Honeymoon Part 2 – Torres Del Paine Circuit

Good morning from another bus!

We left off with our bus ride to Puerto Natales. Puerto Natales is basically the gateway town to Torres del Paine National Park. It’s filled with backpackers and travelers.

It was Friday and we decided to start our trek Sunday so we’d have all day Saturday to prepare and rest. We wandered the town with our backpacks and suitcase in search of a hostel. We ended up staying at Hostel Geminis for two nights and it worked out great.

Friday we converted US dollars to Chilean Pesos and ate an amazing dinner at a little cafe that I need to look up the name later. We had ceviche, salmon, ravioli filled with salmon and a berry cake dessert. It was all delicious. While we were there a photographer was taking photos of the salmon for a magazine and they used the exact salmon we ate for one of the pictures! We need to find that magazine, we’re basically famous! Patagonia is known for its Salmon and Lamb.

After dinner we went to a local beer brewery and restaurant. I think it’s the only beer brewed in Puerto Natales. They had 2 options. A pale and an amber. We had tasters of them both and we both ended up drinking the amber.

Saturday we listened to a talk at Erratic Rock hostel about trekking in Torres del Paine. There are two trek options, the W-trek which has 3 out and back sections forming a W shape or the full circuit which includes the W but also wraps around the back side which they call an O. Initially we planned to do the W-trek for time purposes but they talked us into the whole thing.

The rest of Saturday was spent buying food and necessary supplies for the trip. It was tough preparing backpacking food in another country. We opted for lots of ramen for dinners, found salami and crackers for lunches, oatmeal and cereal for breakfast, and trail mix, cereal bars and peanut butter and dulce de leche (a thing in Patagonia) on pitas for snacks. We really missed Matt’s beef jerky!

As for supplies we forgot a good amount. Water bladders, duct tape, Todd’s chacos, etc. etc. We didn’t end up needing bladders because there was so much water on the trail. We didn’t have to carry any or a filter as you could drink straight from the streams which was amazing!

Saturday dinner and pre- trek carbo loading was pizza and beer! Much better pizza this time!

Sunday we took the 3 hour bus ride to the park and then the Catamaran boat ride to the start of our trek!

The next 6 days and 5 nights we were immersed in the Torres del Paine National Park soaking up all it had to offer. The sun came out at around 5:30 am and went down around 10:30 every night. We had lots of time for walking in the daylight. Because we opted to do the full circuit, we had to kick it in overdrive to get done in time. Typically they say to do the circuit in 8 or 9 days, we ended up with 6.

If you google ‘best treks’ in the world, Torres del Paine will come up. This meant, it was popular and crowded, especially in the W portion. The trail had options for sleeping in huts and eating meals at the huts or traditional camping cooking for yourself but you had to stay and pay for the campsites they had. Everything on the trail was expensive for the most part. Campsites were like $15 per person per night. If you stayed in the huts I think it was $50 per person or something close to that.

Being at the Southern tip of Chile, the weather was crazy! I have never experienced wind like we did in that park! The weather changes very quickly. It will rain every day but not very hard or for very long. We did come across one storm. During that storm we walked for hours in the rain with 50mph winds. I was knocked down at one point by a gust! We made it to camp soaking wet! But for the most part we lucked out with weather!

The trails were pretty well maintained for the most part and very easy to follow. You really didn’t need a map at all. We did come across mud, water crossings, rocky terrain and some dicey ladders and bridges which made it interesting. We have lots of pictures I will share when we get back and can upload them from the camera! We had one pass to navigate. The top was at 1200 meters. The one thing I think they could add to these trails was switchbacks! There were plenty of steep sections.

The scenery was unreal. We walked through fields of daisies, forests with moss covered trees, alongside glaciers and lakes and up and down mountains. It was nothing short of beautiful! My favorite views were the Torres at one of the W legs and then the view at the top of the pass looking out at Glacier Grey.

After 6 days of around 9 hrs of hiking, we were exhausted and my feet had seen better days.

