I’d been dreaming of traveling to Patagonia since back in high school, when my father described it as one of the most spectacular places in the world. In November, I finally got the chance to see Torres del Paine for myself. It didn’t disappoint.On the Thursday before Thanksgiving week, I took off from Houston with a full backpack and a twinge of anxiety. Two flights, two buses and a catamaran later, I found myself on the shores of Paine Grande campsite in Torres del Paine National Park, eager for the adventure of a lifetime and curious about the days to come.
The stunning view from the catamaran into the park
What I found is that Chilean Patagonia is an outdoor-lover’s paradise. With its beautiful glaciers, stunning craggy peaks, and verdant hills, my 6 days there strongly reinforced my new-found love of the mountains. Everywhere I looked, there was something to see that took my breath away. These photographs don’t even do it justice. Chilean Patagonia is the stuff of dreams, and there’s nowhere in the world quite like it.
Hiking to Grey Campsite
The first day was admittedly the hardest, since I was getting used to carrying my heavy pack around. However, the stunning views of the surrounding peaks and lagoons made the hike worth it.
After my first night camping, I spent an entire morning walking around the side of Grey glacier, listening to it creak and rumble under the summer sun. The wind whipped my face as I sat on the rocks next to the glacier, admiring its sky-blue color, its size, and its beauty.
Paine Grande Campsite
On the second morning, I woke up an hour earlier than I meant to, and caught the tail end of a colorful sunrise. The golden light cast shadows on the mountains ahead. As I walked around campsite, its inhabitants deep in slumber, I made friends with a friendly fox who was scouring for a snack.
Path to Italiano Campsite
With the sun high overhead, we made our way to the Italiano campsite before making the ascent in the Valle de Frances. The trail was beautiful, with a reflection pool that almost perfectly mirrored the landscape and sky above it.
Mirador Frances and Mirador Britanico
Aside from seeing the Torres del Paine themselves, this was definitely the most magnificent part of the trek. After a grueling uphill hike through forests and over boulders, we were rewarded by 360 degree views of the surrounding peaks. For a long while, I sat on a boulder in the valley and marveled at this striking panorama of nature’s artwork.
Path to Chileno Campsite
This was the longest and most difficult day of the hike, and after 10 miles of hiking with all of my gear on my back, I could feel every bone in my body aching. When I would get tired and cranky, I simply looked around at where I was, and my worries felt less painful.
Sunrise at Torres del Paine Mirador
My alarm went off at 3:00 AM. We stumbled out of our tent, headlamps ignited, and packed our backpacks in the dark. I threw on my hiking boots and my warm layers, preparing to make the final ascent of the trek.
We made the final, steep trek up the side of the mountain to the mirador just as the fiery light began to peek through the clouds. And we stood, breathless, marveling at the stunning colors of the sky on one side, and one of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders on the other.
A Last Glimpse at Torres del Paine National Park
Our final day in Chilean Patagonia consisted of eating our weight in pizza at the Hotel Torres del Paine, napping in our tents, and basking in the beautiful, warm weather. I couldn’t help but gaze out to the park in my final moments there and think, speechlessly, about where I was and how far I’d come in the past 5 days.
Feeling inspired? If so, check out my guide to trekking the W in Torres del Paine to get started with planning your trip!
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.