16.03. - 20.03.2002: Torres del Paine NP

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Saturday, 16.03.2002: Punta Arenas - Torres del Paine NP

We left Punta Arenas at around 10am and travelled north towards the famous Torres (towers) del Paine National Park, named after its enormous granite towers. It was a "Beautiful day" and the U2 song made us all sing along and Prue dancing through the hatch.

We saw lots of condors (largest flying bird in the world) on our way and got into the National Park at around 6pm.

Condors flying in Torres del Paine National Park

We camped at the most beautiful site in the world overlooking the nearby Cuernos (horns) del Paine. The park is home to a variety of fauna and flora.

Camping in Torres del Paine National Park

Had a great curry for dinner and the fires were going as it was freezing cold!

Although St. Patrick's day is tomorrow the big drinking started already.

Sunday, 17.03.2002: Torres del Paine NP

Kirsten was on breakfast today (St. Patrick's Day) so she saw the beautiful sunrise at 7am. The truck left at 9am to the starting point of the Laguna Verde walk. On the way we passed a lake with a perfect reflection in the still water. The weather was great!

The walk was wonderful, though very steep at the start. Afterwards it was much easier and we enjoyed the great views onto the Torres.

Hiking to Laguna Verde

Unfortunately the Laguna Verde lake wasn't even green and a bit of a disappointment. On the way back we found the path that Prue said would lead us directly to the campsite....she lied!!! We ended up about 8km down the road and Kirsten and Helen stuck their thumbs out to the first person in a car who came passed. He was a German! Small world!

That night we made a huge campsite fire and Kirsten was on cooking. The other 2 in her cook group had decided to make an Irish stew for the occasion. The problem was that they were still out walking - they'd got lost and so it was left to her to cook a stew!! (She didn't even know what a stew was let alone cook one!) So Helen ended up doing it!

Sunset and Helen cooking Irish stew

Everyone celebrated - all the other trucks joined our party and drank our bar dry. Appropriately there were a lot of Shenanigans going on that night (with lots of scoring)!!!

Prue introduced the truck dance. She finally found "By the Rivers of Babylon" from Boney M.

Truck dance

It started raining in the early hours so everyone piled into the cook tent. Estelle, in her drunken state, was kicking out everyone who wasn´t on our truck!

Monday, 18.03.2002: Torres del Paine NP

The next day was the best of the trip so far - a few of us went for a boat trip on the Grey glacier which despite it's name is fantastic. It started of with a beautiful rainbow right next to the truck.

The only way you can see the glacier properly is by boat and we were surrounded by the mountains. We sailed between lots of icebergs and it felt like we were in the Antarctic. The glacier made lots of cracking and thunder noises and we saw ice fall off into the lake - awesome!! The only thing that marred the day was when Helen slipped getting into the boat - all she will say is that it's a good job she´s not a bloke!! (It hurt!!!)

Fantastic Grey Glacier tour

On the way back the mountains were all red from the beautiful sunset. The day was completed by seeing 2 shooting stars! It will be hard to beat that day!

Another sunset

Tuesday, 19.03.2002: Torres del Paine NP

The final day in Torres was a very tough walk up to the Torres themselves - three towers. Almost 4 hours of gruelling ups and downs, and very muddy in parts, with lots of tree bridges and rivers to cross.

The final ascent is the steepest, climbing over boulders that meant very large steps! Unfortunately after all that effort we could hardly see the towers!

Hike to the Torres

We got back exhausted after a total of 7 hours walking and went to bed at 9-30pm!! The Torres were lightened up by the moon.

Wednesday, 20.03.2002: Torres del Paine NP - El Calafate

We left at 9am this morning and had our first photo stop at the guanacos (still in the NP).


Then we had to cross the border into Argentina again and went to a place called El Calafate, which is the place to see the Moreno Glacier - the fastest moving glacier (2 meters a day!).

On the way there we stopped for a snowball fight and Helen ended up falling and ripping her trousers!!

Snowball fight

We got to El Calafate at 5pm and after checking in at the great YHA we all went into town to get some snacks at the supermarket. Most of us had a fabulous steak at the YHA (huge!) for dinner.