Christmas Day was spent hiking the Gardner Pass, enjoying amazing views of the glacier and eating ramen and chatting with new friends. It was weird not to be with family. We missed you all and wish you were with us but we do know there will be many more holidays to come!

From now till the 31st, we will be in El Calafate and El Chalten. We will explore Glaciar National Park and Mt. Fitz Roy and do some trekking on the Perito Moreno glacier. Hiking will be minimal until these blisters heal! We splurged a little on a couple hotels as we are ready for a comfy bed and some honeymoon luxury!

Last night we both had massages and ate at La Zaina in El Calafate. We had some amazing braised lamb and a salmon salad capping the night with an ice cream cone that hit the spot.

Now we are off to El Chalten.

Hope all is well at home!

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Honeymoon Part 1

Hello from a bus in Chile!

We are almost done with a bus ride from El Calafate Argentina to Puerto Natales Chile. At the moment we are waiting our turn at the Chile border.

Let’s start from the beginning. Tuesday we flew from Pittsburgh to Miami and then to Buenos Aires. It was uneventful as it should be. We landed in BA at around 9am. We are a couple hours ahead of Pittsburgh now. From the airport we found a bus to take us downtown and then a taxi to our hotel. We got there around 1pm I think.

We checked into Five hotel which was a small boutique hotel in the Palermo Viejo neighborhood. The guy at the front desk was very friendly and spoke English which we’ve learned many do. We also learned he worked at Cache Creek casino and lived in Woodland, CA for awhile. If you don’t know, that’s very close to Davis. Small world..

After checking in, showering and changing into shorts and a t-shirt, we headed out to exchange $$ and find lunch.

Argentina is interesting for exchanging US dollars. This is how I understand it.. Argentina has fixed the official exchange rate to about 8.5 pesos to 1 US dollar. Due to the fixing of the rate, their exists a Blue Market where you can get closer to 13 to 1. Dollars are very desirable and there isn’t a way to get them hence why this Blue Market exists. The only problem is it’s technically illegal so it’s best if you know someone. Without knowing someone the other option is Florida St which is a bustling downtown street with lots of people and shops. There are guys all over the place yelling ‘Cambio Cambio’. That means they want your US dollars. This would be where one would partake in this kind of activity. But it’s illegal.. So do at your own risk.

We found a restaurant for lunch that took our US dollars at a 12 to 1 exchange rate which was nice! A pretty good steak lunch to start our trip.

We also had to buy outlet converters as we forgot about that before coming.

Dinner that night was at La Cabrera, a very highly rated steakhouse. We were seated around midnight and the place was packed. I had a Filet that was amazing, Todd had the Rib Eye and we split a bottle of Malbec from Mendoza that our server recommended. It was very good as well. The portions here are huge! We are starting to learn that.

Thursday we woke up bright and early to catch our flight to El Calafate.

Once in El Calafate we took a bus to our hotel El Quijote. The hotel was very nice looking but it was empty, Todd says it gave off a Overlook Hotel from the Shining kind of vibe.

Once we settled we ate lunch at a restaurant nearby called Isabel Disco or something like that. Once again huge portions but delicious! Todd ordered a lamb dish that had a wine broth and some veggies and mushrooms with French fries on top. I ordered a steak that came with fries and sunny side up eggs on top of the fries. This steak was much more fatty.. I may stick with the fillets from now on. :). We really should’ve split Todd’s dish. It would’ve been plenty!

After that meal we napped for a couple of hours.. Apparently we were tired. The rest of the evening we did research as to what was next. Our late dinner consisted of pizza and beer. We ordered the German sausage pizza that I wish I took a picture of. It was cheese, lettuce, hot dog and whole olives with pits. Interesting, and the beer was just ok.

After dinner we walked back to the hotel as we had an early bus ride today. The bus left at 8:30am and it’s now 3:30pm.. Hopefully we are almost to Puerto Natales! :). We stopped twice where everyone had to get off the bus. Once to exit Argentina and then again to enter Chile and check our bags.

Alright, I’m seeing a town! Hope all is well back home. 🙂

Puerto Natales and Torres del Paine up next!

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