A tour of Torres del Paine National Park….

A day in the National Park left us feeling frustrated, as we hadn’t really seen as much of the famous Torres del Paine National Park as we had wanted…

There weren’t many options open to us – it’s not easy visiting and/or walking in other sections of the park on a day trip; on public transport; from Puerto Natales… and even had we wanted to hire a car, Puerto Natales was void of rental cars…

We decided to just go for it and book an organised tour!!! There was not much selection criteria for the tour company… they all offered the same gig… and at the same price… so we got our hostel to book it…

We were picked up from our hostel at 7:45am, and spent a bit of time cruising around town picking up the other passengers before getting on the road. The tour was in both English and Spanish… and I guess the advantage of understanding both was that you actually got the complete tour, as there were so many times that some details were either missing from the Spanish or the English version…

Our first stop on the tour was the Cueva del Milodón Natural Monument  –  this stop isn’t in the national park, but is on the tour bus route anyway! The cave was pretty nice to stroll around and we also got to learn all about Mylodons that used to live in the area.

A Mylodon… not the real thing as they’re extinct but it is a lifesized replica 🙂
The Milodón cave

After the cave, the race was on! – as all the tours follow the same route – it was the race to see which bus could get to the park first and be first in line to enter Torres del Paine National Park….AND the drivers weren’t allowed to cheat by missing out the promised viewpoint on the way!

View from the mirador on the way to Torres del Paine National Park…

Our bus didn’t win the race to the park, but it didn’t fare too badly… Nonetheless, the Serrano entrance of the park was way quieter than the Laguna Amarga entrance – so there was none of the mayhem of the previous day, AND we all got to hang outside taking in the view while the guide went in to pay for everyone (but not for us, as we’d already been the day before and tickets are valid or 3 days!) to enter the park.

A view of the Paine Massif from the entrance of the park.
A close up of the impressive Cuernos del Paine which form part of the Paine Massif

When the guide reappeared and we were back on the bus, we were delivered the news… Lago Grey Beach and the Lago Grey Beach walk were closed due to high winds… BOO… So deviating from the normal tour bus route, our next stop was therefore the park visitor centre – and after pulling some strings (our guide was a bit of a wide boy), the stop after would be at the fancydan Hotel Lago Grey… where we would stop for a little over an hour for lunch. It turned out better than we expected… the visitor information centre was informative, and the posh hotel had its own beach access – so we got to see Glacier Grey in the distance from their beach anyway!

The visitor Centre is on the lake in a very tranquil setting
Lago Grey and Grey Glacier (if you skint) from the beach at Lago Grey Hotel
Awesome views from Lago Grey Hotel beach

There were no other detours needed for the rest of the day, and we were soon back in the company of the other 5 -6 minivans all following the same route… where they had been while we were at the fancy hotel is anyone’s guess!?!

In the afternoon we took in the view from Pehoé lookout, before heading out into the wild windy weather to do a short walk at Salto Grande (big waterfall).

The view from Pehoé mirador
On the trail to Salta Grande – and just in case you have any doubts that it’s windy in Patagonia…
The falls are located in a beautiful setting
A little further along from the falls you get another spectacular view of the cuernos (horns)… unfortunately being on a tour we couldn’t do the walk here… maybe one day…

Before exiting the park we had 2 more stops to check out more views…

The view from Nordenskjöld lookout
A different view from Nordenskjöld lookout
An obligatory selfie at Nordenskjöld lookout
The view from the Laguna Amarga entrance

There are also many guanacos in Torres del Paine National park, and the driver stopped so we could take a closer look…

Guanacos hang on the beach

Our final stop on the tour was for the classic view of the Torres del Paine from the Laguna Amarga view point..

Our final view of Torres del Paine National Park

All in all it turned out to be a pretty good day – as we got to see parts of the park we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to see. By all accounts, the scenery was way more spectacular on this side of the park than the other… I still wish that there was better infrastructure, so that you could easily see and walk in this side of the park on day trips using public transport… maybe one day….

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