Puerto Arenas > Puerto Natales > Torres Del Paine
I arrive at Puerto Natales Hostel Last Hope around 10pm just when Diego was about to close up…Got a key to a room with 4 shared bunks in great shape and nice bathrooms/showers. Diego just opened his business in September and is full every night, until he finishes the expansion on the 2nd floor. Seems like a great business to be in during their summer's high tourism season (not sure about the winter?). Our hostel had a mix of Germans, Japanese, Chileans and a couple Scottish all within the ages of 20-35’ish. The first night I met some folks that had just finished the trail and were headed north to El Calafate (seems like a popular combination to do with Torres Del Paine).
Puerto Natales, the gate to Patagonia. Half locals, half backpackers coming and going. Every street has a hostel, outdoor store center, souvenir shop. Great vibe in this town.
The night before heading into the park, I grabbed dinner with Paola from the hostel. She is Chilean, but lived in Michigan the last 15 years. She is waiting to get accepted into Doctorate program in the US and is passing the time here being a trek guide in the park. It reminds me of some of the summer/winter jobs in Lake Tahoe. Got some good advice for the trek and then much needed some rest for the 7am bus departure into the park.
Arrived at Torres Del Paine and the Camp Torres around 11am. Began hiking up to Camp Chileano about 2000m uphill.
Felt like freedom. Finally not on a bus schedule. Waiting for someone. Someone waiting for me to sidetrack and take a photo. Someone to expect something and me to help them get through their missed expectations. Just me. Me and the trail. Well, not just the trail. Hundreds of other hikers from around the world.
W Trek is about 50miles, with lots of elevation up/down
I mentioned Diego in the hostel. I am making his website for his new company. Preview here. Paola, who has exciting things ahead. Mattias, Dutch. The others I would meet once I landed in the park and beyond.
I met some great people along the trail as you would expect in a place 1,000miles from Antarctica. First there was New Zealand Steve. Then Thomas from Holland. 24 student just finished teaching English in Cordoba, Argentina. Thomas had never camped by himself. Very cool guy. Curious gentleman, but also very wise about the world and what was to come about his walk about this planet. He had a positive outlook about everything and really was excited to learn about everything. We planned our treks and hiked for 2 nights 3 days. It was good to have a consistent conversation that you know was going to be a lasting friendship. One that was mutually beneficial. We both learned about each other's cultures and what was ahead. Offered 3rd party advice to our each next steps based on our own non-biased opinions.
Thomas, Holland, 24
Last Meal: "Pancakes w/ Syrup. If no Syrup...then lots of sugar brown..white I don't care. If there is syrup then sugar and butter too."
Bengts & Joni, Holland
I'll get into their story later. They made most of my trip....a trip.
Emma & Lolita - French travelers we shared a day with
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Torres Del Paine to Coyhaique
Puerto Natales again. (2) Middle Aged Czechs looking to reboot after 2 weeks of hiking/climbing before the trip back across the world. We arrived late (again) and lucked out on a hostel nearby the main square after a beer and a meal.
27 hour bus ride to Coyhaique to volunteer at Workaway.com @ Coyhaique, Patagonia - Tourism/Agriculture/Activity Startup
"sustainable development tourism startup that's dedicated to bringing adventure tourists to Coyhaique and providing local children with leadership, teamwork, sports and outdoor activities. We're partnered with a beautiful fishing lodge, where our headquarters are located."
*Caution - lots of selfie's when traveling alone*
I arrived in Santiago @ 3:50am and to Darren’s 9th story apartment by 5am. I woke up to fresh squeezed juice and a steaming cup of Brazilian coffee. What a way to start the trip. Darren, Manuela and I took a Sunday stroll tasting Pisco Sour, gnawing on divine Pulpo and then washed it all down with an Austral (cerveza de Patagonia) as we watched NFL playoffs. Santaigo is a very European looking city. Clean. Modern architecture.
One of the below photos is the line for a skin cancer screening. Valuable free public service they offered for their citizens given the UV intensity in Chile.
A minor 'shake' accompanied our dinner one night while we enjoyed crab empanadas and Sauv B. As we ate on the balcony, we each thought we were twitching our leg on the table. Turns out the table next to us thought we were twitching their table too. A casual laugh followed, then back to enjoying the empanada's. In Chile, earthquakes happen frequently and aren't called 'earthquakes' unless they cross the 7.0 richter scale. If under, they are called 'shakes'.
Darren and Manuela were fantastic hosts! In the limited time we had together, they taught me a lot about the Chilean/Brazilian culture, cuisine, customs, Samba and must know Chilean slang, cachai. The most impressive thing was hearing about Darren’s career in renewable energy in LatAm. A lot of exciting projects ahead for him here. Very motivating to see the niche he carved for himself in the LatAm market and industry.
Darren arranged for a ride with his neighbor, Felipe, who has his own transportation company. We had a mutually beneficial conversation on the way to the airport talking about fishing and Punta Arenas.
Sky Airline was very nice, despite the playground in the isle^^^^
I shared a cab from the airport to the Punta Arenas center with Estevan and his friend. They were looking forward to seeing whales and penguins in Punta Arenas.