Patagonia in Pictures: Torres del Paine

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Since arriving in Torres del Paine the previous day, cloud and rain had left much of the landscape to my imagination. But the clouds were beginning to clear and a highlight of the Patagonian landscape that had previously been obscured was about to be spectacularly revealed.

The weather conditions in Torres del Paine National park are notoriously changeable.   And whilst it’s not uncommon to experience a multitude of weather patterns in one day, my first twenty-four hours in the park were restricted to one – heavy rain.

So when the rain stopped and the cloud began to clear, I raced out for my first view of the granite pillars that form the centrepiece of the national park. After all, I didn’t know when the weather would change again – it could be my first and last view.

It didn’t disappoint.

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One of the most recognisable peaks of Patagonia dominated the scene in front of me, soaring more than 2,000 metres into the sky. The setting sun cast a stunning reflection in the small lake in the foreground. And the sound of rain that I’d become accustomed to had been replaced by a silence interrupted only by birdsong.

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Torres del Paine is one of Patagonia’s – and Chile’s – most beautiful national parks. Tourists arrive from all over the world, hoping to enjoy panoramic views of its famous peaks. Hikers are attracted to a number of options, from daily walks to the popular four-to-five day W trek. And active lovers of the great outdoors can choose to explore the area through kayaking, horseback riding, ice trekking and rock climbing.

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But you don’t need to raise a sweat to enjoy the best the park has to offer. My reason for visiting the park was photography. And the flexibility of my own vehicle and my own company gave me the opportunity to explore a landscape rich in photographic opportunities.

And it didn’t take my long to discover there was more to Torres del Paine than the peaks that rose high above it.

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My Trip Logistics:

Accomodation:

I stayed in the park for 5 nights in January 2015.

  • 3 nights in Hotel Las Torres Patagonia.

PROS: This hotel is in a great location within the park, with stunning views and comfortable rooms.   It has all the amenities required for a comfortable stay including a bar and restaurant, souvenir shop, kiosk stocking snacks and cold drinks and a spa.

CONS: The reasons above also mean, in my experience, it wasn’t the place to stay to soak up the solitude and silence of the vast national park. It’s a hub for hikers, a starting point for many day tours and as such was constantly crowded with people in the foyer, bar and restaurant.

TIP:   Book ahead in the busy (summer) season and re-confirm your booking before you arrive. My booking (though confirmed through Expedia) wasn’t in their system…

  • 2 nights in Hosteria Pehoe

PROS: Situated on Lake Pehoe, this hotel is accessed via a short bridge from the car park, providing spectacular views of both the lake and the peaks. A short path outside the main rooms can be climbed for 360-degree views of the area, great for both sunrise and sunset. It has very friendly and helpful staff and its isolated location gave me the solitude and silence I was craving.

CONS: It has a restaurant but it only has a small menu for lunch and dinner, so options are limited.  The rooms are also relatively basic and a little dated.

TIP: Buy some snacks from a supermarket before you enter the park.

Transport:

I crossed the border from Argentina on a bus from El Calafate to Puerto Natales. After one night in Puerto Natales, I hired a car for the 2-3 hour drive into the park.

TIP: There are no petrol stations inside the park. Hotel Las Torres Patagonia will sell a small amount in emergencies, but don’t count on this as an option. If you are staying in the park longer than a couple of days, it’s useful to carry a jerry can with extra petrel to avoid the drive back to Puerto Natales to fill up.

 

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Kellie is a traveller and photographer who is most at home when exploring the world beyond it. Through the intersection of her travel, writing and photography passions, she shares her experiences to inspire others to create there own. The desire to live life instead of existing through it has introduced Kellie to inspirational locations throughout seven continents and from this a passion for landscape and wildlife photography has evolved. She feels a particular connection to the polar regions and Africa. You can see more of her photography at www.kellienetherwoodphotography.com

Comments

  1. Allan Seabrook says:

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! Your photography is stunning, Kellie!

  2. Hi Kellie,

    Just loving your posts as usual. Stunning photos once again. Brings back great memories of my December 2014 visit to Torres del Paine. We were lucky and didn’t have much rain. It was extremely windy for the first three days but this meant the most amazing clouds.

    I eagerly look forward to your next post.

    All the best
    Carol from Perth Australia

    • That’s the thing about the changable weather at Torres del Paine – it also changes the view! I also experienced some of the extreme wind and enjoyed – as you point out – the incredible cloud formations that came with it.

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