Torres del Paine – Mirador Cuernos

Having explored the north east of the park it was time to head south west and slowly back towards Puerto Natales. When I’d done all my panicking about running out of petrol on the day I drove up to Torres, I’d forgotten that my explorations of the park would take me back in a homeward direction, rather than being an addition to the 145km I’d driven up to the park.

2018 02 15 100

2018 02 15 102

It was a fairly long drive down to the place where I intended to stay the night and the roads were in variable condition, but by this time I was well used to watching out for potholes. I made quite a few stops along the way for photographs, and was delighted when I spotted a lake, complete with pink flamingo dots. Of course, the flamingoes started moving determinedly to the opposite side of the lake when they saw me coming, but at least I managed to get some photographic evidence of their existence!

2018 02 15 105

2018 02 15 077 2

2018 02 15 111

2018 02 15 118

2018 02 15 122

2018 02 15 133

There were plenty of beautiful turquoise lakes on the way down, but also plenty of dead trees, evidence of the fires that ravaged the park a few years ago.

2018 02 15 134

2018 02 15 136

2018 02 15 139

2018 02 15 146

 

When I reached the car park in the late afternoon it was full of cars, and there were plenty of folk out either admiring the waterfalls or on the hike to the viewpoint. Once I came back from the walk myself the car park had emptied and I moved the van to a prime lakeview. It was a very windy evening, and judging by the warning signs that isn’t unusual in this part of the park. The walk down to the viewpoint was enjoyable and took in quiet a variety of landscapes, although all with the mountains featuring prominently in the background. After the previous day’s exertions and my morning hike I was feeling quite leaden-legged though and did have a hard time motivating myself at the beginning.

2018 02 15 151

2018 02 15 169

2018 02 15 170

2018 02 15 180

2018 02 15 184

2018 02 15 187

2018 02 15 188

The wind got really strong during the walk and at times I was nearly blown off my feet. There was a huge amount of spray coming off the lake and you could use it to predict the gusts as first the spray built up and then slowly crept towards you before hitting you with a giant blast. I felt like I was in a fantasy world being hit by a blast of magic! I had to protect my camera during the blasts as there was so much spray brought with the wind.

2018 02 15 195

2018 02 15 200

2018 02 15 201

2018 02 15 202

2018 02 15 215

2018 02 15 227

2018 02 15 239

2018 02 15 241

By the time I got back to the van it was nearly 8pm and I was more than ready for some dinner. I had a hard time sheltering the stove from the winds and had to chase after the pot lid when it was sent flying. Sadly, I also lost my cheese to the same gust of wind, although I think that the caracaras may have subsequently enjoyed it. 

Torres del Paine – Laguna Azul

The plan for my second day in Torres del Paine was to travel up to the north of the park to Laguna Azul, where there was a hike between two lakes. Having gone to sleep under an incredibly clear sky, I woke up to pouring rain so abandoned my plan for an early start and snuggled back under the giant stripes blanket until close on 10am. When I dragged myself out of the van, clad in my waterproofs, I realised that I’d managed to park in the muddiest part of the parking spot. At least the spots of pasta sauce I’d sent flying had been washed away.

By the time I’d been to the bathrooms and back it was drying off so I finally set off to Laguna Azul. My first stop was at a waterfall that was just by the side of the road, albeit down a rather steep and rough road. Somehow the tour buses made their way down there, so it didn’t stay quiet for long.

2018 02 15 005

I didn’t linger long before continuing on my way but very soon had to stop again as I spotted some guanaco by the side of the road. I wasn’t the only one who stopped, and suddenly the road was flooded with Belgian tourists, all keen to creep up on the guanaco… until I had a good giggle at the tourist in the middle of the road who was so busy looking had her iPad she was oblivious to the guanaco that was creeping up on her!

2018 02 15 011 2

2018 02 15 018

2018 02 15 022 2

 

The grey sky was slowly lifting during the drive and by the time I arrived at the park it was looking a little brighter and feeling quite warm and muggy.

2018 02 15 023

2018 02 15 026

I stopped to photograph some geese and swans, and then to chat to a couple Canadians who also had a Wicked camper van before heading off on the walk.

2018 02 15 038 2

2018 02 15 039 2

2018 02 15 049 2

2018 02 15 060 2

2018 02 15 067 2

I didn’t go far before coming to a sign post for a viewpoint. I wasn’t convinced that this was the route I was planning, but lacking any signs for Laguna Cebolla, my official end point, I decided to following the signs instead. Given that the walk I had planned on would take a good few hours each way and I’d had a late start, I was also reconsidering my choice.

2018 02 15 033

2018 02 15 038

A2018 02 15 041

2018 02 15 044

2018 02 15 047

2018 02 15 069

fter a 14.5 mile hike the day before my legs were feeling rather heavy as the path began to climb. There were quite good views across the lake to the towers but unfortunately they were mostly lost in the cloud, although it did clear a bit whilst I was at the summit. It was a nice enough walk, but it was a shame not to have done the walk I’d originally planned, and I think that the main highlights of the trip were the guanaco and the birds that I saw along the way.

2018 02 15 085

When I got back down to the van I took a small walk down to the shore of the lake, a really nice beach, and sat and chatted with the Canadians for a little while. They kindly offered me some black beans, which I very gratefully took having only eaten crisps and nuts all day. They also had a field guide to the local wildlife and I was finally able to identify some of the birds I’d seen along the way.

It was now time to turn tail and head back the way I’d come and slowly start working my way down to the south of the park and eventually back to Puerto Natales. Of course, another guanaco stop was required on the way.

2018 02 15 093

2018 02 15 098