Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Day 10: Puerto Natales - Parque Nacional Torres del Paine

Miji pushed us to rise early this morning so we could see animals that are only visible at sunrise. We were supposed to leave at 7:30 but finally left at 8:00. Today's highlight: Parque Nacional Torres del Paine!!

We had driven already for almost two hours. we were almost at the entry of the park, and then, Miji yells: "flat tire!!". We stopped and Isabel, with her medical talents, promptly identified the wound, it was big, the air was leaking... she instinctively put a hand on the hole to stop the leakage...

Miji already knew in theory how to repair a tire but never had the opportunity to try! He did a first surgical trial and inflated the tire but it wasn't enough, the whole was so big that air was still leaking! With this half inflated tire, we decided to do a u-turn and to drive 35km back to Cerro Castillo, where there was supposed to be a "nafta" station where we were hoping to get help.


When we arrived we learned that the gas station has been closed for 5 years; however, the gas pump sign still remains on all the maps and people from outside would still send you there to get gas.
Little by little, we were guided to the one man in the village who has an air compressor: Victor!
We had only one last chance, there were no more gums in the repair kit. This time, assisted by surgeon Isabel, we succeeded in closing the hole.
We used Victor's compressor to pump the repaired tire and finally, we were ready to go!

Victor will remain in our memories, he entertained us with stories of his life, he has been living in Cerro Castillo for 50 years now. Long time ago he was an authentic gaucho helping with the 160'000 cows of the estancia that later was transformed into the actual national park.

We finally entered the park at 12:00, It is an amazing landscape full of lakes of all kinds, colors, and sizes: lago Sarmiento, laguna Amarga, laguna Azul, lagunas Mellizas, lago Pehoé, lago Grey, lago Toro, and many other small ones. We were impressed by the number of guanacos, guanacas and "chulengos" crossing our ways.

Hadrien finally had the opportunity to get a closer look at a Patagonian fox. Miji usually scares them with his motorbike so Hadrien is not able to see them when he is far behind.

The park's main attraction are los cuernos and las torres del paine. Both mountain chains are mainly made out of granit with different colors. Los cuernos in their highest part are made of a sedimentary rock and granit at the base which gives them this bicolor aspect. For over 12 million years it has been molded by glaciers. Las torres amaze with their crude vertical and towered appearance. In this 227'000 hectares biosphere they can be seen from different angles and never loose their astonishing effect. Proof is that Isabel took 631 photos!

At 16:00 we were starving. Mijail got a good recommendation for a restaurant close by but when we arrived it was closed. We tried other places, same problem. We decided to drive to the last lake, Lago Grey, and see what we could find. And surprise! We ate delicious steak sandwiches in front of icebergs. We couldn't have better lunch!

The weather in the park is special: it has a different micro-climate with temperatures rising up to 28°C and dropping down to 12°C. The wind was unpredictably changing directions and strength, a strength we had never met before. Miji bravely fought against this force of nature, like Don Quijote against the windmills. He almost fell  but was able to maintain the bike stable. Hadrien was behind, also fighting like a gladiator, we could hear his courage and screams, but this Sancho Panza lost his fight and fell... Meanwhile, Isabel was just enjoying the show and taking pictures.

It was already 18:00 and the drivers were exhausted. So we headed back to Puerto Natales. On the way back, we were lucky to see several rainbows, one more beautiful than the other with vivid colors.


  1. amid all the air blow - a double rainbow!

  2. 160 000 cows!! :-0
    Hey - great pics!!

  3. Isabel, you should get a tag in your surgery leaflet for this one! Well done !

  4. Miji, that was indeed a GREAT sprint! If you know what I mean... ;-)

  5. Espero que tenía suficiente dinero, por lo que se podía llegar a Cerro Sombrero.

    1. y si no llegamos, sería por otro agujero...