Another satisfied Chimu customer – Bonnie explains her amazing trip to Torres del Paine and Patagonia:
We´ve just returned from the most awesome 24 hour whirlwind trip to Torres del Paines, some of the most beautiful (and remote) mountains in the whole world! When I emailed from BA we were due to be off on our Patagonia package but after 6 hours in the airport our ¨delayed flight¨was cancelled. Fortunately the airlines put us up in a nearby hotel (provided transport and meals) and the next morning we left at 7. The unfortunate repercussion was that it eliminated one of the 2 precious nights at the Torres del Paines National Park (which involves a 5 hour journey by bus followed by 2 more hours of private transport)
We spent the first night in El Calafate, which is a tiny remote townway down south on the Argentinian pampas on a beautiful glacial lake with snow capped mountains all around. We are in the most adorable ¨chalet¨in a huge room with 2 windows with neat views (Its a real treat to not only be able to open windows but also to cool down our wines!!!). We loved the little town…we feel like we´re in a ski town.
Yesterday we got up early to make our momentous journey. The first surprise was to find out that the sun doesn´t come up until 9:30 AM (we´re that far away..actually 1400 miles from Buenos Aires). So we left in the pitch dark in 3 degrees below zero and within a few miles I thought we were on the wrong bus because I recognized a town that was north (today I understand that hiccup). After that panic, about an hour and a half later the bus suddenly left the tarmac and was heading about 40km. per hour on a gravel road. All I could think of was not only enduring that for 3 and 1/2 more hours but also needing to do it 2x. The other disconcerting feature was that during the first 3 hours we only saw 3 vehicles!! Now how´s that for remot?? ( And when those vehicles pass there´s alot of flashing lights and waving!!!) We did see some huge birds like ostriches in big groups but mostly sheep and cattle. As we slowly passed over grates in the road it was evident that these were various properties or estancias. I was so relieved that after 1 and 1/2 hours later we got back on normal road (this turned out to be a ¨short cut¨) and made a pee stop. This was only the 5th ¨building¨we´d seen!!! What we did see was the most incredible view alreay of Torres del Paines and from then on we could follow it the rest of the way. I felt so exhilirated. The trip also involved going over the Argentinian border into Chile. This was over a mountain pass where it had snowed the night before so it was quite dramatic (and cold). In fact, all day long we had been seeing frost along the grasslands whose muted yellow grasses and green clumps was so picturesque.
5 hours later we could see the sea, arriving in Puerto Natales a huge bay enclosed by more beautiful mountains. A man was waiting there with our name on a sign as they have been doing all over the continent. He had a great vehicle…Ian and I were both able to make the windows go down whenever we wanted a photo. Well it turned out the guy got into our kamikaze photo session and we had the most momentous 2 hours to our lodge at the end of the rainbow!! First, Ian spotted our first condors of our trip (did you know they have a 3 metere wingspan?) Not only did we see these 2 soaring giants but just beyond we saw a hillside covered with huge birds as there was a dead carcass that brought in not jus many condors, but vultures, eagles etc.!!! Next as we passed along the lake we saw pink flamingoes!!!which have always been a favourite. I was also so excited that at last we had an opportunity to stop and have a closer look at those huge running birds like ostriches. Then the guanoacoes (Like llama) began appearing in ever growing numbers. We couldn´t get our fill of them and stopped so many times though we were told they´d grow in number as we approached the park. But I can´t believe the classic shots we got with theose magnificent towers (torres) smack in the background. We just giggled as these gunacoes stood at the edge of the road lining up for us in the mosrt perfect spots. Ian also spotted a fox and there were rabbits galore too. But all the while there were those glorious mountains coming closer and closer. The absolute pinnacle of the day was when we were taken to a salt lake (linda greenish with a white ridge) where there was the PERFECT relection of my belove mountains, The Torres del Paines. It was AMAZING. From there we wove around tiny bumpy roads crossing over tiny bridges and coming closer and closer to the entrance to the Park which is the most undeveloped National Park I could ever imagine. 2 and 1/2 hours later we were at the door of our hotel, a huge sprawling timbered lodge that has grown from 9 rooms in the early 19990´s!!! This was the last night it was to be opend (they take a month off begore the busy July/Aug season) and there were hardly any people there. In fact, there were only 3 other tables at dinner. So we had 2 more hours to wander around and take it in. Of course, the hikes are the way to enjoy it but I felt privileged that we had had such a wonderful adventure coming in!! And the amazing reality is that had we come on the previous day as we should have, we would have seen NOTHING as it was puring and all the mountains were clouded over!!! It will always remain as a memorable day….even though we had to get up at 4:30 AM this morning to be taxied back to the 7:30 bus!!! Such is life but Que Suerte (what good luck) that our flight was cancelled.
Tomorrow we are off to an all day trip to a glacier, the Perito Moreno on our Calafate tour! This has been such an amazing journey.
Chimu Adventures provides several amazing tours to Patagonia and Torres del Paine. Visit our Chile & Argentina page for more details.