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Kel and Rob’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 29 Dec 2005

Location: Puerto Natales, Chile

MapAdmin 1: Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas, had a lot of nice food and way too much to drink.

Admin 2: Hope you all have a very Happy New Years and dont send off to many drunken texts that you regret the next day

When we last left you, we were in El Calafate. Because we love to feel the fat wobble, we booked ourselves on another 5 hour bus trip to Puerto Natales, Chile (South America stamp no. 3 in the passport - yeah) After another 5 hrs on dirt roads we arrived in town on Christmas Eve.

People were madly running around doing last minute Christmas shopping (seems it is universal),while we were running around trying to get tents and sleeping mats - yes you read right, we were about to embark on a 4 day, 70km hike around the W circuit of Torres del Paine (not translatted to Torture and Pain - but maybe should be) with full backpacks.

The following day, Christmas Day, we headed out on the 7:30am bus with rather full backpack (over 20kg) to begin the hike.

Day 1 - Pehoe to Glacier Gray
Given the time for the bus journey and the catamaran cruise, we decided to take it easy on the first day and only go 12.5km to Glacier Gray.
The first 11km were quite easy, and we were enjoying the sun and the fact that we were overtaking a lot of people. The last 1.5 km was all uphill and Kel was swearing at Rob about the great Christmas present he had given her.

That night all was forgiven as we sat overlooking the Glacier eating our Christmas dinner (canned peaches - guess we should have known that the campsites wouldnt have cooking facilities) with nobody else in site - amazing moment.

Day 2 - Glacier Gray to Valle Frances
The following morning we headed back for 4hrs along the track we had done the day before, again happy and glad we were passing more people - Kel was also happy that there was only 3 days left.

After reaching the half way point we started off on the new track around the base of Cerro (Mt) Paine Grande (3050m) to Valle Frances.

All was going well until we reached the uphill climb to the view at Valle Frances (600m up). The only sound that could be heard around the whole national park was "F¡!¿en Rob". When we finally (just one more huge hill and the view will be much better)reached the top, the view was amazing and Rob opened another can of peached for us to share - this idea of starving ourselves was having a rather damaging effect to our well developed beer guts.

Day 3 - Valle Frances to Las Cuernos
The easy day of the hike, only 6hrs of hiking and the bonus of a shower at the end - walk faster Rob.

While walking somewhere in the upper stratosphere, we saw a number of condors glide past (or maybe it was a satellite, not sure) so another rare animal for us to tick off the list.

We arrived at the campsite and as Kel won the arm wrestle, she got to have the first shower in three days while Rob put up the tent. That night we got to have a real meal at the campsite and guess what they were serving - peaches - well for dessert anyway.

Day 4 - Mirador Las Torres (1000m climb - oh yes)
The highlight of the 4 day walk is the 2850m spires at the top of Torres del Paine. We rose early to beat the crowds, heat and people on horseback (very tempting but Rob said no) and headed up the very steep but very scenic walk. After 3hrs and 20 min of climbing we broke the top and saw ...... CLOUD Oh yes, the buggers were covered and we could only see the bottom. If we had a few hours to spare we could have waited for it to clear but with the bus departing in less than 3hrs we started the walk/run back to the bottom managing only just to packup and get on the bus back to Puerto Natales.