Saturday, February 7, 2009
Friday, February 6th, Torres Del Paine
I hope you missed the blog. The combination of a long travel day, and a hotel which charged for the use of the Internet, led me to decide to skip a day. We’re still there, and I’m writing this in Word in our room, in the hope that I can minimize the amount of time spent on their internet connection. I could easily afford to rent their access, but we’ve been having such a good time gaining hotel-included wi-fi access that the principle of paying for it additionally just doesn’t sit right. But I did pay for access in Turkey, so I probably should just get over it.
The Hosteria Las Torres, in the Torres del Paine National Park in Chile, is a great hotel in all other ways. The journey to here is an adventure in itself – complete with narrow mountain roads across lands in which one sheep needs 20 grazing acres to survive. That is, when he’s not competing with guanacos (small wild llamas), rheas (small ostriches), foxes, and pumas. And the bridge over the last river is so narrow the only the smallest of vans can squeeze in between its suspension wires. The area is a hikers dream, incorporating an Ahwanee level ambiance with a working estancia (gaucho ranch). The weather is outstanding. The mountains keep the rain from the Pacific ocean from reaching us, much like the Andes further north. The temperature is fairly moderate, as this is early summer down here. In the evenings and early mornings, we're surrounded by horses munching on grass outide our windows. And the chef must have his eye on a Michelen rating, because the meal content and presentation have been several levels above the usual tour fare.
For the last two days, we’ve gotten up early for breakfast, and traveled over 400 kilometers to hike into unbelievable views of granite towers and glaciers. This tour is a great introductory geology lesson, as well as a means to better understand the flora and fauna of the tip of South America. With long days on the road, the 18 hours of sunlight are beginning to take their toll. The depleted ozone layer requires plenty of sunscreen, and we carry lots of water.
Tomorrow, we drive another 400 kilometers to Punto Arenas, where we spend the night and catch a flight the next morning to Puerto Varas, a southern Chilean seaport and our last stop before this tour ends in the Chilean capital of Santiago. We’ve got three more locations, and five more nights, before start into a four-day ferry ride up the Southern Chile coast, and then spend a week in the high desert of northern Chile (Atacama).
To see over 200 photos taken in the last two days, click on: