Torres Del Paine national park and Puerto Natales

After getting off the boat in Puerto Chacabuco and a little bus trip we arrived in

a beautiful place in southern mid Chile called Coayique, which was surrounded

by mountains on all sides. We recovered there for a day, then took a bus overnight through Argentine Patagonia into southern Chile (involving lots of messing about at border posts for no apparent reason and stopping at cafes for the driver to have a fag and for the geezer to pick up the sweetie wrappers off the bus

floor. Even the babies had to get off in the middle of the night for this. All very Chilean!) We saw a nice sign at border that said some place called the Islas Malvinas belonged to them. Don't quite know that that was all about, perhaps they don't get the BBC there or something.....anyway.... Patagonia was very flat and dull. It looked exactly the same in the morning as it did when we went to sleep, another x hundred miles later, thus explaining it's reputation of being a miserable and desolate place. However on arrival at Peurto Natales we could see that despite the cloudy weather, we were in a very dramatic place indeed. Across the straights of Magellan you could see, past the black necked swans, the snow capped mountains of the southern ice cap, towards the Torres del Paine national park, the reason we were there!

So, we stayed in an other little residencial B+B place, dropped off some laundry, and repacked our bags for the 3 night trip to the Torres del Paine national park, the highlight of the holiday. On the bus during the way up to the park we stopped and saw our first proper glimpse of the Torres del Paine and some Llamas that

were actually called something else (vicunas? alpacas? help Suzie!)

We took far too much stuff, considering we were hiking, but I always fall for that

one. Our planning (OK mine) went a bit pear shaped with underestimating the distances and difficulty involved in the hiking routes I chose, but we saw what we had wanted to see and the weather was fantastic. Here's how it panned out:

We set off up along the shores of the river and the incredible green lakes, with the granite massif of the Torres themselves getting ever closer.

We reached the first campsite in the early evening, where we stopped on the edge of the lake and soaked up the view. Then my big mistake. We set off again, up the windy valley and over the pass to a really pretty little laguna high up on the mountain side, then on down to Lago Grey. As we trekked along the difficult path along the side of Lago Grey toward the glacier, we were getting VERY tired and dusk was closing in. We had to press on to the campsite as there is nowhere else you could camp if you tried as it is either a patagonian bog or a forest! I was about to collapse in a heap and start blubbing when we finally made it to the site and pitched camp in the dark. But mind you! Had we seen some impressive scenery, OR WHAT!

The next morning we set off further up the shore of Lago Grey to see the glacier. It was the coolest thing we saw on the whole trip (no pun intended). The ice was blue at the waters edge and you could grab little icebergs out of the water. Some of the icebergs were dead pretty!

The ice had a really strange texture, like it was made up of little bits that had been squashed together. You could see the layers and it had bubbles of air trapped in it too. The rocks around the lake were highly folded with red strata, iron I presume. Nice backdrop for a picture of Suzie anyway, who isn't pulling a silly face for a change!