Friday, 6th Feb. 2009
Parque Nacional Torres del Paine (Hike to Mirador Lago Grey, drive through the
park from west to east)
Weather: a.m. cloudy, p.m. partly cloudy, windy, 15 °C
Today we left Posada Río
Serrano and drove even further east to Guardería Lago Grey (16 km). Here we went
on a 45 minutes (one way) easy hike to Mirador
Lago Grey. A few small icebergs could be seen floating in the lake. Hostería Lago Grey
also offers boat trips to the Grey glaciar including ice trekking.
At 12 p.m. we started our drive to the east side of the park which took about 2
hours with just a couple of short stops at Hostería Pehoé and Mirador Lago Nordenskjold.
Many guanacos live in the eastern part of the park. To reach the Refugio and Hostería Las
Torres a narrow old bridge has to be crossed. The Refugio Torres is a dorm style
cabin with a newer and an older building. We had booked two nights at
Torre Central. The price for a Full Bed
including sheets and full board was 86 US dollars each per night. Just the bed
but no food would have been 51 dollars though I would recommend to book full
board. But if we had paid in pesos upon arrival we would have paid less. However,
in the main season it's highly recommended to make advance reservations in the
park. The hostel was well kept. It is the only refugio in the park that can be
reached by car. We were glad we had split reservations to two nights on the west
side and two nights on the east side of the park as the distance is quite
considerable: 36 km dirt road between the east and the west entrance. In the
west park we were most impressed by the turquoise water of the glaciar lakes, in
the east part by the wildlife.
After a cloudy morning the
sun had come out and we walked down to the hanging bridge over Río Ascencio which marks the trailhead to Las Torres, and then the Interpretive
Trail from Hostería Las Torres (1 hour, 2.5 km). Dinner was served in two
instances (7:30 p.m. and 8:30
p.m.). We had asparagus soup, chicken lasagne and napkin pie, plus bread and
Total kilometres: 82
Saturday, 7th Feb. 2009
Parque Nacional Torres del Paine (Las Torres
Weather: a.m. cloudy and calm, rain at midday, p.m. partly cloudy wih some wind, 15 °C
After breakfast we started
our hike to Las Torres, one of the big highlights in the park: 9.5 km, 820m
elevation, 3.5 hours (one way). This is also part of the W.
took the car to drive 1 kilometre to the trailhead at Hostería Las Torres. It
was 9 a.m. After crossing the hanging bridge a steep path leads up in the
direction of Refugio Chileno which we reached after 1.5 hours. Here we had a
short break. After another hour of going up and down mostly through woods we
arrived at the Torres Base Camp. It was
12 p.m. and it had started to rain. The rain shelter was full but the park
ranger asked us to join him in his hut for a coffee! We didn't say no.
a while we decided to try our luck and
continue on the last climb up across a field of huge boulders. The rain did stop
and after 45 minutes we had made it to the top. We just caught a glimpse of the
Torres above the lagoon before they
disappeared again in the clouds! We didn't intend to give up hope just yet, so
we decided to wait for the towers to reappear. We had our boxed lunch from the
refugio (a big chicken sandwich, peanuts, an apple, a muesli bar, a muffin,
juice). It was fairly cold up here at 1000m elevation. But at the end
of 2.5 hours we were rewarded! It was shortly before 4 p.m. when we started our
hike back down. This was faster than going up and dinner was waiting. After 2.5
hours we were back at the car but this had a surprise for us. We had a flat tyre!
And this was after we had driven just 1 kilometre! We managed to change the tyre,
had a quick shower and made it for dinner at 7:30 p.m. We had ceviche
(a kind of cold soup), Shepherd’s Pie and yoghurt tart for dessert.
Two beds in our six-bed room remained empty
tonight. But the American couple who shared the room with us were snoring again...
Total kilometres: 2
Sunday, 8th Feb. 2009
Nacional Torres del Paine
(Cascada Paine, Laguna Azul) – Puerto Natales
Weather: partly cloudy,
windy, approxca. 19 °C
as in the Fitz Roy area, the weather was best on our arrival and departure days.
In spite of the risk of having no longer a spare tyre, we still intended to
visit the northeastern part of the park, so we drove to Laguna Azul.
First we stopped at Cascada de Paine.
From there till Laguna Azul we saw herds of guanacos everywhere! The lake shone
in a beautiful azure blue, with the Torres in the background! We had a quick
look around then we drove back to the main route to Puerto Natales. But before
leaving Torres del Paine for good we drove to Laguna Amarga which has a
wonderful turquoise blue with a view of the Torres, so it was well worth the
a.m. we started on the final 105 km to Puerto Natales.
