One of the most striking things about moving further South is that it gets quite a lot colder, quite a lot wetter and massively more windy. All of which is fine but it definitely adds a challenge to the tramping experience.
I did three walks in the South, the first of which was supposed to be a 4 dayer to look at Cerro Castillo glacier just out of Coyhaique. For this I was joined by two guys who were keen on the walk but had never been tramping before. I was happy to have the company but their gear was a little ropey to say the least – Jose 1 walked in jeans and Jose 2 didnt have a rain coat which was unfortunate cause it rained constantly. Our first day took us into a lovely river valley which seemed to collect the cloud and rain. At camp we managed to light a fire and not get too cold initially but then the rain got heavier and didn`t stop all night. The bivvie was pretty miserable and the two Jose`s woke with completely wet gear in a puddle of water. On day 2 we climbed higher and the weather detriorated further. The views were stunning but on arrival at our camp it was really exposed and looked very uninviting! I was a bit concerned with all our wet gear and in the end we made a call to carry on and take an alternative route out – made for a 10 hour day but a hostel bed has never felt so good! I later met an Israeli chap who had done the walk and the wind on the same pass we crossed had knocked a fellow walker down who cracked her head open and they had to put in place a rescue mission. Yikes! Glad that didn’t happen to us! Fair play to the 2 Jose`s who weren`t put off by their first hiking experience. They stocked up on more gear, including a pair of gardening gloves for warmth, beats socks on the hands I guess and walked Torres del Paine.
I also took a video just before heading out on day 2:
The two most famous Patagonian walks are around Torres del Paine in Chile and to Mount Fitzroy in Argentina. Down in the south the scenery is defined by huge wide-open spaces of rolling brown farmland with mountains framing the skyline. It’s really beautiful and, if possible, even more windy. Peurto Natalas is the starting point for the Paine circuit and it is a really cool little town set on the Sound of Last Hope, a slightly ominous name I thought. The Paine circuit takes you around the whole of the mountain range taking in river valleys, a massive glacier and the Torres towering over everything. It was great fun and incredibly beautiful. While the walking wasn`t particularly challenging, I was covering long distances (113km over 5 days) and the weather was pretty variable to say the least. fortunately I got one perfect day for one of the most picturesque sections but it rained every night – I was mighty sick of the bivvie in the end!
I was much more lucky with my Fitzroy experience as I had three days of perfect weather. In some ways the park is more accessible cause you can see loads of the best views on day walks but it also has less tourists on the paths and there are no amenities on route, just basic camping. The scenery was stunning and Fitzroy itself is incredible – a sheer piece of granite rising 3375m into the sky. On one day I did a 1500m ascent up into climbing territory which was incredible and I met some climbers up there. One chap had spent 2 weeks climbing one peak, sleeping off ropes and stuff. That’s a step too far for me, when that Patagonian wind picks up, I’d be a very unhappy bunny.
Here are some pics of both Fitzroy and Paine:
Patagonia has been amazing, I´ve loved the walking, its raw beauty is incredibly captivating and I’ll definitely be back for more. It has also been the ideal way to burn off a few pies!