(Trek in the Torres del Paine National Park - Chilean Patagonia - January 2001)

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From Ushuaia, there is a bus service (TOLKEYEN, Tel/fax 437073, connecting with a PACHECO bus) which goes to Punta Arenas in 12 hours (leaving at 8:00 am), via the Magellan Straight ($ 40). We had obtained the timetables by e-Mail from the Subsecretaria de Turismo (, and Dominique, who speaks spanish, had made the reservation from France by telephone : it was fortunate, as the bus was full (and the company clerk was as impressed as we were, having received the reservation by phone, from France !).

Leaving Ushuaia, the bus first goes through a mountainous area (cross country skying station !), and then it's the pampa : grassland to the horizon, and sheep...


Crossing the Magellan Straights by ferryboat is a high point of the trip !

Crossing the Argentinian an Chilean borders is no problem (watch out : no fruit is allowed in Chili. Customs employees went through the bus as we were filling out the entry forms, and took away the bag in which we had left some tangerine peelings ! Very nice of them !). The bus is quite comfortable, with toilets, and it stops a couple of times to allow stretching the legs. A sandwich is served in the evening.

We then reached Punta Arenas at night fall. It is quite chilly (no pun !), and windy (by the way, it is of course windy all the time, everywhere...). We have not made any hotel reservation, and the hotels close to the bus station are full. A taxi driver offers to rent us his personal apartment (for a price !) (!), but we decide to go to the Hostal Rubio, very nice (hostal = kind of B&B), a bit expensive ($ 45 for 2), but the room is very clean and has a bathroom with shower, and the hosts are very kind (one of the two oldest houses in Punta Arenas !). Dinner at the Restaurant Mercato, open very late. Grilled fish, to change from the (not mad) Argentinian beef !

On the next day, we left at 7:30 am (Bus Fernandez $ 15) to Puerto Natales, a nice little town (and I take the opportunity to introduce Dominique, who carried all the food for the 8-day trek...).
We had brought from France some soups and freeze-dried food, and we purchased some fruits (not many : they are heavy !) and cake in Puerto Natales. The Christmas cake was excellent ! (and keeps very well).

In the Park, we could find water everywhere. Sometimes, we treated it, but not necessarily. No problem. In the two shops we saw (at the Hosteria Las Torres and at the Park Administration), we could see only cookies and and a few cans. No fruits. And rather expensive. At the Hosteria Las Torres, we nevertheless found another gaz canister, Italian made (International), but compatible with Camping Gaz. One canister lasted about 4 days (coffee, tea and freeze-dried food only, no cooking)


A few pratical informations
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