You can fill a thousand postcards with the vast landscapes of Patagonia. We were blessed to experience this spectacular treasure of nature in perfect weather and with the colour of autumn in the trees. Our 10km (one-way) hike from the Cerro Norte Refugio (lodge), where we spent our first night, to the base of the Torres del Paine (three towers) was truly breathtaking. The hike follows the course of a crystal clear river, taking you deep into a valley flanked by large, rugged black mountains with snow capped peaks. Every rise or bend holds a surprise as the trail twists slowly upwards through forest and over boulder strewn clearings. At some points the path barely clings to the steep sides of the black shale with the river negotiating a path through the landscape far below. After about 9km’s, the trail makes a sharp left turn and then basically follows the flow-path of an ice-melt stream, gaining 180m in elevation over very rough terrain. We pursue the seemingly vertical, wet path over white boulders, upwards towards a large field of rock debris high up in the mountain. The views towards the valley below are spectacular. And then, climbing around another large boulder, the “torres” in full view. Nothing can prepare you for the majesty of seeing the white spires towering another 2000m above you against the blue sky and surrounded by black mountains. Their blue glacier lake contributes to the sense of sacredness, with the vertical cliffs being so close, but yet still unattainable on the other side of the icy water.
– Jarik –