There were road works going on near Cerro Castillo,
so maybe in a few years time more than 50 km of the distance will be on a tarred
road. It took two hours to reach our destination. This
time we had booked Hostal Las Carretas (28.000
For dinner we went to Ultima Esperanza (Eberhard 354)
where we had pollo al coñac
with puré de papas and tomato and avocado salad as well as roast lamb with
potatoes and Chilean salad plus a small bottle of red wine for 14,600 pesos (18
plus tip. It was good.
Total kilometres: 249
9th Feb. 2009
Puerto Natales – El Calafate
Weather: partly cloudy, windy, approx. 16 °C
We didn't feel like hiking
up to Mirador Dorotea so we didn't delay going back into Argentina. This time we
took the longer route along tarred roads via Esperanza
instead of taking the shortcut between Tapi Aike
and El Cerrito. This was 80 km longer but as you can drive faster, it didn't
take any longer. Today there was a very strong, cold wind which gave us a feel
how it usually must be in Patagonia. It nearly blows you off your feet!
Shortly before 2 p.m. we
arrived in El Calafate. We had booked Hostería Cauquenes de
Nimez (260 pesos/57 euros) close to the bird sanctuary Laguna Nimez. Unfortunately the sanctuary was
closed but we were still able to have a good view from the fence. We had a
coffee at elba’r
and for dinner we went to the best restaurant
in town: La Tablita. It opens at 7:30 p.m. and it's better to have a reservation.
We had the carnes mix for two which included lamb, sirloin and tenderloin steak,
plus a potato and pumpkin mix, an ensalada completa, a small bottle of red wine
and two bottles os water. The meat was excellent! The bill was 194 pesos (42 euros) plus
Total kilometres: 297
Tuesday, 10th Feb. 2009
El Calafate – Buenos Aires
Weather: sunny, windy, approx. 18 °C
Today was our last day in Patagonia. We had
another look at Laguna Nimez. Horses were
grazing near the water. Then we drove to Bahía Redonda and Punta Soberana with a
view of Isla Solitaria.
Nothing much was planned
for this day. We had already been able to visit Perito Moreno so we didn't go
again as it was quite a distance and we didn't want to risk our tyres just
before departure. So we strolled up and down the main street in El Calafate: Avenida Libertador.
There are a lot of tourist shop. But there was no room in our bagage for any
souvenirs. We had a pasta lunch at La Cocina, a coffee at the libro-bar Borges &
Alvarez and an ice-cream at Helados & Cremas. For our dinner we bought some
empanadas (2 pesos/0.44 euros each) at a bakery.
Our flight to Buenos Aires
was due at 7:28 p.m. Once again Aerolineas Argentinas had switched the flight
from Jorge Newbery to Ezeiza. We got there early but realized that our departure was delayed by 1.5
hours. We checked in anyway to get rid of our luggage. Had to pay 8 pesos (4
euros) airport tax each. Then we returned
the rental car, the flat tyre was no issue. We had covered 3204 km in 16 days.
Eventually the plane from Ushuaia arrived
earlier than expected. They touched down at
7:32 p.m. and within 30 minutes we were ready to take off. Flight time was 2.5
hours and we even landed 20 minutes early at 11:30 p.m. local time in
We took a remise taxi from Tienda Leon (144
pesos) and one hour after arrival we arrived at the hotel, once again the Reino del Plata.
Total kilometres: 43
Wednesday, 11th Feb. 2009
Buenos Aires (Recoleta, Palermo)
Weather: partly cloudy,
We took the subway, called Subte,
to go to Recoleta (1.10 pesos/0.25 euros
each). It was still a bit of a walk to
get there from the Pueyrredon
station. We visited the famous Cimeterio Recoleta with the grave of Eva Perón.
Next to the cemetery is the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Pilar, a pretty white
church. And next to this is the Centro Cultural Recoleta and Buenos Aires Design
with shops and restaurants. Here we had lunch at the Oasis Café (promo almuerzo:
grilled chicken with papas españoles including soft drink and coffee for 36
pesos (8 euros) each.
Near the Museo Nacional
de Bellas Artes we went to see the Floralis Genérica, a huge metal flower that
opens and closes as per the time of day. Via Parque Las Heras we walked towards
the Botanical Garden and Palermo.
From Plaza Italia we
walked a bit through the streets of Palermo, one of the better quarters in town.
It is subdivided into Palermo Viejo, Palermo Soho and Palermo Hollywood. But we
didn't find it too interesting, or we didn't see the right places. Eventually we
took the Subte back to the Microcentro and had dinner at a restaurant close to
our hotel: Cabildo de Buenos Aires (steak with mushroom sauce and milanesa with Madera
sauce with papas noisette, a mixed salad and a bottle of red wine for 124 pesos (28
euros) plus tip.