I'd been told that the Torres de Paine National Park was one of the most beautiful of the world and I went there fully expecting the spectacular. What I didn't realize, though, was the beauty to be found in the small details of this immense natural reserve which make the trip so much more moving and memorable.
I've traveled a lot, but rarely have I enjoyed a place this much. Here, in the heart of the Chilean Patagonia, wherever you look there is beauty, texture, color, composition, forms...it's Art (with a capital A). With every step of the 5-hour hike in the shadow of the Torres, something took my breath away.
I was lucky with the weather because I went at the beginning of autumn and the explosion of color so strong that my photos came out looking saturated and impossible. When I first laid eyes on these millions of multicolored leaves, I recalled the feeling of looking at an Impressionist painting.
The Grey Glacier is situated in the lake with the same name. The lake is located within the Torres del Paine National Park. It's a spectacular and magical place and you must arrive by boat. They organize daily trips, usually once in the morning and one in the afternoon. The incredible colors are true natural wonders. The trip costs about 40 euros. It is wonderful experience that forces one to marvel at the beauty of Mother Nature :)
What a surprise we got when we arrived to Punta Arenas! It´s historic center is very unbelievably unique. The first thing you´ll wonder is how that architecture can exist in a place that is so far down south. You have to visit this southernmost city of Chile because it´s incredible and amazing. If you go to Argentina, you MUST cross the Strait of Magellan which is another amazing area. Punta Arenas offers a place full of culture tucked up in the most southernmost part of the South American continent.
I felt an amazing feeling when the plane landed in Punta Arenas. It is the most austere city in the world, situated at the foot of the Strait of Magellan. It´s so far away! Just a step away from Antarctica. It is the city base from which expeditions to Antarctica are carried out, right at the hear of Chilean Patagonia . We had read that it was the most populated and most cosmopolitan city of Patagonia. It has a grid pattern, and although in the center you can find neoclassical architecture, when you move away from the center you find more typical Chilean arquitecture. I also remember that there was a kind of hill from which you could see the whole city, and we saw all the coloured roofs and in the background the Strait of Magellan and right down at the bottom the Antarctic ice.
Torres del Paine National Park is an amazing place, with many hiking trails for day excursions or camping breaks. It is a few hours away from Puerto Natales and glaciers, vegetation and Torres del Paine can be seen.
Today I want to speak not of the waterfront itself, but rather of a sunset we saw from the waterfront. We arrived in Puerto Natales by bus from Punta Arenas, and only went to find a hostel down the street from where the bus dropped us off. The truth is, at first glance, I was disappointed by the people, small, gridded streets and low houses, with no appeal. It is a city that has grown to be the gateway park Torres del Paine, and having the dock where all the hikers, backpackers, etc. come from. To Patagonia. The next day we walked around Paine, we had the afternoon off, so we are dedicated to explore the town a little but after an hour we'd seen it all. Walking we came to the waterfront, and it changed my opinion of the city. I guess people arriving by ferry get another impression. The vision was sublime, with the sea penetrating deep into "The Crest", the beginning of the Andes. The sun was setting in front of the snow-covered hills that we had in front of us, gulls and flamingos first dyed pink and then a orange as the sun was setting. It was one of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen, even with the cold.
Lake Pehoé covers an area of 22 square kilometers and is one of the most famous and beautiful lakes in Patagonia. If you take the road towards Lake Grey, there's a lookout point where you can take a postcard-perfect photo of the lakes with the Torres del Paine peaks in the background. In the area, you can also visit the Paine River falls, lots of campsites, and abundant nature, including entire families of guanacos!
We went on a trip in Torres del Paine park, called Navigating by the glaciers in which, aboard a catamaran, you sail around the Serrano and Balmaceda Glaciers. We got on the catamaran at Natales port, and we were navigating the Ultima Esperanza (final hope). I love that name, it seems like before the immensity and power of nature, man has nothing else to do but hope. We gradually approached the Bernardo O'Higgins National Park. It is the largest park in Chile. The landscape, from the deck, was amazing. It was very cold and that made us go inside the boat, where they offered a Pisco to warm you up. Balmaceda Glacier impressed me, it is literally "hanging" off Mount Balmaceda. Pieces of ice fall directly into the sea, in the fjord of Ultima Esperanza. Then we went to Serrano Glacier where we were dropped off and then with a zodiac they took us to eat at the Inn Balmaceda. But that, is a story for another time.
This is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen, it was amazing. It is located in the south of Chile, in the Torres del Paine. The French Valley is beautiful and, when I visited, there was a very strong wind which made the water falling from the mountains look even more spectacular. It is 100% recommended!