Chile Day 9: Torres del Paines National Park

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Today, we visited the famous Torres del Paines National Park. It is known for the “towers” (or Torres in Spanish) within its mountains and, of course, it’s glaciers, lakes, and wildlife.

This morning, we actually managed to wake up to properly set alarms and did not sleep in like yesterday. This meant that we actually got to sit down and eat a proper breakfast, which was nice, especially since our planned itinerary for the day would take from morning til evening.

We were picked up around 8:00 a.m. and headed not to the park right away, but to a milodon cave. A milodon was an ancient species of giant sloth that lived in the Patagonia region thousands of years ago. The cave we visited is considered an archaeological site as fossils and such have been found inside. It was a pretty quick walk about and I posed for a picture next to the milodon statue near the cave’s exit just because.

We stopped at a roadside souvenir shop/cafe for a break, and I used the opportunity to use the bathroom and buy a hearty snack (an empanada, although it wasn’t as good as the one from the street vendor in Valparaiso).

The milodon cave.

After that, we moved on towards the park itself. We stopped a couple of times at various viewing points of the famous mountains. We were lucky that the weather cooperated enough for us to take good pictures. Although the skies were overcast, the clouds were not low enough to obscure the mountains.

Top: the famous “towers”. Bottom: some of the pretty scenery found in the park.

Once we made it to the actual park, we drove around to enjoy more scenery and saw some interesting wildlife, like guanacos (a larger relative of the llama) and nandus (which look like miniature ostriches or emus). We even spotted a condor at one point.

Because the weather was not bad, we stopped to see some rapids and a waterfall. While it was not as impressive as Niagara Falls, the water was an incredible shade of blue and you could still see te mountains and glaciers in the distance.

Guanacos, Rapids, and waterfalls.

We stopped for lunch at a lakeside restaurant with great views of the mountains. The lunch was both huge and delicious with perfectly cooked meat, a refreshing  salad, hearty vegetable soup, and a light dessert.

After lunch. We drove a little further on and stopped to make a short hike to see icebergs that brak off the Grey Glacier. Because it’s summer, though, the icebergs are few and far between. Still,we got to cross a big swinging bridge in fierce winds, found some parakeets poking their heads out from within a tree, and we did manage to see a couple of (small and distant) icebergs. Jess, unfortunately missed out on this one since she was feeling too sick and feverish to make the hike.

We the stopped for one more scenic viewing spot, then made our way to the hotel. All three of us are exhausted so we opted to stay in our hotel the rest of the night. We leave for Santiago tomorrow anyway, so we have more packing to do…

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