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  • Writer's picturePaula Cooper

4 November Patagonia Camp, Patagonia Chile: Freezing Frigid Fire-ravaged Fantastic

Waking to rain pattering and wind whistling, (should’ve heeded the message from above); however the sun shone, as breakfast over, we met our fellow walkers in the Puma room (start of all adventures!) Lunch assembled and packed; nip to the loo requested and taken (didn’t wait for a reply), we headed for the minibus. Entering the national park, our last chance to use the facilities over, a short ride later we reached the walk's remote start.

Established in 1959 as Parque Nacional de Turismo Lago Grey, it was renamed in 1970, Parque Nacional Torres del Paine; blue in native Tehuelche (Aonikenk) and towers in Spanish. It’s been designated a world biosphere reserve by Unesco since ‘78.

Basking in sunshine we headed gradually up passing a series of pretty lakes, very reminiscent of the Lake District, right down to the daffodils, moorland grasses and weather! It got chillier and chillier! Then windy and windier, and colder and wetter, and finally sleeting with snow! We saw virtually no one; not surprised it was absolutely freezing!

Passing native plants, the famous blue berry bush calafate and the guanaco bush, beloved by guanacos Chile’s wild llama, we saw many dead trees. Turns out in 2011/12 an Israeli backpacker was charged with starting a fire; charges were subsequently dropped, however sadly 176 km² burned destroying about 36 km² of native forest. The other area of dead trees turned out to be very much alive, deciduous ñirre!

Later we saw efforts to reforest, they plant many lenga saplings close together in the hope they will fuse, giving that tree a better chance of survival. Natural fires are uncommon making regeneration even more difficult.

Finding shelter from the elements, fire-spared trees our lunch spot, our guide produced hot soup and coffee miraculously from his back pack! Great for numb hands, but not shivering bodies! We definitely got the full Patagonian 4 seasons in one moment experience!

Too frozen and wet to delve for more layers, we carried on walking to the view point; spectacular, fantastic mistical misty views! A very steep downhill scree descent to a narrow, marginally less vertical, path popped us out across from the minibus where a delicious spread of snacks and drinks awaited! Only thing missing was hot chocolate!

On returning, I requested to see the waterfall near Camp Patagonia. Kindly Simon came with me; although after viewing it, twice as far as advertised, I was a not particularly popular. Hot tub, and dinner definitely revived his spirits. (Still glad we went even if you did need a radio; the area is so remote, everyone is super careful.)

Early morning from yurt

Long cold rainy wet snowy (4 season) walk through empty wilderness with amazing views at the end.

(Route travelled green to red)

(Berberis microphylla flower or Calafate has blue berries, symbol Patagonia; burnt trees; our group; views of first lakes; Guanaco bush, loved by guanacos wild llamas; bushes plus lake; view of glacier on cerro Paine grande through clouds)

(through the lenga woods ravaged (and areas spared) by Forrest fires; ñirre deciduous forest, these are alive!; emerging onto headland overlook after snow and rain subsided, but sadly not the wind!)

(Views from top, Rio Paine ; walking down; replanting lenga trees, loads together as trunks fuse to produce a healthier tree with better chance of survival; lake not sure which one; feast at the bottom!)

(Views of lakes at start and final view point at the end of the walk)

Short walk to see waterfall.

(View of our yurt; waterfall and walk)

We stayed at Patagonia Camp, Torres del Paine, Torres of Torres del Paine, Patagonia National Park, Chile.

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