We travelled up and down Latin America, from North to South, by way of Peru and Bolivia, to then reach Argentina and Chile. In Argentina, we explored the regions of Salta, Iguazu and Buenos Aires but we quickly hit the road towards the Great South.
We had been dreaming of Patagonia, of its glaciers, of its landscapes, for a long time. Many people had told us about their adventures there so we wondered whether it would live up to our expectations. We had barely arrived at El Chalten that we realised Patagonia’s reputation was far from being overrated. There is something for everyone here, but nature remains at the centre of every activity. Whether you’re there for a day or more, you will be absolutely mesmerized by the neighbouring landscapes: plains rub shoulders with mountains with mythical shapes and names, such as the Mount Fitz Roy or the Cerro Torre. When we went out on hikes, even daylong ones, we didn’t bother with bringing litres and litres of water like we had to when we hiked through the Grand Canyon a few years ago. An extremely rare occurrence in the 21st Century: water is so pure here that we were able to fill our flasks in the streams coming straight down from the mountains around us.
But the hikes in the areas surrounding El Chalten are only a foretaste of what was awaiting us in Chilean Patagonia. In Chile, there is a national park well known to all those in love with Patagonia, that goes by the name Torres del Paine. You could say this park is so famous that it’s become a victim of its success and that the paths of the “W”, travelled on for five days, are often swarming with people. There is often a whole world separating rumours from reality, so we decided to go and check it out for ourselves.
After a gargantuan breakfast in our youth hostel in Puerto Natales, we headed out for Torres del Paine. The first day was far from being intense hike-wise, but it was probably the most exhausting, as we had to take a bus, then a boat, and then do the hike after waking up at dawn. The tone was set from the get go: the temperature was due to be between 35 and 53 degrees Fahrenheit, and the wind was due to blow at 50 mph and then 37 mph the following days. We quickly realised what 50 mph winds feel like when we began our first day of hiking. It’s simple: if you don’t move forward, the wind will push you backwards! But despite this dantesque wind, we realised how lucky we were to be there, going from lake to lake, glacier to glacier.
During those five days of hiking, we told ourselves that Torres del Pain’s reputation is far from being overrated, and that this national park well and truly deserves its reputation.