Bleary eyed and bus journeys. They seem to be synonymous with bus travel in Southern Patagonia. And there usually isn’t a good reason to be. Today, however, there is every reason to be. Hopping on a bus at 7am is always hard. But today its done with optimism and a bit of exuberance. As today, starts a 4 day trek through some of the most dynamic and diverse landscapes that can be seen in this country.
We all do our best to get some sleep on the 2 hour bus ride, I manage to get a decent amount of sleep before being jolted to life with a glorious view of the Paine Massif and Los Cuernos. It then hits, what is about to be undertaken. Soon after, we’re all lining up to pay our $15,000 Chilean Pesos for entry and a park map.
Our final drop off point is Guarderia Pudeto, a catarman is waiting to take us onwards. But it isn’t leaving for another hour, so we hike up to Salto Grande. Which I thought was going to be small and insignificant. It proves to be quite the opposite, and is quite a thunderous surprise.
The boat ride takes us over Lago Pehoe, with shimmering glacier blue foreground to the standout Mountains. Its quite a sight. And the pyramid of backpacks is also impressive. Note to people doing this – Get on last, so your bag is ontop, therefore you can get off straight away and beat the crowd.
We arrive at Refugio Paine (which is one of the most impressive refugios that we see) and then set up camp after paying a camping site fee. Its then time to set off on the first W arm.
Its a round trip that will see us take in 22km of trail. The trail isn’t exactly tough – its rated medium in difficulty. But there are plenty of ups and downs on this section. But the scenery is varied and takes in small canyons, glacial lakes and some snow capped mountains.
Finally, after a few hours of hiking, we come face to face with Glacier Grey. Not as impressive as the Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina. But its still a thing of beauty. Most people stay at Refugio Grey for the night, but we head back to Refugio Paine.
At the campsite, we cook up the standard trek fair of pasta or rice with premade sauce. I also have soup. Its not great, but washed down with some Patagonian Ale it hits the spot and fills you up.
It gets dark here in summer rather late. And by late I mean 10-11pm. So there is plenty of time to while away with card games. I set up my trusty gorillapod and capture some photos of Los Cuernos to end the day.
Wriggling into my sleeping bag, I realise this isn’t going to be the most comfiest of sleeps. But it isn’t long before I doze off to sleep. Loudly snoring apparently, much to the chargrin of my fellow campers.