ve visited. None of the businesses paid for my travel expenses or offered any free services.
This was our third and last full day at Torres Del Paine National Park. We’re doing a car tour of the entire park with a few short hikes. Today will be relatively relaxing and I’m hoping to spot a puma. Andres and Javier, our driver for the day, picked us up from Hosteria Pehoe around 9:30 am. The morning was cloudy and overcast again but at least it wasn’t snowing. The first short hike was Salto Chico which is near the super fancy Hotel Explora.
Hotel Explora is closed during winter but it didn’t look very impressive. In fact, it looked almost like a factory from the outside. This is one of the most expensive hotels in TDP. Since it was closed we were able to walk around the grounds. They have a private dock so we walked around there. From there we could see the little island where our magical Hosteria Pehoe was. The view from the dock was very similar to the view from our hotel. This whole walk took about half an hour.
Next, we went to Salto Grande. After a short walk, we came to a big waterfall. The 360 degree view at the waterfall was beautiful. The color of the water was so unique. Whenever I saw pictures I always thought they were edited but once I saw it in person, I was amazed. All the minerals and sediments at the bottom and in the water gives it that very blue/green color. We continued our walk along the wooden path.
From Salto Grande, we continued to Mirador Los Cuernos trail. It’s about an hour long, easy trail with breathtaking views along the way. The sun was starting to come out and the reflection of the mountains on the lake was like looking at a mirror. We stopped for a few minutes just to admire the beautiful view and we heard the sound of thunder far away. It didn’t make sense since the sun was coming out and the weather was getting nicer.
Andres told us that was actually the sound of an avalanche. We waited a few minutes and heard another thunder like sound so we immediately scanned the mountains in front of us and sure enough, we saw the avalanche! We actually saw an avalanche in action on Paine Grande, the tallest peak. How insane is that!! Throughout the hike we saw 3 avalanches in action and heard a few more that occurred on the other side of the mountain.
We eventually made it to one of the best views in the park. Mirador Los Cuernos is absolutely gorgeous. Below us was a serene lake Nordenskjold and huge mountains across. While we looked at the view in front of us, Andres made Mate tea. It’s a traditional South American drink that’s rich in caffeine. Andres shared the tea with us since we’ve never even heard of it before. It had a very intense, grassy flavor and it certainly energized us both.
After a nice long break it was time for us to head back. There’s still a lot more of the park that we needed to see. On the return hike we saw dozens of guanacos. They were so close to the trail. In fact, we saw hundreds of guanacos almost every day at TDP but they were never as close. The hike back to the car took a lot less time because we didn’t take as many breaks. It was also close to lunch time and I was starting to get hungry.
Javier drove us to Pehoe Camping ground which is closed during winter so there were plenty of empty picnic tables. Chile Tour Patagonia had arranged a romantic and picturesque lunch for us. We had sandwiches, cake, breakfast bars, Snickers chocolate, and juice in champagne glasses since this was our 10th wedding anniversary trip. Chile Tours Patagonia had given us so much food that we still had a few bars left from our first day.
After lunch Javier drove us to a lookout point to see the famous towers but the view was obstructed by clouds. This was our third day in the park and whenever we’ve been in position to see the legendary towers, the view was always blocked. We continued our drive to Cascade Del Paine. These are waterfalls formed by the Southern Patagonia ice field. Technically the cascade is outside the national park so make sure to take the entrance ticket with you.
We walked around the cascade waterfall for a while and saw more fresh puma tracks but no pumas. After about 10 minutes we started driving back towards the hotel. On the way back we saw a few condors flying around. Once we got back to Hosteria Pehoe we had a few more calafate sours, chatted with the guests and relaxed. Overall, today was comparatively relaxing. We got to see all that TDP has to offer and it exceeded everything I’d imagined.
Hotel Pehoe was the first hotel built in the park so the building is almost 60 years old. The rooms aren’t as well heated as Hotel Lago Grey, the bathroom floor was also very cold so we put towels all over the floor. But, you just can’t beat the view. Hotel Lago Grey had great views but it doesn’t compare to the views at Hosteria Pehoe. I’ve never stayed at a hotel so beautiful and magical.
This was also the first time I signed up with a tour company and I couldn’t be happier. Chile Tour Patagonia was instrumental in making this one of the most memorable trips of my life. Of all the places I’ve visited in my life, Patagonia is one of my favorites. I would love to visit again and spend a few more days at Hosteria Pehoe just enjoying the view.