Torres del Paine National Park – W Circuit trek (1)

Thursday 29/03

Vlog  by Isabelle: see below.


By me:

Alarm clock at 7:30am.

The night was ok. We could hear the strong wind blowing outside though, as well as people leaving the shelter as early as 4am (to see the sunrise on the Torres).

We take a copious breakfast (even with eggs, which very rarely occurs to us).

We leave around 9:30am for this strenuous 20km walk (750m of elevation), to see the world famous granite spires (‘Torres’).

We hike up the Rio Ascencio. We stop at Refugio Chileno (2h15 for the first 5.5 km). We start the lunch pack that we received, which is quite good, with nuts, an energy bar, an orange, a sandwich and a bottle of water. 

We continue up to Campamento Torres, where we eat our lunch.

The last hour to the Mirador Base Las Torres (1 km) is a “knee-popping scramble up boulders”. But it gives the closest views of the towers, whose background is unfortunately a grey sky today, although we’ve had a clear blue sky for the whole ascent. Soaring almost vertically more than 2,000m above the Patagonian steppe, the granite pillars dominate the landscape of the park. 

The descent goes much faster (with many fewer pauses) than the ascent: 4h vs. 5h30.

Jules and I are back a bit before 7pm. The girls arrive 30′ before us. So it took us around 9 hours for this difficult walk, with the pauses which were neither frequent (4) nor long (15-20′). Although there were many people, we saw only one other child doing this trek (but older than ours). Congrats kids!

It was a nice day. I think I set my expectations a bit too high though and I’m consequently a bit disappointed. It sometimes depends on a few things. This time, I found the trek difficult (treks that go only up and then down are definitely not my favorite ones; the knees and back suffer a lot), too crowded and a bit too much in the shadow (although we were very lucky with the weather but it’s often the problem when walking in valleys). And, probably more importantly, we didn’t see the highlights (the towers) under a great weather. I’m a bit picky, I know. Isabelle found this trek very nice. Another “problem” for me with this kind of up-and-down trek is that we often look down (since the trail is usually difficult) and it’s also difficult to speak to each other (we usually walk behind each other).

We take a hot shower and go to eat at 7:30pm. On the menu tonight is pork (quite good) with quinoa.

Isabelle reads ‘Toby Loneless’ to Jules until 9:30pm. We switch off the light of the room before 10pm! We’re all super tired.

It’s raining outside. I write till 10:30pm. 


Friday 30/03

We wake up at 8am. We are all sleeping super soundly when the alarm clock rings. 

We pack our bags after the breakfast and we leave around 10am with our private shuttle. 

It takes 30′ to go to the departure of the catamaran, in Pudeto. The catamaran leaves at 11am to the Refugio Paine Grande, sailing across Lago Pehoé. As forecasted, the weather is not great today: a lot of wind, a bit of rain and a grey sky. 

It was a good idea from Isabelle to include a “buffer” day in our 4 days to do the W trek. Hence today we won’t be walking. The weather forecast is indeed better for tomorrow and after tomorrow. 

We arrive around noon in the ‘refugio’. Our room is not yet ready (it will be at 1pm). 

We sit downstairs, comfortably wrapped in our fluffy blankets. It’s not warm. We eat our pack lunch. 

We spend the afternoon reading (I’m reading the Lonely Planet on Peru), homeschooling, playing cards (Isabelle and Jules) and watching movies (Jukes on Florence’s iPad). I bought 8 hours of internet connection (there’s no 3G network in the park) to try to figure out how to enroll the kids to the scouts in Brussels next year… Yes, we also need to think about that, even when in a remote national park in Patagonia… We need to fill in a document on Sunday but we won’t have internet… Thanks to Pierre and Judith, I could ask Sylviane to do the online registration for us. Thanks Sylviane, it greatly helps us!

Around 6:30pm we go and take a shower. The showers are not great; probably one of the worst ones of the whole trip… We discourage Isabelle and Florence to take one. It’s cold in the room.

We go and eat at 7pm. Good chicken with rice as main course. The soup and the dessert are less convincing…

We are in bed at 8:30pm. They eventually put the heating on! Isabelle reads till 10pm while I continue preparing Peru (it’s the only country that I hadn’t prepared at all before starting our world tour) and write the day. The wind blows strongly outside. From our room, we can see all the tents outside; we don’t envy people sleeping under tent…

On the programme of tomorrow: 21 or 26 km, depending of our ‘shape’… (Florence and Jules already chose…).



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