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

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After making these few purchases (exchange money in Puerto Natales : in Argentina, we always paid in US$, but in Chili, it is recommended to use local money : 555 pesos for 1 $), we take the bus in the afternoon to the Torres del Paine National Park (JB - $ 4). We get off at the first stop, Laguna Amarga (pay the entrance to the Park : $ 15). If you stay at the campground of the Hosteria Torres del Paine, you may use the free transfer bus : it is worth it, as the dirt road is probably not very interesting on foot.

The Hosteria is indeed a hotel, but not really cheap : $ 145 for a "standard" double, and $ 195 for a "superior"...

Camping ($ 6 per tent) with toilets and showers. Not too crowded, but a few cars (a group from Germany, next to us, is gorging on sausages : the cows are not mad here...).

Long hair are very handy... to show where the wind comes from...

On the next day (Jan 11), we leave for the Campamento Torres. Very strong (head) wind, slight rain, a skimpy bridge, but the track is quite wide, and we are not alone. A recommendation : do not use raincapes (unless you an expert sailor...). The rain does not wet much (and very often falls under a clear sky, as it is blown from far away clouds...). But the rucksacks weight a maximum... and we are not yet in condition...


Flat at the beginning, the trail rises more steeply, then goes down to the Campamento Chileno (2 h). This is also a refugio, which seems to be good (recent construction), but we did not go near it.

Then, in the forest, the trail rises gently along the Rio Ascensio to the Campamento Torres (2 h). The Torres are seldom visible during the ascent to the camp.

As we reach the Campamento Torres, the wind is extremely strong (Dominique calls it " re-wind " : it pushes us back up the slopes...).

But the camping area is well protected in the trees. Free. A guard on duty all the time. (Clean) toilets. A few tents, well spaced apart. Water at a spring. We sometimes treat the water taken in the rivers, but not that from the springs. No problem.

On the 12, then, climb to the Torres Lookout, at sunrise (See above - to be done absolutely). 45 minutes from Campamento Torres. Scramble on fairly stable rocks. Big rocks at the top. And wind... which gets frankly aggressive at the Lookout... Do not go in the evening : the sun sets behind the Torres, and the light is not good for pictures.

In the afternoon, stroll until the Campamento Japonese (2 h) in the woods. Very nice. When we were there, an Italian expedition was based there, waiting for an opportunity to climb the Torre Central. On the refugio, a sign : " Los Esclavos del Barometro ". Translation not necessary.

On the next day, the weather is too cloudy to go back to the Lookout at sunrise. Quieter in the afternoon: pictures of flowers.


We were told by several people that the trek up the valley, beyond the Campamento Japonese, was very worth it. It is called the Val del Silencio (2 h, partly on moraine scree) : this is the route followed by alpinists who go to the Torres. But the weather must be very clear, which was not the case : we did not go.

Hence, on the following morning (the 13th), we went back to the Lookout, at sunrise (6 am : this is the time when the sun paints the Torres red). The sky was not quite as clear as it had been on the 11th, but the clouds were throwing tremendous shadows on the Torres : superb ! And again we are still alone...

Later, we trekked back to the Hosteria Las Torres (where we found warm bread in the "souvenirs" shop ! Delicious !)

As we were walking down, we saw this cascade, a definite proof that the earth is round : the water falls up, as we are below the equator...  


A few pratical informations
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