Hiking to the Base, Torres del Paine, Chile


So this isn’t a visual story of our perils and triumphs of our gruelling hike to the base of Torres del Paine. These are the tourist snaps I took when we got there. My efforts were focussed on being present enough to make it to the top in one piece before nightfall. I didn’t want a camera dangling round my neck in the process either. Obviously these are just excuses, excuses. But they are my excuses anyway.

Perhaps a brief written description would suffice.

It took a good three and a half hours to get to the base. We were incredibly fortunate to have blue skies and minimal winds, apparently this is really, really rare. I was expecting biting gusts of wind that could blow me over. We had met a girl with a burst ear drum after doing the hike. Someone also said that often people endure the trek to the top only to find clouds and no view.  The only winds we encountered were, unsurprisingly, in the Windy Passage. Here I witnessed our guide nearly topple over as the wind hit him with such a great force.

My favourite section of the walk was about an hour in, where we spent another hour going through a forest. It was ‘Patagonian flat’, so it was pleasant up hills and down hills in the shade. No one ever told us about this part.

The last section of the ascent was all we heard about. It’s about 1km of climbing up rocks. It was hard but it felt good because I knew the towers were getting so close. We got there in the end, and it was the most beautiful landscape I have seen my travels so far. I’m grateful to have spent the experience with my family and to share these memories with them.

We soaked it all in for a while. The highlights of the trip after that included a massive sandwich, which I inhaled whilst sitting on some rocks that were perfectly positioned to support my fully reclined self as I looked at the view. There were a few slips on the way down too (not from me though because I am incredibly nimble, like a gazelle).

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